Things to do in Volcanoes National Park
Things to do in Volcanoes National Park : Volcanoes National Park also known as Parc National Des Volcanos in French or Pariki yígihugu y’ibirunga in Kinyarwanda is arguably the most toured destination in Rwanda. It was set aside in 1925 to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas making it one of the oldest national parks in Africa. Volcanoes also houses various species of other wildlife and animals like buffaloes, bush pigs, forest elephants, hogs, golden monkeys, chimpanzees and various bird species. The National Park shares borders with Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo which also are a home to the endangered mountain gorillas to thrill gorilla tours.
Activities in and near Volcanoes National Park
With the various species of wildlife and animals in Volcanoes National Park, there is so much activity that can be done in addition to the famous gorilla trekking. The geography of the park and its neighboring features can spice up your tour; Volcanoes is home to five of eight volcanic Virunga mountains that is Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabinyo.
This is the main and most sought-after activity at the Volcanoes National Park. Visitors all over the world that visit Rwanda love to engage in this tiring and fun activity. With 10 habituated gorilla families, Rwanda is the second country after Uganda having the largest number of these primates. It takes 2 to 6 hours to trek a gorilla group and when found, visitors can only spend one hour with them. Trekking gorillas like golden monkeys officially starts at 7 am with briefing and a permit goes for $1500.
With 5 of the 8 Virunga Mountains in Volcanoes National Park, a hike on any of the 5 will do you justice. Get to see the spectacular views of Kigali city’s hills and the beautiful surrounding communities. The most hiked mountains of the 5 are Karisimbi and Bisoke.
The fifth highest mountain on the African continent and the highest of the Virunga Mountains at 4507 meters above sea level is worth a hike when visiting Volcanoes National Park. The biggest advantage of hiking this particular mountain is the possibility of coming across the famous mountain gorillas during your climb, hitting two birds with one stone. You also get a chance to see wildlife that calls Volcanoes home- birds like the Rwenzori species Turaco and Batis and other primates like the vervet and black & white colobus monkeys.
The hike takes 2 days and you choose to either have your hiking equipment or get them from the offices before the hike at a cost. The cost of the hike per day and person is $150.
At the top of the mountain, the amazing views of the park and the mountain top itself come to light; the Crater Lake at the peak makes the hike a whole lot more memorable. Unlike Mountain Karisimbi that takes 2 days to climb to the peak, it takes only 6 hours to reach the top and also descend. The cost is $75 per day per person.
Golden monkey trekking
This activity can greatly be combined with mountain gorilla trekking, on different days. Golden monkey trekking begins at 7 am with briefing and thereafter the actual trek at 8 am. It is not as tiring as gorilla trekking because it takes a few hours to find a golden monkey family in the highlands of the mountains as compared to the thickets Gorilla Mountains are found. A permit costs only $100.
The Dian Fossey Grave
For her contribution to the conservation and study of the gorillas, it is important to learn more about the late primatologist by taking a hike to her grave in the park. Her work is also available at Karisoke Research Centre where she carried out most of her research.
Other activities that can be done at Volcanoes National Park include community tours, visiting the Musanze caves and the twin lakes hike.