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Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is most renowned for mountain gorilla trekking, but the park still offers a variety of other exciting activities. This park is part of the Virunga volcanoes, which are split by Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This park has an everlasting bamboo forest as well as grassland, wetland, and heath habitats.

Mountain gorillas are the main attraction at Volcanoes National Park, and gorilla trekking is available throughout the year. Due to the high elevation, it is often chilly, especially in the early mornings as well as nights. The park is just two hours from Kigali in Rwanda’s northwestern region.

Wildlife at Volcanoes National Park

Birds

Volcanoes National Park is home to approximately 200 bird species, including some Albertine rift endemics for bird watchers to enjoy. After mountain gorilla tracking and golden monkey hiking, birding is the finest thing to do in this park. Grauer’s rush warbler, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori double-collared Sunbird, beautiful francolin, peculiar weaver, dusky crimson-wing, collared Apalis, red-faced woodland warbler, and Archer’s ground robin are among the species to watch for.

Animals

Mountain gorillas are the most well-known residents of Volcanoes National Park. Because to Dian Fossey’s work and the film “Gorilla in the Mist,” they were able to effectively place Volcanoes National Park on the global map. The park is also home to the gorgeous, uncommon, and endangered golden monkeys that can only be spotted in the virunga region. Forest elephants, buffaloes, bush pigs, gigantic forest hogs, duikers, spotted hyenas, bush-bucks, and many primates are also present in the forest.

Gorilla families at volcanoes national park

In Volcanoes National Park, there are multiple gorilla families, some of which are habituated for gorilla tourism and others for study, while others are not. To monitor gorillas, you must first get a gorilla permit via monumental expeditions. Based on the situation, each gorilla troop is given a name and is led by a silverback. When a young silverback challenges the dominant silverback, he must steal several females from an existing group to start his own brood.

Hirwa gorilla family

originated from current gorilla families such as Group 13, Susa, and Sabyinyo Upon fleeing Susa with two females, Munyinya the silverback met others on the road and firmly developed a group.

Amahoro gorilla family

Amahoro, which signifies “peaceful,” is led by the composed Ubumwe. The group primarily lives uphill, which necessitates a steep climb to eventually enter its domain, but the climb is always worthwhile.

Sabyinyo gorilla family

Guhonda, named after one of the volcanoes, Mt Sabyinyo, leads the group. This family has fewer members than most, but it is a remarkable one. If you are tired of tracking long distances, this is the group to request if there is enough room.

Kwitonda gorilla family

is led by silverback Kwitonda, whose name translates as “humble one.” This gorilla group migrated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and ‘forever’ established in Rwanda. It is a fairly challenging trek due to its location on the upper slopes of Mt Muhabura.

Umubano gorilla family

Umubano is driven by silverback Charles, who separated from the Amahoro gorilla group with some females. The title Umubano means “living together.”

Group 13/ agashya gorilla family

It had only 13 members during habituation, thus the name. It presently has about 25 members and is led by silverback Agashya, that also describes the title change.

Ugenda gorilla family

Come prepared to trek this volcano as you follow this gorilla troop, which was called by its peculiar tendency of moving from place to place throughout the Karisimbi region.

Susa A gorilla family

is the park’s largest gorilla troop, with 41 gorillas, and the group studied by Dian Fossey. The group is well-known for possessing the unusual twins Byishimo and Impano. This family lives in the high mountains, rendering trekking tough, but it rewards you with its enormity when you see it.

Karisimbi / susa B gorilla family

There are two silverbacks who separated from the original Susa (A) group. This group, which lives on the top slopes of Mt Karisimbi, is one of the most difficult to reach. It is ideally suited for experienced hikers who appreciate the trekking experience as much as seeing gorillas.

Bwenge gorilla family

Bwenge, the silverback, created the group after breaking away with females from other groups. Bwenge translates as ‘Wisdom.’ The group mostly inhabits the slopes between the mountains of Karisimbi and Bisoke.

Titus gorilla family

was renamed after the silverback Titus, who was hatched amid Dian Fossey’s studies in Karisoke.

Gorilla trekking

This is the most popular activity in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and it occurs once daily, with 8 personnel visiting each gorilla family. The tourists are due to gather at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) headquarters at 7 a.m., where they will be informed on what to anticipate and then divided among the several gorilla families. Once you’ve been assigned to a gorilla group and the briefing is through, you’ll follow your ranger guide and begin your trip in search of these giants apes. Depending on the geographical location of the gorilla family you are trekking, your walk might take anything from a few minutes to 6 hours. Once you see the family, you will only be permitted to stay in their company for one hour. Remember the information presented in the briefing and try to follow it for your own and the gorillas’ safety; if in question, contact your ranger guide.

