Volcanoes National park lies along the Virunga volcanos shared by Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC and it is home to five of the 8 volcanoes. Covering the districts of Burera, Musanze, Rubavu and Nyabihu, Volcanoes National Park is located within 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 can use both public and Private means. You can pre-organize with a tour operator or hire a cab at the airport. It is 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 park 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.
Where to Stay on a Safari in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
A. Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel: The lodge offers relaxing high-end accommodation, with beautiful views of the rolling hills of the Land of a thousand hills. Accommodation comprises of 13 bedrooms (double/twin), a VIP cottage. Each facility is air-conditioned and features a flat-screen TV. You can read more about the lodge here;
B. Mountain Gorilla View Lodge: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge is located in Musanze district northern Rwanda neighboring Volcanoes National Park. The lodge is located on the foothills of the Mount Sabinyo, volcanic mountains that make up the Virunga ranges. You can read more about the lodge here;
C. Mountain Gorillas’ Nest Lodge: Super luxury lodge located northern Rwanda’s Musanze district nestled in a forest of Eucalyptus trees. The lodge offers a family sized magnificent accommodation at the Jack Hannah’s cottages with beautiful views of Rwanda’s hills and slopes of the Volcanoes national park. Read More
D. Hotel Muhabura: The hotel is located north of Kigali in Musanze province opposite the Musanze district headquarters. The hotel comprises of 30 rooms and apartments that offer a cozy environment to relax in after gorilla trekking or a day visit to the Northern area of Rwanda. Read More
E. Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge: Da Vinci gorilla lodge has a total of five cottages which are all self-contained and designed in a natural setting providing travelers with enough privacy. The lodge has well-experienced staff who provide superb services to the clients. Quality local and international foods are served alongside al beverages meeting every traveler’s expectations. Read More
Other Hotels are available from our google maps here
Golden Monkey Trekking
Golden monkeys in Rwanda live in the bamboo vegetation towards the base of the volcanoes and habituation has helped them to overcome their initial shyness to accept their daily visit by researchers and tourists. Trekking golden monkeys and gorillas is a similar experience – in a small group of no more than eight people, and you can spend one hour with the monkeys once you find them. The endangered species are very active creatures, and jump from tree to tree which is really interesting and a little difficult to photograph!
Most visitors book a 3-day gorilla tour package, to experience the golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park. Like gorilla trekking, the golden monkey trekking adventure also starts in the morning at the park headquarters. However, this activity is less strenuous as compared to gorilla trekking, so you’ll be finished by around midday. At the time of writing, a golden monkey permit is priced at $100 USD.
Iby’iwacu Cultural Village Tour
Embark on a community tour to the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village where you can the real feel of real Rwandan culture with exceptional experiences in the traditional huts and houses of a local king as well as the preparation of the herbal mixtures by authentic medicine men in this community. According to your interest, you may wish to participate in the arrow and bow shooting activities, or enjoy Kinyarwanda cultural music, dances, and drumming performed by local people.
Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village gives you a rare chance to meet local people, in their environment, with a taste of our culture and traditions. Be genuinely welcomed by the community as a special visitor while they proudly present to you aspects of their traditions and beliefs. The only way to get to know people is getting close and interacting with local people, and taking part in their daily activities and most of all with them.
Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes
The most thrilling and enchanting tourism adventure in the Volcanoes National Park is the encounter with the mountain gorillas. This moment gives you the most wonderful and amazing experience with the mountain giants as you enjoy watching them in their company playing, sulking, teasing each other, eating, and just so much more. With our precise and affordable gorilla tours to the park, you surely stand rest assured of the magical encounter experience like nowhere in Africa.
On a typical day of gorilla trekking, you’ll leave early in the morning for your briefing at the Park HQ and then in parties of eight will be taken to your allocated group with a guide and trackers. Gorilla trekking can be arduous – some of the groups wander high up the mountainsides – but it is always utterly rewarding. Take a look at Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda for further information on the experience, etiquette, and tips on gorilla trekking.
A Hike to the Dian Fossey Tombs
A visit to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda can be mixed up with a hike to the tomb of the late Dian Fossey. The late Dian Fossey was an American primatologist who spent close to two decades in the park, studying the mountain gorillas. A biopic of her life was made into a movie in the late eighties, titled Gorillas in the Mist. She was murdered by poachers in 1985. Her grave is nestled between the beautiful volcanic peaks of Bisoke and Karisimbi, near Karisoke Research Center.
The hike starts from the park headquarters to the trailhead where you get to access the Karisoke research camp for a 10 minutes walk alongside the park boundary. The walk from the park boundary to the research center where Dian’s grave takes about an hour to 1: 30 hours and will reward you with amazing views of forest hogs, forest elephants, a variety of primates and bird species.
Volcano Climbing & Hiking Adventures
The stunning volcanoes are once again open to visitors for a guided trek. There are several possibilities for trekking up to the summits of one or more of the volcanoes in the park. You will need to bring your own sleeping gear, but not tents as there are basic huts on the mountain. Among the popular hikes to take include;
Bisoke (3711m): The return trip takes six to seven hours from the parking Bisoke. The ascent takes you the steep south-western flanks of the volcano to the summit, where you can see the crater lake.
Karisimbi (4507m): Climbing Karisimbi takes two days. The track follows the saddle between Bisoke and Karisimbi and then ascends the northwestern flank of latter. Some five hours after beginning to trek, there are mental huts in which you spend a night (the hut keys are available at the parking of Bisoke). Rocky and some snow covered summit are further two to four hours walk through alpine vegetation.
About the Volcanoes National Park / Parc Des Volcans
The most famous destination in Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park has become synonymous with mountain gorilla tracking safaris and no visit to the country would be complete without visiting these majestic primates.
Named after a chain of dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga massif, volcanoes national park covers 160 sq km in the northern province of Rwanda, 116 km (72miles) from Kigali. The park is a reservoir for the rich biodiversity and is one of the three destinations in the world where lucky visitors track the remaining families of mountain gorillas, widely portrayed as one of the marvelous wildlife encounters. The park has got as well habituated groups of the little, endangered and endemic golden monkeys; striking primates with bright orange-gold fur and playful nature, Dian Fossey tomb, the Musanze caves, Buhanga sacred forest, and various hiking trails. Volcanoes national park is one the country’s hotspot for birders, counting 178 bird species (13 endemics within this area).
Volcanoes National Park also has a historic connection with gorilla conservation. It was the base for the ground-breaking work of primatologist Dian Fossey which started in the late 1960s and is evocatively portrayed in the book and film Gorillas in the Mist.