Parc National Des volcans ( Volcanoes National Park )
Parc National des volcans ( Volcanoes National Park ) lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The Parc National Des Volcans Park is known as a haven for the mountain Gorillas. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains ( Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhavura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo ), which are covered in rain forest and bamboo. The park was the base for the late zoologist Dian Fossey..
A dramatic chain of seven volcanoes, this park is the definitive place to track the rare and captivating mountain gorillas. Forming a natural border with the Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC ) and Uganda, the area is one of the most beautiful in Africa. Dian Fossey’s account of her years with the gorillas and her battle with poachers and government officials is detailed in Gorillas in the Mist, a must-read before visiting this place. There is no habitat more evocative of the gorillas than the densely forested slopes of the Virunga volcanoes. Coming upon the Susa family of 35 on the slopes of Karisimbi is one of life rescue’s unforgettable moments – no bars, no windows, three silver-backs eye the proceedings as infants and juveniles frolic on every side.
An exhilarating trek through the cultivated foothills of the Virunga offers stirring views in all directions. Then, abruptly, the trail enters the national park, immersing trekkers in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colorful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, and littered with fresh spoor of the Mountains’ elusive populations of buffalo and elephant. Through gaps in the forest canopy, the magnificent peaks are glimpsed, easily accessible and among the highest in Africa, beckoning an ascent.
The bustling market town of Ruhengeri has a memorable setting at the base of the Virunga. On the outskirts of town, the natural bridge at Musanze – a solidified lava flow – is a fascinating relic of the volcanic activity that shaped this scenic area. Also within easy day tripping distance of Ruhengeri are the seldom visited but lovely Lakes Burera, Ruhondo and Karago. Ruhengeri offers a good selection of reasonably-priced small hotels and guest houses, including the newly renovated hotel Gorilla’s Nest. Visitors could also base themselves in Gisenyi or Kigali and – with an early start – head to the Parc des Volcans and Ruhengeri as a day trip.
Species in Parc National Des volcans
Parc National Des volcans is best known for the Mountain Gorilla ( Gorilla beringei beringei ). Other mammals include: golden monkey ( Cercopithecus mitis kandti ), black-fronted duiker ( Cephalous Niger ), buffalo ( Syncerus caffer ), Spotted Hyena ( Crocuta Crocuta ) and bush-buck ( Tragelaphus scriptus ). There are also reported to be some forest elephants in the park, though these are now very rare. There are 178 recorded bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
Activities in Parc National Des volcans
The majority of revenue from tourism goes towards maintaining the park and conserving the wildlife. The remainder goes to the government and ( around 10 % ) to local projects in the area to help local people benefit from the large revenue stream generated by the park.
Ruhengeri is a 90-minute drive from Kigali city>. One can access Ruhengeri from Kigali either by private vehicle or by public taxi means. If interested in gorilla tracking, you will need to organize your own transport from Ruhengeri town to the park boundaries, where you will continue your trip on foot. Still the park can be accessed from Uganda, Burundi and Congo.
Accommodation to Parc National Des volcans
Among the luxury lodges at this park include the Gorilla’s nest lodge, Virunga lodge, overlooking the Virunga volcanoes and shimmering Lake Ruhondo and Bulera, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge that has stunning views of the folding hills and rolling landscape that defines this part of Rwanda.