Rwanda Gorilla Safaris To Volcanoes National Park
These pre-planned Rwanda gorilla safaris are all-inclusive and can be customized to meed any traveler’s demands.
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Gorilla Trekking, Nature Walks, Birding, Community, Culture & People
Volcanoes national park Rwanda , this is a mountainous national park which is a home to the few remaining number of mountain Gorillas, but beyond the mountain gorillas, the park has many tourism potentials, it host rare and endangered golden monkeys, forest buffaloes and a lots of bird life including the localized Albertine rift Endemics. Besides wildlife , its most volcanic stand make it more interesting for travelers who are having interest to hike up to the top to see craters lake as the enjoy good views of Rwanda.
Volcanoes National Park lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Spanning on a 160 sq km area in the northern part of Ruanda, Volcanoes national park Rwanda is the oldest national park in Africa. It was initially a small area around Karisimbi, Mikeno and Bisoke volcanoes which was gazetted to protect the Mountain gorillas which were facing the threat of extinction as a result of poaching.
In 1929, the park was extended into Rwanda and the then Belgian Congo and was named Albert national park managed and run by the Belgian Colonial Authorities. During early 1960’s, the park was divided as Rwanda and Congo gained their independence and by the end of that decade, the park was almost half of its original size.
In 1967, the American zoologist Dian Fossey who had been doing research on mountain Gorillas in the forests of Congo fled from insecurity and established her research base at a place between Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes that was yet to be known as Karisoke research center. She spearheaded the conservation campaign of the mountain gorillas and mobilized resources to fight against poaching in this area, a fight she put up until her murder in 1985. She was buried at the research center next to the grave of her favorite gorilla called Digit.
The park continued to suffer at the mercies of poachers though conservation efforts were also under way. In early 1990’s, the park became a battle field for the Rwanda’s civil war which paralyzed tourism activities until 1999. In 2005, in a bid to boost conservation and gorilla tours in Volcanoes national park , Rwanda introduced the annual baby naming ceremony for baby gorillas known as ‘Kwita Iziina’ which has seen great results in as far as gorilla population in volcanoes is concerned.
Activities in Volcanoes National Park
Tracking the endangered mountain gorillas on the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes is a magical experience. Hike through mountain forests to experience these gentle creatures or make your way through airy bamboo forests to find the charming Golden Monkey.
Volcanoes National Park Permit costs per person:
- Mountain Gorillas: $1500
- Dian Fossey Hike: $75
- Golden Monkey Tracking: $100
- Mount Bisoke Hike: $75
Permits should be booked 3 to 6 months in advance, especially during Rwanda’s high season of June – September.
Dian Fossey Tomb Tour
Trekking to the Dian Fossey Tomb is one of the most sought after safari activities carried out while visiting Volcanoes national park for a gorilla trip. The trek involves a 30 minutes drive from the park headquarters to the trail head to access the Karisoke research camp where visitors walk for 10 minutes to the park boundary. The walk from the park boundary to the research center where the Dian’s grave is, takes about an hour to 1 hour and a half hours and affords good views of forest hogs, forest elephants, a variety of primates and bird species.
This hike is an incredible experience physically, emotionally and intellectually. It is so inspiring to learn about someone who was so dedicated and left a legacy that exists even today. The hike involves moving through the forests and hiking up the slopes and therefore requires some relative degree of fitness and patience.
At the site you will find the house from where Dian Fossey was mysteriously murdered in 1985 but the more peaceful is the place where she was buried just next to her favorite gorilla friend, Digit and about 20 other mountain gorillas either killed by poachers or suffered death for other reasons.
Golden Monkeys Tracking
Golden monkeys trekking takes place in Volcanoes national park and at the same time 7:00 just like gorillas. These rare species are also listed as endangered – and Volcanoes national park currently has two habituated golden monkeys’ troops that are available for visiting by tourists in the park, both of which make about 80 members.
