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Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park - Primates and Gorilla Safaris in Rwanda

If you are after the life changing Gorilla trekking Safaris in Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the only place to go. Also part of the Virunga Massif, Volcanoes National Park covers a total area of 160 square kilometers and is located in the Eastern part of Rwanda. This Park in the rolling hills of Rwanda is home to five of the eight Virunga Volcanoes namely: Mount Karisimbi, Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura, Bisoke and Mount Sabyinyo.

It started as a small area around Bisoke, Mikeno and Karisimbi volcanoes established to provide habitat to the species of Gorillas that were facing threat of extinction. Later this protected area was extended to Rwanda in 1929 and was under the management of Belgian king. After DR Congo gaining their independence in the early 1960s, the Park was divided; Rwanda remained with Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park for DR Congo.

In 1967 Volcanoes National Park was joined by a great American zoologist “Dian Fossey” who withdrew from doing Mountain Gorilla research in DR Congo and focused on Rwanda. With a view of raise conservation campaigns towards saving life of Gorillas, Dian Fossey established a research center “Karisoke” in Volcanoes National Park.

After some years, Dian Fossey was shot dead by the rebels in 1985. It was agonizing but this did not stop the conservation of Gorilla lives in Volcanoes National Park. Thanks to Dian Fossey that currently the Gorillas are just increasing in numbers. Other than Mountain Gorillas, Volcanoes is home to the species of Golden Monkey that inhabit the bamboo forested areas, 178 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and different insect species. Wild animals as well thrive, on a lucky day you can sight buffaloes, elephants, bush bucks, black fronted duiker, spotted hyenas and more.

Getting there

This Park is located in Musanze district. From Kigali city, it takes about two hours for the drive up to Volcanoes National Park. This Park ranks as the easily accessed Park amongst the three National Parks in Rwanda. Alternatively, you can go by airplane from Kigali airport up to Kinigi airstrip, from this airstrip you will be transferred by your guide up to the park headquarters. A one day Gorilla trek is possible from Kigali though you need to wake up very early in the morning for the Journey to Kinigi.

Top Activities done.

Gorilla Trekking.

This is the main activity and reason for a safari to Volcanoes National Park, though some other activities are offered, there are often an addition to Gorilla Trek. This lifetime experience grants a chance to meet face to face with the Mountain Gorillas in the Jungles. Most travelers refer to it as a life time experience hard to forget. It is done in a group, early in the morning; a briefing is first conducted at the Park offices to highlight trekkers all about it takes for the Mountain Gorilla trekking experience.

After briefing and gorilla family allocation along with park ranger guides, the jaw dropping journey to the Jungle starts in search of these apes. After locating their presence, you are allowed to interact with them for only one hour. Later return to the Park offices for other simple activities or return to the lodge for some relaxation and refreshments. A permit is required for Gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park; this costs $1500 USD per person. It’s usually booked in advance.

Golden Monkey Tracking.

If you can’t make for the expensive Gorilla trek, you choose Golden monkey tracking. Similarly it involves meeting face to face with the Golden monkey primates in the Jungles. Not like Gorilla Trekking, with Golden monkey tracking, there is no limit on the number of people to track. But rather they usually depend on the number of people available for the excursion per day. Golden monkey also starts with a briefing in the morning at the Park offices, later the journey starts following the permanently established trails. Golden monkeys are mostly found in the mountainous bamboo forested areas; therefore physical fitness is a must in order to be part of it. Tracking permit costs $100 USD per person.