Welcome to Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
This is famously known for hosting Mountain Gorillas and the chief tourist attraction in Rwanda. Volcanoes National park is strategically situated in the northern province of Rwanda in a small village called Musanze previously well-known as Ruhengeri. It is easily accessed by private or public means from Gisenyi or Kigali- approximately 2 hours drive from Kigali and 1 hours drive from Gisenyi.
Volcanoes National Park is located between the amazing Virunga ranges namely; Mgahinga, Sabyinyo, Muhabura, Karisimbi and Bisoke/ Visoke Volcanoes/ moutains. Along side mountain trekking, tourists to Volcanoes National Park are also rewarded the view of the great topography.
Volcanoes National Park is among the first gazetted parks in Africa in 1925. To date, the park protects colobus monkeys, spotted Hyenas, Forest buffaloes, black-fronted duiker, bushbuck among others. Over 179 birds can be sighted here; both domestic and foreign birds. Some foreign bird from European countries visit Rwanda to over come winter – dodge coldness and other caters trophies caused by winter season.
What to do in volcanoes national park?
Things to do in Volcanoes National Park – Tourist activities in Volcanoes Park
How to get there
Volcanoes National Park is located in a small village called Musanze previously well-known as Ruhengeri, which is very accessible by public transport from Gisenyi or Kigali or from the Airport. The drive to Volcanoes National Park is 2 hrs and hence one can do gorilla tracking on the same day and drive back to Kigali after the trek. You will be required to arrive at the headquarters of ORTPN in Kinigi, at the park entrance, by 7:00 am, therefore, if you hope to trek gorillas for one day, you have to wake up very early for your journey so that you are on time.
Most visitors to Rwanda come to do Gorilla tracking; some might track the Golden Monkeys, while others may visit the former Dian Fossey Research Camp and her gravesite. Though Gorilla trekking is the first priority for all visitors, there are other several activities to be known and done in Volcanoes National Park. It is noted that, many Gorilla trekkers at least supplements Gorilla tours with other tourist activities like Mountaineering, Golden monkeys, visit the Dian Fossey tombs, birding , nature walks among others.
Other tourists visit the Volcanoes National Park to simply view the topographic mountainous features of Rwanda thus the Land of a Thousand Hills. Below is the list of tourist activities in Volcanoes National Park.
Gorilla Tracking – This is the climax of all Rwanda safaris. It is the biggest income generation tourism activity. There are only three countries in the world where you can see Mountain Gorillas up-close on a gorilla Trek and one of those countries is presently not safe to visit which leaves only Uganda and Rwanda.
Golden Monkey Tracking – Volcanoes National Park: The rare and endangered Golden Monkeys are found only in the Virunga Volcanoes foothills and one of the best place to track and see them is Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Since they have become habituated in the Park, Golden Monkey Tracking has become a most popular activity.
Dian Fossey – Research Camp and Grave site Hike - This 3 hour hike is for those who have seen “Gorillas in Mist” movie about the life of Dian Fossey and her research camp in the Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda.
See the graves of her beloved Gorillas and her final resting place among them. There are also the ruins of her former Karisoke Research Center and home that she referred to as a mausoleum. The hike itself is quite scenic and wildlife, monkeys, birds are often observed along the trail.
Volcano Hikes and Climbs – The Park offers visitors some of the best options in Climbing and Hiking up its Volcanoes. There are day-hikes and climbs and also an overnight hike on Mountain Karisimbi which is a snow-capped Volcano in Rwanda. The Mountain Karisimbi climb is a real challenge and often one is pelleted by rain snow and has to deal with ice on the ground.
Hike Ngezi Lake Trail – shortest Hike in Volcanoes Park - Ngezi Lake is a small scenic, shallow crater lake at the foot of Mountain Visoke in Volcanoes National Park. On the hikes, hikers are guided and escorted by ranger guides.
Lake Ngezi Trail gives you a taste of the Virunga Volcanoes Foothills, a Crater Lake, scenic views near and far, wildlife, birds and monkeys.
Visit the beautiful twin Lakes of Burera -Ruhondo -Trek to Russumo Falls - Visit Rwanda’s scenic lakes of Burera – Ruhondo. You can take a walk to the view – point – an afternoon cruise on Lake Ruhondo – preferably toward sunset. Burera and Buhondo are outside but worth visit!!
Buhanga Sacred Forest Nature Walk – Hike Buhanga Sacred Forest Hill- now a small forest it comes with large track of history, culture and meaning to many Rwanda. Visitors go to the forest for blessings - the Forest was the place where the kings of Rwanda came and bathed in the waters of before their coronation. The forest became sacred grounds in that those who lived locally refused to cut down trees or plant and cultivate gardens and farms nearby.
Exploring the Musanze Caves -The ancient Musanze Volcanic Caves – millions of years old. When you enter the massive cave complex you think you stepping into a natural cathedral – the size alone are simply amazing. Musanze caves are one of the many caves in or near Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The caves are not ancient but have provided a place of refuge for many including the storage of supplies and food by Rwandan Kings during times of war.
Visit Iby’iwacu Cultural Village - Located near to Volcanoes National – Iby’Iwacu means “Treasures of our Home and Heritage. Here Rwanda past and present come alive and real with visitors having hands-on cultural experiences that for many are most meaningful.
Here at Iby’Iwacu Village you can visit for a few hours or stay overnight in a traditional style Rwandan home which would be quite an experience, with the overnight stay there would be many cultural experiences, traditional meals and drinks such as Banana Beer or one can have Banana Juice. Expect lots of fun through music, dance and drama.
Cultural exhibitions and also meet traditional healers, Medicine men, elders, fortune tellers and many others.
Though there are many activities in Volcanoes National Park, it is advisable to put Gorilla trekking among the first priority, you can as well supplements it with other activities basing on your budget and schedule.