Complete Guide To Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park  is located in the North Western part of Rwanda. The park covers an area of 160 km2 (62 sq mi) of rain forest and encloses 5 out of 8 volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains, including Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo. Volcanoes National park is adjacent Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. It is the major habitat to the mountain gorillas and the golden monkeys, and was the base for the primatologist Dian Fossey. 

The volcanoes national park was first gazetted in 1925, as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes, intended to protect the gorillas from poaching. It was the very first national to be created in Africa.

Volcanoes National Park is also one of Rwanda’s conservation epicenters, where many non-profit organizations base their operations. Visitors can pay homage to the legendary scientist and gorilla advocate Dian Fossey with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fosse Gorilla Fund that continues her legacy of research and advocacy to this day.

Musanze City

Musanze is one of the largest cities in Rwanda, Musanze is a bustling city hosting almost all tourists visiting the world famous mountain gorillas. Musanze has long been the base point for gorilla visits and is cradled against a stunning backdrop of Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura volcanoes. The city is rich is cultural tourism opportunities, caving, birding and fishing on the nearby lakes. The city is also only a 45- minute drive away from Gisenyi and the stunning Lake Kivu.

Tracking the endangered Mountain gorillas on the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes is a magical experience. Hike through mountain forests to experience these gentle creatures or make your way through airy bamboo forests to find the charming Golden Monkey.

Getting To Volcanoes National Park

Mountain GorillasVisiting the fascinating Volcanoes Park is Musanze previously well-known as Ruhengeri, which can simply be accessed by public transport starting from Gisenyi or Kigali on the very day of your tracking. You will be required to arrive at the headquarters of ORTPN in Kinigi, at the park entrance, by 7:00 am, although this is not a very dependable option for those who hope to arrive by public transport.  However, there isn’t any public transport from Musanze to Kinigi.You can contact us for Car rental & Driver

When to go Volcanoes National Park

It really does not matter when you want to tour the gorillas of Rwanda, you can see the gorillas all year round. Most visitors take on the months of June to September and then December to February since this is the time of the year where it does not rain heavily. During the peak season, July and August, the permits are always on high demand. Booking the trip 3 months to your trekking date is very important.

When is the best time to visit Volcanoes National Park

Rwanda is beautiful no matter what time of the year or season you visit. The best time to visit Volcanoes national Park is the time that suits you best. However, if you have more than one date in mind, the following information may help with your travel plans. The warmest months of the year are from June through to  September and are the starting months for peak season in Volcanoes where travelers over book Gorilla permits.

When is the busy tourist season in Volcanoes Rwanda?

The busiest season for tourism in Volcanoes Rwanda is during the Summer period which runs from July to September and for Gorilla lovers that wish to go gorilla trekking are always advised to have booked their Gorilla permits and other Safari Activities in Advance a month before, this can be witnessed by Travelers that are always told by safari companies that no Availability of the Gorilla permits.

How to Book a Gorilla Permit for Gorilla Trekking

When planning for gorilla trekking in Rwanda on self drive ? you will need to book a gorilla permit, find procedures of how to secure a gorilla permit at self drive Rwanda.

Twin lakes: Burera and Ruhondo

These are beautiful lakes located at the base of volcano Muhabura and close to the border with Uganda. They are surrounded by steep hills and large waterfalls with a backdrop of the Virunga volcanic mountains. These twin lakes are great spots to be visited after watching the gorillas in the Rwandan mountains. Lakes Burera and Ruhondo are close to the gorilla-tracking Centre of Ruhengeri and used to be referred to as neglected gems but things have changed and Burera and Ruhondo are popular with tourists.

People living around Rwanda’s many lakes try to make a living out of what these lakes have to offer. Amahoro tours co-operates with a group of local people who use traditional fishing methods at the twin lakes. The work is carried out either from the lake shore or from self-made traditional canoes that consist of a single piece of wood. A visit to an island, where you will get a boat or dugout canoe ride to the respective island in lakes Ruhondo and Burera. Enjoy the nice scenery and bring packed lunch and have a picnic at the island.

Mount Bisoke Crater Lake Hike

Bisoke volcano, 3,711m above sea level is located on the DRC and Rwanda border. An eruption in 1957 formed two small cones on the north flank of the volcano, 11km from the summit, which supports a beautiful crater lake, lake Ngezi.

Hiking to Crater Lake requires four hours up a steep trail from the Bisoke departure point to reach the summit. The walk around the Crater Lake rim is highly recommended. Allow seven hours for the entire trip. Lake Ngezi, a small, shallow crater lake, is the easiest hike in the park; it takes only a 3-4 hour around- trip from the Bisoke departure point.

Dian Fossey Tomb Trail in Volcanoes

Dian Fossey was an America primatologist who took up a broad study and keen interest in studying and protecting mountain gorillas in Rwanda for a period of 18 years but was unfortunately murdered by gorilla poachers. Dian Fossey while doing her research set up a Karisoke Research camp between Mt. Visoke and Mt. Karisimbi in the Volcanoes national park. This is where the Karisoke name was derived basing on the two volcanoes.

The mountain gorillas survive thanks to Dian Fossey, a researcher who was buried at her research Centre alongside these mountain gorillas to which she dedicated her life. The trail leading to her tomb and Karisoke Research Centre is a beautiful yet challenging 1 hour 45 minute hike up steep slopes where orchids, birdlife and even occasional mountain gorillas can be seen. The cost of Dian Fossey hike is 75USD. At the site you will find the house from where Dian Fossey was mysteriously murdered in 1985 but the more peaceful is the place where she was buried just next to her favorite gorilla, Digit and about 20 other mountain gorillas either killed by poachers or suffered death for other reasons.

Karisimbi volcano hike

The Karisimbi mountain name in Kinyarwanda means ‘white shell’, which refers to the white crapped summit which is often seen. Karisimbi is the fifth highest mountain in Africa. This is strenuous 2 day hike. The climb will start early in the morning and takes 6 hours. You will climb further via the Bisoke side, before reaching the first stopping place at an altitude of 3,700m for overnight (camping)

Kwita Izina

Kwita Izina is a Rwandan ceremony of giving a name to a newborn baby gorilla. It is named after the ancestral baby naming ceremony that happened after the birth of a newborn. The ceremony’s main goal is in helping monitor each individual gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat. It was created as a means of bringing attention both locally and internationally about the importance of protecting the mountain gorillas and their habitats in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Mountains in the north of the country.

Can I drive in Volcanoes Rwanda?

In general, you can drive in Volcanoes Rwanda if you hold a current (valid) driver licence from another country or an international driving permit. If your license is in a language other than English, an accurate translation is required. Your overseas or International driver licence is valid in Rwanda for up to 3 months.