Activities in Volcanoes National Park
Activities in Volcanoes National Park are the different ventures that a traveler can engage in as they enjoy the wildlife and nature in the park. Volcanoes National Park is the most famous park among the 3 national parks in Rwanda. The park is mostly known for its 10 habituated mountain gorilla families that are trekked by tourists all year round; however, the park has more than the mountain gorillas to offer. The park that is part of the virunga massifs is located north of Kigali city not only harbors mountain gorillas but also golden monkeys and a few other animals, as well as a number of bird species. The hagenia rainforest the covers the volcanic landscape gives the park an evergreen look that enhances the beauty of the park and perfectly acts as a habitat for the park’s primates and wildlife. Within Volcanoes National Park, you also find the Dian Fossey Gravesite; this site is a very monumental place because of Dian Fossey’s pioneering work in mountain gorilla conservation.
Volcanoes National Park is also home to the highest virunga mountain and other four mountains that are part of the eight mountains that make up the virunga massif that is Mt Bisoke, Mt Karisimbi, Mt Muhavura, Mt Gahinga, and Mt Sabinyo. Mt Karisimbi is the highest mountain in the virunga massif.
Well as most people visit the park for mountain gorillas trekking the park can offer other safaris activities that will make your stay in Rwanda and the park memorable. Below are the different safari activities you can have in the park.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking: Mountain gorilla trekking which is the popular activity done in the park, allows tourists to see the mountain gorillas for an hour in their natural habitat and take part in a life changing trek through the hagenia forest; climbing up the different volcanoes.
Mountain gorilla trekking happens all year round in the park and mountain gorilla trekkers are required to pay 1500USD for a gorilla trekking permit. The entire experience takes between 4 to 5 hours and normally starts in the morning at 7 am with a briefing session about what to expect and the different guidelines for the trekking experience.
Volcanoes National park has 10 habituated mountain gorilla families that are trekked by a group of eight people per family per day.
Golden monkey trekking: Like mountain gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking in Rwanda gives you the opportunity to spend an hour with the unique golden monkeys that live volcanoes national park. Rwanda currently has two habituated golden monkey families that are trekked by tourists through the year. The golden monkey trekking activities start at 7 am with a briefing at the park’s offices and after the briefing, the trekking groups head into the forests with the assigned rangers for their trekking experiences; the entire experience takes about 4 to 5 hours. Golden monkey trekking permits cost 100 USD per permit per person per trek.
Hiking: Volcanoes National Park having five extinct volcanoes gives hikers the best opportunity to put their hiking passion to the test. Hikers have the can hike Mt Karismbi the highest volcano among the 8 virunga massif and Mt Bisoke which is also part of the Virunga Massif. This is one of the top Activities in Volcanoes National Park.
Hiking to both Mt Bisoke and Mt karisimbi is quite tough so hikers are advised to be physically fit before taking on the challenging mountains especially Mt Karisimbi. The high altitudes of the different mountains have low oxygen concentrations which cause some difficulties for hiker, so hikers with respiratory challenges are not advised to take the hikes to the peak.
That said taking these hikes is a life changing experience for all the hikers and if you are fit, you should miss an opportunity to take the hike. Hiking Mt. Bisoke is a one day experience is costs 75USD per hiker while hiking Mt. Karisimbi is a 2-day experience and costs 400USD per hiker.
Buhanga EcoPark: Buhanga EcoPark is a sacred forest where kings in the Rwandese tradition had their initiations into kingships in the African Traditional Society days. However today the forest has become a symbol of the past traditions and is open for touring especially for people that want to learn more about Rwandan culture. For your experience at the eco-park, you take a trail through the park as you see different ritual places and symbols.
Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village: Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village is a village of Rwandan locals who host visitors to some of the Rwanda dances and songs and community traditions on their stay at the volcanoes. Tourists normally share in dances, storytelling, art, cultural rites, local games among other things. The village is next to Volcanoes National Park and is visited usually after your gorilla trekking or activities in Volcanoes National Park.
Dian Fossey Grave: Dian Fossey was a very influential figure in the world of gorillas who was killed in Rwanda and buried in Volcanoes national park, so when you visit the park you have an opportunity of trekking the dian Fossey trail that is a very interesting and monumental trek. For this trek you drive about 30 mins from the park to the trailhead and then you walk to the research camp where you spend some time; normally the visit to the Dian Fossey grave takes more than 4 hours and it starts in the morning.
Musanze Caves: Musanze town, where you find Volcanoes National Park is famously known for the musanze caves that you can visit while on your trip to the volcanoes. The caves give you an insight into the unique cultural history and symbols of the Rwandan people; you can also visit local markets in Musanze to experience the trading culture of the community and learn more about the people’s lifestyles.