Located in the north western part of Rwanda, Volcanoes National park covers a total area of 160 square kilometers. It is home to the species of Mountain Gorillas and five of the eight Virunga volcanoes.
These volcanoes include Mount Karisimbi, Muhavura, Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Bisoke. Of all volcanoes, Karisimbi is the tallest standing at 4507m high.
This Park boasts lush habitats that consist of tropical rainforests, bamboo forests, Swampy areas, Savannah and grasslands.
Adding to Mountain Gorillas, other species like Primates (Golden monkeys, Colobus monkeys, baboons and more), wild animals, reptiles, insect species and multiple bird species are typical residents in the Park.
All activities in the Park start at Kinigi Park headquarters. This area is 12 km from Musanze, the biggest town near Volcanoes National Park. You can easily get to this Park from Kigali by road or air transport.
By road – It takes about 2 hours to drive from Kigali city to the Park headquarters in Kinigi. Public means to Musanze are not recommended because there is no further transport from this town to the park headquarters.
If not road, air transport is the only option to choose. Private charters are arranged from Kigali airport to an airstrip in Kinigi. From here you transfer by car to the park headquarters or hotel in Kinigi.
Activities in the Park
Gorilla Trekking Experience
Gorilla trekking allows you to visit Gorillas in the Jungles. These apes are herbivorous in nature, mostly feed on tree leaves, coconuts, fruits and grass.
While in Rwanda for Gorillas, you can only find them in Volcanoes National Park. This Park lies in the north western part of Rwanda.
Gorilla trekking is often done in a group. Each habituated Gorilla family is visited by only a group of eight people per day.
After briefing, the journey to the jungle starts in a group with ranger guides. Time taken and distance moved in the Jungle depends on where these apes spent their last night.
After locating them you are allowed to stay in their presence for only one hour. You see them as they feed, play and more. You are free to take a lot of photos and videos.
Golden Monkey Tracking
This is another activity to enjoy in Volcanoes National Park. Like Gorilla trekking, a briefing is first conducted and then the search for these primates in the Jungle starts in a group.
After discovering their presence, you are allowed to be in their presence for some time while following their movements.
Take plenty of pretty photos for these primates while posing in the bamboo trees, feeding and more.
These primates are mostly found in the mountainous bamboo forested areas, therefore physical fitness is a must for any participant.
Volcanoes National Park is home to over 200 species of birds, therefore it’s not a surprise that it is listed among Rwanda’s top birding hotspots.
Birders see unique bird species like the Ruwenzori turaco, strange weaver, ground robin, and francolins, red faced woodland warbler, Ruwenzori double collared sunbird, Archer’s ground robin, dusky crimson wing and more.
Dian Fossey Hike.
For adventure enthusiasts, hiking to the Dian Fossey grave yard is a great expedition for you. Dian Fossey is an American researcher who began research about Gorillas in the Jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After constant political unrests in DR Congo, Dian Fossey decided to leave DR Congo and transferred to Volcanoes National Park.
While in Rwanda she built a research center for Gorillas and lived with these apes for eighteen years until she was shoot dead by the rebels.
Trekkers start the expedition in the morning via trails that wind through lush jungles, rolling hills and valleys up to the grave yard. Along the way you will be exposed to various Wildlife species.
Iby’iwacu Cultural Village.
This village is one of the most known cultural sites in Rwanda. It is near Volcanoes National Park and belongs to the Batwa people. It consists of various grass thatched huts that showcase different cultural norms of the Batwa.
Batwa people were hunters and gatherers who migrated from the Ituri forest reserve. While in this village, there is a guide to lead you around while feeding you with different information.
Visit Musanze Caves.
These are one of the hidden spots in the foothills of the Park. It is a natural underground chamber in a hillside. There are large enough for human beings to enter.
Inside there are trails that can lead you to the interior parts of the cave. Reaching this part of the cave, you can believe like this is real home. It has numerous rooms.
Volcanoes National Park is a great stop if you are in Rwanda for mountain hiking. It has plenty of sites for you to practice your hiking skills like Mountain Bisoke and Karisimbi. Expeditions to Mount Bisoke and Karisimbi are offered daily.
Mount Karisimbi at 4507 m high is the second highest of Virunga ranges. The hiking to the top of this Volcano takes two days including one overnight stay at the top. Day one is for hiking up to the top, spend a night and next day descend back. At a height of 3711m, Bisoke is the easiest and can be hiked in one day.