Volcanoes national park, famous for gorilla tours in the Virunga Conservation Area and as the first African national park, was gazetted in 1925 surrounded by Mikeno ,Karisimbi and Visoke volcanic peaks as a mountain gorillas natural sanctuary. This park is mostly known after the famous primatologist Dr Dian Fossey who arrived in this park in 1967 setting up Karisoke Research Centre between Visoke and Karisimbi . Dian Fossey, later was assassinated by poachers she had vehemently fought all her life as portrayed in her autobiography – Gorillas in the Mist. Her graveyard at the research centre has to date become a great tourist attraction.
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 hike of Bisoke volcano, Visiting Dian Fossey, Visiting the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Bulera