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Located in northwest Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is well-known for its gorilla trekking safaris. It shares borders with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The national park is well-known for being a refuge for mountain gorillas, and tourists come here for tours that include trekking with golden monkeys and gorilla safaris. Five of the eight Virunga Mountain volcanoes Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhavura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo which are covered in bamboo and rainforest, are located there. The park served as the starting point for naturalist Dian Fossey, who is well-known for her hikes and treks.

This park, which is made up of a striking chain of seven volcanoes, is the best location to track the endangered and fascinating mountain gorillas. Situated at Uganda’s and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s natural borders, this region is a top choice for safari travel.

Volcanoes National Park

The Gorilla of Volcanoes Rwanda Park is a portion of the 433 km² Trans Frontier Conservation Unit, which is also home to Mgahinga National Park and Virunga National Park, which guard the Virunga’s Ugandan and Democratic Republic of the Congo sections, respectively. Currently, the three national parks are overseen independently. Despite the urgent issue of overcrowding, Rwanda’s new government declared upon gaining independence that they would preserve the gorillas, who were already well-known around the world.

Volcanoes dominate the Volcanoes National Park, which ranges in elevation from 2400 km to 4507. One of the most striking and unforgettable sites in East Africa is this range of rugged, free-standing mountains connected by fertile saddles created by hardened lava flows.

Things to see in Volcanoes National Park

June 1993 saw the park reopen to visitors, but the genocide forced its evacuation in April 1994. It reopened to tourists later in 1995, but it closed again a few months later. In July 1999, gorilla tracking in Rwanda was recommenced permanently, as the number of visitors visiting the Virungas had increased significantly since then. Later in this part, there will be more information about gorillas and gorilla tracking. Aside from golden monkeys and gorillas, primates are underrepresented in Rwanda and Western Uganda as compared to other ecosystems.

The current status of other large mammals is poorly known, but more than 70 species have been identified in the nearby Mgahinga National Park in Uganda; these are likely limited to the greater Rwandan portion of the Virungas. Despite their timidity and rarity, elephants and buffalo are still rather prevalent, based on the quantity of spoor seen on forest routes. The black-fronted duiker, spotted hyena, big forest hog, bush pig, bushbuck, and many tiny predator species are also found there. Recent extinctions include the huge yellow-backed duiker and leopard, most likely due to deforestation.

Things to do in Volcanoes National Park

Gorilla Trekking Experience

The park’s most popular activity is still tracking mountain gorillas, with more than 80 permits being granted each day eight for each of the five habituated groups. Volcanoes National Park offers more than just tracking gorillas; visitors can also engage in well-organized hiking and golden monkey trekking. Activities range from a two-day ascent of Karisimbi to a non-strenuous nature walk to a cluster of craters later. Perhaps the most exciting development is the ability to see a habituated troop of near-endemic golden monkeys.

Gorilla Families in Rwanda


With 41 gorillas, this group is the largest. With three silver backs, several black backs, females, and numerous young members, the group is really striking. A portion of this group’s notoriety stems from the lively 5-year-old twins, Byishimo and Impano. The group explores the 4507-meter-high Karisimbi Volcano’s slopes. The group can be a little tricky to follow at times, but it is usually pretty close.Always check with guides a day in advance to find out where they are.


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 peacefulUbumwe. 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.


The 18 members of this DR Congolese immigrant group are led by Kwitonda, which translates to “humble one.” It has one black back and two silverbacks. The group is now permanently located in the Rwanda Section of the Virungas, despite its tendency to roam widely. This is one of the harder groups to find, along with Susa.


Families of eleven from Umubano were once Amahoro members, but they split up when Charles, the group’s current leader, challenged the dominating silverback. Umubano was founded when a young silverback challenged the dominant silverback and had to take several females from the group to start his own family.


Hirwa is the most diverse group comprising from differently families mainly group 13 and Sabinyo.

Bird watching in Volcanoes National Park

Species in Volcanoes National Park total 180. A 2004 biodiversity survey found 15 recently reported species, but it’s probable that a few more forest specialists have vanished since 1980. The endangered Grauer’s rush warbler is a species found in the area, and there are at least sixteen other endemic species found in the Albertine Rift, such as the handsome francolin, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, Rwenzori batis, dusky crimson-wing, collared apalis, red-faced woodland warbler, and Archer’s ground robin.

Volcano Hiking

Hiking is highly likely for visitors. For those with less energy, two and a half-hour treks around the nearby crater lakes and into the forest cost US$30. Birdwatchers will especially like these walks. At the former Karisoke Research Camp, visitors can also see Dian Fossey’s tomb and the nearby gorilla cemetery. The journey takes thirty minutes by car from the park headquarters to the trailhead, followed by a brisk ten-minute walk to the park boundary. From here, the drop takes 1-2 hours, and the ascent through the forest takes 90 minutes to 3 hours, depending on your health and how often you pause to take in the view. Whether in Kigali, Musanze, or Kinigi, all arrangements for these activities can be arranged through the ORTPN offices. Please take note that tourists are only permitted to participate in one activity per day within the park, as all hikes depart from the park headquarters at Kinigi at approximately 07.30 (check-in time 07.00). This is also the departure time for gorilla tracking.

How to get to Volcanoes National Park

The quickest route to Volcanoes Park is via Musanze, formerly Ruhengeri, which is conveniently accessible from Gisenyi, Kigali on the day you choose. It is necessary to arrive at the ORTPN office in Kinigi, near the park entrance, by 07.00. However, if you are taking public transport, this isn’t a dependable alternative. Between Musanze and the park headquarters at Kinigi, there is no public transit.

Where to stay Volcanoes National Park

The most recent top-tier luxury gorilla lodge is Bisate Lodge, which offers exceptional opportunities for gorilla trekking sightings in Rwanda. Other accommodations that guests seek out for an overnight stay include Governors Camp Sliver back Lodge, Gorilla View Lodge, Gorilla Nest Lodge, Le’Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, Muhabura Guest House, and Kinigi Guest House. Virunga Lodge, which overlooks Lake Burera, is another popular spot for gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda.

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