Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Gorilla trekking Safaris
Situated in the North Western Province of Rwanda in Musanze- a small town formerly known as Ruhengeri is Volcanoes National Park which covers 160km2 of the rainforest . Also known as Parc National des Vulcans and Pariki Y’Igihugu y’Ibirunga in French and native Kinyarwanda respectively, Volcanoes National Park is apparently the Oldest national Park in Rwanda, and the Entire African continents as well. Not only does the park encompass 5 of the 8 volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains including Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo but also a home to the famous Mountain gorillas of Rwanda that draws all travelers to the most prominent gorilla trekking in the country.
Volcanoes National Park borders Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the south Western Uganda and Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. Alongside the diverse number of the endangered Mountain gorillas, the park is also a home to the endangered Golden monkey.
The park in the past years had acted as the the main base for the American Zoologist Dian Fossey who had passion in conserving Mountain Gorillas, hence leading to the remembrance of her great works into todays life.
Volcanoes National Park’ major attraction is the Mountain gorillas, as well as other mammals inhabiting the park’s plain such as; Golden Monkeys, Buffaloes, black fronted duiker, hyenas and bush bucks although it is believed that there are a few cases of elephants which are rarely spotted.
The Park is also a birders paradise due to the 178 species of bird found in the Park, with about 12 of the major species and 15 sub species which are endemic to the Virunga conservation Area and the Great Ruwenzori Mountains.
Most of the activities in Volcanoes National Park are managed and run by Rwanda development Board For Tourists, with gorilla trekking being the major activity. Other activities at the park include Golden Monkey tracking, , the twin lakes visit, hiking adventures, visiting the Dian Fossey tomb, Iby’Iwachu cultural visit among others.
How to Get to Volcanoes national park
Volcanoes can easily be accessed by both air and road, with the road option being the best way to access the park. Most visitors arrive in Kigali International Airport, which is situated 10km from the Kigali capital city. There are no charter flights to Volcanoes National park , rather every traveler opts for a 4×4 rental car with or without a driver to explore the Rwanda and volcanoes National park.
It only takes about 2 hours to drive to the park from Kigali international Airport.
All participants in any activity at the park must report to the park headquarters in Kinigi by 7:00am. Therefore, it is recommended to stay close to the park, or in nearby Musanze.
The Best Time to visit Volcanoes National park in Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park can be visited anytime throughout the year, but most preferably during the drier months of the year. This is simply because the wildlife trails are less or not boggy, and easily accessible compared to the rainy months
Rwanda experiences two dry and wet seasons, the dry months run from June-mid September and from December to February. This is the very best months for both nature walks and gorilla trekking because the trails are dry and passable.
Wildlife watching is also made easy since because most wild animals converge around several water sources
While the rainy months of March , April, May, October, November, does not mean that you shouldn’t visit because the rains do not frequently occur, and if it does, it may probably rain for a few hours, after then you can continue carrying on your particular activity. The rainy months is actually best for avid birders, since most bird species are attracted by the flowering plant species.
Attractions in Volcanoes National parks
Mountain Gorillas are the prime attraction that draws every traveler’s attention in Rwanda with gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, whereas other attractions at the park include Golden monkeys, the twin lakes, Dian Fossey tomb, Community and cultural tours, all these sum up make a memorable and evocative experience in Volcanoes National Park. Below are the atrections inmVolcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is home to half of the diverse population of gorillas, separated in different gorilla families/groups including; Amahoro, Hirwa, Sabyinyo,Kwitonda, Agashya, Umubano, Ugenda, Susa, Karisimbi, Titus and Buwenga ,thus ready for tracking every year. A total of 56 gorilla permits are sold per day, which makes gorilla trekking the best Rwanda activity. Gorilla trekking experience takes about 8 group members per gorilla family.
Every gorilla trekking experience starts with an early morning briefing, after which, the trekkers are led by ranger to search for gorillas in the jungle. Trekking may lust for at least 2-6hours, with an one hour inclusive to stay in the presence of the gorillas.
Golden monkeys, which is also a must see attraction in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The Golden Monkeys are considered the second bucket list attraction in Rwanda, attracting tourists and car rental or self-drive travelers. The golden monkeys are a rare to find species in East Africa, except at Volcanoes National Park and Mgahinga gorilla National Park.
Golden Monkey, just like Mountain Gorilla experience are alike, that not more than 8 trekkers are allowed to track the monkeys, with an hour inclusive to stay in their presence
Iby’Iwachu Cultural Village
The Iby’Iwachu cultural village offers an amazing cultural experience when yoyu visit Volcanoes National Park. Visiting to the Ibyi’Iwachu cultural village leads offers an opportunity to participate in other activities such as community walks, Banana beer making subsistence farming, preparation of local dishes among others. The Iby’Iwachu cultural visit brings an amazing encounter with the local elders who obtain the information about how the Iby’Iwachu experience came to existence
Dian Fossey tomb
Dian Fossey tomb is another attractions in Volcanoes National park, built in remembrance of the American primatologist who worked hard to see that gorillas were safe and protected from the poachers who were carrying out poaching at the park. She also built Karisimbi research station, which she used for protecting and treating orphaned gorillas and those who were hurt after rescuing them from the poachers. After her death, she ,was buried at the gorilla cemetery, alongside her other two gorilla friends
Apart from gorilla trekking, Golden monkeys attraction, Volcanoes National Park is also a famous home for its there extinct volcanoes which are part of the 8 volcanoes of Virunga. The extinct volcanoes include; Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Karisimbi, and Mount Bisoke all available for hiking and trekking. Climbing to the top, of each of these volcanoes may lead to encounters of mountain gorillas as well as the breathtaking views of the local community.