Top six safari activities to do in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

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July 2, 2019
Top six safari activities to do in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

Rwanda ranks high on the scale of beautiful and attractive destinations in Africa with thousands of travelers visiting the country from different parts of the world.

Rwanda is a beautiful small and landlocked country but blessed with a diversity of wildlife in her four national parks, greenery rolling hills, friendly people, unique cultures warm weather, among others.

In addition to your Rwanda safari, you can also learn about the country’s sad history of a tragedy that claimed almost a million lives from one of the genocide memorial museums.

Volcanoes national park in the northwest is the top destination of majority of Rwanda’s visitors and these are the safari activities you can enjoy while in the park.

Trekking mountain gorillas

A tourist poses with a mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park

No other safari activity can be compared to trekking mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park both in popularity and fetching revenue for the country.

Rwanda is one of the only three countries in the world with mountain gorillas and Volcanoes national park within the Virunga Mountains is their natural habitat in Rwanda.

The other two national parks with mountain gorillas in Virunga Mountains include Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda

Mountain gorillas are endangered and their total population in the wild is about 1,000 of which about half can be found within the Virunga Mountains within 3 national parks. The rest of the mountain gorillas are found within Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable national park.

Volcanoes National Park has about 10 habituated gorilla families including Asabyinyo, Amahoro, Susa, Karisimbi, Hirwa, Ugenda, Umubano, just to name a few. You will be assigned to trek one of these families on your Rwanda gorilla safari.

Each gorilla family is visited once per day by a group of 8 trekkers who are allowed to spend one full hour while observing and photographing these amazing primates as they do their activities.

A Rwanda gorilla permit that allows you trek the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is sold at $1,500 per person

Mountain gorilla trekking starts very early in the morning with a briefing about the dos and the don’ts of gorilla trekking at the park headquarters before you finally head into the jungle to search for these close cousins.

The trek to find the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park may take you 2-4 hours depending on how close you find them as you trek through the bamboo forests of the park.

Gorilla trekkers are accompanied by an armed ranger to protect them from any attacks from wild animals and a trained tour guide who is well informed about the gorillas and the rest of the wildlife in the park. They also help to trace and locate your assigned gorilla family.

Gorillas share up to 98% of the Human DNA and the way they behave in their natural habitat is closely related to that of humans and it is so amazing to watch.

Golden monkey tracking

Some of the golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park

Golden monkeys are the other species of rare primates that live in the magnificent Virunga Mountains.

The experience of tracking the beautiful golden monkeys in Volcanoes national park ranks second to gorilla trekking with these amazing primates increasingly becoming popular among travelers.

A 3-day gorilla safari in Volcanoes National park is sufficient enough to include a golden monkey safari.

Like gorilla trekking, tracking golden monkeys starts in the morning after the briefing at park headquarters though the activity is less strenuous compared to the gorilla trekking and the monkeys are easily reached.

A golden monkey tracking permit in Rwanda is sold at $100 per person and like gorillas, trekkers are permitted to spend one hour while tracking these beautiful primates.

Hiking to Dian Fossey Tomb

A group of tourists visiting Dian Fossey tomb in Volcanoes National Park

Hiking to Dian Fossey’s tomb is one of the most attractive activities in Volcanoes national park.

Dian Fossey was an American primatologist who spent close two years in Volcanoes national park while studying, researching about mountain gorillas and at the same time fighting for their conservation.  

Fossey was murdered by poachers in 1985 within the park and she was laid to rest next to her long term friends, the gorillas and her grave is located between the peaks of Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi near the Karisoke Research Center in the park.

Hikers are charged $80 per person to visit Fossey’s grave and the lucky ones can meet some animals along the way including elephants, buffaloes, and primates like golden monkeys and even gorillas.

Hiking to the top of the volcano summits

A hiker relaxing next to the Crater Lake on top of Mount Bisoke

Mountain hiking is perhaps the most adventurous safari activity in Volcano national park with hikes to some of the tallest Volcano summits in the park.

Mount Bisoke which stands at 3,700 meters is the most hiked volcano summit in the park with hikers striving to reach the beautiful and deep crater Lake on the top. A relative fitness level is required to help you overcome the high elevation as you hike to the top of Mount Bisoke. Reaching the top may take you five to seven hours depending on your fitness level and the speed.

Mount Karisimbi is another alternative for hiking and it has the second highest volcanic peak in the Virunga Mountains.

Once you make it at the top of Mount Karisimbi, you will enjoy beautiful views of the Twin Lakes and you will see the peaks of the other volcanoes in Virunga Mountains. There is a Crater Lake near the summit surrounded by dry vegetation with the giant heather dominating the slopes of the volcano.

Community tours and guided walks

A tourist looking at some of the craft products in Rwanda near Volcanoes National Park

There guided walks that are organized to take you around Volcanoes national park including visiting the local market at Musanze where visitors can interact with the local people.

There are also nature walks to the beautiful Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo where you can relax and enjoy fresh air as you stroll around to take photos and videos of the beautiful surrounding scenery. You can take a canoe ride around the Twin Lakes to explore their beauty more.

A community visit to the Nyange village is designed you to show you all aspects of rural life in Rwanda. You will tour around the community to see how locals work, visit homes of ironsmiths, craft makers, local brewers, and carpenters.

Visiting Iby’iwacu Cultural Village

Local dancers entertain tourists at Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village

Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village is found on the edge of Volcanoes national park and the community features several cultural activities in which you can also take part.

The community is composed of ex-poachers who were resettled after being convinced to quit gorilla poaching and one of the ways they make a living today is though their cultural performances to the tourists.

While at the village, you will visit the traditional house of a local king and the traditional medicine men while you can also take park in the bow and arrow shooting contest. You can decide to sit back and enjoy the thrilling Kinyarwanda cultural music accompanied by dances and drumming performances from the locals.

Finally, there is an option for you to explore the communities around Volcanoes national park through different routes on a mountain bike led by a guide.

Click here to make an inquiry and book your safari to Volcanoes national park and enjoy these amazing encounters on your holiday.