Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park also famously called as Parc National des Volcans (PNV) isn’t only Africa’s popular park but also a home to a portion of the world’s remaining endangered mountain gorillas. This makes it the most visited destination in Rwanda by most safari-goers. This stunning protected area sprawls along the Northwestern, Ruhengeri region Rwanda.

Volcanoes National Park also forms part of the Virunga region, established in 1925 making it one of the oldest parks that Africa has. Its creation back then was mainly to inhabit some of the rare mountain gorillas and presently, it houses more than just gorillas as there is also possibility to sight other species of wildlife. Within the Virunga Conservation Area, also exists Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda and the Virunga National Park in Congo.

Parc National des Volcans was originally established as the Albert National Park where it took its name from King Albert. At the time, it was under management of the Belgian colonist government till 1960 when it separated after Rwanda attained her independence.

It was during that time when its size also reduced up to currently 160sq.kms and the other part in the D.R. Congo ‘Virunga National Park’ occupied 7800sq.kms. Volcanoes National Park sprawls in an area with bamboo forest, heath, grassland, swamp that serve best as main habitats to its diverse species of wildlife.


Parc National des Volcans history dates back to Dian Fossey era, a popular American scientist and researcher who had 18 years researching about gorillas within the Virunga Volcanoes of East Africa. She arrived at Volcanoes area in 1967 although she was mysteriously murdered.

Parc National des Volcans was created as Albert National Park in 1925 named after King Albert I. It was managed by the Belgian colonialist government till the 1960s when it separated to make up Volcanoes National Park Rwanda and the Virunga National Park Congo. In the early 1990s, Volcanoes National Park unfortunately became a battle field during the outbreak of Rwanda genocide. This civil war impacted not only on the lives of human settlement but also the tourism activities up to 1999.


Mountain gorillas.

Parc National des Volcans is Rwanda’s leading tourist destination hosting a section of the world’s remaining 1063 mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei). These rare apes’ are the closest human species sharing about 95% of their DNA with humans and they range within the Afro-montane forests of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. This makes Volcanoes National Park Rwanda’s preferred destination for gorilla trekking by most holidaymakers.

Holidaymakers on Rwanda gorilla safari trek the 13 habituated gorilla families in Parc National des Volcans. They include among others Sabyinyo gorilla group, Amahoro family, Kwitonda, Agashya/Group 13, Ugenda, Susa A, Bwenge, Karisimbi or Susa B, Umubano. These groups can be trekked by visitors with valid gorilla permits, each Rwanda gorilla permit costing US $1500.

Rwanda gorilla permits for Parc National des Volcans are obtainable through the registered ground tour operator/company/agency in Rwanda or contact the reservation team at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Trekking Rwanda gorillas in the Parc National des Volcans is possible for persons above 15 years. It is advisable to arrange for your gorilla safari early at least 2 to 4 months so as to give room to your tour operator to secure a gorilla permit for you. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans is best done during the drier months of the year and this is from June, July, August, September and or December, January, February.

Golden monkeys.

Golden monkeys (Cercopithecus Mitis Kandti) are among the unique attractions safari-goers come to see in Parc National des Volcans of Rwanda. These are a sub-species of the Sykes Monkeys which are also popular as the blue monkeys, the endemic species within the Virunga Region. They also range within the Virunga National Park Congo, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Southwestern Uganda and Volcanoes National Park Rwanda.

Parc National des Volcans hosts 2 golden monkey troops already undergone through habituation. This makes this park the preferred destination not only for gorilla trekking but also for golden monkey tracking. Majority of the habituated golden monkeys range along the foothills of Mt. Sabyinyo Rwanda.

Virunga Volcanoes.

Parc National des Volcans also hosts magnificent volcanoes being strategically located within the Virunga Region. They include Mt. Karisimbi the tallest of the 8 Virunga Volcanoes rising up to about 4507m and in the African continent, it ranks as the 11th tallest. It lies on the Albertine rift and the East African rift valley making it an exceptional place to embark on hiking.

Bisoke also well-known as Visoke Volcano (3,711m) is 35kms North of Goma. This is a dormant volcano in the Virunga Area lying on the Albertine rift valley just at the border between Rwanda and Congo.

Other faunal species and attractions.

Parc National des Volcans/Volcanoes National Park protects more than mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park also houses the spotted hyenas, buffaloes, bush pigs, forest elephants, bush bucks, giant forest hogs.

Besides wildlife, it is also possible to explore the Dian Fossey tomb site for you to learn more about Dian Fossey’s gorilla conservation legacy; Musanze Caves, Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo.


Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is one of the Important Birding Areas you should expect to visit on Rwanda safaris. It houses more than 200 bird species making it one of the preferred bird watching destinations in Rwanda East Africa.

The birds you should expect to look for in Parc National des Volcans include red faced woodland warblers, handsome francolins, Rwenzori turacos, Grauer’s rush warblers, collared apalis, Archer’s ground robin, Rwenzori batis.

When to travel?

Parc National des Volcans is open to safari-goers throughout the year. But the best time to get here to enjoy your holiday is during the drier months of the year; from June to September and December to February. Safaris to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park can also be arranged during the wet/rainy season; from March, April to May and October to November.

Where to stay?

Some of the comfortable places to stay on safari in and around Parc National des Park include Bisate Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Da Vinci Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Garden Palace Hotel, Virunga Lodge and Kinigi Guesthouse.

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