Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Gorilla Trekking Safaris to Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Gorilla Trekking Safaris to Volcanoes National Park, Golden Monkey Tracking Safari to Volcanoes Park, where to Stay, Getting to Volcanoes Park, Wildlife Safari Adventures in Volcanoes Park Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park or parc national des Volcans in French is found in Rwanda which lies in the eastern region of the African continent on the geographical co-ordinates of 1o29’S 20o32’E. volcanoes national park lies 160km or 2-hour drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital city in Musanze village in the north western region of Rwanda. Volcanoes national park is part of the Virunga ranges and the greater Virunga conservation area. Volcanoes National Park is bordered by Mgahinga National Park of Uganda in the north, Virunga National Park of D.R. Congo in the north west.
Volcanoes National Park experiences tropical rain forest type of climate with an average temperature range of 18-220C, minimum temperature range is 7-15OC and maximum temperature range is 22-26oC. It receives an average amount of rainfall of 60 mm or 2.4iches every month. The annual rainfall amount received in this forest ranges between 1400-1900mm or 55-75 inches throughout the year with most of it received in two periods of double maximum between February- May and between September – December. The humidity levels range between 77-88% every day. Volcanoes national park is home to a number of attractions like the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and 5 out of the 8 Virunga ranges that is- mount Bisoke, Karisimbi, Muhambura, Gahinga and Sabinyo, tropical rain forests that cover the lower slopes of these ranges.
Conservation in volcanoes national park began as early as 1925, when a small area between mount Karisimbi, Bisoke, and Mikeno was gazatted by the Belgian colonial government to offer protection to the mountain gorillas against poaching and this makes volcanoes national park one of the earliest game parks to have been gazatted on the African continent. In 1929, the boundaries of this park was further extended into Rwanda and Belgian Congo to cover an expanse of 8090sqkm of land in these 2 countries but later on the park got split into 2 different national parks i.e. volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in D.R. Congo when these 2 countries got their independence.
Read More About Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Volcanoes national park became a research station for an American natural researcher Dian Fossey who set up a research center for mountain gorillas on land between the mounts of Bisoke and Karisimbi in 1967. Dian Fossey devoted her lifetime to understanding these gentle mountain giants and she is greatly credited for making it her personal mission to make the whole world understand that these gorilla species faced extinction if nothing was done to ensure the survival and continuity of this species of gorillas. Unfortunately, in 1985, Dian Fossey was brutally murdered at her home by unknown assailants and its believed that this act of cowardice was perpetrated by mountain gorillas’ poachers who saw works as a threat to their business of poaching. She was buried inside this park next to her favorite gorilla named digit as a tribute to her outstanding work efforts to see to it that these gorillas are given a fair shot at survival. Dian Fossey’s works have been highly appreciated by the larger international community and her work and legacy have been portrayed in a documentary film entitled gorillas in the mist which is based on her autobiography.
Conservation in Volcanoes National Park has not come without glitches becomes from time to time the park has had to deal with a number of challenges like between 1969-1973, Volcanoes National Park lost over 1sqkm of land to pyrethrum plantation, in 1992, Volcanoes National Park became the battle ground during the Rwandan civil war which saw the closure of the park center and halting of all tourist activities within the park. Being located at the border, the park sometimes faces a challenge of rebel infiltrations but these are usually easily and quickly stopped in their tracks by the Rwandan armed forces hence securing the park for tourism activities. Since 1999, tourism has been flourishing within the confinements of the park without any major incidents occurring. As of today, Volcanoes National Park spans to about 160sqkm of land.
Volcanoes National Park Park at a Glance
Name: Volcanoes National Park
Location: continent- Africa, region- eastern Africa, country- Rwanda, direction- north western direction from Kigali city Rwanda’s capital.
Geographical co-ordinates: 1o29’S 20o32’E.
Responsible governing body: Rwanda Development Board
Size:160sqkm Year of designation: 1925
Elevation of Volcanoes National Park: highest point is mt. Karisimbi at 4507m above sea level.
Climate of Volcanoes National Park: tropical rainforest climate with 2 peak rainfall seasons during the months of March –May and September- November.
