Things to do In Volcanoes National Park
MOUNTAIN GORILLA TRACKING
In Rwanda, mountain gorilla trekking at Volcanoes National Park is the most well-liked tourist attraction. Hiking across woodlands and steep terrain is required for this activity as you look for a species that looks or behaves like humans. Because they are an endangered subspecies of gorillas, mountain gorillas are unique. There are just 1000 left on earth, and there are none in zoos. One of the top 5 wildlife encounters is thought to be one with them. 30% of the mountain gorilla population that is still alive today is found in Volcanoes National Park. The remaining (50%) are located in Uganda, while 20% are found in the Congo’s Virunga National Park.
The likelihood of sighting mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is very high thanks to the country’s gorilla tourism industry. In order to find one of the Rwandan gorilla families, gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park entails going through thick bamboo forests and up steep mountain slopes. One of the most thrilling and memorable wildlife encounters in Africa is the last meeting with the primates. Although tracking gorillas is difficult, seeing them in the wild is the ultimate wildlife experience.
The Volcanoes National Park’s gorilla trek begins at around 7:30am with a briefing from park staff and rangers. Participants are split up into groups and allocated to a specific gorilla family during the briefing. The groups that are closer to the park offices are given to the hikers who are less fit. The group sets off to look for the gorillas at 8:00 a.m. with the help of park Rangers. As was said previously, you have a choice of 10 habituated groups or families when doing gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. It doesn’t matter whose group you end up with; witnessing mountain gorillas is magnificent. Just watching the small ones roll about and play may keep you occupied for hours.
Mountain gorillas are constantly curious and playful. Some may approach you directly, but they don’t mean any harm. It’s crucial to follow your Guides’ recommendations and maintain your composure when spending time with the gorillas. Never take a quick step. Depending on the gorilla group you are assigned and their exact location on the day of the walk, gorilla tracking in the Volcanoes National Park can take anywhere from one to six hours.
Gorillas live in groups of eight to thirty people, each of which is headed by a dormant silverback. Typically, you can find them eating leaves and shoots. The gang may be warned if they detect intruders among them as the silverback arrives to see what’s going on. If there is no threat, the silverback will just keep feeding or sleeping with his family. The rest of the group will act as if you don’t exist by following the silverback’s example. Follow the Rangers’ directions while you are with the gorillas. Once you have been given permission, only begin snapping pictures. Even when a gorilla gets close to you, avoid touching it. Keep at least 7 meters away from the closest gorilla.
Do not encircle the gorillas or, out of excitement, make loud noises. Only gorilla trekking is permitted in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. A one-hour gorilla encounter. Spend some time observing the family.
Compared to chimpanzee families, gorilla families are quite tranquil. The silverback sets an example by being charismatic. Even if he seems to be distracted by other things, he will be watching all of your actions even though he rarely uses violence. The Rangers will guide you back to the park headquarters after an hour of interacting with the gorillas, where your drivers will be ready to transport you to the hotel.
Prepare yourself physically and psychologically to finish the task regardless of how long things take in order to have the best experience possible while tracking the gorillas. You’ll get hungry or thirsty, so carry water and packed snacks with you. Keep your body covered by wearing appropriate hiking footwear while travelling. No of the season, a raincoat must be on a gorilla tracking pack list.
When in the park, it’s crucial to constantly abide by the gorilla trekking regulations. Gorilla trekking is not permitted for anyone under the age of fifteen. This is due to the possibility that younger individuals may not comply with instructions while trekking with the primates in Volcanoes National Park.
GOLDEN MONKEY TRACKING
Golden monkeys are a rare species that are currently threatened with extinction and are known to have distinctive personalities. They can currently be found in Virunga Mountains. The yellow spots that are visible all over their bodies make them simple to identify. The only way to distinguish the Golden monkeys from other primates is by their noses, which are also known as “the Old-world monkey.” The golden monkeys have a distinctive feature, which is that whereas most monkeys have nostrils that point to the sides, the nostrils of the golden monkey’s face upward.
The volcanoes are where Rwanda’s golden monkey trekking takes place, and there is just one session per day that begins in the morning. The headquarters is only fifteen minutes from the park, therefore those who want to participate in the golden monkey trekking are urged to arrive there by 7:00 am for a briefing before the trip begins.
