Kabaffulo Safaris

Volcanoes National park

Volcanoes National Park (Parc National de Volcans) travel guide brings you everything you need to know about this beautiful park. Volcanoes N/Park offers the most exhilarating mountain gorilla trekking adventures. The park is home to 30% of the remaining mountain gorillas (1063) and contains 12 habituated gorilla families. It is a rich protected area when it comes to faunal and floral species.

Where is the park located?
Volcanoes National Park is situated in the Northern Province of Rwanda, spanning up to 160 sq.km. The park was gazetted in 1925 primarily to protect and conserve a section of mountain gorillas. It is set within the Virunga Conservation Areas (VCA) in East-Central Africa, a region that also encompasses Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Virunga National Park in the D.R. Congo.
Volcanoes NP is where the late Dian Fossey camped while conducting research on gorillas. She established the Karisoke Research Center, a centre that played and still carries on with the conservation and research initiatives that Dian Fossey had begun. The plight of mountain gorillas was spread to the world through the Gorillas in the Mist book which was later translated to film.
Volcanoes National Park is most popular for its unique wildlife species, spectacular landscape featuring tropical forests, Lakes, Rivers, and Virunga Volcanoes (Mt Karisimbi 4507m, Bisoke 3711m, Muhabura Volcano 4127m, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo 3634m).

Other important attractions in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) are Volcanoes N/Park’s most sought for attractions on Rwanda safari. Over 30% of these unique species reside within the park’s habitats plus birds and other species. The park also contains many forest elephants, bush pigs, golden monkeys, bushbucks, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, duikers, forest hogs, bushbucks, and others.

The birds
Within Volcanoes NP alone, a total of 200 bird species freely roam in its different habitats. The park’s diverse birdlife include forest and Albertine rift endemic bird species. The birds to identify in this park: are Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, collared apalis, handsome francolin, Kivu ground thrush, Archer’s ground robin, and others.
Top tourism activities to do in Volcanoes National Park

Gorilla trekking
A total of 12 habituated gorilla families reside within Volcanoes National Park and these make it one of the excellent gorilla trekking destinations in Africa. It is one of the 4 parks where mountain gorillas are found and gorilla groups to be visited include Sabyinyo, Hirwa, Agashya group, Uganda, Susa A, Pablo, Kwitonda, Umubano, Titus, and Susa B. Trekking with Rwanda gorillas in Volcanoes NP does require everyone to have valid gorilla permits, each costing USD1500 per person.
All participants in gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda must be above 15 years and your fitness level matters a lot. The gorilla trek adventure starts from Kigali after the morning briefing and at 8:00 am, the 2-6 hours search for mountain gorilla groups begins with the leader of an experienced Rwanda park guide. You set off with all essentials for your gorilla trekking tour including waterproof hiking boots, long-sleeved shirts, a camera, a daypack, bottled drinking water, high-energy giving snacks, and gorilla permits.

Golden monkey tracking
Golden monkey tracking is another top safari experience that awaits visitors on Rwanda tour in Volcanoes N. Park. Golden monkeys are endemic species to the Albertine region and visits are done in already habituated troops. Like gorilla trekking, during the golden monkey trek, visitors are led by an experienced park guide.

The Dian Fossey trek
The Dian Fossey trek offers visitors a chance to visit the tomb of Dian Fossey and explore her gorilla conservation legacy. She was a devoted conservationist, researcher, and with courage, she fought against poaching practices in the region resulting in the protection of the once critically endangered mountain gorillas. The Dian Fossey tomb visit takes at least 2-3 hours and participants pay a fee of USD 75.

Volcano hiking
Visitors also have plenty of hiking/volcano climbing opportunities. These include climbing Mount Karisimbi summits 4507 meters, Africa’s 8th highest mountain. This volcano requires at least 2 days for you to have a complete trek. Mount Bisoke trek is a must-do in Volcanoes N/Park and the hike starts at Kinigi offices. Muhabura Volcano 4127 meters offers remarkable hikes and it is best hiked with the lead of an experienced guide.

The Twin Lakes tour
After or before engaging in actual activities within Volcanoes National Park, there is an opportunity to explore the charming Twin Lakes of Ruhondo and Burera. These spectacular lakes provide an excellent relaxation environment and city escape. You can take a boat ride through the lakes to one of the beautiful islands.

Musanze cave excursion
Musanze cave exploration takes you through the Musanze, a natural cave with stretch of 2 km. Tourists officially began visiting the cave in 2013 and this was officially done by the Rwanda Development Board. The caves are situated in the Musanze district and have walkway leading visitors to their interior.

When to visit the park
The best time of the year to travel for a safari in Volcanoes National Park is during the dry season. The park records the dry season starting from June, July, August and September or December, January to February. The dry months offer excellent gorilla trekking adventures or volcano hiking experiences.

Volcanoes National Park accommodation
Volcanoes National Park accommodation facilities consist of budget, midrange and luxury options. For visitor comfort, here are the top places to book for an overnight stay: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Kinigi Guesthouse, La Palm Hotel, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Virunga Hotel, Villa Gorilla Lodge, Five Volcanoes Hotel, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Bisate Lodge, and more.

How to get to the park for a vacation
Volcanoes National Park comes second after Akagera National Park as the most accessible Rwanda safari park. You need 2-3 hours to drive starting from Kigali to this park for your gorilla safari or golden monkey tracking tour. There is also an option of crossing from the Uganda side (Kisoro) through the Chanika border or Kabale via the Katuna border to the Northern Province of Rwanda.

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