Attractions in Volcanoes National Park: mountain gorillas, common chimpanzess, Dian Fossey tombs site, 178 bird species with 13 being endemic to the Rwenzori mountains, 5 out of 8 Virunga ranges
Activities in Volcanoes National Park: gorilla tracking, chimpanzee tracking, nature walks, hiking, birding
Accommodation in Volcanoes National Park: Bisate lodge, Amokoro Songa lodge, Five Volcanoes Bontique hotel, Mountain gorilla nest lodge, Sabyinyo silverback lodge, hotel Muhabura, Gorilla solution lodge, Da vinci hotel, Faraja hotel, La palme hotel
Accessibility of Volcanoes National Park: the park is accessible by both road and air transport means
Best time to visit Volcanoes National Park: visiting is possible throughout the year but highly recommendable to visit during the rainy season months of September- November and March- May for gorilla tracking.
Safari Attractions in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Scientifically termed as Gorilla beringei beringei, mountain gorillas are typically gentle and amazingly shy and calm animals that have thick and long fur and this enables them to live in cooler temperature climatic zones, each gorilla can be identified basing on its nose print which is unique. Read More
Identified by their signature look of a bright orange golden body, cheeks and tail with black limbs, crown and tail end, this is a rare species of monkeys endemic to the Albertine rift unlike its cousin the blue monkeys. It can only be found here in volcanoes national park in Rwanda. Read More
Some of the Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park have been habituated for human visitation and research. Dian Fossey started the Mountain Gorilla habituation initiative and apparently Volcanoes National Park feature two (2) research groups Beetsme and Pablo’s READ MORE
Mount Karisimbi is the highest range of the Virunga ranges towering to a height of 4507m or 14787ft above sea level. This range is found in the north western region of Rwanda at the geographical co-ordinates of 1o30’30”S 29o26’42”E and its bordered by mount Mikeno Read More
Activities in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
With 10 habituated gorilla groups, volcanoes national park offers an exciting opportunity to track these elusive mountain giants. The park has 80 gorilla tracking permits to offer per day hence everyone is highly welcome to come here and undertake this once in a life time challenge. Read More
With the presence of this rare species of monkeys in abundance in this park, comes an opportunity to track and see these monkeys in their natural habitat. These monkeys are relatively easy to find since the habituate in lowland forests along the slopes of mount Sabyinyo and hence tracking time Read More
With the presence of 5 Virunga ranges in the volcanoes national park, any hiking enthusiast is spoilt for choice as there is a variety of ranges to hike as 4 out of these 5 ranges minus muhavura range can be hiked at any time. Hiking any of these 5 ranges will lead you on a melodramatic. Read More
Worldly recognized for her works towards saving the gorilla species here, primatologist Dian Fossey came to Rwanda in 1967 and set up a research station at Karisoke where she studied so much about these primates and discovered that these were highly intelligent beings which were Read More
Accessing Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
If you have flown into Rwanda via Kigali airport, volcanoes national park is only 120km or a 3-hour drive away from Kigali airport and if you are crossing into Rwanda from Uganda, Volcanoes National Park lies only 37km or a 1-hour drive away from Cyanika border post between Uganda and Rwanda in Kisoro.
You can charter a helicopter flight to volcanoes national park from Akagera Aviation company which offers helicopter flights to this park in their state of the art helicopters flown by experienced pilots with capacity to carry from a single passenger to 5 passengers per flight.
All international flights to Rwanda are received at Kigali international airport which receives flights from all over the world with airlines such as Rwanda’s very own Rwanda Express, Brussels airlines, Kenya airways, Ethiopian airways, South African airways, Fly emirates and many more plying to Kigali from various destinations around the world.
