Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans) is located in the extreme northwestern part of Rwanda in the virunga region and borders Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Volcanoes National Park is named after a chain of dormant volcanoes that make up the Virunga Massif which include Bisoke with its verdant Crater Lake,Karisimbi which is the highest at 4,507m Gahinga and Muhabura.
Volcanoes National Park is the oldest national park on the African continent covering 12,500 hectares (48 sq mi) and is the smallest in Rwanda. This park was first gazetted in 1925 to protect the endangered gorillas and it was where Dian Fossey set up a base for his research.
Volcanoes National Park undoubtedly the best place to observe the critically endangered mountain gorilla with 10 habituated groups. Volcanoes Game Park is also good for golden monkey tracking, a visit to Diane Fossey’s former camp, and mountain hiking to the summits of the Muhabura, Gahinga, Karisimbi and Bisoke volcanoes.
Best Time to visit
Volcanoes national park is located near the equator and at a very high altitude which makes the park to receive steady rains and mist throughout the year which makes the park wet and cold. This climate makes it favorable for visiting of the park for gorilla trekking and mountain hiking throughout the year because sighing of gorillas is guaranteed and don’t depend on weather.
Hiking in volcanoes national park is best done in the dry season months of June to August and it’s also done at a less extent in September, December and January. However, it’s more expensive to have a safari to Rwanda during these months because its high season and everything is limited.
The park is most known for its Mountain Gorillas with the most known activity being trekking the endangered mountain gorillas in the mysterious rain forest trails. Volcanoes national park is also home wild game like; golden monkey, few elephants, black-fronted duiker, bushpig, buffalo, giant forest hog, Spotted Hyena, bushbuck and several antelope species
Being located in the virunga mountain region, Volcanoes national park is home to over 178 recorded species of colourful birds, with 13 main species and 16 subspecies endemic to the virunga albertine region. Some of these bird species include; Ruwenzori nightjar, strange weaver, Ruwenzori apalis, handsome francolin, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, Archer’s robin-chat, Rwenzori batis and Rwenzori turaco. Other bird species that can be seen in the park include; African long-eared owl, Brown woodland warbler, Brown-necked parrot, Doherty’s bush-shrike, Dusky crimsonwing, Dusky turtle dove, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Handsome francolin, Lagden’s bush-shrike, Red-faced woodland warbler, Scarlet-tufted malachite sunbird
Activities to do in volcanoes national park.
The most common activity to do on Rwanda safari is gorilla trekking. Treeking mountain gorillas is Africa’s top wildlife experience and is best done in either rwanda’s Volcanoes or Uganda’s Bwindi national park. There are many habituated gorilla families and during your Rwanda gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes national park, you will get a chance to have an upclose encounter with the great African mountain gorillas.
In addition to gorilla trekking, volcanoes is also home to so many bird species which makes the park a prime birding destination in Rwanda. The best time for birding is during the dry season from June to August, December and January and also migratory birds are present during November to April.
Getting there and accommodation.
Most visitors from aboard use the Kigali International Airport (KGL) which is about 10km/6mi from the Kigali (capital city) and since there are no flights to the park, we highly recommend the use of a 4×4 and driver-guide. It is located just 130km from Kigali. Volanoes national park has many accommodation facilities inside and around it, however we highly recommend that you book inadvance for a good accommodation to avoid disappointments.