"For infinite holidays and fearless adventures- they don't call us safari and car hire kings for nothing"
Edited date: 31 Dec 2022 08:54:21 +0300
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda alias Parc des volcans is an award winning adventure destination, a high altitude resort in the beautiful settings of the Virungas, a world heritage site for conservation of mountain gorillas, a nature lover's paradise famous for its unique, popular attractions and activities like gorila trekking, hiking and tracking, mountain climbing, bird watching, bush or cultural tours and sightseeing, a redzevous for the world rich and famous who desire adventure, finest dining and wining in the most beautiful and luxurious lodges. Despite the numerous tourist attractions and activities available in Rwanda Volcanoes National Park gorilla trekking is the main pull. Other attractions include the spectacular peaks of Mt. Muhabura (the guide), Sabyinyo (old man,s teeth), Gahinga (a pile of stones), Karisimbi, Bisoke. Besides gorilla hiking other activities in Rwanda Volcanoes National Park (parc des volcans) include golden monkey trekking, mountain climbing, bird watching and excursions to Lakes Ruhondo and Burera which gives visitors (tourists) a chance to interract with local communities. More challenging are scaling the three peaks of Karisimbi, Bisoke and Muhabura. For a complete primate experience Rwanda volcanoes gorilla trekking is best combined with chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest, Kyambura Gorge or Gombe National Parks. It can also be combined with visits to Serengeti, Masai Mara, Queen Elizabeth and climbing Mts Kilimanjaro and Kenya.
Rwanda Volcanoes National Park is part of the bigger Virunga (Birunga) Conservation area which includes Mgahinga and Virunga National Parks in Uganda and DR Congo respectively. These three parks are the home of Mountain gorillas. The history of Volcanoes National Park (Parc des Volcans) dates back to 1925 when a small triangle between Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno was set aside to protect the Mountain Gorillas. Boundaries were later extended into Rwanda and DR. Congo (Zaire) to form the bigger Albert National Park.
Volcanoes was the first National Park in Africa. The park is famous for Mountain Gorilla tracking and its golden Monkeys. A good gorilla trekking safari experience takes minimum four days with two gorilla treks. The safari can be combined with visits to the nearby Lakes Burera, Ruhondo, Kivu and the local villagers. The gorilla safari can also be combined with chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Volcanoes National Park is located Ruhengeri 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Kigali to the Northwest of Rwanda. The park occupy an area of about 130 Km2.
Gorilla Tracking safaris in Volcanoes National Park takes place in altitudes of about 2000 Meters above sea level. Volcanoes / Virunga Mountains experiences a modified equatorial climate. Volcanoes National Park (Par des Volcans) is both hilly and cold. The grounds are usually wet and the paths are full of stinging-nettles. Besides, the rains are random.
Rwanda Volcanoes National Park Lodges are categorized into three
Luxury lodges include Bisate, Sabyinyo SilverBack Lodge, Volcanoes Lodge, Kwitonda Lodge
In this category are Mountain Gorilla View Lodge are Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Gorilla Nest Lodge, Le Bambou Lodge
In this category and lodges within Ruhengeri/ Musanze like Center Chez John, Les Palms,
Gorillas are social animals staying in groups or families of 6 to 40 or more individuals. A family comprises of the Alpha male (called the silver back), subordinate males (Black backs), females, juveniles and young ones. Each family has its own territory and a home range, where they forage for food. Territories are aggressively or physically defended against male intruders. Territorial fights are fatal and may lead to the death of the territorial or alpha male. Besides humans and diseases , a mature mountain gorilla has very few enemies.
Gorilla groups in Rwanda also called families are divided into two. The study groups/ families which are accessible to scientists and the tourist groups/families which are open for tourist tracking. The Study groups have the largest number of individuals. Study groups include Beetsme, Pablo's, Shida's and Bwenge. Besides these, there are seven(10) tourist groups hence 80 permits per day. The famous 7 are,-Susa, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Kwitonda, Group 13(Agashya), Umubano and Hirwa. Sometimes, these are joined by a migrant group from Uganda. Most of the potential gorilla trackers have diverse questions ranging from the best time to track, the existing gorilla families, accommodation facilities, when to buy permits, tracking rules and regulations and what to bring. We will answer most of these questions and many more on request. Seven gorilla families open for tourists. Only 8 tourists allowed per group per day.
the largest group with 41 gorillas. The group is very impressive with three silver-backs and several-black backs, females and several youngsters. Part of the fame of this group are 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
One of the easily accessible groups. The group has 8 members led by the biggest silverback known in the entire jungle called Guhonda.
Amahoro meaning peaceful has 17 members led by the peaceful Ubumwe. Amahoro is a more strenuous group to access compared to Group 13 or Sabyinyo
When first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name. Now the group has approximately 25 members.
This migrant group from DR Congo has 18 members led by Kwitonda which means "humble one." It has two silverbacks and one blackback. Though the group tends to wander far, it is now permanently in the Rwanda Section of Virungas. Together with Susa this is one of the difficult groups to track.
A family of 11, Umubano were originally Amahoro members but broke off after the dominant silverback was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano. When a young silverback challenges the dominant silverback he must steal some females from the existing group in order to form his own family; thus Umubano was formed.
is the most diverse group comprising of gorillas from differently families mainly group 13 and Sabyinyo.
Gorilla tracking is a million dollar practice with immense economic benefits to the local community, without which the mountain gorilla conservation would be a liability. This daily adventure has made the mountain gorilla one of the most expensive animals though not in league of the teddy bears.
Gorilla tracking in volcanoes national park is a clean practice (eco friendly) which ensures minimal impact to the local community, the environment and the gorillas. Rules and regulations have been put in place for the safety of the trackers, the gorillas and to check adverse environmental impacts. Besides these rules and regulations guarantees the continued existence of the gorilla as species, that is to avoid the extinction of the gorillas.
Encounter with the Gorillas has been described as thrilling, evocative and even emotional. The gigantic silver-backs are gentle and will rarely attach unless provoked. Young gorillas are a bit adventurous even playful and will come to touching distance of individual trackers. They are particularly attracted to bright colours like yellow. In that case avoid them. The following are the rules and regulations of tracking gorillas.
Permits should be bought in advance even 9 months before the dates of tracking. When to buy permits depends on when you want to track. If you wish to track during summer-June, Jul, August and September book even 7 months before the tracking date. It is not advisable to walk into ORTPN office in summer to buy permits as most of the dates are fully booked.
Apart from Gorilla tracking other attractions and activities in the vicinity of Ruhengeri and Volcanoes include: