Volcanoes National Park Rwanda – Gorilla Trekking Rwanda

Volcanoes national park is Protecting Rwanda’s portion of the Virunga Mountains, the Parc des Volcans (also referred to as Volcanoes National Park) was the site of Dian Fossey’s celebrated gorilla habituation and anti- poaching project, and will be familiar to some as the location of the film Gorillas in the Mist. And what a memorable location it is. its the only destination where gorilla trekking is done in Rwanda and its the natural habitat for the mountain gorillas.

This 160km² national park protects the Rwandan sector of the Virunga Mountains, range of six extinct and three active volcanoes which straddles the borders with Uganda and the Democratic republic of congo. The Volcanoes Park is part of a contiguous 433km² Trans frontier conservation unit that also includes the Virungas National Park and Mgahinga National Park, which protects the DRC and Ugandan sectors of the Virungas respectively. The three national parks are managed separately today ( that is if the word “managed can be applied to any park in the DRC at the time of writing). Prior to 1960, however, the Volcanoes and Virungas Parks together formed the Albert National Park.

The Volcanoes National Park is best known to the outside world as the place where for almost 20yrs the American primatologist Dian Fossey under took her pioneering studies of mountain gorilla behavior. It is largely thanks to Fossey’s single-mindedness that poaching was curtailed while there were still some gorillas to save. For her dedication , Fossey would pay the ultimate price still some gorillas still unsolved – murder at the Karisoke Research Centre in December 1985 is generally thought to have been the work of one of the many poachers with whom she crossed swords in her efforts to save her gorillas.

Three years after her death, Fossey’s life work was exposed to a mass audience with the release of Gorilla in the mist, a cinematic account of her life filmed on location in the Volcanoes Park. Gorilla in the Mist drew global attention to the plight of the mountain gorilla and generated unprecedented interest in the gorilla tourism programme that had been established in the park some ten years earlier. In 1990, the
Volcanoes Park was the best organized and most popular gorilla sanctuary in Africa and gorilla tourism was probably Rwanda’s leading earner of tourist revenue.

Primate Tracking

Primate Tracking including the mountain gorillas , Golden Monkey Tracking remains the most popular activity here, with a total of up to 40 permits issued daily, eight for each of the five habituated troops. But Volcanoes National Park is not just about mountain gorillas. Tourists who previously came for just one night can now stay for four or five and still not run out of things to do. Trekking, walking and climbing are now well organised, from a two-day ascent of Karisimbi to a non-strenuous nature walk to a cluster of crater later, but the most exciting innovation is that tourists can now visit habituated troop of the near-endemic golden monkey. Rwanda Gorilla Trek Offers gorilla tracking safaris in Rwanda.

Getting there & Transportation to Virunga National Park

The normal base for visiting the Volcanoes Park is Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri), which can easily be reached on public transport from Gisenyi, Kigali on the day you track (you need to be at the ORTPN office in Kinigi, by the park entrance, by 07.00), but this isn’t a reliable option using public transport. There is no public transport between Musanze and the park headquarters at Kinigi.

Where to Stay, Accommodations in Volcanoes National Park

There is no accommodation within the national park and overnight camping is forbidden. Check with ORTPN about camping possibilities nearby. For those on a restricted budget, the best option is to overnight in Musanze, but smarter and more convenient accommodation is available near the park headquarters at Kinigi or at the superior but more distant Virunga Lodge overlooking Lake Burera.