Accommodation in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park has all accommodation types to fit in within your budget type.
|Name||Location||Number of rooms||Nature of rooms||Amenities available||Price|
|Five volcanoes boutique hotel||Luxury
1 VIP cottage
|fully equipped with en suite bathrooms||Flat screen tvs
|Prices range is 250$|
|Amakoro songa lodge||In Rwanda 11km from Kisoro town||Guesthouse with 4 bedrooms & 2 cottages||All rooms and cottages have en suite bathrooms with both hot and cold water||Restaurant
|Price range is|
|Mountain gorillas’ nest lodge||Luxury
Spacious cottages with 2 bedroom carrying 4 pax maximum
|All guest rooms have en suite bathrooms with both warm and cold running water||Restaurant
Fire place golf course
|Bisate lodge||Kinigi||12 forest villas in a conical shape||All cottages are fully fitted with private bathrooms with both cold and warm running water||Restaurant
|Sabyinyo silverback lodge||Musanze district||6 cottages
1 family cottage
|All rooms have ensuite bathroom facilities and private verandas||Large lounge
|Price range is 288$|
|Gorilla solution lodge||Musanze area
|Rooms arranged in single, double and twin occupancy||All rooms have en suite bathrooms||Free wi-fii
|Hotel muhabura||Musanze district
|30 rooms in double and twin occupancy
|All rooms have en suite facilities||Lush green gardens
|La Palme hotel||Musanze district
|Numerous Spacious guest rooms with king size beds||All guest rooms haave en suite service||Free wi-fii
|Faraja hotel||Musanze district
|38 cottages||12 king size beds, 10 standard singles, 12 queen size beds, 3 singles and 1 junior suite||Free wi-fii
All room have en suite bathrooms
|Price range is 50$|
|Da Vinci gorilla lodge||Kinigi
|5 cottages||All cottages have ensuite facilities with both hot and cold running water||Restaurant
|Price is 390$ per|
Mountain Gorilla Families in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Scientifically termed as Gorilla beringei beringei, mountain gorillas are typically gentle and amazingly shy and calm animals that have thick and long fur and this enables them to live in cooler temperature climatic zones, each gorilla can be identified basing on its nose print which is unique to each individual, adult males can weigh as much as 195 kg with a standing height of 168cm or 66 inches while their female counterparts can weigh 100kg with a height of 140 cm or 55inches.
Mountain gorillas are diurnal animals as they are very active in the early morning and evening hours which they use for foraging or eating, they maintain an herbivorous diet which consists of leaves, fruits, tree branches and bamboo shoots. These gentle mountain giants are both Rwanda’s and volcanoes national park’s tourism signature symbol. These gorillas live in families of about 5 to 30 and is headed by a predominant male called a silverback due to its silver like lining on its back. It should be noted that, not all gorilla families that habituate in volcanoes national park can be viewed by tourists because not all of them have been habituated for human interaction and also there is a high risk of passing diseases between humans and gorillas. Volcanoes National Park has 10 habituated gorilla families and these include
Susa A gorilla family in Volcanoes National Park
Named after river Susa that runs through the territory this gorilla group calls home, gorilla family Susa is the epitome of gorilla tracking in volcanoes national park. Susa A normally habituates the higher altitudes of Bisoke mount and sometimes this family can go so high in the mountains that it becomes a bit tenuous to track it but this shouldn’t put you off tracking this family since before you set out to track it there is always an advance party of rangers dispatched to track it and find its current location then it signals your current guides about the direction and location of the group hence making it quite easy for you to track the family. So if you are in for a physically challenging tracking session, this is the gorilla family that will surely never fail to meet your tracking expectations.
Susa A used to be the biggest gorilla family in volcanoes national park with 42 individuals but due to conflicts within the family, some gorillas broke away hence Susa A now remains with only 28 gorilla individuals with 3 silverbacks and this group defined the odds by having one of the adult females give birth to twins something that’s quite rare in this elusive species of gorillas. The twins are named Impano and Byishimo. Susa A has sentimental value attached to it because this was the particular group that Dian Fossey based her research on while here in the volcanoes park.
Karisimbi family in Volcanoes National Park
Named after the highest peak of the Virunga ranges, Karisimbi peak, the Karisimbi family calls the slopes along mt. Karisimbi home. This gorilla family is a splitter faction from Susa A group and as a result it reduced the Susa A numbers from 42 members to around 28 members after the split. Because of this split, the Karisimbi group was 1st referred to as Susa B but its name changed to Karisimbi in 2010. The split from Susa was engineered by Nyakangaga silverback which was younger and ambitious hence it broke away from Susa A with about 13 members to start its own family.
