Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park located North West of the capital Kigali is named after the chain of dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga Massif: Karisimbi – the highest at 4,507m, Bisoke with its verdant Crater Lake, Sabinyo, Gahinga, and Muhavura which supports some of Africa’s top rainforests which is home to the Endangered Mountain gorillas.

Tracking endangered African Mountain gorillas through the tucked jungle is a highlight of your safari to volcanoes national park, the park is home to over 200 species of colorful forest birds and exclusively rare golden monkeys that occupy the bamboo zones of the forest.

Within the boundaries of Volcanoes National Park is Buhanga Eco-Park, an ancient forest holding Rwanda’s most intriguing folklore and Musanze caves, formed 62 million years ago after the last estimated volcanic eruption.

Hiking the dormant Volcanoes, canoeing in Lake Bulera and Ruhondo, Mountain biking with Africa rising stars and village experiences are some of the highlights of your visit to volcanoes national park.

Size of Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is a national park located in north-western Rwanda. It covers 160 km2 (62 sq mi) of rainforest and encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains, namely Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo.

Location of Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes national park is situated in the far northwest of Rwanda; the park protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range – home of the endangered mountain gorilla and a rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp, and heath. This is one of the few areas in Africa where you can come face to face with the mountain gorillas, the national park borders Uganda’s Mgahinga gorilla national park, and the Democratic Republic of Congo forming the Great Virunga Massif.

How to get to Volcanoes National Park?

The road from Kigali to volcanoes national park is paved and it’s easily accessible via Musanze and it offers one of the spectacular views of the landscape of the land of a thousand hills.

Volcanoes National Park is about 105 kilometers (65 miles) away from the Country’s city and Airport (Kigali), it can be accessed by use of private cars organized by Wilderness Explorers Africa, 4×4 safari cars are recommended as during the gorilla trek you might use some back roads to get to the starting point for the gorilla tracking experience, the park headquarters are not accessible by public means as all the public transportation vehicles stop in the main big town of Musanze (Ruhengeri) travelers may have to hire a car to get to the Kinigi gorilla tracking area.

Though there are no airstrips near the volcanoes national park, travelers wanting to fly can charter a helicopter operated by Akagera aviation and these helicopters will land Right at the heart of the safari lodge however clients will still need to arrange for transfers to the gorilla tracking points and back to the lodge or activities, they may require services of a vehicle.

Things to do in Volcanoes National Park

Gorilla trekking

With 12 habituated gorilla families in the Volcanoes National Park alone, Gorilla trekking is a must-do activity while on a safari in Rwanda. The world’s dwindling and endangered gorilla population is found in only three countries in the world; the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. Almost all the gorilla population in Rwanda can be found in the Volcanoes National Park. The families to visit include Amahoro, Ugenda, Umubano, Karisimbi, Sabinyo, Susa, and Hirwa among others.

Golden monkey tracking

Golden monkeys are an endangered primate species and a bucket list activity when on a safari in the Volcanoes National Park. They have been habituated to better the experience for the tourists. Most of the golden monkeys can be found in the bamboo forest at the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes.

Dormant Volcano hike

If you love to hike and find yourself at the Volcanoes National Park, you will have two hiking options to choose from; the Day and Overnight Hike. The Day Hike leads you to Mount Bisoke one of the volcanoes in the Virunga ranges.  It stands at 37,000meters with a crater lake at the top.

Hiking Diana Fossey grave

Diana Fossey who is one of the key icons for gorilla conservation in Rwanda was killed by unknown poachers in Volcanoes national park and you can now take a trip to visit her graveyard in Karisoke research center in the park.

Forest birding in Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes national park is located in the Albertine Graben and it’s one of the best places to see Albertine rift endemics like Regal sunbird, Rwenzori turaco, stripped breasted Tit.

Exploring the Musanze Caves

These age-old caves were once used to store food supplies for the kings of Rwanda in times of war. Today, they are quite a scene to behold when visiting the Volcanoes National Park. The cave ceilings are studded with lots of bats whose eyes sparkle when you shine your flashlight to the ceiling.

Experience Rwanda’s culture at Iby’Iwacu Village/ Gorilla Guardians Village

Iby’Iwacu Village now known as Gorilla Guardians Village is close to the park making it a perfect send-off place to visit as you leave Volcanoes National Park. The activities here can be done whether you opt to stay a few hours or overnight.

Canoeing on Lake Bulera and Ruhondo

The two twin Lakes of Bulera and Ruhondo are within a reach from Volcanoes national park and you can drive for about 40 minutes from the park to enjoy a wide range of activities like birding, canoeing, and Boat cruise.

When to visit Volcanoes National Park

Generally speaking, Rwanda is open for visitors all year round due to its geographical location near the Equator and at the edge of the Great Rift Valley below is the Guide to how you can plan your trip to Rwanda.

And the excellent months to travel to the volcanoes national park are June, July, August, September, and October, the good months are December, February, and May, Poor months are April and November.

Where to stay in Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes national park has a wide range of accommodation facilities ranging from budget, mid-range, and luxury lodges.

Here are our picks Singita Kwitonda lodge, One and only gorilla nest, Bisate Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback lodge, Virunga lodge, and five volcanoes lodge.