Volcanoes National Park Rwanda


Volcanoes National Park Rwanda was first gazzeted in as a national in 1925 and is the oldest national park on the African continent. It was gazette as a national park in order to protect mountain gorillas from poachers. In 1925, volcanoes national park was extended from Rwanda into Congo. It is one of the 3 national parks that Rwanda is proud of. It is also referred to as parc national des volcanos in the French language.

Location of volcanoes national park

Volcanoes national park is a national park in western Rwanda. It covers 160km 2of rain forests and encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga mountains, namely karisimbi, bisoke, gahinga, muhabura, and sabinyo. It borders Virunga national park in the democratic republic of Congo and mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. It is a home to mountain gorillas and the golden monkeys, and was the base for the primatologist dian fossey.


Activities in volcanoes national park


Mountain gorilla trekking

This the best activity to do in the volcanoes national park. Volcanoes national park is a home to 10 habituated gorilla families available for trekking. It covers Rwanda s shares of the great Virunga massif bordering Virunga national park in Congo and mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. The permit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is at 1500 dollars. The trekking starts at exactly 8; am in the morning. It lasts for over 4 hours, and once the gorillas are found, the client is allowed to stay with them for over one hour in their habitants or environment in the forest.


Golden monkey trekking

This is an activity that no tourist should ever miss once he or she travels to Rwanda in the volcanoes national park. It is quite interesting because here travelers see the monkeys in their natural habitats. These are exceptional creatures in the park. The permit for the golden monkey trekking is 100 dollars cheaper than the mountain gorilla trekking.


Volcano climbing in volcanoes national park

This is a beautiful activity to be done in the volcanoes national park. It involves clients hiking on top of the volcanoes and mountains. This activity is done on mountains like Virunga mountain, sabinyo mountain, bisoke mountain, karisimbi mountain gahinga and muhabura mountain. This becomes an opportunity for the tourists to choose which mountain to hike and which one to leave. Here tourists will see the rolling hills, Kigali city Virunga volcanoes and local communities. In this park, mountain kirisimbi is hiked most and this experience is worthy the hike.


Kirisimbi mountain climbing in volcanoes national park

Mountain kirisimbi is found within the Virunga region and is the eleventh highest in Africa. It is an inactive volcano in volcano in the volcanoes national park and it is found on the boarders of Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo. It is surrounded by other volcanoes such as the nyiragongo and bisoke. The mountain gets its name from kirisimbi from Kinyarwanda for white shell from the snow that usually covers the top of the mountain during the dry season. karisimbi has a caldera branch and two craters in the summit with the largest being mutanga .Climbing mount kirisimbi can be a special experience to the clients because they will get to see the different species of birds ,see the golden monkeys , the gorillas and passing close to the dian fossey the famous researcher of mountain gorillas .While hiking to the mountain , trails will be provided to the clients to help them during the hike , and during the hike , features like the land scape , vegetation , forests and other animals will be seen . The hike to mountain kirisimbi will involve passing through the jungle and therefore this hike is best done in the dry season between July to early October .The hike to this mountain is usually done in the morning at exactly 7 :00 am and it is done for 2 hours .During this hike , the clients or tourists need to be careful while hiking , this is because the hike involves steep slopes and slippery slopes in case of failure to hike or to slope down yourself , the porters are always available at a cost of 20 dollars per person to carry you .The permit for hiking mountain kirisimbi is 400 dollars per person .


Mountain bisoke climbing in the volcanoes national park

This is the place that no visitor or tourist should miss wen in volcanoes national park. It is also known as the visoke, it is an active volcano in the Virunga ranges of mountains in the east and central Africa with a height of 12175 ft.  It lies within Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo. It was formed as a result of rift that gradually dividing sections of east Africa .it has two crater lakes one at the top and the other one lake ngezi found in the midway .Its last eruption was in 1957 giving it the biggest crater lake within the Virunga ranges .Apart from the reality that this is an active volcano with two crater lakes , mountain bisoke happens to be a home to different groups of mountain gorillas  and this  has happened to be the great tourist attraction in Rwanda .One can think of hiking mountain bisoke as tiresome activity , ohh this should not worry one of the tourists because it only takes a day and it gives a smile to a tourist since it involves seeing different features like vegetation , land scapes ,bird species and to mention but a few .However this activity needs fitness even if it is a leisure activity and a best experience .One should not hike the mountain if he is in the bad condition , this is because it involves passing through the slippery slopes , the muddy places and the forests in case it has rained .The following are the things needed before climbing mount bisoke , the overall permit for hiking the mountain which is 250 dollars per person including all the services and when traveling with someone , you also need the right shoes and stockings of the tourists , the right clothing’s  such as the trousers , the long sleeved shirts , hand gloves water , snacks and hiking sticks to support you during the hike .Incase of failure to hike the mountain of slope yourself down , the potters are always around to help you out a t a cost of 10 to 15 dollars .


