Volcanoes National Park – Gorilla Trek Destination Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park is also famous as Parc des Volcans and incredibly, it features among the premier travel destinations in Rwanda. It is such a magical conservancy area worth exploring and experiencing while on Rwanda safari. Volcanoes National Park is set suitably in Northwestern Rwanda, approximately 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali. This national park was established in 1925 making it one of the ancient national parks in Africa. It sits in an area of about 160sq.kms and it makes up part of the extensive Virunga Conservancy Area (VCA) that also covers Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda and the Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Wildlife in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park features iconic and diverse wildlife species which make it a premier safari destination in Rwanda. They include among others the endangered mountain gorillas, antelopes such as the bushbuck, black-fronted duiker; forest elephants, buffaloes, spotted hyena, bush pigs, golden monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys.
Birdlife in Volcanoes National Park
Over 200 bird species are confined within Volcanoes National Park which makes it one of the leading birding spots in Rwanda. The different birds to look out for while on Rwanda safari in Rwanda include collared Apalis, strange weaver, francolins, paradise flycatcher, red-faced woodland warbler, Rwenzori doubled collared sunbird, dusky crimson wing, Rwenzori Turaco, archer’s ground robin, long-crested eagle, grey throated tit, common moorhen.
Vegetation in Volcanoes National Park
The vegetation in Volcanoes National Park differs significantly depending on the park’s altitude. The bamboo forest ranges 2500-3200 meters and covers about 30 percent of the parking area. From 2600-3600 is a humid area comprising of the hagenia forest; lobelia hagenia Abyssinia thrives from 3500-4200 meters while the grassland ranges from 4300 to 4500 meters.
Other tourist attractions in Volcanoes National Park
Besides wildlife and birds, Volcanoes National Park also boasts of its exceptional sceneries. It hosts about five of the eight Virunga Massifs and they include Mount Karisimbi (4507m)-which is the highest of all the eight Virunga Volcanoes, Muhabura at (4127m), Gahinga Volcano (3474m), Sabyinyo Volcano (3634m) and Bisoke Volcano (3711m). On a hike to Mount Bisoke, don’t miss the breathtaking view of the scenic Lake Ngezi.
Activities to do in Volcanoes National Park
Mountain gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national Park
While on Rwanda safari in Volcanoes National Park, trekking mountain gorillas is a must-do activity. Gorilla treks in this national park are conducted in anyone of its ten habituated gorilla families and they include Kwitonda, Susa A, Karisimbi, Agashya, Umubano, Bwenge, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Hirwa, and Ugenda. Visitors interested in gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park require about $1500 book a gorilla permit.
Golden monkey tracking
Tracking golden monkeys is an exceptional experience offered to visitors on Rwanda safari in Volcanoes National Park. This lets you catch a glimpse at the beautiful golden monkeys while in their natural habitat. Golden monkey treks begin from Kinigi Park headquarters and can take trekkers about 4 hours including an hour of a face to face encounter. Each golden monkey permit costs $100 per person.
Bird watching is another most exciting experience offered to visitors on Rwanda safari in Volcanoes National Park. This park hosts close to 200 bird species including a strange weaver, francolins, paradise flycatcher, red-faced woodland warbler, Rwenzori doubled collared sunbird, dusky crimson wing, Rwenzori Turaco, archer’s ground robin, long-crested eagle, grey throated tit, common moorhen.
Hiking is one of the best ways to explore and experience Volcanoes National Park while on Rwanda safari. The best volcanoes to hike in this national park include Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke.
Dian Fossey tomb hike
Dian Fossey’s tomb hike gives you insight into Dian Fossey’s conservation legacy. Dian Fossey is known for gorilla conservation work, she carried out in the Volcanoes for about 18 years and set up the ‘Karisoke research station’ to aid her research work, introduced the Digit Fund which is currently popular as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. However, she was mysteriously murdered and laid to rest next to her beloved gorilla Digit.
Visit to twin lakes
Rwanda safari in Volcanoes National Park also includes visiting the Twin Lakes-the Ruhondo and Burera that also gets you the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Russumo waterfalls as well as sight different bird species like Grey-throated tit, long-crested eagle, African marsh harrier, stonechat, cinnamon breasted bee-eater, common moorhen and paradise flycatchers.
Musanze cave exploration
Musanze caves are just outside around Musanze district. These caves feature exceptional history and they date back about 65 million years. It comprised of 31 entrances and 2 kilometers long. A complete walk can last you about 2 hours.
Buhanga sacred forest nature walks
Buhanga sacred forest is set outside Volcanoes National Park and features a rare flora and known for Rwanda’s unique history and cultures. History has it that monarchical king of Rwanda could bath here before assuming kingship and others believe that the forest in most cases changes colors depending on the season.
When to visit Volcanoes National Park
Depending on your travel needs, Volcanoes National Park is open to visitors throughout the year. Visitors who are interested in trekking mountain gorillas, the dry season is the best time for you to visit this park and that means, you can travel in June, July, August, September and December, January, February. In case your plan is to go for bird watching, the best months are March, April, May, and October, November.
Where to stay in Volcanoes National Park
Luxury: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Bisate Lodge
Midrange: Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, La Bambou Gorilla Lodge
Budget: Kinigi Guesthouse, La Plame Hotel, Hotel Muhabura
How to get to Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is very accessible from Kigali capital city. It takes you about 2-3 hours to drive from Kigali to this national park and a 4×4 drive safari vehicle is the best to use.