Volcanoes National Park – Home of Mountain Gorillas

Parc National des Volcans, Home to Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

Also known as Volcanoes national park is a home to the endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda. The park is found in the northern part of Rwanda, approximately 90 Kilometers from Kigali capital city, and takes between 90 and 120 minute’s drive to the park. Volcanoes National Park Rwanda constitutes part of the Congo-Nile divide extension that separates the two of the most important watersheds in Africa.

Parc National des Volcans protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range – home of the rare endangered mountain gorillas and rare golden monkeys, with high diversity of mosaic of montane ecosystems, that consist of  ever green forest, open grassland, swam, heath and Bamboo forest on which the mountain gorillas feed.

The park is famously known for many tourists activities and the main activity is mountain gorilla trekking, then we have tracking the rare golden monkeys, visiting the tombs of Dian Fossey, mountain hiking (Mt. Karisimbi and Bisoke), adventurous walk through the dark Musanze caves and community walk among others.

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.

Mountain Gorilla Families in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Volcanoes National park Rwanda currently has 10 gorilla groups fully habituated for tourism purposes and these are;

1) Sabinyo Group with 10 individuals, 2 silverbacks

2) Amahoro Group with about 15 individuals, 2 silverback

3) Susa Group, the biggest with 37 individuals, 4 silverbacks

4) Group 13

5) Hirwa group

6) Ugenda group

7) Kwitonda group

8) Ntambara group

9) Umubano group and

10) Karisimbi group

The number of gorilla groups increases as time goes on. You may find Rwanda having more than 10 habituated gorilla groups in some years to come.

Mountain Gorilla Tracking Guidelines in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Because gorillas are endangered and at risk of extinction, guidelines were put in place to protect and conserve these gentle giants and their natural habitat. Below is what one should follow when going on a gorilla safari in Africa as below;

To reduce the transmission of human diseases to the gorillas, you are required to keep a distance of 7 meters (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. If you are sick with a cold, flu or other contagious illness, please do not visit the gorillas. Time allowed with gorillas is 60 minutes maximum, take photos and videos, and only 8 visitors maximum are allowed to visit each group per day.

Spitting in the gorilla habitat is strictly prohibited and should you need to cough while with gorillas, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.

Keep your voice low, try not to make rapid movements, because that may frighten the gorillas. If a gorilla should charge or vocalize at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s directions.

Tourist Activities / Attractions in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Tracking the Rare Golden Monkeys

For a really unique experience, go out trekking for Golden Monkeys. Fully habituated now and only open for visitors since June 2003, enjoy a rare treat watching these unique primates play and perform in the forest. Golden monkeys can be added to your gorilla trekking package of 3 to 4 days. Currently, each golden monkey tracking permit in Volcanoes national park Rwanda costs US$100 for foreign non-residents.

Mountain Gorillas Trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

This is the most popular tourists attraction in Rwanda as many tourists from different parts of the universe flock into the country to see the mountain gorillas in the wild. One must posses a gorilla trekking permit that gives him /her permission to join the trek in search for the rare mountain gorillas. Gorilla permits cost US dollars 750 for foreign non residents and are secured from Rwanda Development Board Headquarters in Kigali. The demand for gorilla trekking permits in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is very high throughout the year, you are advised to book early and avoid last minute rush. Fore more information about gorilla trekking permits, click here

Dian Fossey Memorial Center

The Volcanoes National Park was once Dian Fossey’s home. It is at the Karisoke Research Centre on the slopes of the Bisoke Volcano where she carried out her studies on the mountain gorillas close to 20 years. She was murdered by poachers on the 27th of December 1985 at the Research Centre and buried near Digit, her favorite gorilla. There is an opportunity to meet gorilla doctors, share information with them and if possible, have lunch / dinner with them.

Related trips to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

1 Day Gorilla Trip: This starts at 4:00am from your hotel in Kigali, transfer to the park, arrive by 7am for a briefing about the activity. Return to Kigali on same day after gorilla trekking. Expect to be in Kigali after 5pm and above.  Click here for detailed Itinerary.

2 Day 1 Night gorilla trek: You spend one night in any lodge / hotel of your choice near Volcanoes national park. After gorilla tracking, drive back to Kigali for your departure flight. Expect to be back in Kigali city after 5pm and above. This option offers an opportunity to take a city tour around Kigali where you can visit Gisozi genocide memorial, markets, art and craft shops among others. Click here for detailed Itinerary.

3 Days, 2 Nights, Gorillas and Golden Monkeys: This tour package offers more than only gorilla tracking. The extra day can be used for a second gorilla trek, or golden monkey tracking, Dian Fossey tombs tour or community walk around Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Click here for detailed itinerary.

4 Days with 2 Gorilla trips: This tour package offers double gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. You will visit 2 different gorilla groups of your choice. On addition to the second gorilla trek, you can add extra activity such as golden monkeys, mountain Visoke hiking or Dian Fossey tombs tour. Click here for detailed itinerary.

5 Days, 3 Gorilla treks in Rwanda: You will track gorillas 3 (three) times in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. You will visit 3 (three) different gorilla groups of your choice. On addition to the 3 gorilla treks, you can add extra activity such as golden monkeys, mountain Visoke hiking or Dian Fossey tombs tour. Click here for detailed itinerary.