At one point in time, this family had about 15 members but due to conflicts and annexation among gorilla families some of its members left and now the composition of Karisimbi family stands at 11 members under the leadership of Nyakangaga as a dominant silverback, 3 other silverbacks, 1 blackback, 1 adult female and 2 infants. Due to its location at Karisimbi peak, this group is considered one of the hardest to track hence if you are up for a challenging but manageable gorilla tracking experience, this is the gorilla group that’s perfect for you.
Sabyinyo gorilla family in Volcanoes National Park
Named after one of the Virunga ranges known as mount Sabyinyo which actually means an old man’s teeth in the local Kinyarwanda dialect, Sabyinyo gorilla family is one of the easiest families to track here as it habituates at the lower slopes of mt. Sabyinyo which lies at the edge of the park. Sabyinyo family was formerly referred to as “amavubi” family which means wasps in Kinyarwanda because it was one of the hardest family to habituate but this family disintegrated in 1992 due to the untimely death of the dominant silver back this caused many of the female gorillas of this group to be annexed by other gorilla families.
The remaining gorillas formed a new group that was named Sabyinyo and this group is now comprised of 9 individuals led by a dominant silverback named Guhonda which is the oldest and largest silver back in volcanoes weighing up to 220kg. Guhonda has remained the dominant and undisputed leader of the family despite the presence of 2 much younger and strong contenders like a silverback named Ryango within this family. Other family members here include 3 adult females and 2 sub adults and 1 juvenile. Tracking the sabyinyo family is a luxury fair-tale as its located near a luxury lodge called Sabyinyo silveback lodge.
Amahoro family in Volcanoes National Park
Named after a local Kinyarwanda word Amahoro which means peace, its naming is indeed consistent with the manner in which this family conducts itself which is peace above and before anything else and because of the peaceful nature of the dominant silverback named Ubumwe which means togetherness, the family has always lost a number of its members as they easily get annexed by aggressive gorilla families without a major challenge posed by the dominant silverback. As of today, amahoro family consists of 17 members with Ubumwe as the leader then 2 blackbacks, 5 juveniles, 5 adult females and 4 young ones. Tracking this group is a bit stretching as it habituates along mount Bisoke and once in a while it scales up the mount making its tracking a bit challenging but your efforts will be highly rewarded as the members of this family will sometimes indulge you in their plays hence giving you once in a life time personal experience with these gentle land giants.
Agashya family in Volcanoes National Park
Agashya family is also sometimes referred to as group 13 and this is because at the time of its habituation process, this group had 13 members under the leadership of a dominant silverback named Nyakairima. Nyakairima was disposed of his dominancy by another silverback within the family named agashya which means news in the local dialect of Kinyarwanda. The take over occurred after a bloody battle for dominance between nyakairima and agashya in which agashya emerged victorious. Agasya for a long time had assessed nyakairima’s strength in battle and it wasn’t surprising that he emerged as a victor on this particular occasssion. Nyakairima however, is highly credited for his role in expanding this family to its current composition of 25 members under a new leadership of agashya as a dominant silverback, 12 females, 3 juveniles, and 7 babies. As of today agashya is highly security conscious and very protective of the group and will lead his family to higher grounds whenever he feels threatened. This family habituates on the lower slopes of mount sabyinyo.
Umumbano family in Volcanoes National Park
Umumbano gorilla family is under the leadership of a dominant silverback called Charles. Umumbano family came into existence after a bitter contest between Charles and Uhumbwe the leader of Amahoro and this lead to the break away from Amahoro group where Charles was tired of taking orders from the dominant silverback Ubumwe hence he fought Ubumwe and Ubumwe allowed him to break away from the Amahoro group with 2 females and form his own group which was then named Umumbano group. Umumbano family as of today consists of 13 members with Charles as their leader then 1 sub adult, 6 infants and 3 adult females. Umumbano and Amahoro gorilla families usually meet but they now never fight hence peace prevails between these 2 families after settling their disputes and Umumbano was named so after a Kinyarwanda word umumbano which means live together to match with the current situation existing between these 2 gorilla families.
