Volcanoes National Park
The land of a thousand hills is where Volcanoes national park lies. Occupying an area of 160 square Kilometer in the northwestern part of the country, the park was gazetted as a national park in 1925 making it the first area to be gazetted as a national park with an intention to protect the endangered mountain gorillas from poachers.
Parc National des Volcans is blessed with rich bio-diversity and eco-friendly atmosphere comprising of woodland and bamboo forest which offer a fantastic view of nature and as well necessitate the existence of primate species which include mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and other primate species which are recorded to be existing in the park.
The works of the greatest philanthropist Dr. Diana Fossey originated from this park where she spent close to 16 years understanding, learning, and documenting the behaviors of the endangered mountain gorillas under Karisoke Research Centre. His work was later published in the common movie titled “gorillas in the mist” and it’s from this park where the first-ever habituated mountain gorilla was initiated and later opened to visitors for human encounters to trek mountain gorillas. The park was later closed for tourism in 1991 when the war broke out and was reopened again in July 1999.
Visitors to this park will, therefore, be able to enjoy exciting attractions in the park ranging from gorilla trekking which is the main and forefront activity, a total of 180 species of bird species including 16 Albertine Rift endemic, a visit to the habituated family of the golden monkey, hike to Dian Fossey’s former camp and grave on the forested slopes of Karisoke among others as highlighted below.
Activities that can be carried out in the park
Gorilla trekking experience
A visit to the world endemic primates is one of the eye-catching experiences that has thrilled and boosted the tourism sector in Rwanda. There is one habituated gorilla family in volcanoes national park with a total of 10 gorilla families each with more than 5 family members, these include Susa group, Hirwa family, Kwitonda family, Agasha family, Bwengge family, Uganda family, Umubano family, Karisimbi family and Amahoro family. a maximum of 8 people are allowed each of the ten habituated gorilla families and is allowed to spend one hour with the gorillas and it is prohibited to smoke or eat in their presence. Each of these gorilla families offers a very memorable experience as the rest of them
The gorilla trekking in volcanoes national park is less strenuous than in Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Uganda however the altitude may cause difficulties for some visitors and gorillas to tend to climb higher during the dry season
Golden monkey trekking
Tracking the beautiful golden monkeys is another popular tourist activity in Volcanoes National Park. These wonderful primates which fall in one of the endangered primates, the golden glittering color makes them unique from the other monkey categories and thus an encounter with them is indeed marvelous, they mostly occupy the bamboo vegetation and thus trekking them requires you to be more extra attentive as they tend to move a lot across the trees and are more playful primates, unlike mountain gorillas.
A visit to Dian Fossey Research Grave
A hike to the graveyard of the founder, explorer for the conservation and protection of these gentle apes at Karisoke Research Center located between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke is yet another adventure which takes you between 5-7 hours to reach the site. Understanding the origin of gorilla trekking experienced which is conducted now is one of the great experience and sharing documentation.
Another exploring opportunity to make up on your visit is mountain climbing which requires a high level of physical fitness and thus there three volcanic mountains which include Mount Kirisimbi with a height of about 4,507m making it the fifth-highest volcanic mountain in Africa, Mount Bisoke coming second With a height of 12,175 feet, Mount Muhabura which is the third highest mountain within the Virunga ranges at 4,127m. Therefore there different trails that have been made to take you to the top of these mountains to enjoy the experience and as well view the landscape and all the natural beauties at an elevated angle.
A visit to Gorilla Guardians Village
Wind up your safari on a visit to Iby’Iwacu village before a sendoff to the park. You will be thrilled to be welcomed and enjoy how the locals survive and take part in different activities, for example, you can take part in arrow and bow shooting, You’ll as well have the option to explore local areas on mountain bikes through different routes with a guide. Enjoy traditional dance and folklores, feasting on the traditional meals, and as well directly support local initiatives to better improve their livelihood.
Visiting the twin Lakes of Rukundo and Burera
Enjoy a great moment after gorilla trekking experience, mountain climbing, or Golden monkey trekking on your tour by relaxing of the lakes for a breathtaking moment. A boat cruise through the deep waters of these two lakes will reward you with beautiful sights of birds and the vast hilly landscape with waterfalls.
Best time to visit the park
Pac is open to visitors all year however there two seasons where you can determine to visit the area which includes the wet and dry season but all offer memorable experience regardless of the conditions. Therefore the dry months include January, February June, July, August, September, and December too with less slippery grounds however wet months which receive heavy rainfall include months of March through to May and October to November