Volcanoes National Park

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Volcanoes National Park

This corner or northwestern Rwanda is a breath-taking unforgettable place where culture, adventure and conservation intersect. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey. The park was first gazetted in 1925, as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Visoke and Mikeno, intended to protect the gorillas from poachers. It was the very first National Park to be created in Africa. Subsequently, in 1929, the borders of the park were extended further into Rwanda and into the Belgian Congo, to form the Albert National Park, a huge area of 8090 km2, run by the Belgian colonial authorities who were in charge of both colonies. In 1958, 700 hectares of the park were cleared for a human settlement.

Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans) lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rain forest and bamboo.

THINGS TO DO IN VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Volcanoes National Park is the top tourist destination in Rwanda. Here’s what you can expect from a visit to the park.

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Mountain Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is second to none in attracting tourists into the country. The mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with fewer that 900 left in the wild worldwide.

Time is running out to see these gentle giants in their natural habitat, which is why this experience is at the top of most visitor’s lists.

Trekkers are accompanied by trained Tour Guides who are well-informed about different wildlife in the park and will lend a hand along the trek. They could carry your daypack or offer you a helping hand if you were to get stuck in the mud!

GOLDEN-MONKEY

Golden Monkey Tracking

Rare golden monkeys have been sighted in the magnificent Virunga Mountains.

Tracking the beautiful golden monkeys is another popular tourist activity in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. A glimpse of these creatures is considered to be a wonderful lifetime experience.

Most visitors book a 3-day gorilla tour package, to experience the golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park. Like gorilla tracking, this activity starts in the morning with an assembly at Kinigi Park Headquarters.

However, golden monkey tracking is less strenuous than to gorilla trekking, so you’ll be finished by around midday.

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Adventurous Hike to Dian Fossey Tombs

A visit to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda can be mixed up with a hike to the tomb of the late Dian Fossey.

Dian Fossey was an American primatologist who spent close to two decades in the park, studying the mountain gorillas. A biopic of her life was made into a movie in the late eighties, titled Gorillas in the Mist.

She was murdered by poachers in 1985. Her grave is nestled between the beautiful volcanic peaks of Bisoke and Karisimbi, near Karisoke Research Center.

Along the way on your hike journey, you may be lucky enough to see elephants, buffalo, primates like golden monkeys and sometimes even the mountain gorillas that Dian dedicated her life to.

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Mountain Hiking Adventures

Mount Bisoke stands at 3,700 meters above sea level, with a deep crater lake on the top. Hiking Mount Bisoke does not require prior hiking experience; you only need to be physically fit, due to the high elevation and length of the climb.

The whole trek takes five to seven hours depending on your speed and the frequency of stops.

While at the top of the volcano, you will enjoy fantastic views of the other five volcanoes and the beautiful Twin Lakes.

Near the summit is the Crater Lake, which features drier vegetation than other parts of the park, with giant heather growing all over the slopes of the volcano.