Gorilla trekking in Rwanda- Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is situated in northwestern Rwanda in Ruhengeri, Musanze district. The park is formed by five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains and these are Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo. The Virunga Mountains are a chain of 8 non volcanic mountains that cross through Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Volcanoes National Park borders Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Virunga National Park of Uganda and Congo respectively.
The park covers 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) of rainforest. The park is home to mountain gorillas as well as golden monkeys and other mammal species. This was the base for the renowned primatologist Dian Fossey from 1967 who did a lot of conservation for the mountain gorillas something that has left an impact till date.
In 1925, the now park was first gazette as a small area comprising of mountains Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno for the aim of protecting the mountain gorillas. In 1929, the borders were extended, however, unfortunately 700 hectares of the park were cleared for human settlement in 1958. In 1992, there was a civil war in Rwanda that affected the park and stopped all activities till 1999.
Gorilla families in volcanoes National Park
Mountain gorillas are habituated for trekking on Rwanda gorilla safaris and they live in groups or families. These groups comprise of adults, juveniles and babies led by a silverback gorilla who is in most cases the eldest in the group. Apparently, Rwanda has 10 habituated mountain gorilla families. These families by name are Susa family, Sabyinyo family, Amahoro family, Agashya family, Umubano family, Kwitonda family, Hirwa family, Karisimbi family, Ugenda family, Bwenge family, and Titus family. Each family has several members and live a social life among themselves.
How to get to volcanoes National Park
The easiest way of getting to Volcanoes Park is by road transport after arriving into the country by flight to Kigali International Airport. It’s just about two hours’ drive from the capital-Kigali on a distance covering about 105 kilometers (65miles). To reach the park you will need a 4×4 safari vehicle which Acacia Safaris can help organize for you. You can also choose to take a self-drive trip to the park. Lucky enough, unlike Uganda where it takes almost a day’s drive to reach the gorilla parks, in Rwanda, you can drive to the park on the same day of the trek, you just have to wake up really early.
Best time to visit volcanoes National Park
Rwanda has two seasons of the year which are the rainy and dry season. The most preferable time of the year is during the dry season and this is during the months of June to mid-September and December to February. This the best time for any tourist to visit Rwanda and go gorilla trekking since it is a bit dry and therefore the trails are more passable. However, do not leave behind your rain coat and sweater since it can easily rain at any time of the trek.
Accommodation/where to stay in volcanoes National Park
When you visit Volcanoes National Park and need to spend a night within the park you may wonder where to stay. Just like any top Africa safari destination, around the park are several accommodation facilities that include the luxury, Mid-range/standard and Budget. The kind of accommodation booked is dependent on what you prefer.