There are two troops of golden monkeys in Rwanda, the largest of which is the Sabinyo troop, which has 80 to 100 monkeys and is the most popular troop in the country. The other troop, which is significantly less numerous, is situated in the volcanoes.
Since the majority of them reside directly beneath Volcanoes Mountain and are frequently spotted swinging from bamboo branches in the forest, the monkeys are simple to locate. The tourists have an hour to observe the animals and learn about their various traits from the knowledgeable tour guide who is accompanying them. The guests will see monkeys with short tails that were amputated after they became entangled in bamboo branches. Following the bamboo shoots that the monkeys always leave behind after eating is the quickest method to locate them.
The farmers’ fields next to the forest are where the monkeys wander about and eat the cones and other food, making it simple for people to observe them as they swing back and forth.
There is no minimum or maximum age requirement for tracking golden monkeys. Starting at around 7:30 am, a briefing is held at the park headquarters to begin the process of tracking golden monkeys. Tourists may choose to hire a porter to help with additional luggage after the briefing before heading to the starting location. A shorter and less strenuous activity than going in search of gorillas is tracking golden monkeys. However, because they are smaller and do not leave behind obvious signs of their prior location, like mountain gorillas, it takes some work to find them.
By keeping an eye out for recent bamboo shoot remains, trackers can find them. The weather and group movements determine how each day of tracking golden monkeys will proceed. It can be challenging to take shots of these monkeys because they are constantly moving about on tree tops (flash photography is permitted with these monkeys but not with mountain gorillas). The only times the monkeys remain motionless are when they seek shelter from the rain or excessive wind. They struggle to find their opponents due to the winds and must constantly be on the lookout for eagles. The optimum setting for your camera to capture images of these adorable creatures is a quick shutter speed.
Because they enjoy hopping from tree to tree, trackers frequently have to follow the monkeys once they’ve been spotted. Their lengthy tails aid in balance but risk being tangled in the bamboo branches and being severed. Some of the members have short tails as evidence of this. Golden monkeys that have been habituated to humans are not overly timid and may approach out of curiosity. Tourists are only permitted to spend an hour with the monkeys, just like with mountain gorillas.
You must be aware of a number of things in order to enjoy the Golden Monkey Trekking, some of them are as follows:
Flashes are not permitted on the cameras when shooting pictures since they scare the monkeys away. For the walk, you must bring food or snacks and drink.
A rain jacket will also be necessary because the local weather is erratic. You will be protected from the strong rains thanks to this, especially in the morning.
As a result of the slick terrain, you’ll also need to bring sturdy hiking boots, a wide-brimmed hat on hot days to protect you from the sun, and insect repellent to prevent bites.
You must have a golden monkey permit in order to engage in golden monkey tracking. A visitor may spend an hour with the primates under the permit. Permits can be purchased directly from the various national tourism authorities. Through the Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda. A tour operator can assist you with planning every aspect of your golden monkey trek, including obtaining the necessary permits, lodging, and transportation. In contrast to gorilla permits, the cost of golden monkey licenses is subject to regular fluctuation. Unlike gorilla permits, which must be reserved in advance, golden monkey permits are not required. On the tracking day, they might be acquired. Golden monkey sightings are highly likely.
Rwanda is a fantastic location for mountain hiking and trekking vacations because it occupies a sizable portion of the majestic Virunga Mountains. A range of eight volcanoes known as the Virunga Mountains stretches across the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Five of the eight volcanoes—Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Muhavura—are located close to Rwanda’s border. The Volcanoes National Park, the most well-known national park in Rwanda and the top location for hiking excursions there, is made up of the five mountains that make up the park.
With their rich woods, diverse vegetation zones, stunning crater lakes, gorgeous landscapes, and distinctive mountain life, the Virungas are a nature lover’s paradise. The Virunga Mountains and the Albertine Rift Valley, where the mountains are located, are home to a variety of wildlife, including mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, buffaloes, forest elephants, and several endemic birds that are high on the wish lists of many birdwatchers.
Four of the Virunga volcanoes in Rwanda allow hiking, but Mount Sabyinyo does not because of its massive craters and jagged ridges. Therefore, Mt. Sabyinyo was deemed hazardous for climbing in Rwanda until a safer trail was found. Due to its location at the core of the Virunga chain and where the borders of all three countries converge, the peak, which may currently only be walked on its Ugandan side, offers one of the most rewarding walks in the Virungas.
