Volcanoes National Park lies in the Northwestern Rwanda and borders Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a first national park in Africa which gazetted in 1925 to protect the Mountain Gorillas. The Park covers an area of about 130 km² (2,500 Hectares) and its about 3 hours drive from the capital city Kigali to the Park. The park covers six active and three dead volcanoes which include the Karisimbi (inactive mountain 4507M), Bisoke (3711M), Muhabura (4127M), Gahinga (3474M) and Sabyinyo (3634M) Much of this is protected by National parks, including the Volcanoes National Park on the Rwanda side, which was made famous by Dian Fossey’s work who carried out research on the life and behaviors of these giant apes for the period of over 18 years.
The National Park is known as a haven for the mountain gorillas and it s one of the few countries in Africa that hosts these grate apes. More than a half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas live here over 360, and presently it’s regarded as the best place for gorilla safari in Africa. It requires one to carry Light rain gear, strong boots, drinking water, packed lunch, non flash camera, long khaki or jean trousers, long sleeved shirt are recommended. The park also is a home of other mammals such as golden monkey, black-fronted duiker, spotted hyena ,buffaloes ,bush pigs, few elephants and the bush buck, the park is also a home of over 178 recorded bird species, among which 13 species and 16 subspecies common to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
Tourism activities at the park:
The park can attract tourists all over the world because of the very many activities that can be carried out at the park and can leave tourists with stories to tell in case they take a safari to this amazing park. Among which include;
This is the most tourist activity carried out at the park; Volcanoes National park is one of the few countries that host the remaining serving mountain gorillas in the world over 360 grate apes are living in the park. Tourists are allowed to spend only one hour with the gorillas and visitors are recommended to move with light rain gear, sturdy boots, sweater for cool evening, sunglasses, video/photo camera, a 200 mm or longer lens is very useful, reserve batteries, films and a torch, drinking water, packed food and long sleeved shirts because it involves passing through thick forest and muddy places. The time taken while tracking is un predictable it takes between 3-8 hours depending on their movement. Tracking our closest relative is one of the most exciting moments one should not wish to miss.
One can track the Sabyinyo Group. This is found relatively close to the edge of the forest about 20-40 minutes walk between Sabyinyo and Ngahinga .One can also track the group thirteen which lives close to Sabyinya group and its also fairly easy to walk, Susa group originally studied by Dian Fossey, Karisimbi and the Amahoro group and Umubano group which are far away from the Headquarters but easier to reach. All these are gorilla groups and each group is rewarding.
What to bring with you
Money for your personal expenses (average of $ 60 p.p.), outfit with adapted colors for wildlife observation, good walking shoes, raingear, a few long-sleeve shirts , sweater for cool evenings, sun protection: hat, sunglasses, sun cream, video/photo camera, a 200 mm or longer lens is very useful, reserve batteries, films and a torch.
Golden Monkey Tracking:
The park is also a home to other primates such as the golden monkey which can be tracked by tourists. Kabatwa at the base of Sabyinyo and Musanga at the base of Karisimbi, this is where tracking these elusive golden monkey is carried out. Tracking starts in the morning from Kinigi Ruhengeri office at 08.00am.
Climbing Karisimbi Volcan:
This is another activity carried out at the park. It’s a two day trip with overnight camping at an altitude of 3,800 m. it’s regarded as an interesting activity which is most liked by tourists. A guide or a porter is needed to guide you and give you the necessary equipments needed to do the climb.
Visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey:
Tourists who are interested to visit the tomb of Dian Fossey are allowed to do so. This is a celebrated and distinguished primatologist who managed to carry out research on these giant gorillas for over 18 years so visiting her research center at Karisoke is regarded as a breathtaking activity done at the park.
Climbing of Bisoke Volcano, (3.711 m) this is a one day exercise. Tourists who make it to Volcanoes National Park also take a climb to Bisoke volcano. It requires one to be physically fit in order to do a hike. Climbing also to Karisimbi. (4.507m).
This takes 2 days. Climb also Mount Sabyinyo an extinct mountain in eastern Africa, its slops are a habitant for the mountain gorilla. So climbing these volcanoes is one of the most exciting moments one should not miss in case takes a vacation to volcanoes National Park.
This involves a visit to Musanze cave which is 2 km long and the natural bridge. Exploring these caves also regarded as one of the most exciting activities that are carried out the park.
Visiting local communities:
Tourists that make it to volcanoes National park can also take a visit to the local communities, display their cultural dance, explain their farming methods and explain to the visitors how they have managed to leave in the area.
Other activity includes taking a tour to the Lake Burera and Ruhondo
There are several options within and around the Park.
Gorilla Mountain View Lodge:
It’s a mid-range choice with 30 individual cottages, a restaurant and a bar, all with views over the nearby hills and volcanoes. It’s affordable with good accommodation facilities and within 15 minutes’ drive to the park headquarters.
Sabyinyo Silverback lodge
This is the most luxurious lodge in the area with comfortable rooms and fantastic view from its prominent position. It has 5 cottages, 2 suites and 1 family cottage. The lodge is located at the edge of volcanoes national.
Virunga Lodge. It is one of the most impressive locations of any camp in Africa high on an edge overlooking both Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo. It is regarded as a mid range lodge and it provide the best accommodation facilities to the visitors. For those willing to go to volcanoes national park should think about sleeping in this beautiful lodge.
Kinigi Guest House:
It’s run by the village. Kinigi Guesthouse is a very simple and basic place to stay, close to the meeting point of many gorilla treks. It has a relax area, a bar and 20 guest rooms.
Mountain gorilla’s Nest comp
Muhabura hotel (Budget)/La Palme hotel (Deluxe)
Mountain gorilla view lodge (Luxury)