This park was gazetted in order to protect gorillas from being poached, it is a small area surrounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno and the very first absolute national park to be created in Africa. This was in 1925 and then the park was widened further into Rwanda and then further into the Belgium Congo in 1929 forming the Albert National Park of about 8090sqkm being run by the Belgian who were the colonial master by the time.
The park was split into two after independence of Congo and Rwanda in 1960 and 1962 respectively and the 2 ruling powers agreed on maintaining the area as a tourist area in spite of the fact that the fact that the new republic was already affected by overpopulation problems.
Dian Fossey an American naturalist also used this park s abase for her research into gorilla in 1967, she also set up the Karisoke Research Centre between Karisimbi and Bisoke. She spent most of her time in the park, she would spend an hour in the park watching them do their daily routines like feeding, playing and resting. She managed to save so many gorillas from extinction for which she credited. Unfortunately she was assassinated by unknown assailants at her home in 1985, a crime that was attributed to poachers since she had spent so much time of her life fighting against. She is buried in the park in a research center amongst the gorillas which had become her life and her life was presented on the big screen in the film Gorillas in the Mist. Her grave site is a 2 hours trek and very memorable.
The Volcanoes National Park later 1992 became a battlefield in the course of the Rwandan Civil War, and the research centre was vacated and all tourist activities were stopped like gorilla visiting until 1999 when the place was declared safe for all people. Today this national park is has the best ecosystem in the area of blending evergreen and bamboo forest with open grassland, swamps and heath.
The golden monkey is one of Africa’s most endangered primate and a very precious treasure of the Virungas and the only one left. It is that special species of Guenon cercopithecus kadthi living in the Albertine rift valley living near the lower parts of the park and within a walking distances.
Mountain climbing and hiking in the virunga gives one an opportunity to go through the ecosystem comprising of all the four vegetation zones of the bamboo, hagenia and hypericum forest, the sub-alpine and the Afro-alpine.
The volcanoes national park has got a variety of tourism activities which include;
– Gorilla trekking/gorilla safaris or gorilla tours as you may call them. These attract so many tourists who enjoy tracking them earning a lot of revenue to the tourism industry.
– Golden monkey visits.
– Climbing of Karisimbi volcano.
– Climbing of Bisoke volcano.
– Tour of the lakes and the vulcanize caves plus all the hot springs in the area.
– Visiting Diana Fossey’s tomb which is also a very popular tourists attraction.
On the outskirts of the town at the natural bridge, there is a solidified lava flow that is so fascinating. The volcanic activities do shape this scenic area. And within an easy day, tripping distance of Musanze are the seldom visited but lovely Lakes Burera, Ruhondo and Karago. Musanze town offers a good selection of upper-range and mid-range hotel as well as reasonably-priced small hotels and guest house.
Accommodation in Volcanoes National Park
Kinigi Guest House
La Palme Hotel
Le Bambou Hotel
Mountain Gorilla Nest Camp
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Sabinyo Silverback Lodge
Virunga Volcanoes Lodge