There are numerous lovely pathways along the mountains, some of which may be less difficult for experienced hikers, besides the main trails that lead to the tops of the four volcanoes.
Mount Bisoke crater lake hike
On the edge of the country’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Mount Bisoke (3711m/12175ft). It is a dormant volcano that is entirely located in Rwanda and has a huge crater lake at the peak that is roughly 400 meters in diameter. The most well-known trail for hiking excursions in Volcanoes National Park leads to Mount Bisoke Crater Lake, where hikers strive to reach the stunning crater lake at the summit. Mountain Bisoke is likewise situated nearer the heart of the Virungas and provides breathtaking views of the mountain range. Even the sharp top of Mt. Mikeno in the Congo is visible. Along the walk, there’s a strong possibility you’ll spot gorillas and golden monkeys.
This walk can be classified as demanding to difficult, but even those with little prior hiking experience can complete it. However, in order to fully enjoy the trek, one must be in good physical condition. With 4 hours of climbing up and 2 hours of climbing down, the round trip takes roughly 6 hours.
Trail to Lake Ngezi on mount Bisoke
In close proximity to Mount Gahinga, on the side of Mt. Bisoke, is a stunning crater lake called Lake Ngezi. Instead of hiking to the pinnacle of Mount Bisoke, one might use the relatively easy route. Depending on your level of fitness, the round-trip walk will take you 4 to 5 hours.
Mountain Karisimbi two-day walk
The fifth-highest mountain in Africa, Mount Karisimbi (4507m/14787ft) is the highest volcano in the Virungas. Due of its proximity to the equator, the mountain has snowfall during a few months of the year, which is an unusual occurrence.
This is arguably the greatest volcano to climb in Volcanoes National Park for experienced hikers who may prefer a longer and more difficult journey in the Virungas. The Mount Karisimbi climb is a two-day excursion that includes sleeping on the summit for one night at an elevation of 3700m/12139ft, unlike all the other volcanoes, which are for one-day hikes.
Rwanda and Uganda share Mount Muhavura (4127m/13540ft), which is located there. It is situated at the beginning/end of the chain of volcanoes. Wonderful views of the hilly terrain can be enjoyed throughout the walk-up Mount Muhavura. Below, one may see the conjoined lakes Burera and Ruhondo. There is a stunning crater lake at the top of Mount Muhavura. There is a 6–8 hour round journey. Due to how high it is, you must be in good physical and endurance condition.
Volcanoes National Park’s Mount Gahinga is the park’s smallest mountain at 3474 meters/11398 feet. It is the park’s least-hiked trail. Before tackling the more difficult climbs in the chain, this may be a nice mountain for beginners to start with.
Both the dry and wet seasons are suitable for hiking. The months from June to August and December to February are considered the “dry seasons,” when there is less rain and more sunshine. The greatest time to climb is during the dry season when the trails are dry and simpler to climb. March, April, May, and September, October, and November are the other months that make up the wet seasons. During these months, there are often showers, which make the trails exceedingly muddy and the hike challenging. However, if you are up for the effort of a difficult hike, the wet season may prove to be the perfect time to go hiking because the beauty is at its best.
The Northern Province has 52 caverns with 15.2 km of cave tunnels, the majority of which were formed from Cenozoic volcanic rocks.
Without a visit to the Musanze caves, a safari in Rwanda would unquestionably be lacking. The Musanze caves, which are located in Rwanda’s northwestern Volcanoes National Park, are definitely worth a visit. Save some time during your Rwanda gorilla trip in Volcanoes National Park to explore the two-kilometer-long Musanze Caves beneath. In order to diversify tourism offerings in this land of a thousand hills, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) added trips to the Musanze caverns to the market in 2013. The caverns are located in the Musanze District in the north of the nation. The area has undergone significant renovations, including the installation of tourist pathways, trails, and staircases that lead to the caves’ gloomy interior, which depicts an image of a house with numerous rooms and hallways.
The most popular cave is the 2-kilometer long Musanze Cave. It is located on the campus of Innes University and is in a volcanic area that dates back 65 million years, where lava flows helped form the Albertine Rift Valley. The cave is a component of the volcanic lava beds from Bisoke and Sabyinyo.
Musanze caves are a hidden treasure of the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda. The caves offer visitors with an opportunity to get lost in nature and take in good moments in the area. You will spot different types of bats and take photos of them as your enjoying several points of the cave. It is a breathtaking experience offering memorable moments.
