Situated in northwestern Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Since reopening in 1999, it has experienced a growing number of visitors each day, thanks in large part to its role as the world’s most popular mountain gorilla sanctuary. With fewer than 700 of this species left, tourists can catch a rare glimpse of the gorillas as they can nowhere else in the world. Be-yond gorillas, however, the park is also able to offer some of the country’s most spectacular scenery and diverse vegetation. It is part of the Virunga Conservation Area and covers more than 125km2, including five extinct volcanoes: Muhabura, Sabyinyo, Gahinga, Karisimbi and Bisoke. The latter two can be climbed during one or two-day treks.
Against this backdrop, tourists can hike through the lush bamboo and Hygenia rainforest, open grassland and swamp of Volcanoes National Park to discover golden monkeys, bush duiker, buffalo and spotted hyenas. You will not have to listen too hard before you hear one of the 178 recorded bird species in the park. Look through the gaps in the dense forest canopy and you will also see the breathtaking peaks of the volcanoes standing tall at over 4,500m.
Made famous as the research base of the late American primatologist Dian Fossey and, subsequently, as the setting for the film Gorillas in the Mist, the park continues to uphold its reputation as a destination for unrivaled wildlife encounters. The edges of Mt. Sabyinyo are also where you will find Fossey’s tomb, as she was buried among the gorillas she grew to love so dearly.
Experienced guides will take you through this impressive montane ecosystem, where you can witness the sights and sounds of the heart of Africa.
Volcanoes NP is open for gorilla tracking and hiking throughout the year. Sightings of gorillas are almost guaranteed and don’t depend on the weather. However, the trails become very slippery in heavy rain and hiking is definitely easier in the Dry season months, from June to August, and to a lesser extent in early September, December and January.