Volcanoes National Park “In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rain forest – the Virunga”.
The Volcanoes National Park is the most prestigious of the three national parks of Rwanda, attracting a constant flux of visitors from all corners of the world all year long. Mountain gorillas are the most charismatic inhabitants of the national park, are of course the main focus for visitors: watching the gentle and peaceful giants of the Virunga Forest are close quarters in their natural habitat remains without any doubt one of the most thrilling and poignant experiences wildlife has to offer anywhere in the world, But how fascinating they may be, gorillas are by far not the only asset of Volcanoes National Park….
The Volcanoes National Park deserves more than one single day to be fully appreciated. We do hope that this guide book, your companion into the Virunga Forest, will make your hikes in Volcanoes National Park even more memorable and rewarding……
A wildlife safari in the Parc Des Volcans of Rwanda is such a mind blowing experience one can attain while touring Rwanda. Mountain gorillas came to the lime light back in the 1960’s by the help of Dian Fossey an American zoologist in her struggles in the protection and conservation of these creatures.
Mountain gorillas are very close relatives of human species since they share quite a lot in common with the human beings with a 95% DNA (nurturing and caring for their young ones, living in groups of families, eating, playing, crying etc.)
Mountain gorillas are the largest apes and very strong yet fragile creatures. They are shy animals, usually hiding in the wild feeding; the females looking after their young ones and the males(silverbacks) looking for new feeding grounds and very determined to protect their territories.
In order to engage in the mountain gorilla trekking activity, one must possess a gorilla trekking permit, however only 8 tourists are allowed to a specific gorilla family group per day making it only 80 visitors to the Volcanoes National park per day for the mountain gorilla trekking adventure. There are 10 visited gorilla family groups in Rwanda. These permits are available at the Rwanda Development Board at $1500.
The volcanoes national park is among the African national parks that habit the rare remaining mountain gorillas; Rwanda has 8 habituated gorilla groups for the trekking. Among the activities encountered includes the Rwanda gorilla trekking safaris, golden monkey tracking, visit the Dian Fossey grave yard and the gorilla permit in Rwanda is US$ 1500 dollars!
Date of creation: One of the very first national parks in Africa created in 1925 as Parc National Albert, renamed as Volcanoes National Park (Park National des Volcans) in 1960.
Location: Volcanoes National Park is located in North-western Rwanda, in Northern province (Musanze and Gisenyi Districts).
Size: The current size of the national park is 1.6000 hectares. Extensions of its size are planned in the near future.
Altitude: The altitudinal range of the national park is 2400m to 4507m.
The Volcanoes National Park is an extraordinary park situated in Rwanda. The Park is blessed and crowded with impressive tropical rain forest, volcanic beauties and trekking adventures. The rare mountain gorillas are seen in plenty here which makes it a best place in earth to make a visit.
The park is exactly located in North-western part of Rwanda a bordered by Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The Park extends up to an area of 8090 square km. The National Park was converted into a battlefield during the Rwandan Civil War, when the park headquarters was attacked in 1992. But by 1999, everything was put back to normal and when the area was deemed to be safe and under control.
The Park is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rainforest and bamboo. The high altitudinal range of the Park always influences the vegetation here. Neoboutonia forest is present within 2400 and 2500 m. Mounting 30 % of the Park area, Arundinaria alpina (bamboo) forest occurs from 2500 to 3200 m. Hagenia-Hypericum forest occurs in 2600 to 3600 m covering another 30% of the Park.
The park is best known for the Mountain Gorilla and hence it is known as heaven of Mountain Gorillas. Mammals such as Golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), Buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) and Black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger) is also camps in this Park. Few Elephants are also reported to be residing in this Park. The bird species recorded here counts up to 178, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
Tourism in the park
The main tourist activities in the Park are Gorilla visits, Karisimbi and Bisoke volcano climbing, Golden monkey visits, Lake and Cave tours and visit to the tomb of Dian Fossey.
The pay per private non-commercial vehicle is $10.00 and $5.00 for pedestrians or bicyclists. Non-commercial groups entering the park in a bus or vehicle with a capacity of 15 persons or more will be charged $5.00 for each person on board.
The park has variety of accommodation facilities which includes the Virunga lodge, Sabyinyo lodge, Gorilla nest lodge, Mountain gorilla view lodge, Le-bombou lodge, Kinigi guest house among other.
We wish you a pleasant journey through the pages of Volcanoes National Park.