Traveler’s guide to Volcanoes national park Rwanda featuring all you need to know about trekking safaris to watch gorillas in Rwanda, how to book gorilla permits, other attractions in the park, what to wear for gorilla trekking, gorilla groups in Rwanda, best time to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking, accommodation in Rwanda and so much more. A visit to tour gorillas in Volcanoes national park is purely a life changing adventure.

Spanning on a 160sqkm area in the northern part of Rwanda, Volcanoes national park is the oldest national park in Africa. It was initially a small area around Karisimbi, Mikeno and Visoke volcanoes which was gazetted to protect the Mountain gorillas which were facing the threat of extinction as a result of poaching.

In 1929, the park was extended into Rwanda and the then Belgian Congo and was named Albert national park managed and run by the Belgian Colonial Authorities. During early 1960s, the park was divided as Rwanda and Congo gained their independence and by the end of that decade, the park was almost half of its original size.

In 1967, the American zoologist Dian Fossey who had been doing research on mountain Gorillas in the forests of Congo fled from insecurity and established her research base at a place between Visoke and Karisimbi volcanoes that was yet to be known as Karisoke research center. She spearheaded the conservation campaign of the mountain gorillas and mobilized resources to fight against poaching in this area, a fight she put up until her murder in 1985. She was buried at the research center next to the grave of her favorite gorilla called Digit.

The park continued to suffer at the mercies of poachers though conservation efforts were also under way. In early 1990s, the park became a battle field for the Rwanda’s civil war which paralyzed tourism activities until 1999. In 2005, in a bid to boost conservation and gorilla tours in Volcanoes national park , Rwanda introduced the annual baby naming ceremony for baby gorillas known as ‘Kwita Iziina’ which has seen great results in as far as gorilla population in volcanoes is concerned.

Volcanoes national park is home to Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei); golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), buffaloes (Syncerus caffer), elephants , black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger), and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus). The park also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to Rwenzori mountains and the Virungas.

How to get there

Volcanoes National Park is located in a small village called Musanze previously well-known as Ruhengeri, which is very accessible by public transport from Gisenyi or Kigali or from the airport. The drive to Volcanoes national park is 2 hrs and hence one can do gorilla tracking on the same day and drive back to Kigali after the trek. You will be required to arrive at the headquarters of ORTPN in Kinigi, at the park entrance, by 7:00 am, therefore, if you hope to trek gorillas for one day, you have to wake up very early for your journey so that you are on time. However, there isn’t any public transport from Musanze to the headquarters of the park at Kinigi.
Activities in the park include:-
Gorilla trekking, Hiking Karisimbi volcano (3,800 m), One day Mount Bisoke volcano hike, Visiting Dian Fossey, Visiting the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Bulera

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  • rwanda-culture
  • mountain-gorilla-view
  • gorilla-trekking
  • volcanoes
  • rwanda-gorilla-tour
  • gorilla-tracking

Other Activities

Golden Monkey Tracking

Tracking Golden Monkeys starts at the same time as mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes national park by 7:00 assembling for a briefing. These rare species are also listed as endangered and Volcanoes national park currently has two habituated golden monkeys’ troops that are available for visiting.
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Visit famous Dian Fossey Tomb

The Dian Fossey Tomb is situated 30 minutes drive from the Volcanoes park headquarters and to the trailhead to the Karisoke Research Camp. You will start the trek through the forest taking between an hour and a half and three hours, depending on your fitness
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Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo

The twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo were named so because they are situated in the same areas and their physical connection. They are located with in Musanze district a walk away from the Volcanoes national park. The lakes offer tourists a beautiful view of landscape, wetland habitat, and water birds.
Rwanda Weather Forecast
15°
few clouds
humidity: 72%
wind: 2m/s NNW
H 29 • L 11
25°
Sun
26°
Mon
27°
Tue
23°
Wed
Weather from OpenWeatherMap
How to book a Gorilla Permit

rwanda gorilla permit Planning to go gorilla tracking in Rwanda – Volcanoes national park, we have compiled 3 options for you to go for to acquire a gorilla permit to Parc National des Volcans.

Option One
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) – This is the governing body of tourism in Rwanda. You can contact them via email or Phone. Email:email: reservation@rwandatourism.com
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Accommodation in PNV

We have compiled a list of hotels ranging from Luxury to budget facilities where to stay in Volcanoes National park when going for gorilla trekking in Rwanda
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What to wear for gorilla trekking

Make sure to pack clothes with a tough material like jeans, also get a pair of rain pants as the weather is unpredictable incase it rains. Pack good boots and have a pair of socks and stung gloves.
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Getting a Rwanda Visa

A Rwanda Visa is required for all visitors except for nationals of the UK, Germany, Sweden, USA, Hong Kong, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa Tanzania and Uganda. The single East Africa Visa
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Tour operators

We have a compile a list of reliable tour operators in Rwanda and their contact Info.
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Best Time to Visit Rwanda

Visiting Rwanda for gorilla tracking can be done all year round. The best time to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons
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Sustainability and Protection of the Gorillas

Being the most sought after safari adventure in Africa, gorilla trekking is a sensitive activity which when not controlled and managed strictly, may negatively impact on the lives of the mountain gorillas. In a bid to regulate the activity, the governments of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda (the only countries with mountain gorillas) decided to make permits which are more expensive than any other wildlife permit in order to limit the number of visitors and create sustainability of the activity.
The gorilla permit costs $400 in Congo (DRC), $750 in Rwanda and $600 in Uganda. These gorilla permits help in limiting the number of people trekking the gorillas in order to limit stress on these apes and on their habitat, that may result in their change of behavior or even death. There is only a maximum of 8 permits per gorilla group sold each day to make sure the gorillas are not overwhelmed by the human presence.
In order to make the gorilla trekking sustainable, respective governments and wildlife organizations came up with a set of guidelines trekkers have to follow in order to remain harmonious with the gorillas, below are some of them;Read More

Community

Revenue collected from tourists to this park 20% of it goes to the local communities surrounding the park and the rest to the maintenance of the infrastructure in and around the national park.
Find Information on gorilla permits in Rwanda , how to book a gorilla trekking permit to volcanoes, guidelines on a Rwanda gorilla safari, dressing code for gorilla tracking trip right here on our website.