Parc Des Volcanoes

Parc Des Volcanoes - Rwanda Gorilla trekking Park

An exhilarating trek through the cultivated foothills of the Virunga offers stirring views in all directions. Then, abruptly, the trail enters the Volcanoes national park, this is 160km² national park 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.

Ranging in altitude from 2400km to 4507 the Volcanoes National Park is conquered by the setting of volcanoes. This chain of steep, all free standing mountains linked by fertile saddles which were formed by solidified lava flows , is one of the most stirring and memorable sights in East Africa .

Parc Volcano’s Key Species
The park reopened to tourism in June 1993, but it was evacuated in April 1994 because of the genocide. Later in 1995, it once again reopened to tourism, only to close again a few months later. Gorilla tracking was finally resumed on a permanent basis in July 1999, since when the number of tourists visiting the Virungas had increased rapidly. More details of gorillas and gorilla-tracking follow later in this section. Gorillas and golden monkeys aside, primates are poorly represented by comparison with other forests in Rwanda and Western Uganda. Little information is available regarding the current status of other large mammals, but 70-plus species have been recorded in Uganda’s neighboring Mgahinga National Park, most of which probably only occur in the larger Rwanda section of the Virungas. Elephant and buffalo are still quite common; judging by the amount of spoor encountered on forest trails, but is very timid and infrequently observed. Also present are giant forest hog, bush pig, bushbuck, black-fronted duiker, spotted hyena, and several varieties of small predator. Recent extinctions, probably as a result of deforestation, include the massive yellow-backed duiker and leopard.
Unique Features
The Virungas with five peaks-Karisimbi (4507M), Bisoke (3711M), Sabyinyo (3634M), Gahinga(3474M) and Muhabura (4127M).
The Virunga ecosystem is composed of 4 major vegetation zones: Bamboo (base altitude),Hagenia and Hypericum forest (2600-3300m), Sub-alpine (3300-4000m), and Afro-alpine(4000m+).
Between Bisoke and Sabyinyo volcanoes lies lakes Ngezi, Nyirambubu, Gasindikira and Muraro. Crater lake is at the peak of Bisoke. Visit to the lakes can be organized

Other animals including– the rare golden monkeys Cape buffalo, black fronted duiker; a profusion of bird life including the Ruwenzori turaco, and beautiful francolins.

What to do
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Mountain gorilla tracking remains the most popular activity in the park, with over a total of 80 permits issued daily, eight for each of the habituated gorilla troops. But Volcanoes National Park is not only for gorilla tracking but other activities like golden monkey trekking, hiking which are now well organized, from a two-day ascent of Karisimbi to a non-strenuous nature walk to a cluster of crater later, but the most exciting achievement is that visitors can now visit habituated troop of the near-endemic golden monkey.

Habituated Gorilla Families in Rwanda

Susa Group/ Family
The largest group with 41 gorillas. The group is very impressive with threesilver-backs and several-black backs, females and several youngsters. Part of the fame of thisgroup are the playful 5 year old twins named Byishimo and Impano. The group roams the slopes of Karisimbi Volcano (4507M). Though the group is a bit difficult to track sometimes it is very near.Always find out their location from guides a day earlier.

Sabyinyo Group/ Family
One o the easily accessible groups. The group has 8 members led bythe biggest silverback known in the entire jungle called Guhonda.

Amahoro Group/ Family
Amahoro meaning peaceful has 17 members led by the peacefulUbumwe. Amahoro is a more strenuous group to access compared to Group 13 or Sabyinyo.
Group 13/ Family(Also Called Agashya)
When first habituated this group had only 13 membershence its name. Now the group has approximately 25 members.

Kwitonda Group/ Family
This migrant group from DR Congo has 18-members led by Kwitondawhich means “humble one” . It has two silverbacks and one black-back. Though the group tendsto wander far, it is now permanently in the Rwanda Section of Virungas. Together with Susa this isone of the difficult groups to track.