Golden monkeys in Rwanda live in the bamboo vegetation towards the base of the volcanoes and habituation has helped them to overcome their initial shyness to accept their daily visit by researchers and tourists. Trekking golden monkeys and gorillas is a similar experience – in a small group of no more than eight people, and you can spend one hour with the monkeys once you find them.
They are very active creatures, and jump from tree to tree which is really interesting and a little difficult to photograph! The golden monkey trek is worth going for while in Volcanoes National Park and if you’re interested in wildlife, this is a rare and delightful experience not to be missed!
Twin Lakes of Burera & Ruhondo
The twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo were named so because they are situated in the same areas and their physical connection. They are located with in Musanze district a walk away from the Volcanoes national park. The lakes offer tourists a beautiful view of landscape, wetland habitat, and water birds.
Rwanda’s caves date back 65 million years and lie withing the volcanic region where lava flow layers long ago created the Albertine Rift Valley. The caves offer easy hiking 2 kilometers in distance and have brilliant views of cascading lights from the surface, unique rock formations, and a colony of bats.
Despite its small size, this serene forest packs a great deal of biological and cultural significance. Meditative trails cross through towering trees home to a variety of bird and butterfly species. The location is built on an ancient sacred site that was used for coronation rituals of Rwandan kings.
Permits cost $40 per person.
Gorilla Guardians Village (Ibyi wacu cultural village)
Located just outside the national park, this living museum highlights aspects of traditional Rwanda society. Visitors can expect to be greeted by thunderous drumming, joyful dancing, and the kind of hospitality that has permeated Rwandan society for centuries. The village features hands-on activities related to the rituals and ways of life in the ancient Rwandan kingdom. Some of the Gorilla guardians village presenters and performers were previous poachers who’ve now been able to make a new livelihood through this memorable, interactive stop designed for visitors of all ages. The village also offers extended trips into the countryside as well as overnight lodging that can be arranged in advance.
Cost per person: US$20
Mount Karisimbi hike
Rising at an elevation of about 4507m above sea level is MT. Karisimbi, a stratovolcano which is the highest of the eight major volcanoes of the Virunga field and the 5th highest in Africa. It strides along the border between Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda on the western branch of the Eat African Rift valley. Karisimbi lavas have been dated from 0.24 Ma to 0.010 Ma indicating that the volcano is very young.
The name Karisimbi is derived from the word ‘amasimbi’ in Kinyarwanda which means “white shell”, referring to the white-capped summit which is often seen on top of this volcano. It is flanked by Mikeno to the north, Bisoke to the east and Nyiragongo to the west, on the other side of the Rift Valley. The mountain is situated in Volcanoes national park, popularly known for the mountain gorillas.
Climbing Mt Karisimbi is a strenuous yet very rewarding 2 days hike. The climb starts early in the morning taking 6 hours and involves navigating through the Bisoke side before reaching the first stopping place at an altitude of 3,700 metres for overnight camping before finishing off the journey the next day.
Mount Bisoke Hike
The mount Bisoke adventure is one of the most memorable activities in Rwanda. The top of this Volcano has a spectacular crater lake. It is simply a 6 – hours hike including the 2 hours descending down to the starting point. Experienced hikers can get to the top of this mountain in a matter of 3 hours or even less and return to the base in about an hour.
On the day of hiking, hikers converge at the park headquarters at Kinigi at 7:00 am to attend to a briefing and be assigned a park ranger. The park rangers are usually natives of the Volcanoes national park vicinity and thus very knowledgeable about the mountain adventures.
At 8:00 am the adventure begins. Your tour guide will transfer you to the starting point. You will be assigned porters to carry your baggage. You will be provided the hiking gear.
Accommodation in Volcanoes NP, Rwanda
Reliable Info on where to stay in the Volcanoes national park when going for your gorilla trek in Rwanda. Below is a compile list of hotels in Rwanda ranging from high end, midrange and budget hotels options.
Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel – The lodge offers relaxing high end accommodation, with beautiful views of the rolling hills of the Land of a thousand hills. Accommodation comprises of 13 bedrooms (double/twin), a VIP cottage. Each facility is air conditioned and feature a flat-screen TV. A refrigerator and kettle. Read More
Mountain Gorillas’ Nest lodge – Super luxury lodge located northern Rwanda’s Musanze district nestled in a forest of Eucalyptus trees. The lodge offers a family sized magnificent accommodation at the Jack Hannah’s cottages with beautiful views of Rwanda’s hills and slopes of the Volcanoes national park.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is located in Musanze district close to the Parc National des Volcans park headquarters an excellent located for gorilla trekking. The lodge is situated at the foothill of the Virunga ranges comprising of a wonderful view of the rolling hills.
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge is located in Musanze district northern Rwanda neighboring Volcanoes National Park. The lodge is located on the foothills of the Mount Sabinyo, a volcanic mountains that make up the Virunga ranges.
Davinci Gorilla Lodge Is the best mid-range Lodge located in Kinigi north of Musanze town about 15 minutes drive to Volcanoes national park headquarters office. it has the most fancy en-suite looking cottages, the main lounge area has nice bar,restaurant, fire place and they offer leg massage at no extra cost, as soon as you return back from your trekking activities.
Hotel Muhabura – The hotel is located north of Kigali in Musanze province opposite the Musanze district headquarters. The hotel comprises of 30 rooms and apartments that offer a cozy environment to relax in after gorilla trekking or a day visit to the Northern area of Rwanda.
Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel – Modern hotel with a unique character and a pleasant ambience located in Musanze north of Kigali. The hotel comprises of 31 spacious comfortable rooms with an ensuite bathtub and shower. An impressive bar is attached with the restaurant.
Virunga Lodge – The lodge is situated about an hour’s drive from the park headquarters, Virunga Lodge is currently one the area’s top lodges and certainly has one of the most spectacular locations of any camp in Africa – high on a ridge overlooking both Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo.
Le Bambou Gorilla Village – Midrange safari accommodation situated in Northern Province of Rwanda, close to the endangered gorillas in their natural environment (Volcanoes National park). Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge has an unrivaled reputation for relaxation.
Garr Hotel – Set in the green leafy suburbs of Kigali, Garr Hotel offers a serene environment to the esteemed guest. It is favorably located at 5min walking distance to Kigali’s Golf Club making it the preferred choice for golfers and other sport enthusiastic guests.
Villa Gorilla is located at Kinigi near the headquarters of Rwanda’s famed Volcanoes National Park, a mere 2 hour’s drive from Kigali international airport. It has 4 comfortable double occupancy bedrooms, each with private bath and toilet facilities.
La Palme Hotel is a three stars Hotel, located in Musanze City offering Luxurious accommodation to business and Leisure tourists. An exceptional dining experience awaits you in a unique and renowned restaurant that delights your senses with African meals, French and Oriental kitchens.
Kinigi Guesthouse – situated in Kinigi district only 11 Km from Ruhengeri City. It is constructed at the bottom of Sabyinyo volcanic mountain with an altitude of 4,480 m. It accommodates over 40 people-all rooms have electricity and warm water.
Best time to visit Rwanda
Visiting Rwanda for gorilla tracking can be done all year round. The best time to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons, periods between December to early March and June to September. December to March is a long dry season for Rwanda, with temperatures going up to 29 degrees Celsius for some days while the months of March – Mid May, July to September, on the other hand, are regarded as the rainy in the country.
Overall Rwanda has a good weather throughout the year but the dry season is more preferable. The weather is generally good in addition wildlife viewing is also more common during this time. For tourists interested in visiting gorillas – this is also the best time for gorilla tours since there is a minimal chance of rain during the trek and a good hiking terrain in the rainforest. We still suggest your waterproof clothing even during these drier months, as this Equatorial climate is very unpredictable. This period is also a peak season; hence the prices can be higher on things like accommodation and car hire