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Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park

Overview

To the north lies the volcanoes national park, which protects the Rwandan portion of the virunga mountains, a trans frontier conservation area that includes protected areas in Uganda and the DRC and forms a complex of mostly dormant volcanoes, it includes Rwanda’s highest point, mount karisimbi (4,507 m), and the two active volcanoes, mount Nyirangongo and mount Nyamuragira. This national park boasts almost 100 bird species but is more famous for being home to world’s last remaining mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Although visited predominantly for the mountain gorillas, there are several other tourism sites and opportunities in the park and surrounding area. There is a chance to climb to the mount Bisoke’s beautiful crater lake or even the hike to the summit of the Karimbi mountain, the 5th highest mountain of Africa. The often neglected twin lakes Burera and Ruhondo and the nearby Rugezi swamp are recognized for their excellent water birding opportunities. With in the area there are a number of community based tourism tours on offer, for example: visiting villages, agric-production plants, an ethno botany tour or even a group of local fishermen using traditional methods, or simply sit back and take in the breath taking scenery of the area.

Volcanoes National Park lies in northwestern Rwanda and boarders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The volcanoes national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. Its a home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo). It is 160 sq. km covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park wa s the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey. More so the park was gazetted to protect the mountain gorillas which were facing the threat of extinction. In 1967, the American zoologist Dian Fossey a researcher on mountain Gorillas in the forests of Congo fled from insecurity and established her research base at a place between Visoke and Karisimbi volcanoes that was yet to be known as Karisoke research center. She spearheaded the conservation campaign of the mountain gorillas and mobilized resources to fight against poaching in this area, a fight she put up until her murder in 1985. She was buried at the research center next to the grave of her favorite gorilla called Digit. In early 1990s, the park became a battle field for the Rwanda’s civil war which paralyzed tourism activities until 1999. In 2005, in a bid to boost conservation and gorilla tours in Volcanoes national park. Rwanda introduced the annual baby naming ceremony for baby gorillas known as ‘Kwita Iziina’ which has seen great results in as far as gorilla population in volcanoes is concerned.

Best Time to Visit

Visiting Rwanda for gorilla tracking can be done all year round. The best time to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons, periods between December to early March and June to September. December to March is a long dry season for Rwanda, with temperatures going up to 29 degrees Celsius for some days while the months of March – Mid May, July to September, on the other hand, are regarded as the rainy in the country. Overall Rwanda has a good whether throughout the year but the dry season is more preferable. The weather is generally good in addition wildlife viewing is also more common during this time. For tourists interested in visiting gorillas – this is also the best time for gorilla tours since there is a minimal chance of rain during the trek and a good hiking terrain in the rainforest. We still suggest your waterproof clothing even during these drier months, as this Equatorial climate is very unpredictable. This period is also a peak season; hence the prices can be higher on things like accommodation, car hire etc. On the other hand, some travelers especially those on budget like visiting in the wet season. During this season, hotels have low occupancy an hence give travelers discounted food and sleeping services which is an added advantage. Also, there is low demand for gorilla permits which guarantee visitors a chance to see these endangered species with no competition.

Getting There

Volcanoes National park is one of the famous tourism destinations on the continent. its is also Africa’s oldest park. It Lies along the virunga volcanoes which are shared between Rwanda, Uganda and DRC and its home to five of the 8 volcanoes. Its covers the Districts of Burera, Musanze, Rubavu and Nyabihu. Its just a two hours drive from the capital kigali. The Park is Central for all people who come to Rwanda. The Normal and easy point to getting there is through Musanze. From the airport you cn use both public and Private means. You can pre-organize with a tour operator or hire a cab at airport. Its very possible for you to drive from Kigali to the tracking point on the day you are tracking the gorillas but this is only reliable with the private means and not the public transport.

