Volcanoes national Park
Popularly know for gorilla trekking , golden monkey trek and Dian Fossey volcanoes national park (Parc national des volcans) is one of the most visited national park in Rwanda Located in the breath-taking nation of Rwanda, Volcanoes Park a must-visit location for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, adventure, and wildlife, particularly those who are passionate about Rwanda gorilla safaris. Volcanoes National Park, with its picturesque scenery and distinctive volcanic features, provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you speechless.
History of the park
The Belgian Colonial Authorities oversaw the extension of Volcanoes National Park into Rwanda and the Belgian Congo in 1929, when it was renamed Albert National Park. When Rwanda and Congo acquired independence in the early 1960s, the park was split in half, and by the end of that decade, it had shrunk to nearly half its former size.
The American primatologist Dian Fossey fled from insecurity in the Congo forest in 1967 and set up her research station at what was then known as the Karisoke research centre, which was located between the Visoke and Karisimbi volcanoes. Fossey had been studying mountain gorillas in the woods of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
She organised resources to combat poaching in this region and led the mountain gorilla conservation effort; she fought against it until her assassination in 1985. She was laid to rest at the research centre close to the tomb of Digit, her favourite gorilla.
Despite ongoing conservation efforts, poachers continued to cause harm to the park. The park was used as a combat zone for Rwanda’s civil war in the early 1990s, which prevented tourists from visiting until 1999. Rwanda established the yearly “Kwita Iziina” infant naming ceremony for baby gorillas in 2005 in an effort to promote conservation and gorilla tours in the Volcanoes National Park. This initiative has had a positive impact on the gorilla population in volcanoes.
Getting to the park
Kigali International Airport is the closest international airport to Volcanoes National Park. The travel to the park takes about 2 to 3 hours from the airport. Private transfers and organised tours are available for easy mobility and access of one of the most visited wildlife parks in Rwanda.
Volcanoes National park can also be accessed by air, as there are helicopters available to fly you to the park in just under 45 minutes. For those who want to view the park and surroundings from above before settling in your luxurious lodge this is the perfect options.
So, why do you hesitate? Prepare yourself for an incredible journey to Volcanoes National Park, where you will discover the wonders of nature like never before!
Best Time to visit
The park is open to visitors all year and all activities are possible all year round, although some need prior booking. However, most people prefer to visit during the drier months of the year because, adventure, trekking and game drives is easier and more rewarding in these months. This is between June to mid-October.
What to do – activities in volcanoes park
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
You can spend time viewing and interacting with mountain gorillas during an exciting trip commonly referred to as gorilla trekking. Following in the footsteps of these gentle giants, you will trek through the beautiful rainforest under the guidance of knowledgeable guides. Meeting a family of gorillas in their natural habitat is an incredible experience that will warm your heart and stay with you forever.
You will have the chance to learn about gorilla behaviour, conservation activities, and the efforts being taken to safeguard these amazing animals during the journey. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the difficulties they encounter and the significance of protecting their habitat.To go gorilla tracking in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans you will need to obtain a gorilla tracking permit, which currently costs USD 1500 per person. There are a number of tour operators who can help you secure the permit and also organise your private gorilla safari . For those interested in an exclusive private trek, where by you and your close neat family get to trek a gorilla group alone, this is possible and can be oragnised. Private gorilla tracking costs USD 15,000 per group.
Golden Monkey Trekking
In addition to gorilla trekking, Volcanoes National Park is home to the rare and adorable golden monkeys. These entertaining primates live in the park’s bamboo jungles and are distinguished by their vivid orange coats. A rare chance to see the golden monkeys’ playful activities and social connections is provided by guided treks. Listed as an endangered species by IUCN, golden monkeys are a subspecies of Sykes monkeys commonly known as blue monkey. Rwanda has two groups of golden monkeys with each having over 100 individuals. Commonly spotted along the foot hills of Sabyinyo mountains one is rest assured that after a trek of 1 or two hours you can be able to spot them. Golden monkey trekking requires permits, just like gorilla trekking does. The park’s administration or reputable tour providers can secure the permits.