Gahinga mountain in the volcanoes national park

What a good experience it is to hike on mountain gahinga in the volcanoes national park. The caldera is believed to be about 180 m. Mgahinga gorilla national park also got name from this volcano. Mount gahinga whose elevation is 3473 m, is part of the chain of the 8 volcanic mountains of the mufumbira ranges. It is situated at the Virunga massif bordering muhabura and sabinyo mountains. The hike takes about 6 hours to descend and to ascend, once you reach the top you will be able to see the golden monkeys walking through the thick bamboo and the swamps in the crater lake. The hike starts from mgahinga gorilla national park located about 10 minute drive from Kisoro town .The mountain lies between two other mountains in the Virunga volcano massif ,and these are muhabura and sabinyo mountains .It is also the smallest of the three mountains , standing at an altitude of 3474 meters above the sea level .The mountain derives its name gahinga from a local Kinyarwanda word which means a pile of stones .The visitors hiking mount gahinga have a lot of stunning attractions to see on the mountain such as bamboo forests , monkey species like golden monkeys ,bird watching is also found there  .Reaching mount gahinga is a 2 hour drive from the Kigali city , the travelers can fly into Kigali international airport and then drive the parks headquarters that are located in kinigi .Mountain gahinga is the easiest mountain to climb compared to the muhabura  , sabinyo found in this park . The permit for hiking is 75 dollars and it is booked on the same day of hiking therefore there is no need for booking in advance. The hike begins at 7 am with a briefing at the headquarters with the rangers. During the hike, the tourists will get to see other animals like the golden monkeys, gorillas, buffalos and other primates. The summit of mount gahinga is quite different from those of sabinyo and muhabura because of its uniqueness. The summit offers amazing views of the other distant volcanoes in the Virunga ranges as well as the Rwenzori mountains. You can spot mount muhabura and sabinyo giving an attempt to reach there in the next day.


Mountain sabinyo in the volcanoes national park

What a good experience it is to hike on mountain sabinyo by any tourist. The mountain has three summits standing at 3423 meters, 3537 meters and 3669 meters’ high is a mark of the intersection of the Virunga mountains that cut across Uganda, Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo. It is the oldest and the extinct mountain among the 8 volcanoes. It derives its name sabinyo from a Kinyarwanda word that means tooth sabyinyo because locals say the mountains multi summited top looks exactly like an old man’s teeth,  in some villages it is actually called the old man’s teeth .Therefore this mountain holds great religious importance to the locals that live around it .The hiking permit for mountain sabinyo is 85dollars per person , the permit is booked at least 2 to 3 days for proper arrangements for the hike , the hike starts at exactly 7 am in the morning  starting with a briefing at the headquarters with the tour guide to walk you through the trails .During the hike the visitors will be given sticks to help them during the walking and to support them ,you will hike for over 8 to 9 hours depending on the hiking speed and the experience of the visitors and after the hike tour will go back to the quarters and take back the sticks then go to  your accommodation areas   .A mier hike to the sabinyo mountain can make you get a lot of experience because you will get to see the slopes part of the hagaenia forest which comprises of a variety of tree species that make the perfect habitant for the unique and the endangered mountain gorillas , golden monkeys , and different bird species including the Albertine endemic Rwenzori turaco among other forest species . Mountain sabinyo is so far the hardest mountain to hike in the Virunga ranges , this is because of its far trails ,therefore many visitors tend to opt out to climb this mountain .However it has the most rewarding experience of all the eight volcanoes ,the first , it has three peaks each in one of the three countries Uganda , Rwanda , and democratic republic of Congo so you get to stand in all the three at the top .The mountain has craters as climb up ,not forgetting the vegetation and the thick forest where gorillas and golden monkeys are found .The truth is taking a hike on mountain sabinyo is a good experience which will make every one impressive  ,it is recorded that though the mountain has three summits, visitors have never gone above the first summit because the hiking is quite tiresome and as you continue high the oxygen reduces and the temperatures are not friendly at all for humans .

The attire for hiking on mountain sabinyo is normally the same as those to all other volcanoes that include gloves, rain coats, hats, stockings long sleeved clothes and foods like snacks and water. on the other hand, even if you are more experienced, you need a porter to help you during the hike in case of failure.


