Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is one of the top leading safari destination situated in the far northwest of Rwanda – the “Land of a thousand Hills”. This safari park covers area of 160km rainforest vegetation. It is home to about five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga mountains that favors the survival of the endangered mountain gorillas. It features a rich mosaic of the montane eco systems which consists of the evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath. Volcanoes National Park hosts the dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga massif, namely; karisimbi, Bisoke with its verdant Crater Lake, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura ranges.
A tour to Volcanoes National Park, gives you chance to trek the endangered mountain gorillas through the mysterious intimacy of the rain forest. The safari allows great opportunity to sight over 200 colorful bird species as well as the chattering of the rare golden monkeys thus giving you a one of the true experiences in one area. With the boundaries of Volcanoes National Park, there are other thrilling sites you can explore like; Buhanga Eco Park, an ancient forest holding Rwanda’s most intriguing folklore and the Musanze caves, formed 62 million years ago after the last estimated volcanic eruption.
The key attraction in Volcanoes National Park is the mountain gorilla trekking experience. This offers you a unique opportunity to encounter the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat that gives many a life changing experience. Meet with gorillas family and learn more about their interesting lifestyle, they are carefully managed with expert trekkers and guides who lead you to small groups of tourists up the bamboo covered slopes to spend a precious and awe inspiring hour just a few feet away from the gentle creatures.
There are about 14 habituated gorilla families in volcanoes national park with open for gorilla tourism and others for research whereas others are not habituated. To trek mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, you are required to purchase a gorilla permit through your tour operator with specific dated before embarking on this fulfilling bucket list experience. Each gorilla group is given a name depending on different circumstances and is led by a silver back. When a young silverback challenges the dominant silverback, he must steal some females from an existing group in order to form his own family.
Gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park
Amahoro gorilla group. Amahoro is in a local language meaning peace and is led by the calm Ubumwe silverback gorilla. The group mainly resides uphill which requires you to endure a steep climb to eventually come into its territories but always the climb is not worth it.
Sabinyo gorilla group. This is led by Guhonda silverback gorilla, named after one of the dormant volcanoes Mt Sabinyo. The members within this family are generally fewer but is an interesting family. This group is closet to the park headquarters, if you are weary of tracking long distances; this is the group to request if available.
Hirwa gorilla group. Emerged from different existing gorilla families including group 13, Susa and Sabinyo. Munyinya the silverback after leaving Susa with two females got others along the way and eventually formed a group.
Kwitonda gorilla group – it is led by silverback Kwitonda and the name is translated humble one. This gorilla group migrated from DRC and settled permanently in Rwanda. It is moderately difficult to trek because it ranges far in the upper slopes of Mt Muhabura.
Agashya gorilla group – it had only 13 members during habituation hence its name. Currently it has a membership of approximately 25 members and is led by silverback Agashya which explains the name change.
Wildlife in Volcanoes National Park
The most popular inhabitants of Volcanoes National Park are the mountain gorillas. These have successfully placed this safari park on the world maps, thanks to the work done by Dian and Fossey as well as the movie of ‘gorilla in the mist’. The Volcanoes National Park is wonderful gem where silver meets gold, as in you get chance see both the rare and the endangered golden monkeys and Mountain Gorillas which are only found in the Virunga region. On a lack day, you get an opportunity to see other animals found in the forest namely; forest elephants, buffaloes, bush pigs among other exciting several primates recorded here.
Bird life in Volcanoes national park
The park is home to over 200 bird species with a number of Albertine rift endemics thus giving the bird watching lovers a chance to delight in a rewarding birding tour. Birding is almost the second best thing to do in Volcanoes National Park after mountain gorilla trekking and the golden monkey trekking.
Some of the colorful bird species in the park include the Ruwenzori baits, Rwenzori turaco, staring weaver and many others. It features three significant birding spots with the rare Albertine rift endemics. Join your birding guide with a pair of binoculars and the camera to capture some of the spectacular birds in the Virunga. Your main search for the day will be the Albertine rift endemics as you enjoy the great scenery.
How to get to Volcanoes National Park?
From Kigali Airport to Volcanoes national park, it is only about 2 hour drive whilst It is 30 minutes drive from the border with Uganda at Cyanika in Kisoro district. You can also contact the services of Akagera Aviation to fly you by helicopter.
With the above facts, we hope you book a safari to Volcanoes National park and get a chance to experience the best of Rwanda. You can as well get in touch with our travel experts to assist you arrange the best of a luxury gorilla tour in Rwanda. You can combine your gorilla tour with a visit to Nyungwe Forest National Park for a chimpanzee adventure or Akagera National Park for a breath taking wildlife experience.