Volcanoes national park is located in the northwestern part of Rwanda in Ruhengeri Musanze district near the edge with the Virunga national park and Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga national park in Uganda. It’s just about 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital and its largest city to Kinigi park headquarters.
The park covers an area of about 160sqkm and its one of the oldest park in Africa being gazetted in 1929 during the Belgian colonial times. It was first named Albert National park (when it was still part of the Virunga National Park of Congo). Volcanoes national park is the most highly recognized Rwanda national park being that it hosts the endangered mountain gorillas; home also to the rare golden monkey, mammal species like spotted hyena, buffaloes, elephant, black-fronted duiker, and bushbuck can also be seen. It also hosts over 250 species of birds including at 29 endemics to Rwenzori Mountains and the Virungas, it’s also home to six extinct and three active volcanoes situated in Rwanda, Uganda and DRC.
There are lots of things to do in this park. However, mountain gorilla tracking is the major tourist attraction in the volcanoes national park and this safari activity is regarded as the most interesting and magnificent adventurous activity in Rwanda and Rwanda is known as the best gorilla safari destination in the world. Volcanoes national park is regarded as the best gorilla safari destination in the world, these apes can easily seen playing on bamboo and rain forest or covered slopes of Volcanoes. These apes where first studied by George Schaller in 1960s and more recently an American zoologist and primatologist Dian Fossy 1967 who studied the behaviors of these remaining mountain apes to human standard for a period of over 18 years and she conducted her research in the Visoke and Karisimbi volcanoes that was yet to be known as Karisoke research center. He fought tooth and nail to stamp out poaching activities out of Rwanda and Without her persistent efforts and the work of committed locals since her death, there is possibly wouldn’t be any gorillas remaining in Rwanda, and Rwanda could not be much known in terms of tourism as its today. She was killed by the said poachers in 1985 that she had made herself very unpopular.
Her work was developed in a film “gorillas in the mist” which is a must read to any tourist interested in gorilla tracking in the volcanoes national park, as it gives you an insight on what you will find in the forest. Volcanoes national park is a home to 10 gorilla habituated groups ready to receive visitors every day and in each group only eight members are allowed to track, this means 80 members track in volcanoes national park every day. Two gorilla groups are reserved for research purposes.