Volcanoes national park is known as a haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. It’s composed of 5 of the 8 volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains including Kirisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo. The 160 square km area of the park is covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was also the home of the zoologist Dian Fossey
Volcanoes national park is one of the oldest national parks in Africa. It was initially a small
area around Karisimbi, Mikeno, and Bisoke volcanoes which was gazetted to protect the Mountain gorillas that were facing the threat of extinction as a result of poaching. In 1929, it was extended into Rwanda and Belgian Congo and was named Albert national
park managed and run by the Belgian Colonial Authorities.
During the early 1960s, the park was divided and both Rwanda and Congo gained independence. However, the park suffered greatly at the mercies of poachers though conservation efforts were also underway including Dian Fossey, American zoologist efforts in 1967 before she encountered her death during her research.
In the early 1990s, the park became a battlefield for Rwanda’s civil war paralyzed tourism activities until 1999. In 2005, in a bid to boost conservation and gorilla safaris in the national park, Rwanda introduced the annual baby naming ceremony for baby gorillas known as ‘Kwita Iziina’ which has seen great results as far as the gorilla population in volcanoes is concerned.
What to do in Volcanoes National park
Volcanoes national park is best known for the mountain Gorilla however there are other primate species that have been seen in the forest including the endangered golden monkeys and monkeys.
The park is also mentioned as hosting mammals like buffaloes, elephants, black-fronted duiker, and bushbuck though rarely spotted. The park is also a birding site having 178 bird species and at least 29 endemics to the Rwenzori Mountains and the Virunga. Activities found include Gorilla visits, Golden monkey visits, hiking to Karisimbi and Bisoke volcanoes, Dian Fossey tom visit, community tours, and lakes and caves visit
How to Get there
Volcanoes national park is located in a small town called Musanze previously well-known as Ruhengeri. The park lies in the northwestern part of Rwanda bordering Virunga national park of Congo and Mgahinga national park in Uganda.
It can access through Gisenyi or Kigali city. The drive to the park is usually 2 hours from Kigali, making it possible to view mountain gorillas and drive back to Kigali after the trek.