Virunga mountain on volcanoes mountain national park

The Virunga mountains also known as the mufumbiro are a chain of volcanoes in east Africa, along the northern border of Rwanda, the democratic republic of Congo and Uganda. The mountain range is a branch of the Albertine rift mountains which borders the western branch of east African rift. They are located between lake Edward and lake kivu. The name Virunga is an English version of the Kinyarwanda word ibirunga which means volcanoes. The Virunga mountain has eight volcanoes where by only two of those are active and others are dormant. The 11358ft tall mountain nyiragongo and the 10049 ft. tall mountain Nyamuragira, which are both located in democratic republic of Congo are the two active volcanoes in the ranges. The most recent eruption was recorded in 2006 and 2010. The 14787 ft. tall mountain kirisimbi is the Virunga ranges highest volcano and the 11923 ft. tall mountain sabinyo is the oldest mountain in the range. The Virunga mountains also known as the Virunga massif offer one of the most unique tourist attraction sites in Africa. It is commonly known for being a home to the golden monkeys and the endangered mountain gorillas .However there are other animals such as the elephants , whose numbers began decreasing in the late 20th century and lions which also face various threats .Hippopotamuses , antelopes and pelicans all live in Virunga as well .For any visitor who wants to trek the gorillas  in the Virunga park , the permit is at 450 dollars for foreign nonresidents .The trekking starts at 7 am in the morning after having a briefing at the headquarters with the tour guide and the trekking lasts from 2 to 6 hours  but once these primates are got the tourists are allowed to stay with them for one hour observing how they breast feed their young ones and communicate among themselves .During this activity , the tourists are not allowed to mimic the gorillas or through anything to them ,this will make them aggressive   . , The attires for dressing are like those of other parks for example , not forgetting the gloves , long sleeved shirts , long stockings, cap and to mention but a few .Therefore if there is no place you should miss in Rwanda , don’t miss the Virunga mountain .


Muhabura mountain

A one-day hike to mountain muhabura is a great experience to any tourist who tries to visit Rwanda for mountain hiking and gorilla trekking and this will make you to come back next time for the same activity. Mountain muhabura is the country’s 3rd tallest mountain at around 4127 meters.

Muhabura mountain is partly in the volcanoes national park, Rwanda and partly in the mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. The name muhabura is known in Uganda and muhavura is known in Rwanda. It is one of the Virunga volcano and is shared by the Uganda and Rwanda and can be hiked either side. This is a dormant volcano , it is one of the most hiked mountain among all the others of the eight .On the Ugandan side , it is hiked from mgahinga national park and in Rwanda is hiked from the volcanoes national park .The muhabura mountain was named its name meaning the guide in the local language spoken in that area and this is majorly because it stood out and is what travelers followed as a guide .Mountain muhabura is a cone like shape with volcanic ash from the past volcanic activity some good years back on the mountain .During the hike on the mountain ,travelers get to see the difference in the vegetation as the move to the top of the mountain and come back .The tourists will also see forest elephants , or even come across the mountain gorillas on the lucky day chimpanzees , and golden monkeys  , they will also spot some bird species ,so be ready to carry some binoculars leopards , giraffes ,buffalos ,rhinos and others  . Hiking to this mountain , is a one day activity .The hikers from Uganda will be accompanied by a ranger guide from the Uganda wild authority after a briefing done from the ntebeko visitors center , however the visitors who tend to hike from Rwanda will be guided by the ranger guides trained and deployed by the Rwanda development board and the briefing will be done at kinigi visitors center .This is also where you will need to hire the walking sticks and the  porters to help you in the hike .The hike starts at exactly 7 am in the morning and the hike takes about 5 to 7 hours to complete the hike up and back , during this hike you will get to know the formation and the last eruption experience on this mountain .A hike permit to the mountain muhabura costs 75 dollars per permit and per person .




Caving in volcanoes national park

This activity involves visiting the musanze caves on your Rwanda safari to volcanoes national park. The visit to these caves will be done by the help of the trained guides who will tell you stories about the park and the history of the park.