Famous for its striking volcanic terrain is Volcanoes National Park. Five magnificent volcanoes, including the well-known Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, and Mount Muhabura, can be found within the park. For hikers of all skill levels, these majestic peaks offer exhilarating trekking options in addition to the magnificent setting. There’s a mountain trail that fits your skill level and interests, whether you’re a beginner or an expert.
There are two Volcanoes that can be easily accessed from Volcanoes park and these include Karisimbi and Bisoke. Mt Karisimbi hikes, requires at least 3 days for one to hike it and whereas Mt Bisoke requires just half a day. Sample itineraries of 3 days Karisimbi hike and 2 Days Bisoke Hike.
Dian Fossey Tombs Tour.
To reach the Karisoke research camp, trekkers must drive thirty minutes from the park headquarters to the trailhead. From there, they must walk ten minutes to reach the park’s edge. It takes approximately one to one and a half hour to walk from the park’s edge to the research centre, where the Dian rests. Along the way, you can see forest hogs, forest elephants, a variety of monkeys, and bird species.
It is an amazing hike in terms of intellect, emotion, and physical fitness. Finding out about Dian Fossey was so committed and created a legacy that endures to this day is incredibly motivating. The walk demands some degree of patience and fitness because it involves climbing hills and travelling through woodlands.
Visit Musanze Caves
Discover the caves in Rwanda’s volcanic region, which are said to have been formed by volcanic eruption decades ago. These caves provide a comprehensive grasp of the globe’s geological and geographical historical history. Unquestionably, a Rwanda safari would not be complete without a visit to the Musanze Caves. The Musanze Caves are located in the northwest of Rwanda in the heart of the Volcanoes National Park, are undoubtedly worth a visit. Since the Musanze caves were formally acknowledged as tourism attractions in Rwanda in 2013, visiting them is now a must for anyone planning a full safari experience.
Iby’iwacu Community Visit.
In addition to serving as a wildlife refuge, Volcanoes national park has cultural prominence. The surrounding towns of the park have a rich cultural legacy and are intricately linked to the surrounding environment. It is possible for visitors to interact with local populations, discover their customs, and experience their way of life.You may deepen your understanding of the local way of life and promote sustainable development in the area by endorsing community-based tourism initiatives. Visit the Iby’iwacu village, which is situated near the Parc National des Volcans in Nyabigoma, Kinigi, Musanze district, Northern Province, to share with the locals their homes and cultural assets, such as customs, activities, and ways of life.
Accommodation- where to stay
Over the years a number of hotels and lodges that have been built over the past years in Musanze Gisenyi and on the edges of volcanoes national park. It is advisable to stay in the lodges on the edge of the park because that way you do not need to leave your hotel very early in the morning on the day of gorilla trekking. Hotels range from 5 start lodges to 1 star hotels are below we list some of the hotels that we recommend you stay in when visiting Volcanoes national park.
Kinigi Guest House.
For those on a tight budget this is a perfect hotel, located just 5 mins walk from the headquarters of volcanoes national park where briefing takes place. The price of this lodge averages at USD 80 per person a night depending on the season.
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.
A 3 star hotel, that is located near the park overlooking Sabyinyo volcano is the perfect hotel for those visiting the volcanoes park. Be treated to excellent services I one of the beautiful and old lodges near volcanoes national park. Prices at this lodge average at USD 280 per person per night. There are other lodges that fall in this category and these include Le bambou lodge, Davinci hotel, and La Palme Hotel.
A boutique 5 star luxury lodge that opened its doors to tourists in June 2017 and has been serving high end clients for the past 5 years. With just 6 villas the lodge’s design is inspired the ancient royal palace of the Rwanda monarchy. There are also a number of other luxury lodges to consider and one set to open its doors in Sept 2024 will be the Bisate reserve. Other lodges in the same category as Bisate include; One and only gorilla nest lodge, Amakoro songa, Singita Kwitonda , Sabyinyo silverback lodge to mention but a few.
Now that you have all the information you need to visit Volcanoes national park, it is highly recommended to go through a trusted tour operator like gorillasafarirwanda.com to coordinate the different activities and services in-order to reduce the stress that comes with planning a visit to Volcanoes national park.