Volcanoes National Park : Famous as among the only 3 homes of mountain gorillas in the world within Virunga massif; the volcanoes national park is one of Rwanda’s golden germs to visit on a Rwanda safari. Volcanoes is the only national park in Rwanda where the endangered mountain gorillas found a home and easily sighted, trekked on Rwanda gorilla trekking safari.

History of Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanoes national park is Africa’s first established park, gazette early in. 1925. It was grounded as a safe place for mountain gorillas around the mountains of Karisimbi and Bisoke. The borders of the park were later extended far into Rwanda and the Belgian Congo in 1929.

In 1958, the area of the park was reduced to 700 hectares for human settlement and further for pyrethrum growth between 1969-1973, where about 1050 hectares of land were cut off from Volcanoes national park.

volcanoes national park

The presence of the historical, American primatologist Dian Fossey in the park, was a great start of the conservation wave of the mountain gorillas, in Volcanoes national park. She first arrived at the park in 1967 and set up the ‘Karisoke research center’ between mountain Bisoke and mountain Karisimbi.

Unfortunately, in 1985 Dr. Dian Fossey met her death within the park. She was assassinated by unknown people. But it is believed, the gorilla poachers in the park would have been in the lead in the killing of this gorilla passionate Fossey.

With her aggressive and strong gorilla conservation techniques, this buddle up enmity between her many anti-gorilla persons in the park. She was buried in the park, near a favorite gorilla Digit. With a hike around the terraces of the park, the grave of Dian can be spotted.

Volcanoes national park was disrupted by the Rwanda civil war. Leading loss of countless wildlife species, as the park was used as a battlefield.

Volcanoes national park is located in the northwest province of Rwanda in a small town called Musanze previously Ruhengeri. The park currently covers an area of 160km rich in diversity made up of fascinating flora and fauna worth exploring on a Rwanda safari.

The park is a great touristic destination, home to primates such as the gentle mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, numerous bird species, and breathtaking scenic views.

The part is located in the great East African Virunga massif, encompassing five of the Chain Mountains, with Karisimbi and Bisoke located inside the park. Other encompassed Virunga mountains by the park include; Sabyinyo, Muhabura, and Mount Gahinga

Volcanoes Park borders Mgahinga national park in southwestern Uganda and Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The park is an ideal destination for primate lovers, birders, hikers, and trekkers.


Bird watching.

The cocktail of about 178 bird species dwelling in the swamps and marshes of Volcanoes Park is worth sight for all bird lovers. There are about 16 subspecies and 13 bird species located in the park, which are endemic to the Rwenzori Mountains and Virunga.

The birding experience is a great chance to sight bird species such as the Rwenzori double collared sunbird, Rwenzori Batis, Francolins, strange weaver, Red-backed shrike, Baglafecht weaver, cinnamon–chested bee-eater, Ruwenzori Apalis, Dusky turtle dove, African long-eared owl, Brown-necked Parrot, lagden bush shrike, strange weaver, Rwenzori turaco, Ruwenzori double collared sunbird, and many more.

birding in volcanoes national park

Gorilla trekking.

This is one of the major highlights of visiting the national park.  Volcanoes national park is the only gorilla destination in Rwanda with 10 gorilla families located in its forest. This park is home to the eastern mountain gorilla subspecies, similar to that located in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda.

The trekking of the gentle apes of the volcanoes is an unforgettable experience.  This involves hiking to the various gorilla families, having a one-hour encounter with the gentle apes. Witnessing their human-like gestures, intriguing vocalizations. Watch how the mothers carter for their infants, how the silverbacks, provide and defend their gorilla families. The sight of the infants playing with the forest branches, wrestling, and feeding on the forest fruits, is an experience not to miss out on Rwanda’s primate safari.

volcanoes national park

Participants in the gorilla trekking activity are required to first purchase the gorilla trekking permits. The prices depend on the nationality of the trekker. These permits can be purchased directly from the Rwanda development board or through tour operators.

Volcanoes national park is home to more than 300 mountain gorillas, grouped into 10 gorilla groups. The gorilla families are located at various spots in the park, depending on the preference and ability of the trekkers, these are signed to trek various gorilla families by the park guides.

Gorilla families in Volcanoes Park include Ugenda gorilla group, Bwenge family group, Hirwa gorilla group, Kwitonda gorilla group, Agashya gorilla group, Umubano gorilla group, Amahoro gorilla group, Sabyinyo gorilla group, Karisimbi gorilla group, and Susa gorilla group.

Golden monkey tracking.

With mountain gorillas being the major primate tracked in volcanoes national park, golden monkeys are unique primates that are worth exploring on a Rwanda primate tour. Golden monkeys are old-world monkey species endemic to the Virunga area. These are can only trek in volcanoes national park for visitors that come to Rwanda. Tracking the gold-coated monkeys is a rewarding activity. Trackers get to know more about these endangered monkeys, and more so encounter them in their natural habitat.

golden moenky tracking


Besides the fascinating mountain experience in the park, the hiking trails in the Virunga Mountains of Volcanoes Park are worth it for all mountaineering lovers.  Hiking in volcanoes national park is done on mount Bisoke, mountain Karisimbi which are found within the park. Together with mountain muhavura, mountain Gahinga and Sabyinyo are shared with the borders of Uganda and DR Congo for mountain Sabyinyo.

Rwanda hiking.

Hiking of these Virunga ranges is a great thrilling but yet exciting experience. Daring to the hike is a great challenge to all mountaineering lovers, with rewarding views of the park’s beautiful landscape together with encounters of the park’s primates and birds.


Dian Fossey grave.

Dian Fossey, the best friend of the mountain gorillas of the volcanoes is one of the major heroes praised and still remembered in the gorilla conservation history of Rwanda. She dedicated and sacrificed her life to protect and give a world recognition of the gorilla ape.

She laid a strong foundation in the protection of the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. Unfortunately, she was murdered by still an unknown assassin. Dian was buried in volcanoes national park, near her favorite gorilla; Digit. A visit to her gravesite while hiking through the park, is a great pleasure. Local guides give more insight about hers and how she established the Karisoke research center as a base to enforce her gorilla ape conservation efforts.

Musanze caves.

These were ancient crowing grounds for the king of ancient times in Rwanda. These caves are made an open tourism site in 2013.  While hiking through the trails of volcanoes national park, the sight of these caves is worth it.

How to get to volcanoes national park?

The park is accessed by a road transfer from Kigali the capital and major city of Rwanda taking only 2 hours of a drive to Musanze province.

Accommodation in volcanoes national park.

The park is well established with a number of accommodation facilities instead and outside the park. Depending on the preference and budget of the visitors, they can choose the best accommodation that can suit their needs.

Lodges, inns, hotels, campsites are all available for the visitor’s use. For the budget accommodation, guests can opt for Muhabura hotel, Kinigi guest house, villa gorilla, Amahoro guest house, red rocks Rwanda, ingagi View Park, and many more.

For midrange travelers, accommodation available includes; Le bamboo gorilla lodge, Singita Kwitonda lodge, Mountain gorilla view lodge to mention but a few. Luxury travelers can opt for lodges like, one & only gorilla nest, Bisate lodge etc.

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