The musanze caves

The truth of the matter is that visiting the volcanoes national park without reaching the munsanze caves is something not ethical and which should never happen at one time. This is because this is an interesting place where every visitor should go once you try to visit Rwanda and the volcanoes national park. The musanze caves are situated in the heart of volcanoes national park north western Rwanda, musanze caves are surely worth visiting. They were officially recognized as tourism

products in 2013 and have since then become a place for visiting in Rwanda for a complete package .The caves have a trails an stairs that take you to the dark interior of the caves that illustrate a picture of the house with several rooms and corridors .The floor is paved and there are some stairs to ease your movement .The musanze caves can be explored after gorilla trekking in the volcanoes national park , the place is located in the foot hills of the volcanoes national park meaning that they can be easily visited by any visitor .While on the musanze caves , you can be able to view the nearby areas  including the buhanga eco park known as the coronation of Rwandan former kings , the panoramic view of the twin lakes namely bureau and ruhondo , karisimbi volcano climbing , trek to dian fossey grave , golden monkey trekking and the famous well known mountain gorilla trekking .


Bird watching in the volcanoes national park

A one-day walk to the volcanoes national park to see the birds will be a great experience for the whole of your life. This is a practice of observing birds in their natural environment as a hobby. Volcanoes is an important birding area in Rwanda with some unique bird species that are a lot harder to spot elsewhere. Birding in the volcanoes national park starts at around 7 am early in the morning in the rain forests. This is the best time to search for the birds hidden in the canopy or forest floors. Quite often, the visitors    get an opportunity to sport their preferred bird species. The Rwanda birding safaris has more than 200 recorded bird species. The bird species include the Rwenzori double collared sun bird, collared apalis, red faced wood land warbler, handsome francolin, Rwenzori batis to mention but a few.


Community visits in the volcanoes national park

This activity involves moving around in the community on foot with the help of the trained tourist guide. The community visit helps clients to meet the local people and enjoy the authentic cultural experiences including traditional dance performances, participating in the local economic activities like farming. Others include visiting the traditional healers for the stunning metaphysics a local artist who creates handcrafts and interacting with the pre historic ancient fire making batwa pygmy style .Besides experiencing all the above , the community visit helps the old to exercise their bodies and act as a leisure walk , the community visits are also instrumental in empowering the local community tourism in the development projects for example at ibyiwacu cultural village in Rwanda ,batwa pygmy trail in mgahinga gorilla national park among others such as the masai villages in Serengeti and masai Mara national parks .The mostly visited villages are,

The Ibyiwacu cultural village

This village is found in musanze district of Rwanda in Ruhengeri on the out skirts of the volcanoes national park. The cultural village offers a community walk to all visitors who have come for the trip. In this village the visitors are shown the cultural behaviors of the banyarwanda people ,the farming activities , mock hunting , the banana beer making , millet grinding on a flat shaped stone , cattle raring , potatoes  growing and the traditional foods preparation .These people also entertain visitors at the replica of the kings palace of the nyanza province , all the visitors are welcomed at the palace  with the royal guards shielding arrows ,and the spears .The ibyiwacu people make crafts which benefit them since they sell them to the travelers who come to visit the volcanoes .

During this community walk , some visitors are made kings and queens  at the palace of the day Subjects entertaining his majesty and queen .The guards will be welcomed and they will guard the chosen king and queen , the medicine man will come to prepare the medicine for the chosen kings and the queens .The fire will be lit in the palace and the dancers will come to dance for these chosen people , the local people will gather to make a traditional marriage ceremony inviting the  parents of the bride and the groom then after they will escort them to their families .


Nature walks

This is an interesting activity in the park which gives visitors an opportunity to explore the park on foot. During this activity, the visitor will be accompanied by the trained tour guide who is well conversant with the walking trails in the park.

The volcanoes national park has musanze caves, the volcanoes have a trail which leads the visitors into the rainforests and the underground caves formed in an ancient history by volcano eruptions. A walk into the musanze caves that have stairs and walk ways is an exciting way travelers on the tour of Rwanda maximize their adventure into the wilderness and appreciate the geographic forces of nature. The caves include smaller underground spaces like the sea caves or rock shelters and even the grottos.


Twin lakes in the volcanoes national park

The twin lakes include the bulera and lake ruhondo located within musanze district at the base of the mountain muhabura a walk away from the volcanoes national park .These are the attractions that no visitor should miss once you visit the volcanoes national park .They are called the twin lakes because they are situated in the same area and they were formed as a result of volcanic eruption .Luckily enough , these twin lakes are free from the wild animals that scare the visitors such as the crocodiles , and hippos , therefore this gives a high visit to these lakes by the tourists .The twin lakes have a boat ride which help to make a boat cruise for the visitors on the waters , during their travel , they get to see the beautiful landscape of Rwanda , the different animals such as the elephants , the buffalos , gorillas , the golden monkeys  and the different bird species  and the volcano hiking safaris which together make a complete Rwanda safari package .



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