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There are several interesting nearby places in the Virunga Region where the Volcanoes National Park lies. The Virunga Region hosts half of the remaining population of the world’s mountain gorillas. This region stretches through three countries; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

National Parks

There are three gazetted national parks protecting the mountain gorillas and this is the same forest that stretches from Southern Uganda to the slopes of Mount Rwenzori in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

  • Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    Also referred to as Parc National des Virungas, this is the first place where gorilla tourism was started.  Find information on gorilla tourism in the park, location – directions/map, history, weather conditions and more.Established in 1925, Virunga National Park is the Africa’s first national park. The national park stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the south, the Ruwenzori mountains in the north, the volcanoes national park in the eastern part of the Democratic republic of Congo and Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda.The national park covers a land area of 7,800-square-kilometre (3,000 sq. mi) and is a UNESCO designated world heritage site since 1979 when poaching and Congo civil wars had become serious threats to the wild life in the national park and was founded primarily to protect the mountain gorillas living in the forests of the Virunga Massif that were controlled by the Belgian Congo. Later, Virunga was expanded north to include the Rwindi Plains, Lake Edward, and the Rwenzori Mountains.
  • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda

Attractions in Musanze

  • Musanze Caves
  • The Gorilla Guardian Village (former Ibywachu Cultural Centre)
  • Buhanga Sacred Forest
  • Dian Fossey Museum

Nearby Towns

  • Musanze Town
  • Changugu
  • Gisenyi
  • Kisoro

Virunga Mountains

The Virunga Mountains also known as the Virunga Volcanoes are a series of eight volcanic mountains along the northern border of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This chain of volcanoes stretch from the Rwenzori Mountains to border of Uganda and Rwanda. Also known as the Mufumbiro Ranges, these volcanoes extend over about 50 miles (80 km) along the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. The range runs east-west, perpendicular to the rift valley in which lie Lakes Kivu and Edward.

Quick Facts

  • Of the Virunga Volcanoes, Karisimbi is the highest rising to an elevation of 14,787 feet (4,507 metres).
  • Two of the eight Virunga volcanoes are active i.e Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira while the remaining six are dormant.
  • The Virunga Mountains protect mountain gorillas and these great apes only inhabit the ranges of the dormant volcanoes.

Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is another interesting attraction within the Virunga. Lying along the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lake Kivu is one of the beautiful places to relax from.

This Lake Kivu is the sixth largest lake in Africa and because of its volcanic origin, the water is not ideal for hippos or crocodiles, which means it’s good to go for swimming. Tours around Lake Kivu are offered and a good number of lodges have been built on the shores of the lake in both Rwanda and Congo.

Tours to the islands of the lake are conducted in boats. You can also enjoying seeing the local fishermen catching tilapia, a delicacy you should taste.

Visoke Crater Lake

Visoke volcano is on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Visoke Volcano is located on the Democratic Republic of Congo / Rwanda border. An eruption in 1957 formed two small cones on the north flank, 11 km from the summit.

Visoke (12,175 ft./3,711 m, above sea level) has a beautiful crater lake and requires four hours of hiking, up a steep trail from the Visoke departure point, to reach the summit. The walk around the crater rim is highly recommended. Allow seven hours for the entire trip.<strong> Lake Ngezi </strong>(9,843 ft./3,000 m), a small, shallow crater lake, is the easiest hike in the park; it takes only three to four hours round-trip from the Visoke departure point.