Umubano Group/ Family
Families of 11, Umubano were originally Amahoro members but brokeoff after the dominant silverback was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano. When ayoung silverback challenges the dominant silverback he must steal some females from the existinggroup in order to form his own family; thus Umubano was formed.

Hirwa Group/ Family
Hirwa is the most diverse group comprising from differently families mainlygroup 13 and Sabyiny

Recorded Bird Species in Volcanoes Park
Volcanoes National Park has a total of 180 species. With 15 recent recorded species were noted during a 2004 biodiversity survey, but it is possible that several other forest specialists have gone astray since 1980. A local specie is the vulnerable swamp-dwelling Grauer’s rush warbler, while at least 16 Albertine Rift endemic are present, including handsome francolin, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, Rwenzori batis, strange weaver, dusky crimson-wing, collared apalis, red-faced woodland warbler and Archer’s ground robin.

Volcano Hiking
Visitors stand a high chance of hiking. For the less energetic, walks of about two and a half hours costing US$30 to the nearer crater lakes and in the forest are thoroughly enjoyable and will be particularly rewarding to birdwatchers!
It is also possible to visit Dian Fossey’s tomb and the adjacent gorilla cemetery at the former Karisoke Research Camp. This trek involves a 30-minute drive from the park headquarters to the trailhead than a 10-minute stroll to the park boundary. From here, the climb through the forest takes from 90 minutes to three hours, depending on your fitness and how often you stop to enjoy the scenery, while the plunge takes 1-2 hours. All arrangements for these activities can be made through the ORTPN offices, whether in Kigali, Musanze or Kinigi (incase you want to pay by MasterCard it can be done in Kigali). Note that all hikes depart from the park headquarters at Kinigi at round 07.30 (check-in-time 07.00), the same departure time as for gorilla tracking, which means that visitors can undertake only one activity per day within the park.

Accessing Parc Volcanoes

The easiest way of reaching Volcanoes Park is Musanze formerly known as Ruhengeri, which can easily be reached on public transport from Gisenyi, Kigali on the day you track. You need to be at the ORTPN office in Kinigi, by the park entrance, by 07.00, but this isn’t a reliable option in case you are using public transport. There is no public transport between Musanze and the park headquarters at Kinigi.

Accommodation facilities

Virunga Lodge overlooking Lake Burera, Governors Camp Sliver back Lodge the most luxurious facility, Gorilla view lodge, Gorilla Nest Lodge, Le’Bambou Gorilla Lodge and Kinigi Guest house are among the facilities that visitors seek overnight services

Rwanda Best of Africa Vacation - 14 Days

Rwanda: the best Africa Vacation holiday encopassing savanna and raiforest.  On this trip you you will see the animals of the savannahs (elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, leopard) and up to 15 primate species, including gorillas and chimps!!!  Visit all important and well known national parks of Rwanda: Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Lake Kivu.


Day 1: Kigali
Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport for your African trip, you will be met by our safari guide and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Step Town Motel/Kigali Serena Hotel/Mille Collines Hotel

Day 2: Akagera National Park
After breakfast we drive to Akagera National Park. On our way we enjoy the beautiful landscape and rural way of life of the local people. Akagera National Park in Eastern Rwanda is Rwanda's only Savannah national park the drive is approximately 2 and a half hours, check into your accommodation. After lunch you will go out for an evening game drive to search for animals like the African Elephants, Masai giraffes, Antelopes, Zebras, Buffaloes, gazelles, Impala, Baboons, Oribi, Burchell’s zebra, Topi, Bush baby, Leopard, Bushbuck and so many others. Dinner and overnight at Akagera Game Lodge/ Umbrella Pine/Dereva Hotel

Day 3: Game drive and boat trip
After breakfast, you will go for the early morning game drive which will reward you with views of wildlife such as elephants, impala, oribi, bushbuck, antelope, zebra, cape eland, giraffe, buffalo, and if you are lucky visitor you may come across a spotted hyena, lion or leopard. Return to the lodge for lunch and in the afternoon, there will a canoe ride on Lake Ihema. This will reward you with views of water loving animals like Hippos, out-sized crocodiles and water birds like the papyrus Gonolek, shoebill stork and African fish eagle. Dinner and overnight at Akagera Game Lodge/ Umbrella Pine/Dereva Hotel

