In 1925 Volcanoes national park was gazette as a National park to protect the endangered mountain gorillas by then Belgian Colonials. Volcanoes National Park was one of the first African Parks to be gazetted. It is the gorilla trekking destination of Rwanda
The park bares the name Parc National Des Volcan which is a French Name with an English meaning Volcanoes National Park. The park occupies 160 sq km part of which is covered by 5 volcanic mountains that is Mountain Karisimbi, Mountain Bisoke, Mountain Muhavura, Mountain Gahinga and Mountain Sabyinyo. This park is neighbored by Mgahinga National Park In Uganda and Virunga National Park in D.R.Congo
As one of the survivors of ice age era, the park is a biosphere reserve housing over 178 bird species, monkeys, a range of other wild animals like black fronted duikers, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, warthogs to mention but a few.
A wide range of vegetation types some of which is food for the mountain gorillas makes up Volcanoes National Park because of altitudinal variation. Some common vegetation found in the park includes, bamboo, forest cover, grassland, thickets, meadows and swamps. Well placed in the Virunga volcano chain, the terrain consists mainly of steep volcanic slopes.
In 1967 an American Naturalist called Dian Fossey staged her research in Volcanoes National Park forming Karisoke Research Center. She religious defended the mountain gorillas from the rim of extinction amidst criticism from both local and international opportunists. Her hard work was cut short in 1985 when she was brutally murder at her home by unknown assassins. Here remains were laid to rest in the forest amongst the gorillas that she passionately loved.
In her memory, the Dian fossey trek is conducted in Volcanoes National Park up her grave. The proceeds help in supporting her research center and gorilla conservation continuity.
Volcanoes national park became a battle field during the civil wars that culminated into 1994 genocide and many gorillas fell victim. Gorilla trekking resumed in 1999 when Rwanda started recovering from this tragic season and is one of the selling exports for Rwanda.
How To Get To Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
The commonest access to Volcanoes National Park is by a winding road for about 3 hours from Kigali City to park headquarters. Lookout for amazing rolling hills that make up the biggest part of Rwanda and the green that covers most of the slopes.
Public transport is available from Kigali main city but it doesn’t reach the park headquarters so you need to hire private transport to transfer you to the headquarters.
Rwanda Air operates domestic charter flights which you can hire in advance from Kigali airport.
What To Do In Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National park Rwanda
Gorilla trekking is the topmost activity in the park which starts with booking a Rwanda Gorilla trekking permit. The gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $1500 per person per trek. The Rwanda Development board is the sales office for all gorilla permits.
Rwanda has over 13 gorilla trekking families and each day only 8 tourists are allowed to be with the mountain gorillas for just one hour. The gorilla trek starts with briefing at 0700hours. The ranger guides take you through the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking like no feeding the mountain gorillas., only an hours is allowed with the mountain gorillas as so much more.
Together with others trekkers, you head into the forest look out for other primates like black and white colobus, grey cheeked mangabey, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys and so many others.
When you locate the mountain gorillas, try not to surround them because this makes them feel ambushed. Take photos as memories of your wild experience with the mountain gorillas and retreat your lodge.
Golden monkeys trekking in Volcanoes National park Rwanda
Golden monkeys are super entertaining troupes of monkeys with a busy forest schedule. They are scientifically called Cercopithecus Miti Kandti. There larger body structure distinguish them from all other types of monkeys. They have golden brown fur at the back and keep the forest interesting.
Although they have been habituated to be in the presence of humans, there nature still takes precedence so you need to be fast to catch a photo of them. look out for other monkeys like blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys and so many others.
Dian Fossey Trek in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Nothing speaks the history of gorilla trekking than the grave of the fallen American primatologist Dian Fossey. Her love for the mountain gorillas and research about them led to her massacre in 1985.
Dian Fossey’s work didn’t lie in the gutters as it was the base for films like “Gorillas in The Mist”. This brought the plight of the endangered mountain gorillas to the concern of international conservations bodies like Nat Geo World, IUCN and so many others.
A hike to the Dian fossey grave is like walking in the shoes of the mountain gorilla conservation hero for every step you take. This is one way to give back to conservation and support the protection of mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
Birding In Volcanoes National Park
Over 178 species of birds enjoy the Volcanoes National Park environment including about 13 species of Albertine endemics. As one of the survivors of the ice age period Volcanoes National Parc gave safe haven for a number of birds like Shelley’s Crimsomwing, Dusky Crimsonwing, Blue Turaco, White-bellied Robin -Chat, Blue Fly catchers, Rwenzori turaco, Archer’s Robin-chat and so many others.
A day or more birding in Volcanoes National Park widens the list of the bird species you can identify by voice and physical appearance.
Hiking The Virunga Volcanoes in Volcanoes National Park
A day of hiking one of the Volcanoes Mountains gives you a panoramic view of the lash green vegetation that covers the park. When you hike Sabyinyo Mountains, you get a clear view of Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo border when you get to the top. Other mountains you have chance to hike include Karisimbi Mountains, Bisoke Mountains, Muhavura Mountain and Gahinga Mountains.
