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Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park

Situated in the far Northwestern corner of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park also known as Parc National des Volcans (PNV) protects the steep rain forested slopes of the magnificent Virunga mountain ranges. Volcanoes National Park one of the oldest parks in Africa garzetted in 1925 mainly to conserve the endangered Mountain Gorillas. The park is covers an area of about 162sqkm and it is located in the Northern Province of Rwanda in Musanze.

About this park

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda forms part of the trans-frontier conservation unit which stretches 433sq.km. This conservation area encompasses the Virunga National Park and also Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Next to Volcanoes National Park is Buhanga Eco-Park, Rwanda’s ancient forest featuring the Country’s most intriguing folklore and Musanze caves which date back to 62 million years back.

The lush slopes of these volcanoes provide a dramatic natural setting for one of the most thrilling and memorable wildlife experiences; seeing the mountain gorillas in its natural habitat. Roughly half of the world’s wild population of mountain gorillas is resident on the Rwandan slopes of the Virunga’s.

Four major volcanoes  found in the Volcanoes National Park, these include; Bisoke (3,711m), Gahinga (3,474m), Karisimbi (4,507m), Sabyinyo (3,634m) and Muhabura (4,127m). Because of the high altitudes, the park has four types of vegetation cover consisting of; Bamboo on the lower slopes, Hypericum / Hagenia on the higher altitudes below 3,300m, sub-alpine vegetation at altitudes above 3,300m and Afro alpine vegetation above 4,000m.

Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is a bucket-list destination for most enthusiastic primate travelers. The park is most popular for its memorable gorilla trekking experiences and tourists visiting for gorilla safaris can track one of the 12 habituated gorilla families including Ugenda, Agashya, Umubano, Bwenge, Hirwa, Sabyinyo, Susa A, Susa B (Karisimbi), Pablo and Titus.

It lies within the Great Virunga Volcano Conservation region and it is home to various Wildlife species including mammals like Bufaloes, forest elephants, bush pigs, black-fronted duiker, forest hogs, spotted hyenas and primates like the endangered mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and chimpanzees.

Also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to Rwenzori Mountains and the Virungas. Some of them include; Grauer’s rush warbler, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori double –collared Sunbird, Rwenzori batis, handsome francolin, dusky crimson-wing, collared Apalis, strange weaver, red-faced woodland warbler and Archer’s ground robin among others.


Activities in Volcanoes National Park

There are a number of activities that Tourists can participate in during their visit to Volcanoes National Park and they include;

Gorilla trekking

This is the number one activity in Volcanoes national park, Rwanda. This activity happens once daily with 8 individuals visiting a gorilla group per day. The visitors expected to arrive at the Rwanda development board (RDB) offices at 7 am. Where they are briefed about the expectations and later distributed among the different gorilla groups. Once you have been allocated a gorilla group and the briefing is concluded, you follow your ranger guide and start your trek in search for these gentle giants. The trek can take anything from a few minutes to 6 hours depending on the location of the group you are tracking. Once you have spotted this group, you will stay in their presence for a maximum of one hour. Remember the details shared in the briefing and ensure to follow them for your own safety and that of the gorillas.



Volcanoes National Park is one of the 3 Important Birding Areas (IBA) in Rwanda with the rare Albertine rift endemics. You will enjoy some of the spectacular birds in the Virunga with the main focus on the Albertine rift endemics as you enjoy the great scenery.


Golden Monkey Tracking

Golden monkey tracking takes place in Volcanoes national park once a day in the early morning much like gorilla trekking. You are expected to arrive at the briefing place at the park headquarters as early as 7 am for briefing about how to behave and relate with these creatures in the wild. Divided into 2 groups if you are many and then start your trek led by experienced ranger guides. Enjoy the traditional dances from a local troupe and a hot cup of coffee before your briefing.

Volcanoes national park currently has 2 habituated groups that are open for visiting. The total number of individuals from both is 80 habituated for tourism. Golden monkeys live mostly in the bamboo vegetation because of their love for bamboo shoots. Unlike the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys are active which makes the tracking very engaging and interesting. You will be following them as they hope from one area to another looking for food.


Iby’Iwacu Community Visit (Gorilla Guardians Village)

Iby’Iwacu cultural village an initiative for local people who were formerly involved in poaching of gorillas and are now on the conservation road. Edwin Sabuhoro started the village when he worked as a warden at Volcanoes national park with a desire to transform the then notorious poachers into conservationists. A visit to this village will continue to expound on conservation efforts and provide a livelihood for many of the community members. Enjoy an experience of the village by taking part in the activities like; joining royalty by being crowned King or Queen for the day, learn about the traditional lifestyles and as well enjoy music and dance.


Visiting Musanze Caves

Musanze caves are due to volcanic eruption which formed an underground space which is large enough for humans to enter. They are 2km long with walkways and stairs. That take you to the dark interior of the caves, this activity  done after your morning gorilla tracking.


Dian Fossey tomb tour

Trekking to the Dian Fossey tomb gives you an insight into the life of Dian Fossey and gorilla conservation in the Virunga region. You will also learn more about her interest in the gorillas and how over the years gorilla conservation picked on which later led to gorilla tourism. Have chances of spotting some forest animals for instance the elephants, forest hogs, buffaloes and several bird species.

Also visit Dian Fossey house where she was mysteriously murdered in 1985. And later buried next to “Digit” her favorite gorilla friend. The gorilla grave yard has about 20 gorillas buried there, these were killed either by poachers or by natural causes.


When to Visit

The drier months between June to Mid-September and also December to February are the best to visit, this is because the mountain slopes are easy to hike during this dry season.


How to Get to Volcanoes National Park

By Road,

Volcanoes national park is a 2 hours’ drive from Kigali, the Capital City of Rwanda. It is a 30 minutes’ drive from the border with Uganda at Cyanika in Kisoro.

By Air,

You can as well contract the services of Akagera Aviation to fly by helicopter.


Accommodations in Volcanoes National Park
Luxury Accommodations

Wilderness Bisate Lodge

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest

Singita Kwitonda Lodge

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Volcanoes Virunga Lodge

The Bishop’s House

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge


Mid-Range Accommodations

Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel

Amakoro Songa Lodge

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

Tiloreza Eco Lodge

Garden place hotel Musanze