Volcanoes National Park Rwanda Facts, Parc National Des Volcans

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda (also known as Parc National des Volcans) is arguably the best place in the world to observe the critically endangered mountain gorilla. This is where Dian Fossey started the habituation of these gentle giants decades ago. Other activities in the park include golden monkey trekking, a hike to Diane Fossey’s former camp, and the more strenuous volcano summit.

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is a national park in northwestern Rwanda. The Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is perhaps known as the home of the rare primate species, the mountain gorillas. The park stretches a total land area of 160 square kilometers that spans the large rainforest that encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains.  The park harbors Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo. Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is part of the large Virunga ecosystem that stretches in three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is bordered by Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.

The park was first gazetted in 1925, as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke, and Mikeno, intended to protect the gorillas from poachers. Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is one of the oldest parks in Africa and perhaps the first to be created in Africa in 1929.

Arsenal’s David Luiz goes on an unforgettable gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda Safaris

Sabyinyo gorillas

1 Day Gorilla Trek Rwanda is the shortest Budget Day Gorilla trek Rwanda starting from Kigali or Musanze, Rwanda lasting just one day. One Day Gorilla Trek Rwanda offers one of the most magical Gorilla trekking experiences in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

things to do in Uganda

3 Days Gorilla trekking Rwanda is an incredible wildlife encounter awaits those who venture into the Afro-montane rainforests of Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains in search of the critically endangered mountain gorillas, Rare golden monkeys.

Nyakagezi Gorilla Family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

4 Days Gorilla Trekking Rwanda – One of the rarest and most moving wildlife encounters on Earth may be had on this brief Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Safari into the biodiverse Volcanoes National Park to spend time with the critically endangered African mountain gorillas.

History About Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

The park was first gazetted in 1925, as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke, and Mikeno, intended to protect the gorillas from poachers. It was the very first National Park to be created in Africa. Subsequently, in 1929, the borders of the park were extended further into Rwanda and into the Belgian Congo, to form the Albert National Park, a huge area of 8090 km2, run by the Belgian colonial authorities who were in charge of both colonies. In 1958, 700 hectares of the park were cleared for human settlement.

Between 1969 and 1973, 1,050 hectares of the park were cleared to grow pyrethrum.

The park later became the base for the American naturalist Dian Fossey to carry out her research into the gorillas. She arrived in 1967 and set up the Karisoke Research Centre between Karisimbi and Visoke. From then on she spent most of her time in the park and is widely credited with saving the gorillas from extinction by bringing their plight to the attention of the international community. She was murdered by unknown assailants at her home in 1985, a crime often attributed to the poachers she had spent her life fighting against. Fossey’s life later was portrayed on the big screen in the film Gorillas in the Mist, named after her autobiography. She is buried in the park in a grave close to the research center, and amongst the gorillas which became her life.

The Volcanoes National Park Rwanda became a battlefield during the Rwandan Civil War, with the park headquarters being attacked in 1992. The research center was abandoned, and all tourist activities (including visiting the gorillas) were stopped. They did not resume again until 1999 when the area was deemed to be safe and under control. There have been occasional infiltrations by Rwandan rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda in subsequent years, but these are always stopped quickly by the Rwandan army and there is thought to be no threat to tourism in the park.

How to Get to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Kigali International Airport (KGL), located on the outskirts of Rwanda’s capital, is the nearest airport to Volcanoes National Park. The closest town to the park is Musanze, which is about 70 miles away and takes around three hours to reach by car. Musanze is a half-hour drive from Kinigi, where visitors must register before 7 a.m. on the day of their arrival. Unfortunately, there is no way to get from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park by air. Instead, tourists can hire a car (often with a driver) at the airport or sign up for a trip that includes transportation.

