VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Overview of Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park (Parc National de Volcans) is situated in north-western Rwanda. It borders Virunga National Park in the Demographic Republic of Congo And Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. It is a 120 minute drive for Kigali, the Capital of Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo). The Volcanoes National Park protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen, bamboo forests, open grassland, swamp and heath.
The park was first gazetted in 1925 and was the first national park in Africa and it is the top tourist destination in Rwanda. Here’s what you can expect from a visit to the park.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is second to none in attracting tourists in Rwanda. The mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with fewer that 900 left in the wild worldwide. Time is running out to see these gentle giants in their natural habitat, which is why this experience is at the top of most visitor’s lists.
Volcanoes National Park has 11 habituated gorilla families. In visiting the park, you may come to meet any of them – Susa, Amahoro, Sabyinyo, Ugenda, Hirwa, Umubano, Karisimbi, to name a few. Each gorilla group can be seen by a maximum of eight people per day. To visit, you must book a gorilla permit in advance, which is priced at $1500 USD each. A maximum of 88 gorilla permits are on offer each day and are given on a first come, first serve basis.
Mountain gorilla trekking starts in the morning with assembly at the park headquarters for a briefing about the activity. This is followed by a hike through the bamboo forests of Volcanoes National Park, keeping an eye out for the gorillas in their natural habitat.
Rare golden monkeys have been sighted in the magnificent Virunga Mountains. Tracking the beautiful golden monkeys is another popular tourist activity in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. A glimpse of these creatures is considered to be a wonderful lifetime experience. Most visitors book a 3-day gorilla safari package, to experience the golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park.
Like gorilla tracking, this activity starts in the morning with an assembly at Kinigi Park Headquarters. However, golden monkey tracking is less strenuous than to gorilla trekking, so you’ll be finished by around midday. A golden monkey permit is priced at $100 USD per person.
Adventurous Hike to Dian Fossey Tomb
A visit to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda can be mixed up with a hike to the tomb of the late Dian Fossey; an American Researcher and primatologist who spent close to two decades in the park, studying the mountain gorillas. A biopic of her life was made into a movie in the late eighties, titled Gorillas in the Mist.
She was murdered by poachers in 1985. Her grave is nestled between the beautiful volcanic peaks of Bisoke and Karisimbi, near Karisoke Research Center. The hike through the forest to the tomb takes about six hours (there and back). Along the way, you may be lucky enough to see elephants, buffalo, primates like golden monkeys and sometimes even the mountain gorillas that Dian dedicated her life to.
Best Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tours
Gorilla Trekking Accommodations
Go2Rwanda has made it easy for you to find the perfect lodge in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda during your gorilla Trek tour or safari. Next are the accommodations we picked for you; from Luxury to budget.
The luxury accommodation is Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge because it is high up on hill, has great views, cozy rooms with fireplaces and amazing service. We also recommend Virunga Lodge which is a beautiful eco-lodge but an hour’s drive from the trek starting point. When you already have to be up and ready at 6am adding an hour drive to that is not insignificant. For a medium budget the best choice is Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. It does not claim to be more than it is but it is very convenient and the rooms are quite spacious. For the more modest budget Le Bamboo Gorilla Lodge was perfectly comfortable.
Accommodations in Volcanoes National Park
Where to Go Trek the Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys?
Volcanoes National park is a home for golden monkeys, a variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects among other creatures which together make a complete Rwanda safari package. and that’s where the gorilla and golden monkey trek happens.
Volcanoes national park is a stop center for all Rwanda gorilla safaris sheltering the highest number of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Conservation area. The strategic location is roughly 2 hours drive from Kigali international airport make it the most accessible gorilla national park in the world.
Getting Visa to Rwanda
Citizens of all countries that all not visa exempt have also option to submit application online or at the Rwanda Diplomatic Missions of the country of residence before departure. Those applying online have the option to pay online or upon arrival. There is no single affiliated Agent that is authorised to apply for visa on your behalf. Such Agents may mislead you and charges more than the required visa fees.
Visit the Rwanda Directorate general of Immigration and Emigration : https://www.migration.gov.rw/index.php?id=28 which takes you to a visa application form which picks your personal information.
Gorilla Trekking Permit
Price of a Rwanda Gorilla Permit
– $1500 – Non Residents, East African Residents, East African Citizens, Rwandan Residents, Rwandan Citizens
– 30% Discount (US$ 1,050) on gorilla permits if visiting other Rwanda national parks (Akagera national park, Nyungwe national park) for 3 days and more during the low season of November – May
– 15% discount (US$ 1,275) on conference guests who stay pre & post MICE events to see gorillas
– $15,000 for Private gorilla trekking of an entire group with an exclusive personalized tour guide service
– US$ 30,000 for a minimum of 3 visitors for 3 consecutive days (Behind the scenes)
What to Wear to Gorilla Trekking
When planning for your trekking excursion to see gorillas in Rwanda at Volcanoes national park, we advise you to come with a few things that are usesful for you to attain your lifetime ultimate experience that involves trekking/hiking visit mountain gorillas 2 Rwanda.
- Have a small backpack as it is useful to carry your water, packed lunch, camera and binoculars.
- You need light weight hiking boots for this activity/strong waterproof walking boots due to nature and altitude of the forest. So get shoes that have good ankle support (the ones that come above the ankle bone).
- Take a light jumper and lightweight breathable waterproof jacket/trousers as temperature is variable and weather conditions can change
- Lightweight long wool socks which are comfortable for a mountain tropical forest
- A few long-sleeved shirts/trousers. Please ensure that you trek in your long sleeved trousers/shirts to avoid insects such as safari ants entering your trousers.
- Sweater for cool evenings and chilly mornings due to nature and altitude of the place
- Bush hat with a brim for sun protection. Please carry a hat to protect you from the strong sun rays if it is hot.
- You may also need to carry some Sunglasses too with neck strap
- Sun cream is also necessary
Video/photo camera, extra lenses and Reserve batteries. Photography is an important component of your safari and make sure that you have your camera ready, charge your batteries very well and if necessary, carry extra batteries as you will need to take many photographs in the one hour you will have with the gorillas.
- Films and torch-LED models are light weight and have a good battery life
- Insect repellants to protect you from Mosquito bites as Bwindi is a tropical forest so many insects are accommodated there in.
- Garden gloves that will protect you from germs and other items that may scratch your hands.
- Binoculars. Don’t forget that you are on safari and you want to have clear views of everything so during your trek in search for the rare mountain gorillas, you will have a chance to spot some other wildlife species like birds, primates and large mammals
- A glove to grip vegetation and it’s also best to have different layers of clothes since the temperatures tend to change.
- Energy Giving snacks. Gorilla trekking can take from 30 minutes to eight or so hours and that’s why a certain level of fitness is required. To add on that, we advise that you carry some energy giving snacks as supplements and lots of drinking water as you never know when you will return.
- Hiring a Porters for your gorilla safari is a top tip -You will need a porter to give you a push on the way to the gorillas as trekking/hiking can take some time. You will pay some fee to a porter but it is worth it.