Volcanoes National Park is within the Virungas Mountains in northwestern Rwanda. The park has five volcanoes Karisimbi, Bisoke, Visoke, Muhabura and Gahinga.
Volcanoes National Park – Magical haven for Gorillas
It was the first African national park to be established in 1925, covering just 160 square kilometres, but its significance lies in its role as a sanctuary for endangered Mountain Gorillas and a research hub for the late primatologist Diana Fossey.
American primatologist and naturalist Diana Fossey is recognised for her lifelong dedication to the study of mountain gorillas. In 1967, she established a secluded study site on the slopes of Rwanda’s Mount Visoke, called the Karisoke Research Center.
Fossey’s life was distinguished by both professional and private triumph and sorrow. Her original research on gorillas led to important new insights into their social behaviour, including the realisation that each of these primates has its own unique personality and set of qualities.
Fossey also saw gorillas killed by poachers’ traps, which inspired her to advocate for global animal protection legislation and speak out against poaching.
One of the most well-liked things to do at Volcanoes National Park is to go Mountain Gorilla Tracking. At the outset of the tracking experience, you will get instructions on how to act in the presence of mountain gorillas and what to do if one or more of them decide to approach you.
A ranger will then lead you into the jungle on a path frequented by the gorillas. Rangers will protect you from harm and assist you to find any creatures that go too near.
Over 175 bird species have been seen at Volcanoes National Park, including 13 species and 16 subspecies that can only be found in the Albertine rift, which encompasses the Rwenzori Mountains.
Accommodation in and around Volcanoes National Park
There is a large selection of mid-range, high-end, and low-cost lodging options adjacent to the park.
Bisate Lodge, which was recently constructed into the hills, includes six en-suite guestrooms. Its design is influenced by Rwandan traditional architecture.
Amakoro Lodge is a contemporary boutique hotel situated on the slopes of Mount Sabyinyo.
One of the hotels on the way to the park’s headquarters is Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel.
The Virunga Lodge is a hilltop hotel with spectacular views over Lakes Burera and Ruhondo as well as the national park.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, situated near the park headquarters, comprises of individual cottages set in expansive grounds with breathtaking views.
Musanze, 13 kilometres from the park headquarters, has a variety of hotels and guesthouses to suit all budgets. There is a considerable selection of restaurants, as well as marketplaces and craft businesses.
Musanze town also has a number of mid-range facilities.
Gorilla Tracking in Volcanoes National Park
To view the gorillas, travellers must first go on a thrilling hike over the volcanoes’ farmed foothills before entering the national park with its dense jungle. Day permits are offered to view the park’s ten habituated gorilla families.
The cost of a permit is $1,500 USD per person, and there are only 80 permits available each day.
Gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park regularly roam to the neighbouring Virunga National Park in the D.R.C. and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
The Diana Fossy Experience at Volcanoes National Park
Day hikers interested in gorillas and the movement to safeguard their habitat may visit the tomb of scientist and environmental activist Dian Fossey on Karisoke peak, who passed away in 1985.
To learn more about the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and its Ellen DeGeneres Campus, go to Karisoke. In order for Ellen to continue Dian’s work, this complex has been established in Rwanda to serve as a permanent home for the centre and a voice for the world’s most endangered animals and species.