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), and spans 160 sq km covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.
In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest – the Virungas”. Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range – home of the rare mountain gorilla – and the rich mosaic of mountain ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath.
This is 160km² national parks and it protects the Rwandan sector of the Virunga Mountains, range of six extinct and three active volcanoes which straddles the borders with Uganda and the DRC. The Volcanoes Park is part of a contiguous 433km² Trans frontier conservation unit that also includes the Virunga National Park and Mgahinga National Park, which protects the DRC and Ugandan sectors of the Virunga respectively. The three national parks are managed separately today. At the time of independence, Rwanda’s new leaders confirmed that they would maintain the gorillas which were already known internationally despite the pressing problem of overpopulation.
An exhilarating trek through the cultivated foothills of the Virungas offers stirring views in all directions. Then, abruptly, the trail enters the national park, immersing trekkers in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colorful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, and littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive populations of buffalo and elephant. Through gaps in the forest canopy, the magnificent peaks are glimpsed, easily accessible and among the highest in Africa, beckoning an ascent.
The bustling market town of Ruhengeri has a memorable setting at the base of the Virungas. On the outskirts of town, the natural bridge at Musanze – a solidified lava flow – is a fascinating relic of the volcanic activity that shaped this scenic area. Also within easy day tripping distance of Ruhengeri are the seldom visited but lovely Lakes Burera, Ruhondo and Karago. Ruhengeri offers a good selection of reasonably-priced small hotels and guest houses, including the newly renovated hotel at Gorilla nest. Visitors could also base themselves in Gisenyi or Kigali and – with an early start – head to the Parc des Volcans and Ruhengeri as a day trip.
The major activities at the park include:-
Mountain gorilla tracking
This is a priority for most travelers to Volcanoes national park. The national park is a home to 10 habituated gorilla families available for trekking. Also, Volcanoes park covers Rwanda’s share of the great Virunga massif bordering Virunga national park in Congo and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. Travelers to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda are required to buy gorilla permits each costing $1500 for an hour’s interaction. All permits are issued out by Rwanda Development Board.
Golden Monkey trekking
Golden monkey trekking is yet another most done activity in Volcanoes national park which attract thousands of travelers into this jungle. Golden monkeys are exceptional creatures which every traveler should not miss out on his/her Rwanda safari.Its only in Volcanoes wanda and Mgahinga gorilla national parks that travelers can see golden monkeys in their natural habitats. Fortunately, golden monkey trekking costs $100 which is relatively cheap compared to gorilla trekking.
Besides wildlife, Volcanoes national park is a home for three extinct volcanoes. Travelers to this park therefore have an added advantage of hiking to the top of any Volcano which reward them with spectacular views of Rwanda’;s rolling hills, kigali city, Virunga volcanoes and local communities.Mt Karisimbi is the most hiked Volcano and the experience is worthy the hike.
Do not miss out visiting the Musanze caves on your Rwanda safari to Volcanoes national park. Experienced guides lead you into these caves while telling you the mysteries of the caves, history and all other facts about Rwanda.
Other activities to do in Volcanoes national park include cultural tours especillay to Iby’Iwacu cultural village, bird watching, visiting the twin lakes of Bulera and Buhondo among others.
Volcanoes National park is one of the famous tourism destinations on the continent. its is also Africa’s oldest park. It Lies along the virunga volcanoes which are shared between Rwanda, Uganda and DRC and its home to five of the 8 volcanoes.
Its covers the Districts of Burera, Musanze, Rubavu and Nyabihu. Its just a two hours drive from the capital kigali. The Park is Central for all people who come to Rwanda. The Normal and easy point to getting there is through Musanze. From the airport you cn use both public and Private means. You can pre-organize with a tour operator or hire a cab at airport.
Its very possible for you to drive from Kigali to the tracking point on the day you are tracking the gorillas but this is only reliable with the private means and not the public transport.
If you use the public means, there is no public transport between Musanze and the par headquarters as the public means can only stop at Musanze point. From Kigali To Musanze the Cab which i am sure most people will opt for because of the convenience and cheaper than hiring from tour operators will charge you less than USD 50.
You can also crosscheck with the hotel and see if there people who are tracking the next day and if they are also booking there won transport you may ask to join them as this may be cheaper and also having company with you.
Its better you ask at the reception of your hotel and see if they can recommend a cab or find you one as they may have better bargaining power than you do. Alternatively, you can drop us a mail and we shall gladly arrange your safari right from the planning process to your visit till your departure.
Kinigi guesthouse is a budget accommodation situated in Kinigi district only 11 Km from Ruhengeri. It is constructed at the bottom of Sabyinyo volcanic mountain with an altitude of 4,480 m located right near the entrance of Volcanoes national park.
Kinigi Guesthouse has 20 rooms and after the recent renovation they can be said to very comfortable and more than adequate, but one can stop short at calling them luxurious.
Kinigi guesthouse is run by a local women’s co-operative, so most of the money from your stay will go into supporting the community. There is also a bar and lounge area where you can relax and chat.
The renovations have brought with them a generator, so all the rooms offer electricity and hot water. While sparsely furnished, the rooms are warm and comfortable and if it’s gorillas you are interested in, you won’t mind that this isn’t a luxury lodge!
Hotel Muhabura is one of the best budget accommodation facilities found close to the home of the endangered mountain gorillas. It is located north of Kigali in Musanze province opposite the Musanze district headquarters. If you are looking for an affordable place to stay whilst you encounter mountain gorillas in the wild, this hotel should be among your top picks.
Hotel Muhabura is strategically located connecting different attractions in Musanze district including the entrance to Volcanoes national park, the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo, Musanze caves and Musanze market. It was at hotel Muhabura that the late Dian Fossey spent some of the nights whenever she came down from her gorilla camp, she also bathed and had meals at the hotel’s restaurant.
Dian Fossey, an American primatologist who spent the last 30 years of her life saving the mountain gorillas that were constantly poached by the Congo and Rwanda communities in the Virunga Mountains slept in room 12 of the hotel. The garden in front of room 12 and the calm of the hotel are the reasons she only stayed at the hotel Muhabura. Guests are allowed to stay in Dian Fossey room at a price of $90 per night.
Rooms: The hotel comprises of 30 rooms in form of double / twin, single occupancy. These rooms often get filed up quickly especially during peak seasons hence, recommended to book several months in advance. The hotel also has 6 apartments that are spacious offering a cozy environment to relax in after gorilla trekking or a day visit to the Northern area of Rwanda.
Outside facilities that the hotel offers include a terrace, Garden, camping Gift shop, sauna and massage, conference facilities, reception, restaurant and bar with very helpful staff that are so ready to serve you.
Hotel Muhabura is a very good place for a budget stay.
La Palme Hotel
La Palme Hotel is a three stars Hotel located in Musanze city offering mid range 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.
Enjoy a range of drinks carefully selected for your unique taste and satisfaction in the Mini Bar.