The majority of the cave’s 31 entrances are ceiling collapses. A sizable bat colony resides in the main cave, which has an opening the size of a cathedral. The collapses produce an amazing variety of colorful light shafts that shine into the cave.
For many years, people have sought refuge in Musanze Cave during times of war, and there was a massacre there during the genocide. Visitors are urged to show respect when investigating because it continues to be of great value to the community.
The area is technically protected and managed by Rwanda Development Board and the only permitted methods of entry are two and a half-hour long guided tour.
The Kanzeze, Mudende, and Busasamana sectors of the 1 km-long Busasamana Cave connect to a network of other caverns, and these sectors in turn lead to the Mugongo, Bwezi, and Kabari caves.
Since it is situated at the base of the Volcanoes National Park, you may simply visit it in the evening after going gorilla tracking.
The Buhanga Eco- Park, known for the coronation of former Rwandan kings, the panoramic view of the twin lakes Burera and Ruhondo, the ascent of the Karisimbi Volcano, the ascent of the Bisoke Volcano, the trek to the grave of Dian Fossey, the ascent of the golden monkeys, and the famous ascent of the mountain gorillas are all thrilling additional spectacular sights and views in the neighborhood.
VISITING DIAN FOSSEY GRAVE
One of the greatest and most well-known primatologists of the 20th century was Dian Fossey. From 1967 until her death in 1985, she was regarded as an authority on all matters relating to the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Dian Fossey, who was born in 1932, spent the majority of her life researching mountain gorillas both in their natural habitat and at her Karisoke Research Camp/Center in Rwanda, which is situated between Mount Bisoke and Karisimbi. She promoted the protection of mountain gorillas from widespread poaching and increased public awareness of their existence. It is widely assumed that mountain gorillas would either have gone extinct or had their population substantially decreased without her efforts.
Dr. Richard Leakey, a renowned paleoanthropologist, extended an invitation to Dian Fossey to travel to Africa so she could research mountain gorillas there. Dr. Leakey believed that by researching gorillas, the closest living cousins of humans, we could learn more about our ancestry. As Dian Fossey gained more knowledge about the great apes, she shifted her research focus to gorilla protection and conservation. Contrary to popular belief, Dian Fossey opposed gorilla tourism in Africa and believed that gorillas deserved to be left alone in their natural habitat. Although some of the tactics she employed to stop poachers may have been seen extreme, she always had the needs of mountain gorillas in mind.
Unfortunately, animosity is sometimes drawn to good deeds. In 1985, Dian Fossey was assassinated in a secluded home at the summit of the mountains. Some of the gorillas she worked so hard to protect were buried close to her. Although the circumstances of her death are still unknown; it is thought that they had something to do with her ardent convictions and desire to stop poaching and rescue gorillas. Despite her tragic passing, Dian Fossey’s legacy and work live on, and a cinematic adaptation of her best-known book Gorillas in the Mist, which chronicles her personal life and work with gorillas, is a must-see. Her efforts were not in useless, even after she passed away.
One of the most popular safari things to do while in Volcanoes National Park for a gorilla trip is trekking to the Dian Fossey Tomb. From the park headquarters, visitors must travel 30 minutes by car to the trailhead, where they can access the Karisoke research camp. From there, they must walk 10 minutes to reach the park’s boundary. It takes an hour to an hour and a half to walk from the park’s edge to the research Centre, where Dian’s burial is located. Along the way, you can see forest hogs, forest elephants, various primates, and other bird species.
This walk is an amazing experience on all levels—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Finding out about someone who was so dedicated and created a legacy that endures even today is incredibly motivating. The walk entails climbing hills and trudging through forests, so patience and a certain level of athleticism are needed.
You can see the house where Dian Fossey was enigmatically slain in 1985, but it’s more tranquil to visit the location where she was laid to rest close to Digit, her favorite gorilla, and roughly 20 other mountain gorillas who were either killed by poachers or perished for other reasons.
Except for the incline and mud at the beginning of the trip, which could be challenging for new hikers, reaching Dian Fossey’s grave isn’t particularly challenging. However, in order to fully enjoy the hike, one must be in reasonable physical condition. Compared to the more well-liked gorilla trekking, the walk to the Dian Fossey is less crowded with tourists. However, you might want to make reservations in advance, especially between June and September when demand is at its highest. The walk is typically scheduled for early in the day. Morning briefings with rangers are held in the Kinigi park office for visitors. Visitors are driven for 30 minutes to the base of Mount Bisoke (the starting site) following the briefing.
