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Volcanoe National Park

Situated on the steep volcanic slopes of the Virunga mountain range this national park is home to half the worlds remaining population of endangered mountain gorilla.

Fast Facts

Major Attractions
  • Home of the endangered mountain gorilla
  • Dian Fossey’s research centre and burial site
  • Bustling market town of Ruhengeri(Musanze) at the foot of the Virungas
  • Solidified lava flow  that forms a natural bridge at Musanze
  • Lake Burera, Ruhonda and Karago
Activities
  • Mountain gorilla trekking
  • Trekking to extinct volcanoes
  • Visit Dian Fossey’s research centre and the burial site she shares with Digit(her favourite gorilla) and other gorillas she researched and studied
Size
  • 125 sq km
Location
  • Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, bordering Mgahinga National Park and Virunga National Park. Parc National des Vocans is Africa’s oldest National Park.

ABOUT

Volcano National Park protects the Rwandan side of the Virungas volcanoes, a range of extinct and 3 live volcanoes which border Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the highest peak of Karisimbi reaching 4,507m these volcanoes shelter some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Dian Fossey, the world re-known primatologist researched and documented the life of these magnificent creatures. A trek to view the mountain gorilla’s will provide you with one of the most dramatic, thrilling and poignant wildlife experiences possible.

Trekkers to see the gorilla’s will be immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colourful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey. Your trek will be enchanting as you weave through overhanging vines, moss-covered hagenia trees and giant lobelias that thrive in the tropical climate. You may spot golden monkeys or see buffalo, bush duiker and a wide variety of bird life. But the high point, of course, one of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth, will be spending an hour with the gentle but giant gorillas as they go about their daily life, feeding, playing, resting and raising their young. At the end of your visit you will understand what kept conservationist Dian Fossey living in this same forest for 18 years protecting these wonderful animals.

Having a close encounter with mountain gorillas is a heart warming experience that you will never forget. Regardless of the arduous trekking you may have to undertake, the hardship of the trek will be forgotten once you make eye contact with your first gorilla. The sensation of kinship is immediate and overwhelming. David Attenborough claimed that ‘there is more meaning and understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than any other animal I know.’

WILDLIFE 

The park contains fourteen species of primates including gorilla, chimpanzee, red colobus monkey, crested mangabey and the rare golden monkey. Other wildlife include the rarely seen forest elephant, smaller than its savannah counterpart, giant forest hog, black fronted spotted hyena, bushbuck, black fronted duiker and buffalo.

There are about 178 bird species recorded, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Rwenzori Mountains.

GEOGRAPHY

Parc National des Volcans is a celebrated natural habitat compounding five of the eight Virunga volcanoes (Karisimbi (4,507 m), Visoke (3,711m), Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabinyo (3,534). The Park boasts a rich variety of ecosystems teaming with carefully blended evergreen rainforests and bamboo, scanty grassland, swamp and heath.

CLIMATE

The climate is constantly damp with daytime temperatures averaging 50°F (10°C).

Dry Season: June to September and January and February are the driest months and best for gorilla trekking, but be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms at any time.

Rainy Season: long rains are from mid-march to mid-May when many roads become impassible. It also usually rains in October and November.

NOTE

A trek to view the gorilla’s can entail anything from a 1 to 4 hour trek through the forest, led by experienced trackers who have spent their entire life living in or close to the forest. The trek can be quite arduous and conditions can be challenging at such high altitudes.

Viewing of the mountain gorilla’s is limited to 1 hour and there is a maximum of 8 visitors per group.  Booking to secure a place on a trek is recommended as soon as practicable.

WHEN TO VISIT

The dry season that occurs June through to September and January through to February are the best months to visit the mountain gorillas.

Accommodation at Volcanoe National Park

Virunga Safari Lodge, Virunga Mountains, Uganda, SafariHQ

Virunga Safari Lodge

The magnificent Virunga Safari Lodge, set on a stunning hillside, has eight bandas with a panoramic view of the Virunga volcanoes and the lakes Ruhondo and Bulera.