The Volcanoes National Park was first gazzetted in 1925, a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno Volcanoes, intended to protect the gorillas from poaching. It was the very first National Park to be created in Africa.
This is Rwanda’s Largest and most famous National Park. It is most famous for the Mountain Gorillas that have seen many tourist embark on their Rwanda safaris to see these great Apes. The conservation and well-being of these great apes in the volcanoes national park was by the great work of a great scientist- Dian Fossey whose grave still lies in the park.
Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga Mountains, which is a range of six extinct and three active volcanoes situated in Rwanda, Uganda and The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The park is approximately 13,000 hectares and was formed 1929 during the Belgian colonial times, it was then named Albert National Park and extended into DRC.
The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is the most famous area in Rwanda, world re-known for being the home of approximately half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Tracking the mountain gorilla is, according to us, one of the absolute highlights of a journey anywhere in Africa! The thrill and excitement when meeting these gentle giants cannot be explained - it simply has to be experienced.
Upon independence Rwanda confirmed that the area would remain a national park in spite of the pressing question of need for increased agricultural land.
The volcanoes in the park range in altitude from 2,400 to 4,507 meters above sea level, the highest one being Karisimbi (4,507). The vegetation consists of bamboo forest, hagenia woodland, Afro-Alpine moorland, grassland and marshy areas.
The park is probably best known for being the place where Dian Fossey, the American primatologist worked for almost 20 years. It is largely because of her tireless work that the gorillas were saved from extinction while there still were enough to be saved. She was murdered at her Karisoke Research Center in 1985, although the murder is still unresolved it was probably the work of poachers whom she was constantly crossing swords with during her efforts to save the gorillas from extinction.
In the early 1990’s gorilla tourism was probably Rwanda’s main foreign exchange earner. This came to an abrupt end in 1994 during the genocide. Gorilla trekking was finally resumed on a permanent basis in 1999 and Rwanda gorilla safari adventures are the top safari experiences in Rwanda.
Volcanoes National Park is today not only a place for trekking the gorillas. Visitors can come and stay for several days doing various treks and walks such as visiting the ruins of the Karisoke Research station where Dian Fossey is buried as well as visiting a troupe of the recently habituated Golden Monkeys – another of Rwanda’s world unique attractions. Walks range in difficulty from ascending the Karisimbi volcano to various walks and hikes in the forest and nearby lakes. Gorilla tracking permits and golden monkey tracking permits can be directly bought from RDB or organized through a local tour operator.
Animals found in the area include silver monkey, blue monkey, elephant, buffalo, forest hog, bush pig, bushbuck, spotted hyena, and black-fronted duiker. Approximately 180 bird species was recorded in 1980, some should with a bit of luck be spotted during various walks and treks.
Also be assured of the native Rwanda people exhibiting their culture through “Kinyarwanda dance and performances” and these are ongoing throughout the day.
Most of the tourist activities in Volcanoes National Park ranging from Gorilla tracking, golden monkey tracking, hike to the Dian Fossey grave to the Volcanoes hike on Karisimbi and Bisoke start in the morning hours.
Some of the park activity fees are as below;
Mountain Gorillas: US$ 1500 (originally at $750 but increased to $1,500 effective 6th May 2017 by RDB)
Dian Fossey Hike: US$ 75
Golden Monkey Tracking: US$ 100
Crater Lake Hike: US$ 75
Being the tourist hub of Rwanda with many activities to do and the fact that it is home of the famed Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park and its out skirts has got numerous tourist safari lodges/ hotels.
The lodges include; Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge ,Virunga Lodge, Mountain Gorillas' Nest lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Davinci Gorilla Lodge, Hotel Muhabura, Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel, Le Bambou Gorilla Village, Garr Hotel, Villa Gorilla, La Palme Hotel, Kinigi Guest house, Virunga Hotel, Red Rocks Rwanda, Home Inn.
When planning your Rwanda gorilla safari, you can always contact us for more information about the above lodges and advice to best suit your safari interests.