Each hike takes about 6 hours to 8 hours depending on its height and difficulty.
Musaze Caves In Volcanoes National park Rwanda
This lovely cave constructed over 62 million years age has the historical tales of Rwanda folklore. You get to listen to the incredible cultural historical moments experienced by the past Rwandese too related to this unique cave.
What Accommodations To Book In Volcanoes National park Rwanda
A range of accommodations are available in and out of Volcanoes National park Rwanda for any budget plan. These arrange from Luxury accommodation, to Mid-range to Modest accommodations.
You can overnight close to Volcanoes National park or in Kigali capital but you must have private transport to carry you early morning and arrive in time for briefing at the ranger station.
Some accommodations to book in Volcanoes National park include Sabyinyo Silver Back Lodge, Kinigi guest house, Le Bambou, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Best View Hotel, Hotel Mille Collins and so many others.
What Is The best Time To Visit Vocanoes National park In Rwanda
Volcanoes national park is open all year round for any activity including Gorilla trekking. Although the drier months that is June to September and December to January are friendlier. The ground is less soggy and the gorillas feed closer to the ground.
The gorilla trekking permit during this season are highly demanded compared to the shoulder seasons which is March to May and November. At times the Rwanda development Board also offers discounted gorilla trekking permits in shoulder season but these depend on terms and conditions set by the Board.
When you trek Rwanda gorillas in shoulder seasons of Volcanoes national park you may have the entire gorilla trekking family to yourself, no one to obstruct you from taking pictures, select your own family to trek and so much more.
What to Pack For Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
A pair of binoculars to get a clearer look of forest dwellers like monkeys, birds, gorillas and others.
Tracking boots comfortable enough to hike slippery slopes because the forest has volcanic soils which are soft especially when it rains.
A rain gear like a poncho to protect you from getting wet when it rains.
Insect repellant to protect your skin from stinging insects that roam the forest.
An extra full charged battery to exchange with when one runs low
A pair of trousers and shirt in wilderness friendly colors
Water bottle to carry water in order to quench thirst while in the forest.
A light water proof bag where to protect your belongings in order not to lose them in the forest.
Light brim hat to cover your hair from forest insects and dripping leaf surfaces.
Camera to take photos of your experience in the forest.
A pair of garden gloves to catch a tighter grip when you slide in the forest.
An electric charger for your camera just in case you still have extra days on your Rwanda safari.
Negative Covid-19 results taken atleast 72 hours prior to heading to Rwanda or full corona virus immusation certificate
What Is The Age Limit For Gorilla Trekking In Volcanoes National Park
Only persons 15 years above are allowed to do gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National park. This is because of the nature of the topography of the park which is generally steep. Even the mountain gorillas look scary at first sight which may not be comfortable to a child below these years.
How Many people Are allowed To Go Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
A group of 8 trekkers are allowed to be with the mountain gorillas a day. This is to reduce on forest congestion which leads to trampling the vegetation where mountain gorillas feed from.
Even spitting on the vegetation is forbidden which may occur if the group is big and out of control. It’s unhygienic to the mountain gorillas and daily trekkers too.
Is gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National park Safe
Gorilla trekking is safe in Volcanoes National Park because of the tight security from the Rwandese Army. After the genocide, Rwanda is fighting to give the best security to its citizens and foreigners.
The safety of mountain gorillas is under the protection of Rwanda government. No influx of even rebels from D.R.Congo.
Why Is The Cost Of Rwanda Gorilla Permit High
Conservation, habituation and protecting the mountain gorillas is a costly so you need funding. This price assists to support the conservation team through gorilla medical fees, pay the ranger guides, empower ranger guides through refresher courses, habituation, 20% of annual gorilla permit earnings given back to local community and so much more.
Rules Of Volcanoes National Park
No dumping in the forest
Avoid surrounding the mountain gorillas
Do not eat or smoke when in front of the mountain gorillas
Feeding the gorillas is forbidden.
In case you ease yourself in the forest cover up everything afterwards beyond recognition.
Other activities to Do in Rwanda after Safari to Volcanoes National park
A game drive in Akagera National Park give you chance to spot animals like water bucks, zebras, elephants, Rhinos and so much more
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park Rwanda takes you into the life of the wildlife human cousins whose DNA is about 98% to that of humans.
Kigali city tour is the epitome of a Rwanda safari where you have the chance to visit the Genocide memorials where remains of the victims of 100 days of ignorance are being reserved. Watch out for tales from eye witnesses and sculptures to demonstrate this tragedy.
Birding in Rwanda is one of the best in Africa as you get to see a number of birds including the Albertine endemics in Volcanoes National Park.
A boat trip on Lake Ihema gives you a better view of Rwanda’s hidden beauties in the mountains and surrounding vegetation.
Crossing to Uganda or Tanzania from Rwanda is easy and you can do more game safaris in Uganda Queen Elizabeth National Park or watch the great migration in Tanzania
Itinerary To Book For Volcanoes National park Rwanda