Volcanoes National Park | Background Info

Straddling Uganda, the DRC and Rwanda are the Virunga Volcanoes Mountains, a dramatic, thickly forested range comprising six extinct and three active volcanoes. The Volcanoes National Park is the Rwandan portion of the Virungas Volcanoes range and besides the wealth of extraordinary rainforest life it safeguards, the park protects 300 mountain gorillas - around half the world's existing population - and is the scene for what is often described as Africa's easiest gorilla trekking.

Easily accessible from Rwanda's capital Kigali, located only 80kms away, the Volcanoes National Park offers several comfortable lodges set in the foothills of the range. Gorilla trekking permits must be arranged before arrival, and potential trekkers should be aware not only of the rigours of hiking through mountainous rainforest but the strict conservation rules governing this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Discover Volcanoes National Park

Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking is the main reason why people are attracted to Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Gorilla treks begin early in the morning at the park headquarters. With a trained guide, you’ll make your way through the forest following signs of the animals’ whereabouts. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the chance to spot some eating bamboo and enjoying life in the forest. You’ll likely spend a few hours in the mountains before heading back to the camp.

Golden Monkey Trekking

Outside of the Rwanda gorilla tours, you’ll want to see the golden monkeys as well. These funny looking creatures live closer to the base of the volcanoes and make their homes in the bamboo. They are quite shy by nature, but the habituated groups are long since used to people being around them. A golden monkey trek will be a bit shorter than a gorilla trek because you won’t have as far to hike. They will likely be a lot more challenging to photograph than the gorillas since they move a lot more quickly, so make sure you have your camera ready to go at all times.

Situated in the far northwest corner of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans) protects the steep rainforested slopes of the magnificent Virungas mountain range.

The Virungas

Volcanoes National Park is named after the chain of dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga Massif: Karisimbi – the highest at 4,507m, Bisoke with its verdant crater lake, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura. Tracking endangered mountain gorillas through the mysterious intimacy of the rain forest, alive with the calls of 200 species of colorful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, is only one of the truly unique experiences in the area. Within the boundaries of Volcanoes National Park are Buhanga Eco-Park, an ancient forest holding Rwanda’s most intriguing folklore and Musanze Caves, formed 62 million years ago after the last estimated volcanic eruption.

volcanoes national park The Virunga mountains - Volcanoes National Park