Kwitonda family in Volcanoes National Park
This family came into existence in the volcanoes national park in 2003 after crossing from the neighboring Virunga national park in D.R. Congo where its believed it faced pressure from other gorilla groups hence a decision to move to a new location and start afresh. By the time of its crossing from Congo, this family was under the leadership of Kwitonda as a dominant silverback but its leadership has now shifted to a younger silverback called Akarevuro after the unfortunate passing of Kwitonda in September of 2012 who was aged 40 years. The post mortem carried out on Kwitonda’s body that was only discovered 10 days after his demise indicated that he had passed away from old age related complications. Before the demise of Kwitonda, he had started allowing the young male gorillas to mate with the adult females in the group as a way of ensuring the continuity of his family because he knew that he was no longer strong enough to protect his family which it so much needed since it was a relatively new family in the area. This family consists of 28 members making it the 2nd largest group in the volcanoes park and it habituates in areas around mt. Sabyinyo and mt. Gahinga.
Hirwa family in Volcanoes National Park
Hirwa family is named after a Kinyarwanda word Hirwa which means lucky one. This family came into existence after bitter brawls erupted between Munyinga the leader of this family and the leader of Susa family because Munyinga always wanted to mate with the females in the Susa family which already had a dominant silverback. After bitter disputes between the Munyinga and the leader of Susa group, Munyinga was allowed to break away from Susa group with 2 adult females and start a family of his own, Munyinga also managed to annex other female gorillas during the early stages of forming the Hirwa group and now this group consists of 16 members which include odd defying set of twins. The Hirwa family habituates the slopes of mt. Sabyinyo.
Ugenda family in Volcanoes National Park
Named after a local Kinyarwanda word ugenda which means mobile, this gorilla family is indeed very mobile as its always on a constant move from one place to another looking for the freshest feeders to eat. The Ugenda group comprises of 11 members with 2 other silverbacks. Ugenda group habituates along the slopes of mount Visoke and will give you an experience like no other as you will traverse areas around this mount as you track this group.
Bwenge family in Volcanoes National Park
Bwenge family was named after a kinyanrwanda word bwenge which means wisdom. This family was formed when its leader Bwenge decided to split from his natal group and got joined by another female but as time has gone by Bwenge family has grown to a strong number of 11 individuals. Bwenge family is of strong importance as some of its members got featured in the 1988 documentary film gorillas in the mist that was shot in honor of Dr. Dian Fossey’s work with the gorillas. This group also faced a very traumatizing period when 6 of its infants died of a sudden death.
Titus family in Volcanoes National Park
Titus was a male gorilla that was born during the time Dr. Dian Fossey was researching about gorillas in this area. However, Titus’ family was brutally murdered by poachers and only Titus survived this horrific experience which saw all his parents and siblings perish. He was however adopted by another gorilla group that natured him till he grew up having survived a premature birth and breathing difficulties. As a young male, Titus was ambitious and he teamed up with another young silverback Beetsme who had chased away all other male gorillas only leaving Titus to be his “right hand man”, these 2 were joined by 5 other female gorillas who flee from other groups and formed the Titus family.
Due to Titus’ ambitions, in 1991, he shockingly challenged beetsme to a fight where Titus emerged victorious hence becoming the ultimate leader of the group. During Titus’ reign, he managed to father over 20 babies and in 2007, Titus also got a dose of his own medicine when his own son Kuryana fought his father Titus and then he broke away from the family to form his own family. Titus lived up to a reap age of 35 years leaving behind him a legacy of perseverance and ambition like no other male gorilla. The Titus group lives along the slopes of Karisimbi and Visoke ranges hence it requires some physical stamina to track this group due to the high altitudes involved during the tracking of this group.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safaris Tours, Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safari
A gorilla safari in Rwanda in the Volcanoes National Park in the north west of the country is a remarkable adventure endeavor in the shadows of the Virunga Mountains. Rwanda has positioned herself over time as a less strenuous gorilla trekking destination where travellers can even track gorillas in one day and return back home. Undertaking the Rwanda gorilla Trekking safaris Tours involve driving through the scenic landscapes of the rolling hills that have earned her a dub as a land of a thousand hills which is a memorable encounter of its own.
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