Day 4: Kigali
Game drive in the morning. Picnic lunch at the top of Mount Mutumba (1,825 meters) with stunning panoramic views of the park. Transfer to Kigali afterwards.
Overnight at Step Town Motel/Kigali Serena Hotel/Mille Collines Hotel

Day 5: Nyungwe Forest
This morning you will transfer to Nyungwe Forest with a stop over at Butare (Huye) where to visit the Rwanda National Museum and Nyanza Hill. Afterwards continue on to Nyungwe Forest.
Dinner and overnight Gisakura Guest House/Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel/Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 6: Nyungwe Forest National Park
Early morning Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest. Optional walk to the waterfall or visit to the Angolan Black Colobus monkeys (both activities optional).
Nyungwe Forest is East Africa's largest forests, with 13 monkey species, including chimpanzees, Angolan Black Colobus, Mona Monkey and Owl Faced Monkeys.
Dinner and overnight Gisakura Guest House/Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel/Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 7: Nyungwe Forest National Park
This morning after breakfast you have a few options of activities to choose from note that it is only one activitiy included. If you choose to do more than one activity then you will have to pay for it. Activities include; a nature walk or bird watching, primate walk, canopy walk or the waterfall trail (one activity included).
Dinner and overnight Gisakura Guest House/Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel/Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 8: Kibuye (Lake Kivu)
Today after breakfast we drive to the Bugarama hot springs (the largest and biggest natural spring in Rwanda) via Cyamudongo Natural Forest. It is possible to take a warm bath in the hot springs (optional). Afterwards we drive to River Rusizi for a boat trip with lunch and drinks. Drive to Kibuye town.
Overnight Bethanie hotel / Moriah Hills

Day 9: Gisenyi (Lake Kivu)
Relax at the lodge or at the shores of scenic Lake Kivu. It is also possible to make a walk along the lake's shores. Afterwards drive to Gisenyi.
Overnight Ubumwe Hotel/Lake Kivu Serena hotel

Day 10: Volcanoes National Park
Relax at the beach in the morning, go for a nature walk along the shore or visit Bugarama hot springs. In the afternoon we drive to the Volcanoes National Park.
Volcanoes National Park is a unique jungle, with many primate species, including the endemic Golden Monkeys. Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga Mountains, covering Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, and one of the two places in the world where you can find Mountain Gorillas!
overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge/ Le Bambou Lodge/Home Inn

Day 11: Gorilla tracking
Your gorilla tracking day today starts with an early morning breakfast, transfer to the park for a gorilla tracking briefing from the park guides, with your ranger guide you will set out on a gorilla tracking experience searching for one of the world's most interesting and endangered animals, the Mountain Gorilla! You will spend one hour with the mountain gorillas. An experience you will never forget.
overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge/ Le Bambou Lodge/Home Inn
Volcanoes National Park is a unique jungle, with many monkey species, including the endemic Golden Monkeys. Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga Mountains, covering Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, and one of the two places in the world where you can find Mountain Gorillas!
overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge/ Le Bambou Lodge/Home Inn

Day 12: Volcanoes National Park
Optional activities for today (one activity included): make a nature walk in the national park, visit the golden monkeys, climb one of the volcanoes, or visit Diane Fossey's grave.
It is also possible to make another gorilla tracking.
overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge/ Le Bambou Lodge/Home Inn

Day 13: Lake Ruhondo / Kigali
We drive around the lakes and visit the Musangabo viewing point. Optional nature walk around the lakes. Afterwards we drive to Kigali. It is also possible to visit the local people or the pygmies (optional).
Overnight at Step Town Motel/Kigali Serena Hotel/Mille Collines Hotel

Day 14
Kigali - Flight
Today is reserved for departure. If you have time before your departure flight it is possible to go on a city tour with possible visit of the Genocide Memorial if time allows (optional activity)

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