Volcanoes National Park is found in the North eastern part of Rwanda with only a 2 hrs drive from the main Capital Kigali. It was first gazetted in 1925 and is said to be Africa’s first National park. It boarders with the Virunga ranges from the DRC and Mgahinga mountain from Uganda.
The Volcanoes National Park involves the 5 of the 8 major volcanoes of the Virunga Mountain ranges like the Karisimbi, Visoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and the Sabinyo. The parks boundaries were pushed further into Rwanda in 1929 and the Belgian Congo to form the Albert National Park to pave way for a large settlement of the human population.
After the independence of he Congo in 1962 and Rwanda 1962, it was agreed to to maintain the park as a tourist destination. However, the over population led to mass killings and poaching of Gorillas and other primates species around the volcanoes and later, saw the American researcher and naturalist Dian Fossey arriving in 1967 setting up the Karisoke Research center deriving from Karisimbi and Visoke areas.
Dian fossey from then, fought hard to teach the general population about the advantages of saving and protecting the Gorillas, she later died in 1985 on the 26th/Dec/1982 and burried at the Karisoke site next to digit which was her favourite Gorilla friend well known for defending other group members from poachers. It was also a place she had constructed her self for the deceased Gorillas.
Gorilla Tracking – Tracking is done in the Volcanoes National park which boarders with both Congo and Uganda. Today the volcanoes has 10 gorilla families of which visitors can track. Gorilla permits currently cost 1,500 USD each for all categories of trackers and should be booked 6 to 3 months before tracking.
- Susa – largest group with 41 members.
- Sabinyo few members of about 5.
- Amahoro – 17, members.
- Group 13 – has 13, members.
- Kwitonda – has 18, members.
- Umubano – 11, members.
Other activities not to miss around the volcanoes:
- Golden Monkey tracking.
- Intore dance at the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village.
- Dian fossey tombs Visit.
- 2 Days Bisoke Mountain Hike.
- 3 Days Karisimbi Mountain Hike.
Accommodations around the Volcanoes:
- Mountain Gorilla view nest.
- Muhabura hotel.(famous for accommodating Dian fossey in room 12).
- Le’bambou Gorilla Lodge.
- Kinigi guest house.
- La Palme Hotel.