Volcanoes National Park is a wildlife sanctuary located in northwestern Rwanda that is known for its volcanic landscapes, rare mountain gorillas, and a unique blend of ecosystems. Just a short two-hour drive from Rwanda’s capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences.
The park is part of the larger Virunga Massif, which extends into Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its rugged terrain is characterized by lush bamboo forests, montane ecosystems, and a dramatic landscape dominated by volcanoes.
The five volcanoes – Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo – not only contribute to the park’s scenic beauty but also offer a range of hiking opportunities for those seeking adventure.
Undoubtedly the park’s main attraction is its population of endangered mountain gorillas. Apart from gorillas, the park is also a sanctuary for golden monkeys, various species of birds, and many other other mammals.
The highlight of any visit to Volcanoes National Park is undoubtedly gorilla trekking. This once-in-a-lifetime experience allows visitors to get up close and personal with these gentle giants.
You will go into the forest in groups of not more than 8 in search of the mountain gorillas. En route, your guide will point out previous signs of gorilla activity such as dung, nests, and chewed bamboo shoots.
Your trek will be an exciting journey along forested slopes, entwined vines, bushes, and bamboo. Upon finding the gorillas, you will spend a maximum of 1 hour with them after which you will be led back to the starting point.
For a different primate experience, golden monkey trekking provides an opportunity to observe these charismatic monkeys up close. They are very active creatures, and jump from tree to tree which is really interesting and a little difficult to photograph!
The trekking routes wind through the forests, offering glimpses of other wildlife and bird species along the way.
Mt. Bisoke is one of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountain range. Hiking Mount Bisoke can be a challenging yet rewarding experience by combining challenging trekking with breathtaking scenery.
As you ascend the mountain, you’ll be treated to beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding Virunga Mountains and the lush green landscapes below. On clear days, you can see far into the distance, making the climb rewarding with every step.
The hike involves navigating through different terrains, including forests, bamboo zones, and open slopes. The trail can be steep and challenging at times, especially as you approach the summit.
The highlight of the hike is reaching the crater at the summit which has a beautiful turquoise lake and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Dian Fossey was a renowned American primatologist who dedicated her life to the study and conservation of mountain gorillas in Rwanda. She is best known for her work in the Karisoke Research Center and her book “Gorillas in the Mist,” which later inspired a film of the same name.
Unfortunately, Dian Fossey was murdered in 1985, and was buried near the Karisoke Research Center where she worked. If you are interested in visiting Dian Fossey’s tomb and learning more about her contributions to gorilla conservation, we can arrange for you a guided tour to the site.
Throughout the tour, guides provide valuable information about gorilla conservation, the current status of mountain gorilla populations, and the ongoing efforts to protect these endangered species. Visitors gain a deeper understanding of the importance of conservation and the impact of Fossey’s work.
The Musanze Caves, in Volcanoes national park, are one place you should visit. They are a network of underground caves and tunnels formed by volcanic activity. These caves have historical and cultural significance as they were used by the local people during times of war and as shelters.
You can take a guided tour to explore the underground passages, learn about the history and geology of the caves, and witness the bats that inhabit some sections. The tours are typically led by knowledgeable local guides who provide insights into the cultural and natural aspects of the caves. The caves even have tourist walkways, trails, and stairs that take you to the dark interior of the caves.
Musanze caves can be explored after your gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes national park.
Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village is a cultural tourism initiative established to showcase and preserve Rwandan cultural heritage.
Visitors to the village have the opportunity to experience traditional Rwandan dances, music, art, and crafts. The village provides an authentic cultural experience by allowing you to interact with local residents and participate in various activities, gaining insight into the daily lives and customs of the Rwandan people.
The village includes replicas of traditional Rwandan homes, and you may have the chance to witness traditional ceremonies, learn about Rwandan folklore, and engage in hands-on activities such as weaving and pottery. Additionally, the village may offer demonstrations of traditional farming practices and showcase local cuisine.
The best time to visit Volcanoes National Park is during the dry seasons, from June to September and December to February. During this period, the weather is more predictable, and the trails are less muddy providing optimal conditions for trekking and hiking activities.
However, Rwanda’s “short rains” from March to May and “long rains” from October to November also offer a unique experience with lush vegetation and fewer tourists.
Visiting Volcanoes National Park is possible year-round with each season offering its unique charm.
Volcanoes National Park is easily accessible from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. This journey takes approximately two hours by road taking you through the beautiful countryside of Rwanda.
We have experienced guides and customized private vehicles including extended 4WD safari Land cruisers and safari vans to help you get to this park.
Volcanoes National Park offers various accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. The choice of where to stay largely depends on your budget and the level of comfort and amenities you desire.
Here are some of the accommodations we recommend you to stay while visiting Volcanoes National Park
Here are some of our safari packages that include a visit to Volcanoes National Park for gorilla and golden monkey tracking, hiking Mt Bisoke, as well as other activities.
Take a look through one or two of these packages so that you can get a good idea of what a visit to Volcanoes National Park would feel like. Remember that regardless of your specific needs, all our safari packages can be personalized for you