The main park guide will give you a walking stick before you start the trek so that you may more easily negotiate some of the challenging terrain. You’ll go the same route as hikers on Mount Bisoke do. There will be many breaks when you can gaze at the breathtaking views and snap pictures of significant markers. Beautiful views of the Virunga ranges and the DR Congo may be found in the region surrounding the graveyard and former Karisoke research station. Visit the ruins of the home where Dian Fossey was killed as well. Ask the tour guides questions regarding Dian Fossey’s work while taking as many pictures of the location as you can. It takes one to two hours to return to the head trail.
VISITING IBY’IWACU CULTURAL VILLAGE
One of the essential elements that distinguishes Rwanda safaris from other travel opportunities is a cultural tour of the Iby’Iwacu traditional hamlet. You have a unique opportunity to interact with locals, see their environment, and learn about our culture and traditions at Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village. Receive a warm welcome from the locals as a privileged guest as they proudly demonstrate many facets of their customs and beliefs to you. The only way to get to know individuals is to spend time with them, engage in their everyday activities, and relate to them most of all.
Visit Iby’Iwacu village to share with the locals your home and heritage assets, including local customs, activities, artefacts, and ways of life. It is situated close to Parc National des Volcans in Nyabigoma, Kinigi, and Musanze district, Northern Province. Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village is dedicated to displaying traditional dances, ways of life, and ways of living to tourists.
Visiting the King’s palace
Viewing the King’s palace, a location exhibiting how the ancient Kings reigned and ran their courts, is among the interesting things to do while visiting the Iby’iwacu cultural village. The highest authority belonged to the kings, whose judgements were binding and had to be carried out immediately. The king, queens, princesses, princes, clan chiefs, and important visitors kept watch over all kingdom events and celebrations inside the King’s palace. The King’s residence in Iby’iwacu provides a realistic representation of an ancient African kingdom setting, complete with all symbols of power and details on each clan. As you examine each symbol, a guide will assist in explaining it and providing all the information you need.
Meeting traditional healers.
Traditional healers in the past (even today) are very important to their communities. Every time someone was ill, they went to them for advice. These ancient healers treated ailments using herbs, roots, tree leaves, and plants. The healers have studied the use of these substances for many years and are skilled in their use, building on concepts and knowledge passed down over hundreds of generations. They take great pride in describing how traditional medicine endured colonial times and has continued to have an impact on modern medicine. You will encounter some of the traditional healers at the Gorilla Guardians Cultural Village who will be keen to explain how the native remedies operate. You are welcome to experiment with some of the native herbs since they only utilize natural therapies.
Taking local beer
Taking local beer in a group setting was a unifying action within the African traditional social context, in addition to the delight and relaxation that drinking alcohol brought. This was especially true during the many festivities, such as those for the new harvest and the arrival of babies. One had to partake in the drinking in order to blend in and appear engaged during these events. You may discover the making and fermentation processes for the banana brew while touring the Iby’iwacu cultural village. You must actively participate by consuming at least a sip of the finished product.
Traditional African dance, music, and drama
These are enjoyed by watching, listening to, and dancing them. These elements of African tradition and culture offer one a sense of identity. The Iby’iwacu Cultural Centre provides opportunity for tourists interested in traditional music to listen to a variety of distinctive local musical sounds from Iby’iwacu Cultural Village in Rwanda, such as the Ingoma, Amakondera, Umuduri, Inanga, Iningiri, Ibyivugo, and Agakenke. Each sound is distinct, featuring particular musical instruments and dancing techniques. One such is the Intore. Men dressed in grass and with small bells wrapped around their legs conduct this well-known warrior dance while holding out spears in a pretend fight or to celebrate defeating an adversary. These young people, with their cheerful faces and broad smiles, eager for you take part in their dances.
- 10 Days Kibale Forest Chimp Trek
- 15 Days Kibale Primates Safari
- 20 Days Unique Primates Of Kibale
- 8 Days Chimps & Red Tail Monkey
- 7 Days Kibale Birding In The Forest
- 25 Days Colobus Monkey Kibale
All About Kibale
- History Of The Park
- Things To Do
- Places To See
- Getting There