Volcanoes National Park



The Volcanoes Gorilla National Park or the  Parc National des Volcans is part of the Volcanic Dormant and extinct volcanic mountains that lie along the border areas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This National Park comprises of the following volcanoes of the Virunga Massif : Muhabura, gahinga, Sabyinyo, Bisoke, Karisimbi while the other active Volcanoes are in the Congo. This is the habitat for some of the wild Mountain Gorillas that live on the slopes of these Mountains.

The Volcanoes National Park first became a protected area first in 1925 during the partition of Africa. Following the discovery of the Mountain Gorillas on the slopes of Visoke and Karisimbi, it was necessitated by the Belgian Colonists who made this a national park extending from the Congo side of the border into the present day Rwanda making this the first National Park formed in Africa.

This park was made famous the the conservation and scientific work of Dian Fossey(RIP) who found it necessary to do her research on Mountain gorillas. At the time of her tragic death in 1985, the endangered Mountain Gorillas of Africa had reached reached a turn around due to the efforts of this American conservationist.

Safaris are available to her former research centre at Karisoke where her and some of her famous Mountain Gorilla remains are buried. The famous movie the Gorillas in the mist is a testimony to her work of conserving the Mountain Gorillas in Africa.

Other than the Mountain Gorillas, other activities are also offered which include: Climbing of the volcanoes, Golden Monkey trekking, Bird-watching along the margins of the National Park and Cultural safaris or home-stays in the nearby villages.

The Volcanoes Gorilla National park is composed of a lower montane vegetation which presently is the buffer zone between the mountain and the towns. It has been encroached upon by agriculture which has led to the reduction of the Mountain Gorilla habitat.

– The other zone is  the Bamboo zone that covers almost 30% of the entire park. This area is usually frequented by the Mountain Gorillas, Duikers, Golden Monkeys and other forest dwellers.

– Moving up towards through the slopes, you get to a belt of an alpine forest that stretches through the Bwindi Impenetrable and continues all the way into the west African tropical rain forests. The last part of the park from an altitude of 4000 up to the peaks is comprised of Meadows, swamps, tarn lakes and marshes.

– The animals in this park include: Mountain gorillas, Golden Monkeys, spotted hyena(rare), black fronted duikers, bushbuck, cape buffalo and some albertrine endemic birds.

– Mountain Gorilla groups in the Volcanoes National Park are:

1- Amahoro group  does comprise of 15 gorillas and has a home range close to Visoke volcano.

2- Umubano group of 7 Mountain gorillas resides around the Visoke Area.

3- Hirwa gorilla group  comprising of 12 animals lives at the base of Mount Sabinyo.

4- Sabinyo Mountain gorilla group does reside in an area at the saddle of Mount Sabinyo and Visoke. Its population is 10 members.

5 The biggest gorilla group in Rwanda at present with 35 individuals. Its home range is towards Karisimbi towards the Congo border. The trekking is much longer for this gorilla group.

6 Gorilla Group 13  has 21 individuals and shares the home range along the slopes of Mount Sabinyo.

7 The Kwitonda Mountain Gorillas are migratory and occasionally crosses into Rwanda from the Democratic Rebublic of Congo where they were first habituated. This gorilla group numbers around 10.

 Other activities in the park include:

Mount Karisimbi climb and overnight in the Volcanoes.

Bisoke climbing as a day trip

Safaris to the Lake Bulera and other small lakes in the Mountains.