Volcanoes National Park

Perhaps best known as the home of the rare mountain gorilla, the Virunga are that and so much more. Trekking through the park in far northwest Rwanda, one will find a tapestry of sensory delights. The visitor in the rain forest can hear the calls of birds and monkeys, and through the forest see the peaks of the ancient volcanoes. In addition to the rain forest, the park offers evergreen and bamboo forest, grassland, swamp and heath.

Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga Conservation Area and covers more than 125 km². the park is home of five Virunga volcanoes: Sabyinyo (3.674 m), Gahinga (3.474 m), Bisoke (3711 m), Muhabura (4.127 m), and the Karisimbi, the highest volcano with an altitude of 4.507 m. All five volcanoes are extinct; the active ones are located in Congo. Two of them erupted recently; the Nyiragongo erupted in January 2002 and Nyamuragira in July 2002.

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Getting there!
Where to Stay?
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Ruhengeri, which can easily be reached by public transport from the Rwandan capital of Kigali or the northwestern city of Gisenyi, is the normal base for a visit to the gorillas. There is no public transport from Ruhengeri to the headquarters of Volcanoes National Park, where the gorillas are located, so visitors who aren’t on a tour should plan to hire a car with a four wheel drive (and driver). This will cost about $60 a day from Ruhengeri, $150 per day from Kigali, about a 90-minute drive. Travelers should check for information on suggested inoculations and health precautions.
The hotels closest to the park entrance are Mountain Gorillas Nest Lodge — an attractive resort with individual huts around a central garden of fountains and flowering trees — and The Kinigi guesthouse (Asoferwa) is situated only 200 meters from the park headquarters and provides comfortable and clean accommodation with breathtaking scenery at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo. . The latter is run by ASOFERWA, a charity established to help women and children struggling to recover from the traumas of the genocide; all profits go toward the group’s work. The hotel has a Swiss-chalet feel, comfortable public areas and good food. From these hotels you may be able to hitch a ride to the park, but you’d still have to get to the gorilla starting point and back to your room later.
Excursions: The lake circuit to the lakes Bulera and Ruhondo offers breathe taking sceneries. Highlights: Gorilla viewing, a day excursion up to the top of the Mt Sabyinyo or a visit to the grave of Dian Fossey on the edges of Mt Sabyinyo. Distance: Access to the area starts with Ruhengeri a town about 1h30 drive from Kigali and afterwards to Kinigi (14 km from Ruhengeri) where the park headquarters are located. Weather conditions: Due to the altitude it is generally quite cold, especially during the evenings. Gorilla viewing is possible all the year round.

Mountain Gorillas

An important part of Rwanda’s revival is its wildlife ecotourism, centered on the rare and remarkable mountain gorilla that lives in the dense forests of the volcanic Virungas range in the northwest. About a third of the world’s approximately 800 remaining mountains gorillas live in Rwanda. Your visit to their natural habitat may be the only hope for their future.

There are 8 gorilla families available for tourists with 8 tourists allowed per group:

Susa – the largest group with 41 gorillas, Sabyinyo –  led by the powerful silverback Guhonda,  Amahoro – led by the calm and easy going Ubumwe, Amahoro is made up of 17 members and means “peaceful”, Group 13 – when first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name, Kwitonda – this 18-member group is led by Kwitonda which means “humble one” and has two silverbacks and one black back, Umubano – a family of 11, Hirwa – this group emerged recently and was formed from different existing families, namely from Group 13 and Sabyinyo, Karisimbi – a family of 15, a new group.

Accommodations

Accommodation in Volcanoes National Park

There are a number of hotels in Volcanoes National Park. They include Bisate Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Virunga LodgePanorama Du Nord Motel, Home Inn and La Palma hotel

Parc National des Volcans has different kind of hotels depending on what the visitors want.

Golden Monkey Trekking

Aside from the Gorillas, few people know that the golden monkeys, are also listed as endangered species that need our attention to conserve.

The golden monkeys live in the bamboo vegetation towards the base of the volcanoes and have overcome their initial shyness to accept their daily visit by researchers and tourists.

You will trek to find the golden monkeys in a similar way to the gorilla trek – in a small group of no more than eight people, and you can spend one hour with the monkeys once you find them.

choosing to trek gorillas with us in Volcanoes National Parc is the only way you will be able to see other primate species such as vervet monkeys, baboons, and a variety of bird species and butterflies.

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