If you use the public means, there is no public transport between Musanze and the par headquarters as the public means can only stop at Musanze point. From Kigali To Musanze the Cab which i am sure most people will opt for because of the convenience and cheaper than hiring from tour operators will charge you less than USD 50. You can also crosscheck with the hotel and see if there people who are tracking the next day and if they are also booking there won transport you may ask to join them as this may be cheaper and also having company with you. Its better you ask at the reception of your hotel and see if they can recommend a cab or find you one as they may have better bargaining power than you do. Alternatively, you can drop us a mail and we shall gladly arrange your safari right from the planning process to your visit till your departure.

Activities

Volcanoes National Park is a top safari destination with a growing number of travelers coming into Rwanda for gorilla safaris and other Rwanda wildlife tours. Travelers to Volcanoes national park have a variety of activities Rwanda safaris to do depending on their travel interests and time. With no doubt, Volcanoes national park is Rwanda’s most visited tour destination and a first priority for most if not all travelers to the land of a thousand hills. Among the popular activities to do in Volcanoes national park include among others:

Mountain gorilla tracking

This is a priority for most travelers to Volcanoes national park. The national park is a home to 10 habituated gorilla families available for trekking. Also, Volcanoes park covers Rwanda’s share of the great Virunga massif bordering Virunga national park in Congo and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. Travelers to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda are required to buy gorilla permits each costing $1500 for an hour’s interaction. All permits are issued out by Rwanda Development Board.

Golden Monkey trekking

Golden monkey trekking is yet another most done activity in Volcanoes national park which attract thousands of travelers into this jungle. Golden monkeys are exceptional creatures which every traveler should not miss out on his/her Rwanda safari.Its only in Volcanoes wanda and Mgahinga gorilla national parks that travelers can see golden monkeys in their natural habitats. Fortunately, golden monkey trekking costs $100 which is relatively cheap compared to gorilla trekking.

Volcano climbing

Besides wildlife, Volcanoes national park is a home for three extinct volcanoes. Travelers to this park therefore have an added advantage of hiking to the top of any Volcano which reward them with spectacular views of Rwanda’;s rolling hills, kigali city, Virunga volcanoes and local communities.Mt Karisimbi is the most hiked Volcano and the experience is worthy the hike.

Caving

Do not miss out visiting the Musanze caves on your Rwanda safari to Volcanoes national park. Experienced guides lead you into these caves while telling you the mysteries of the caves, history and all other facts about Rwanda. Other activities to do in Volcanoes national park include cultural tours especillay to Iby’Iwacu cultural village, bird watching, visiting the twin lakes of Bulera and Buhondo among others.

Uniqueness

Rwanda is a unique country and it has four national parks. Volcanoes National Park is one of them and turns out to be the most visited of all. If you haven’t been to Rwanda before or if you are planning to, this national parks is an awesome place to visit. There are so many strange and interesting facts that you ought to know about Volcanoes National Park and below are just some of these interesting facts.

Volcanoes National Park is the oldest national park in Africa. just think of that. Africa has about 53 countries with Rwanda being one of the smallest if not the smallest but it hosts the oldest park in Africa. Volcanoes National Park was gazetted into a national park as early as 1925. PNV is the only park with mountain gorillas in Rwanda. For all tourists that want to see the engendered mountain gorillas in Rwanda, they only will have a chance at this park. Volcanoes national park is home to five of the eight Virunga Volcanoes. (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo). This is over whelming to be found in just one park. This makes the park a unique place. This is the smallest park in Rwanda with just 160km2. Imagine it being the smallest but housing five volcanoes. This is so fascinating and it makes it the best place you shouldn’t miss on you Safari to Rwanda. The book “Gorillas in The Mist” by Dain Fossey was written based on gorillas in this park. The Park has been Closed on more than Two occasions in the last 25 years due to several security issues. You would think that since this park is the only place for gorillas in Rwanda then it would have more other primates, its actually not the case. This par has less primates as compared to other parks in Rwanda. Please note that there are so many interesting facts about this national park and above are some of them. You can discover much about its history upon your visit.

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