Tips for Your Visit to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

  • The dry months of June through September are ideal for exploring Volcanoes National Park. Now is the best time to go trekking because of the pleasant weather and lack of precipitation.
  • Visit the park during the annual Kwita Izina ceremony, where infant gorillas born within the past year are formally named, conservation lectures are given, and traditional music and dance performances are showcased. Conversations with primate experts and the park rangers who devote their lives to keeping the gorillas safe are common occurrences at these events. The event has typically taken place in September in recent years.
  • You can count on it raining wherever you go. Be prepared for the rain by bringing along waterproof clothing, gaiters, and a pair of walking shoes with adequate traction. In addition, the high elevation of the park means that you should bring lots of warm clothes.
  • There are additional costs for participating in activities within the national park, such as the $1,500 gorilla trekking permit. For a comprehensive listing, visit the park’s official website.

Things to do in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda (Activities)

Gorilla Trekking:

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is home to the most endangered mountain gorillas with about 18 gorilla families found here. 12 of the 18 gorilla families are open for trekking and the other 6 are reserved for research purposes.Gorilla trekking in Rwanda: epic & moving adventure!

Gorilla trekking is a major highlight of the park and allows visitors to move into the forest in search of the habituated gorilla families and usually, when they are found, visitors are allowed to spend one hour with them watching them in their natural habitat. Here you can have a great opportunity to learn more about mountain gorillas and their behavior in their natural habitat.

Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda usually takes between 2 to 4 hours depending on the direction and how far they might have moved in search of their food.

Mountain Gorilla Trek in Rwanda

Golden Monkey trekking

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is also famous for habituating the Golden monkeys. Trekking golden monkeys are the second-best activity in the park. Two Golden monkey families live in the National Park that is available for trekking on daily basis. The trekking usually takes 1 to 4 hours depending on the direction and how far they might have moved.

The Virunga Volcanoes and Golden Monkey Trekking

Adventurous Hike to Dian Fossey Tombs

It is possible to combine a trip to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park with a visit to Dian Fossey’s grave.

For nearly twenty years, American primatologist Dian Fossey lived and worked in the park to learn more about the mountain gorillas.

In the late ’80s, a film called Gorillas in the Mist was released that was based on her life. In 1985, she was brutally killed by poachers. Her tomb may be found next to the Karisoke Research Center, between the two picturesque volcanoes of Bisoke and Karisimbi. The round-trip time for the trek through the woods to the tomb is around six hours.

The mountain gorillas that Dian spent her life protecting can sometimes be spotted along the trail, as can elephants, buffalo, and primates like golden monkeys.

Volcano Climbing

Five of the eight volcanic mountains that make up the virunga massif—Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo—are contained within Volcanoes National Park. The best views of Rwanda and its crater lake may be seen atop the country’s most popular hiking destination, Mount Karisimbi.

Research and Study

Karisoke research Camp serves as the administrative center for all research and study conducted within Volcanoes National Park. You can increase your knowledge of the flora, fauna, and primates of Volcanoes National Park as a result of this. More information about Dian Fossey, who did so much to protect the mountain gorillas of the Virunag ranges, will also be provided.


The Musanze caverns are an additional attraction that should be on your agenda for Volcanoes National Park. Professional guides will take you inside the caves and explain their history, as well as other interesting tidbits about Rwanda.

Gorillas in the Mist

Watch Gorillas in the Mist True Story – The Virungas and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are the world’s last refuge for the mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei) Mountain gorillas are among the rarest of four sub-species of gorillas found only in the dense forests of central and western Africa. Only about 700 individuals remain – more than half of them living among these often-misty volcanic mountains.

Kwita Izina: The Gorilla Naming Ceremony Rwanda

The ceremony of giving a name to a newborn baby commonly known as ”Kwita Izina” has been part of the Rwandan tradition for centuries.

This ceremony has also been used for the past 3 decades now to give names to newborn gorillas. The names attributed to the gorillas play a great part in the program of monitoring each individual and Gorillas group in its habitat. Since it started, the gorilla naming ceremony has been essential to Tourism and Conservation as well as its partners. The goal of Kwita Izina is to raise awareness of the protection of the mountain gorillas and their habitat.

Rwanda’s 18th Edition Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony | Kinigi