Volcanoes National Park is found in the Northwestern side of  Rwanda, the park borders Virunga National Park which is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Volcanoes National Park is also bordered by Mgahinga Gorilla National Park found in Uganda.
Volcanoes National Park is a home of the Mountain Gorillas and also a home to five of eight volcanoes of Virunga Mountains which include: Muhabura, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Bisoke, and Gahinga that are covered by the rainforest and bamboo. Also Volcanoes National Park was the base for Dian Fossey the zoologist.
History of Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park was first gazetted as a protected area surrounded by Karisimbi, Mikeno and Visoke in order to protect the Mountain Gorillas from the poachers in 1925. Volcanoes National Park was the first National Park to be created in Africa.
Then there was extension of the borders of the park into Rwanda and the Belgian Congo forming a huge area of 8090 km² called the Albert National Park which was run by the Belgian colonial authorities in 1929.  But 700 hectares of Volcanoes National Park were cleared for a human settlement in 1958.
Volcanoes National Park was divided into two after Congo got independence in 1960 and when Rwanda gained independence in 1962, the government decided to maintain the National Park as a conservation and tourist area.  Between 1969 and 1973, Volcanoes National Park was halved and about 1050 hectares of the National Park were cleared to grow pyrethrum.
Volcanoes National Park became the base for Dian Fossey the American naturalist for carrying out her research of the Mountain Gorillas. On her arrival in 1967, Dian Fossey set up the Karisoke Research Centre which was between Visoke and Karisimbi. Dian Fossey spent most of her time with the Mountain Gorillas Volcanoes National Park which she is widely credited for, for saving the Mountain Gorillas from extinction. In 1985 Dian Fossey was murdered, she is buried in Volcanoes National Park in a grave close to the research center and close to the Mountain Gorillas which became her life.

Vegetation in Volcanoes National Park


Volcanoes National Park is blessed with a variety of different vegetation because of the large altitudinal range in the National Park.
The variety of vegetation include: the lower montane forest which is now lost to human activity like agriculture. Volcanoes National Park also has Neoboutonia forest which is between 2400 and 2500 m. Also Arundinaria alpina (bamboo) forest which is from 2500 to 3200 m and covers about 30% of Volcanoes National Park. Hagenia-Hypericum forest is found on the humid slopes in the south and west between 2600 and 3600 m and it covers about 30% of the National Park. Hagenia abyssinica is one of the largest forests. From 3500 to 4200 m, the vegetation is characterised by L. lanurensis, Senecio erici-rosenii and Lobelia wollastonii which covers about 25% of National Park. Also Volcanoes National Park is covered with some Grassland from 4300 to 4500 m. Also marshes, secondary thicket, small lakes, meadows and swamps occupy relatively small.
Wild animals
Volcanoes National Park is well known for the Mountain Gorillas. Besides the Mountain Gorillas other mammals and primates include: golden monkey, bushbuck, Spotted Hyena, black-fronted duiker and buffalo. There are also reported to be some elephants in the park, though these are now very rare. Other than mammals, Volcanoes National Park is also blessed with different bird species about 178 bird species are recorded. Out of the 178 bird species, 13 species and 16 subspecies are endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
Tourism Activities in Volcanoes National Park
These tourism activities include:

  • Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park

The Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park are fascinating and interesting to watch, gorilla tracking with experienced ranger guides can be magical and unforgettable.
Safaris for Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park are well-organized with eight people per group per day to track the Gorillas. There are about ten groups of Mountain Gorillas that are currently habituated for Gorilla Tracking with each group having at least 15 members with a Silverback being the head of each group.

Mountain Gorilla groups in Volcanoes National Park

These include:  The Sabyinyo Gorilla Group, Amahoro Gorilla Group, Susa Gorilla Group, Karisimbi Gorilla Group, Hirwa Gorilla Group, the Kwitonda Gorilla Group, Umubaro Gorilla Group, Kwitonda Gorilla Group, Agasha Gorilla Group, Ugenda Gorilla Group and Bwenge Gorilla Group.

  • Golden monkey Tours.

Starting point will be the Volcanoes National Park headquarters for the Golden monkey tracking looking for the golden monkeys. Bamboo vegetation towards the base of the volcanoes is the habitant of the Golden monkeys a rare endangered species accepted for daily visit by researchers and tourists. You can spend one hour with the Golden monkeys once you get to them. A great way to spend an extra day while in the Volcanoes National Park.

  • Climbing of Karisimbi volcano – 3800m

The Karisimbi Mountain is a Kinyarwanda word meaning "white shell", referring to the white-capped summit that is often seen on the mountain. The hiking of Karisimbi Mountain will take 2 days.

  • Climbing of Bisoke volcano - One day
  • Tour of the lakes and caves.
  • Visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey.

Special Events

  • Kwita Izina, the baby gorilla naming ceremony which takes place every year during the month of June in Rwanda.
Accomodation in Volcanoes National Park
  • Virunga Lodge - Luxury

  • Sabinyo Silverback Lodge - Luxury
  • Gorilla Mountain View Lodge - Medium

  • Le Bambou Lodge - Medium