The Volcanoes National Park is an extraordinary park situated in Rwanda. The Park is blessed and crowded with impressive tropical rain forest, volcanic beauties and trekking adventures. The rare mountain Gorillas are seen in plenty here which makes it a best place in earth to make a visit.
The Park is exactly located in North-western part of Rwanda is bordered by Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The Park extends up to an area of 8090 square km. The National Park was converted into a battlefield during the Rwandan Civil War, when the park headquarters was attacked in 1992. But by 1999, everything was put back to normal and when the area was deemed to be safe and under control.
Things to See
Volcanoes National Park or Parc National Des Volcans (PNV) is renowned for hosting the endangered mountain gorillas, great apes that are only found in Africa. This known park is part of the Virunga Mountains hosting its six volcanoes. The Virunga Region and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the only habitat to the endangered mountain gorillas.
Though the park is best known for the Mountain Gorilla, hosts many mammals such as Golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), Buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) and Black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger) is also camps in this Park. Few Elephants are also reported to be residing in this Park. The bird species recorded here counts up to 178, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
The Park is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rainforest and bamboo. The high altitudinal range of the Park always influences the vegetation here. Neoboutonia forest is present within 2400 and 2500 m. Mounting 30 % of the Park area, Arundinaria alpina (bamboo) forest occurs from 2500 to 3200 m. Hagenia-Hypericum forest occurs in 2600 to 3600 m covering another 30% of the Park.
The Volcanoes National Park is protected and managed by the Rwandan office fro tourism and National parks (ORTPN) and this conservation area has contributed to the main safaris to Rwanda.
Things to Do
The main tourist activities in the Park are gorilla trekking, Karisimbi and Bisoke volcano climbing, Golden monkey visits, Lake and Cave tours and visit to the tomb of Dian Fossey
Similar to chimpanzee tracking, tourists on a gorilla trekking activity are allowed to spend an hour watching these apes performing their daily activities, resting, playing, gathering food and feeding. It is your golden opportunity to shoot a picture of the amazing creatures in their natural habitat.
Camping & Lodging
Volcanoes National Park has two drive-in campgrounds which are Namakani Paio (located off of Highway 11), and Kulanaokuaiki (located off of Hilina Pali Road). Important feature of these campgrounds are that they are free and the only fee you have to remit is the park entrance fee. Camping is provided on a first-come basis.
The Namakani Paio campground has restrooms, water, fireplace and pavilion facilities where as Kulanaokaiki has only restroom, fireplace and a vault-type toilet facilities only.
When you travel to Rwanda, access to Parc National Des Volcans is via Ruhengeri town; a one and a half hours drive from Kigali city, the country’s capital. Gorilla trackers organize and hire cars for private transportation on their gorilla tour from Ruhengeri; the last stop over town adjacent to the park boundaries and proceed to the headquarters and follow the tracking trails on foot.
Following the well-maintained network of nature trails, we will take you through the forest, encountering creepers, hanging vines, colorful giant lobelia and misty bamboo. Regularly, golden monkeys among other mammals will be seen swinging from one branch to another whereas buffaloes and Duikers will cross your path at the time when you least expect it.
The pay per private non-commercial vehicle is $10.00 and $5.00 for pedestrians or bicyclists. Non-commercial groups entering the park in a bus or vehicle with a capacity of 15 persons or more will be charged $5.00 for each person on board.