Traveler’s guide to Volcanoes national park Rwanda featuring all you need to know about trekking safaris to watch gorillas in Ruanda, 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 160 sqkm area in the northern part of Ruanda, Volcanoes national park is part of the great Virunga volcano conservation region spanning to cover Virunga national park Congo and Mgahinga national park Uganda. 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 tourism 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
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) – This is the governing body of tourism in Rwanda. You can contact them via email or Phone. Email:email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustainability and Protection of the Gorillas
Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park is the most popular gorilla destination followed by Bwindi forest national park and Mgahinga and Virunga national park is picking up on gorilla tourism. While in the 90’s mountain gorillas populations were at the verge of extinction, 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), $1500 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 conserve mountain gorillas in Africa, 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
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.