Volcanoes national park

Volcanoes National Park is among the four national parks that exist in Rwanda. The national park is also referred to as ‘Parc National des Volcans’ in the French language. The national park is located in the Musanze town, in the north- western province of Rwanda. The national park is blessed with a number of bird and plant species. It is also one of the habitats that is home to the endangered species of Mountain Gorillas in the world; the others being in Virunga National Park in DRC and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.

Volcanoes National Park borders Virunga National Park in DRC and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. It encompasses 5 of the 8 volcanoes of the Virunga volcano region and these include; Mount Karisimbi, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura and Mount Bisoke.

Volcanoes National Park was first gazetted as a national in 1925 and is oldest national park on the African continent. It was gazetted as a national park in order to protect mountain gorillas from poachers.

In 1929, Volcanoes National Park was extended from Rwanda into https://rdb.rw/Congo. The national park was originally called Albert National Park after King Albert 1. It was managed and run by the Belgian Colonialist government at that time.

 Later in the 1960s, Volcanoes National Park was divided between Rwanda and the DRC following their gain to Independence. This greatly reduced the park to half size and hence giving rise to the birth of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Volcanoes National Park covers 160 square kilometers of rain forest and bamboo. It has 178 bird species of which 13 species and 16 sub species are found in the Virunga Conservation Area and Rwenzori Mountains respectively.

Volcanoes Park acted as a base for the American primatologist and conservationist Dian Fossey in 1967. Her scientific research in the park dates back as far as 1966 when she started studying mountain gorilla groups within the park. After her murder, she was buried at a grave site located within the park.

Volcanoes Park is home to quite a number of mammal species such as; bushbucks, vervet and white and black colobus monkeys, spotted hyenas, forest elephants, buffaloes and giant hogs amongst others.

Volcanoes Park later became a battle front for the Rwanda civil war in the early 1990s. The genocide war not only greatly affected the lives of people living in Rwanda, but also reduced tourism activities in the area up until 1999.

However in 2005, the Rwandan Government introduced the baby naming ceremony for baby gorillas called ‘Kwita Izina’. This was done in a bid to revamp tourism and conservation activities in Volcanoes National Park. The ceremony for naming baby gorillas happens annually and involves the participation of both the local community and tourists as well.

Volcanoes National Park has its Headquarters based in Kinigi which is a small village located in the town of Musanze, which was formerly called Ruhengeri. The park’s headquarters in Kinigi is where trekking permits are issued and also briefing of tourists visiting the national park.

There are quite a variety of tourism activities that visitors can take park in while in Volcanoes national park and these include; gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, hiking mountains Karisimbi and Bisoke, hiking to Dian Fossey’s gravesite, exploring Musanze caves, and a cultural tour to the Iby’ Iwacu community village.

It is important to note that tourists intending to carryout gorilla or golden monkey trekking in the park should make booking for their trekking permits at least 6 months in advance. This is to avoid any inconveniences especially during the peak season between June and September to guarantee availability of permits. Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda cost USD 1500.

There is a wide variety of accommodation facilities that tourists visiting Volcanoes National Park can chose from. These include; Bisate Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain gorilla view, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Kinigi guesthouse and Gorilla Volcanoes Lodge.

All the above lodging facilities offer budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation options for any tourist visiting Volcanoes national park. These facilities also offer their clients a wide range of services such as; free Wi-Fi, exquisite restaurant/dining meals, a well-stocked bar and lounge area for guests, free ample packing, spa treatments, gym and stunning views of lakes like Burera, Ruhondo and Kivu among others.

Volcanoes National Park can be accessed by road from Gisenyi town or Kigali City. All trips to the national park begin at Kigali International Airport.  Visitors will then have to embark on a 2 hours’ drive to the park’s headquarters in Kinigi. The national park’s close proximity to Kigali City makes it a convenient destination for short tours, as well as gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda.

Tourists visiting Volcanoes National Park are bound to have the best experience of their lifetime. The national park has a lot to offer its visitors and the main highlight for any visit to this national park are the habituated mountain gorillas, and gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park is the best activity any visitor in Rwanda could ask for.


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