Volcanoes National Park is the most visited national park in Uganda and the best gorilla safari destination for gorilla tracking compared to its counterparts Uganda and cong. It is just 3-4 hour’s drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital and its largest city. Volcanoes national park borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. It covers an area of about 160km². The area is protected by the Rwandan sector of the Virunga Mountains, range of six extinct and three active volcanoes and It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rainforest and bamboo. mountain gorillas made Rwanda famous and this was made so through the works of Dian Fossy who spent over 18 years studying the behaviors of these gorillas and Rwanda is one of the few countries in the East and Central Africa to house these endangered mountain gorillas in the world over 370 out of 900 individuals. Not only gorillas that are found in the jungle forest but also other primate species such as the golden monkey, black-fronted duiker, buffalo, Spotted Hyena and bushbuck are also found in the forest. There are also reported to be some elephants in the park, though these are now very rare the park. The park is also said to be a home to over recorded bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
Activities done at the park
MOUNTAIN GORILLA TRACKING
A trip to Rwanda is incomplete when gorilla tracking is exclusive; gorillas are regarded as the most sought of activities done at the park, watching these few remaining giant gorillas in their natural setting. Rwanda is one of the few countries in the world to house these giant species, it’s a home to over 370 individuals and tracking gears are recommended such as long sleeved shirts or blouses, cameras, strong boots, walking stick will be provided to you in case interested among others. Rwanda now has 10 gorilla groups and 8 members are only allowed to track in each group every day. Before entering the forest to begin the activity you must have all the tracking gears needed for tracking gorillas such as strong shoes, boots, trousers, walking stick, 1 – 2 long sleeved shirts, a photo of film camera, Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, bottled water and packed food as meeting gorillas is unpredictable it may take half or full day, and ounce gorillas are met you are strictly allowed spending with them only one hour.
Rules for tracking mountain gorillas
- At least a 5-meter distance should try to be observed at all times (15 feet) from the gorillas,
- You must stay in tight group when you are near the gorillas,
- Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully,
- Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals
- Keep your voices down at all times. though, it is OK to ask the guide questions,
- The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early
- Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass,
- After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters from the gorillas.
- Do not try and to take picture and do not attempt to run away. Running away will increase the risk,
GOLDEN MONKEY TRACKING
This activity is also enjoyed at the park as these primate species are regarded as endangered they are fabulous fan to watch in their natural setting. They can be tracked either in the morning or evening. Tracking gears are needed as they are also found in the bamboo forest.
DIAN FOSSEY GRAVE HIKE
Dian Fossy made Rwanda more popular due to her works; she was a prominent researcher who carried out research on the behaviors of these giant gorillas for a period of over 18 years how ever she was killed by poachers whom she had made her self unpopular as she was against massive killing of gorillas by the poachers. Her body was buried in the volcanoes national park where she spent most of her life with the gorillas, her grave was made a tourist site and it’s rare to visit the gorillas without visiting her grave yard.
This is regarded as a very interesting activity, interacting with the local community as they reveal their talents in singing, dancing and drama, how they make fire, how women make weaves, and hunting skills among other. Most especially to those who are interested in learning more about the behaviors of the local people this activity is so rewarding to them.
ACCOMMODATIONS IN & ROUND THE PARK
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
Le Bambou Lodge
Kinigi Guest House