Volcanoes National Park is located North of Rwanda. The park is Rwanda's protected portion of the Virungas and is contiguous with Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in DR Congo. It is composed of mostly dormant volcanoes, including Rwanda's highest point, Mountain Karisimbi (4507m), and two main active volcanoes Mountain Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira. Other volcanoes are Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabinyo.
Volcanoes National Park is largely covered in a rainforest and bamboo. It is a renowned haven for the Mountain Gorillas. Other than the gorillas, the park is a habitat to several mammals including the golden monkey, black-fronted duiker, buffalos, spotted hyenas, bush bucks and forest elephants. However being such a rainforest and thick at that, it is rare to come by most these mammals. The park has 178 recorded bird species of which some are endemic to the Virunga and Rwenzori Mountains.
Volcanoes National Park was used as the base for American naturalist Dian Fossey to carry out her research into the gorillas. She championed the conservation of mountain gorillas and was very instrumental in the fight against gorilla poaching. She was however murdered but her legacy still leaves.
About 8 Gorilla groups/families in the park have been habituated to allow for human encounter and observation for at most one hour. A maximum of 8 permits are issued to 8 travellers to track a gorilla family per day. Trekking the Volcanoes to find the gorillas is strenuous but a memorable experience to be with the Gorillas.
Karisimbi is Kinyarwanda meaning
white shell which refers to the white-capped
summit of the Karisimbi volcano which is often seen. The Karisimbi is the fifth highest
mountain of Africa at 4507m. It takes 2 days to hike the volcano with overnight camping.
It takes 6 six hours to the summit.
Bisoke Volcano is located on the DR Congo and Rwanda border. Eleven kilometers from the summit on the northern flank of the volcano are two small cones that support a beautiful Crater Lake, Lake Ngezi. A hike to this lake is four hours taking you up a steep trail from the Bisoke departure point, to reach the summit. The adventure is not complete without a walk around the rim of the Crater Lake. The entire hike is roughly six hours.
The twin lake Burera and Ruhondo are close to the gorilla-tracking center of Musanze and often neglected games. The lakes are a great spot for relaxation after the strenuous gorilla trek or hike in the volcanoes. Dugout canoes are available to ride on the lakes and visit the islands on these lakes and enjoy magnificent scenery of the breathtaking landscape, wetland habitat and water birds.
Dian Fossey is credited for her efforts towards the conservation of the Mountain Gorillas. She dedicated her life to researching on the Mountain Gorillas. She was murdered and buried alongside the Mountain Gorillas. The trail leading to her tomb and the Karisoke Research Center is a beautiful one albeit the challenges. It is a 1 hour hike through steep slopes where orchids, birdlife and even occasional mountain gorillas can be seen.
Other than the famous Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park has a host of other delightful primates one can track and see. One of such primates is the Golden Monkey. The Golden Monkey is an endangered species. Trekking the Golden Monkey through the bamboo forests they live in is another unique experience.
The Northern province has 52 surveyed caves with 15.2km of cave passages.
The longest cave is called
Ubuvumo Bwibihonga, a multilevel system of parallel lava tubes with
a length of 4.530km. Other interesting highly visited caves are Musanze cave (2km long),
The Musasamana cave (1 km long) and the Mugongo cave.
Book our tailored safaris to trek the volcanoes and track the gorillas, golden monkeys, view lots of wildlife and experience a unique forest adventure.