Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans) in Rwanda is found in the extreme Northwestern side of the country. It shelters the steep rain-forested slopes of the Virunga Volcano/mountain ranges. The park is perched in Ruhengeri/Musanze and features montane ecosystems – consisting of an evergreen, heath, swamp, open grassland, bamboo forest.

From Kigali to Volcanoes National Park, driving journey takes 2-3 hours. The park was gazetted in 1925 and spans up to 160sq.kms of land area. Its borders stretch to nearby Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda and Congo Virunga National Park. 5 volcanoes that fall within this protected area include Karisimbi, Visoke/Bisoke, Mikeno, Gahinga and Muhabura.

Wildlife species

Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) are the without doubt the key highlights of Volcanoes National Park safari. There are also golden monkeys (Cercopithecus Mitis Kandti), elephants, spotted hyenas, bushbucks, black fronted duikers, buffaloes.


Volcanoes National Park supports a total of 200 bird species. On birding tour, the birds to identify include Albertine rift endemic and migratory- including Rwenzori double collared sunbird, red-faced woodland warblers, grauer’s rush warblers, Rwenzori turacos, strange weavers, handsome francolin, dusky crimson wing, archer’s ground robin, etc.

Vegetation/flora in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri lies in an area with unique vegetation. These exist in varying altitude including the rainforest, swamps, thickets, meadows, grassland, alpine and marshes. The rainforest covers an elevation range of 2400 and 2500mm, and over 30% of the park’s area coverage is dominated by the lush bamboo forest.

Activities-Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Gorilla trekking

Gorilla trekking is the reason why Volcanoes National Park has become Africa’s preferred destination. It is a lifetime experience that allows visitors to meet the large mountain gorillas in the wild.

12 gorilla families have been habituated and they are ready for tracking. These include among the rest Titus gorilla family, Karisimbi/Susa B group, Ugenda, Susa A, Umubano, Group 13 or Agashya, Amahoro gorilla family, Bwenge, Hirwa gorilla group family, Kwitonda and Sabyinyo.

To be permitted to visit any of the 12 habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park, a valid Rwanda gorilla permit is required. Each gorilla permit in Rwanda is issued at USD1500 per person on gorilla safari to Volcanoes National Park.

Tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda takes 2-6 hours starting at Kinigi and includes one hour of close encounter upon sighting a group of these large apes. Each group of Rwanda gorilla families is visited by 8 visitors per day and some of the gorilla rules to follow include;

  1. Viewing mountain gorillas is strictly for one hour.
  2. Visiting gorillas is only for persons free of contagious diseases.
  3. Don’t litter the environment where gorillas live.
  4. Eating, drinking, smoking before gorillas isn’t acceptable.
  5. Maximum of 8 tourists visit a single gorilla group per day.
  6. While in the jungles, keep low your voices.

What to carry for Rwanda gorilla trekking?

Packing list for a successful gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda should include insect repellent, waterproof hiking boots, sun hut, trousers, sunscreen, rain jacket/poncho, long sleeved shirts, gardening gloves, camera free of flashlight, daypack (waterproof).


Birding in Volcanoes National Park is a great chance to sight variety of birds, inclusive of red-faced woodland warblers, strange weavers, handsome francolin, grauer’s rush warblers, Rwenzori turacos, dusky crimson wing, archer’s ground robin.

Golden monkey tracking

Golden monkey tracking in Volcanoes National Park allows you visit and explore in depth about the daily behaviors of gorillas. Treks to meet golden monkeys start early at 7:00am and lasts for 4 hours inclusive of one hour for magical interaction, photography.

Mountain hiking

There are many hiking opportunities at Rwanda Volcanoes National Park. These include Mount Bisoke hiking 6 hours trek to its scenic crater. Hikes begin with briefing and allocation of park guides to lead you to the summits of Mount Bisoke. Other areas of interest for hikers include Mount Karisimbi (4507m).

Musanze caves

Visit Musanze caves adjacent to Volcanoes National Park, 2kms walkway through the dark interior. These caves hold a unique history and they formed as a result of volcanic eruption.

Dian Fossey tomb hike

Dian Fossey tomb hike introduces you to Dian Fossey grave yard. The trail allows you explore more about the gorilla conservation legacy of Dian Fossey. It is 2-4 hours trek through the forest with a chance to encounter some interesting species.

Dian Fossey died mysteriously in 1985 and she was laid to rest near Digit, the gorilla she did love so much. Today, the grave yard consists of about 20 gorillas that are buried in this area and they were either killed by poachers or died of natural causes.

Cultural visits

Cultural visits offer unique and authentic cultural experiences of Rwandan cultures, traditions, norms. Iby’Iwacu cultural village is the main area of interest for authentic African cultural experiences on Rwanda safaris after or before tracking mountain gorillas/golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park.

Best time to visit- Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda safari

Visits to Rwanda Volcanoes National Park Musanze is all-year-round. But, the best months to travel to this park is during the dry season -June, July, August, September & December, January, to February.

Where to stay

Luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation all exist in and around Volcanoes National Park. These include Muhabura Hotel, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Bisate Lodge, One & Only Gorilla Nest, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, and Kinigi Guesthouse.

Other accommodation options include Garden Place Hotel, Faraja Hotel, Amakoro Songa Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Best View Hotel, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, La Palm Hotel and Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel.

Getting there

Volcanoes National Park lies in the Northwest of Rwanda and by road, it is easier accessing it. It takes visitors at least 2-3 hours to drive from Kigali to the park with en-route view of spectacular rolling hills.

From Uganda, visitors can also connect to Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri via Chanika or Katuna border. With this option, it is possible to combine gorilla tours in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park with Rwanda safaris in Volcanoes Park.