Created in 1925 and situated in the Northeast of the country, Volcanoes National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Rwanda and Africa, visitors on a Rwandan Safari rarely miss this spot.
This park is famously known as the home of the endangered mountain gorillas and has attracted a number of travelers from both the local and international level all over the world. Volcanoes National Park also shelters other mammal species like spotted hyenas, buffaloes, elephants, golden and blue monkeys to mention but a few.
Belonging to the enormous Virunga conservation area that is shared by other two countries;Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, the park is always on every visitors’ bucket list for its improved gorilla trekking activities that are rarely found in other countries which it uses to its advantage.
It also became popular in the 1960s when the famous American Zoologist and researcher Diane Fossey carried out several informative researches about the critically endangered mountain gorillas, their behaviors and relationship with humans that she later turned into a conservation and advocated for the anti-poaching of these apes worldwide.
This was a good effort that later attracted enemies who led to her murder and the tomb that lies in Volcanoes National park and was laid in her remembrance.
The park is a two and 30 minutes’ drive from Kigali Capital City of Rwanda while it covers a vast area of 160km2 with dense tropical rain forests and bamboo forests in the Virunga Massif. Volcanoes national park comprises 5 volcanic mountains including Mountain Bisoke, Mountain Sabyinyo, Mountain Karisimbi, Mountain Muhabura and Mountain Gahinga where some of these mountains border and are shared with neighboring countries in the Virunga region for example Congo and Uganda.
MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREKKING SAFARI TO VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
The epic enormous park has 10 habituated mountain gorilla families and a bigger percentage of visitors on a Rwandan safari who come to the volcanoes are always here for the gorilla trekking tourist activity. Approximately half of the mountain gorillas in the Virunga mountains are homed in the volcanoes national park and Rwanda is considered one of the best places in Africa to see mountain gorillas.
The trek starts at 7:30am with a quick breakfast and briefing from the park authorities, at around 8:00 am, when the briefing is done, park rangers and tour guides will lead the visitors into the gorilla trekking activity that takes about 1 to 6 hours depending on the location of the mountain gorillas.
Travelers are always divided into small groups with a maximum of eight people and are allowed to track one gorilla family among the 14 habituated gorilla families in the park where the whole process involves hiking in dense bamboo and tropical rainforests in search of these apes. The less fit guests are assigned to the families that are actually close and not very far in the park.
Chances of sighting mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National park are high since they are of a great number in Volcanoes and it is the most rewarding and exciting moment. Travelers are however advised not to panic and cause weird movements as the endangered gorillas are not harmful to humans, in fact they are quite playful and fun. Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda are slightly costly compared to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The gorillas trekking permits in Volcanoes go for $1500 USD per head and only adults are allowed to participate in this lifetime experience. Young children below 15 years of age are highly prohibited in the area.
LUXURY LODGES IN VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
There are a number of classy luxury lodges for comfort accommodation in and around the vast Volcanoes national park where visitors can rest from on their Rwandan mountain gorilla trekking Safari and Rwanda mountain hiking trip to the Virunga mountains.
- Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
Sabyinyo Silverback is situated in the foothills of Virunga mountains and it’s owned by community trust. Its association with the community has boosted its activities in support from the locals and its strategic location enables visitors to see the stunning views of Virunga landscapes and wildlife.
- Wilderness Bisate Lodge.
This is a new lodge and one of the most luxurious accommodations in the area which was opened in 2007 and is situated in the heart of the forest so visitors can anticipate stunning views of Mountain Bisoke and Mountain Sabyinyo. With dome shaped cottages, Bisate lodge offers a true sight and feel of luxury in the wilderness surrounded by the Virunga mountain ranges to the north in Rwanda.
- Amakoro Songa Lodge
Located in a small village outside the town of Kinigi, the Amakoro Songa Lodge is a genuine blend of conservation and tourism. Its eight luxurious cottages are designed and built to take advantage of its serene surroundings which give every visitor a chance to escape everyday life and a sense of tranquility.
The Amakoro Songa Lodge provides luxury accommodation for ecotourists particularly those visiting the Volcanoes National Park in Northern Rwanda for Gorilla trekking, birding, and mountain climbing. The lodge offers stunning views of the virunga volcanoes on the way to the lodge. The lodge also offers luxury private Rwanda gorilla trekking packages in partnership with the Volcanoes national park with a permit for 9 people going for $15,000 per trek.
- One&Only Gorilla’s Nest
One & Only Gorilla’s Nest is set against the historic volcanic mountains of Volcanoes National Park – the first national park in Africa and home to endangered mountain gorillas. This is a place that has fostered a spirit of love and protection over the years, most notably from renowned primatologist Dian Fossey. One & Only Gorilla’s Nest offers a perfect ecosystem that connects the resort with the local areas of Kinigi and Musanze. One & Only Gorilla’s Nest resort boasts largely locally employed staff.