What to pack for Rwanda Gorilla Safaris
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers.
  • Sun shelter
  • Repellent for insects
  • Rain garment with sunscreen
  • Hiking boots that are waterproof
Rules and guidelines of Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park
  • Visitors are requested to keep a 7-meter (22-foot) distance from the gorillas.
  • Please do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold, flu, or another infectious ailment. Cover your mouth and move away from the gorillas if you need to cough.
  • The viewing period is restricted to one hour.
  • Maximum of 8 visits per group per day.
  • Keep your voice quiet when among the gorillas.
  • Try not to make any sudden movements that can startle the gorillas.
  • If a gorilla charges or vocalizes at you, remain calm, turn away from the gorilla, and follow your guide’s instructions.
  • It is completely forbidden to spit in the park.
  • Do not leave litter.
  • In the presence of the gorillas, do not eat, drink, or smoke.
Activities at Volcanoes national park

Beside the famous gorilla trekking adventures at the volcanoes national park, the destination is filled with plenty of breath taking activities and these include;

Birding

Volcanoes National Park is one of Rwanda’s three Important Birding Areas, home to endangered Albertine Rift endemics. Begin your birding day with binoculars and a camera in hand, ready to catch some of the amazing birds of the Virungas. The Albertine rift endemics will be your major target for the day, so take in the surroundings as you bird.

Golden monkey trekking

Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park

Golden monkey trekking, like gorilla trekking, occurs once a day in the early morning at Volcanoes National Park. You are asked to be at the pack headquarters as early as 7 a.m. for a briefing on how to act and interact with these creatures in the wild. You will then be separated into two groups if you are a large party, and your hike will be conducted by experienced and cheerful ranger guides. Before your briefing, enjoy traditional dances performed by a local group and a nice cup of coffee.

Volcanoes National Park now has two habituated gorilla families that may be visited. Both have a total of 80 people that are interested in tourism. Golden monkeys dwell mostly in bamboo flora due to their fondness for bamboo shoots, and unlike mountain gorillas, they are active, making hiking highly intriguing and exciting. You’ll be tracking them as they jump from one region to the next in search of food.

Hiking

Hiking Mount karisimbi

Mt Karisimbi, at 4507m above sea level, is the tallest of the Virunga volcanoes and the fifth highest in Africa. It is located on the western rift valley between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because of the white-capped peak caused by hail and sleet accumulation, it gets its name from ‘amasimbi,’ which means “white shell” in Kinyarwanda. The Karisimbi walk is challenging yet rewarding, lasting two days and beginning at Bisoke. There is a potential of seeing birds, primates, including gorillas on rare occasions, and breathtaking landscape.

hiking Mount bisoke

Mount Bisoke boasts a spectacular crater lake at the summit, making trekking this volcano a worthwhile trip. The climb takes roughly 6 hours, including the 2 hours spent descending. However, some skilled hikers require as little as three hours and an hour to descend. Hikers, like other activities, assemble at the RDB headquarters at 7 a.m. to listen to a briefing before beginning the trek with the designated ranger guide. Your ranger guide is informed and eager to share his or her mountain experiences with you. You may hire porters to help you with your luggage for a little cost, and it is strongly recommended that you do so. This allows you to enjoy the climb more freely while also providing jobs for the porters.

Musanze caves

The Musanze caves were developed as a result of a volcanic explosion that created an underground cavern large enough for humans to inhabit. They are two kilometers long, with pathways and steps leading to the caverns’ dark depths. This exercise may be completed following your morning gorilla tracking.

Cultural encounters (iby’lwacu / gorilla guardians village)

This is a project for locals who were formerly involved in gorilla poaching but are now committed to conservation. Edwin Sabuhoro founded the settlement while working as a warden in Volcanoes National Park, with the goal of converting the park’s notorious poachers into environmentalists. Your visit to this village will help to further conservation efforts and offer a source of income for many local residents.

Participate in the events to get a feel for the village; be proclaimed king or queen for the day, learn about traditional customs, and enjoy music and dancing.

How to get to volcanoes national park

The Volcanoes National Park is about a two-hour drive from Kigali. It is a 30-minute drive from the Ugandan border at Cyanika near Kisoro. You may also hire Akagera Aviation to fly you around by helicopter.

Accommodation options at volcanoes national park

The hotels around Volcanoes National Park range from luxurious to premium, mid-range to budget. Depending on your interests, the majority of places may be found in Kinigi, Musanze, and some over an hour away from the park headquarters. Some of the lodgings are listed below.

  1. One & Only Gorilla Nest
  2. Le bambou gorilla lodge
  3. Mountain gorilla view lodge
  4. Kinigi guesthouse
  5. Muhabura hotel
  6. Garden place hotel
  7. Bisate Lodge
  8. Kwitonda Lodge
  9. Virunga lodge
  10. Sabyinyo silverback lodge