Volcanoes National park which is in French called ‘Parc National des Volcano’ while as in Rwanda it’s called ‘Pariki y’Igihugu y’Ibirunga’. The park is located in the northwestern part of Rwanda, bordering Democratic Republic of Congo the part Virunga National park, Mgahinga National park in Uganda.
Volcanoes National park, is a habitat for the wild endangered mountain Gorillas, golden monkeys. The park is also a home to five of the eight volcanoes including the Bisoke, Karisimbi ,Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo. The national Park spans 160 km which is covered by bamboo and rainforest.
The volcanoes park is a former base for the famous zoologist Dian Fossey.
Volcanoes National park, was gazetted in 1925 and the area is bordered by Mikeno, Bisoke and Karisimbi mountains. These areas where bound to protect the mountain Gorillas from poachers. This was one of the 1st National parks to be created in Africa.
Volcanoes National park borders were extended into Rwanda and Congo. This happened in order to create the Albert National park an area of 8091 km which was run by the Belgian colonial. After sometimes in 1958 ,700 hectares of the park were cleared for human settlement.
Volcanoes National Park was the base for the American naturalist Dian Fossey as a research center for the mountain Gorillas.
Dian Fossey arrived in the 1967 and she set up the Karisoke Research centre which is located between Visoke and Karisimbi.
She spent all her life in the park protecting the mountain Gorillas from extinction and also created awareness to the community about the importance of the endangered mountain Gorillas.
Dian Fossey was murdered by assailants at night when she was sleeping, she died in the 1985 however during the investigation they realized that the poachers where behind her murder since she has spent all her life fighting against them. She was a famous person who portrayed a big picture in the film of Gorillas in the Mist and she was buried in the park near her research center.
Volcanoes National park, turned into a battlefield and this happened during the Rwandan Civil war, when the park headquarters were attacked in the 1992. During this period the research center was abandoned causing all the tourist activities to be stopped at that moment.
The activities resumed in 1999 when the area was safe for tourists and the army was guiding the park headquarters. There were rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda however they were stopped by the Rwandan army with no threat to tourism running smoothly in the park.
Volcanoes National Park Eco System
Volcanoes national park inhabits both Fauna and flora. The flora in this area are grown at the Montane forest which is between the 2400 and 2500 mm. The bamboo forest is covered by 30% of the park area, while the slopes in the south west part are Hagenia hypericum forest which covers about 30% of the park area. The vegetation from 3500 to 4200m is characterized by Lobelia wollastonii, senecio eric eroseni of 25% of the park. The grassland is 4400m with the thicket meadows, marshes, swamps and lakes however the total area is very small.
Volcanoes National park fauna is the best for the mountain Gorillas and the national park is widely known for Gorilla trekking. The biggest number of primates are the golden monkey. There are other mammals including the black duiker, Buffaloes, Spotted hyena, over 700 bushbucks, African Elephant .There are over 200 bird species in the park and over 20 subspecies to the Virunga and Rwenzori mountains.
Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National park are under the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and it’s the board which governs all the tourist activities in Rwanda and Volcanoes National park.
Volcanoes National park activities include; Gorilla trekking over 10 habituated gorilla families that are open for tourists and only 80 permits per a day. A gorilla permit in Volcanoes National park costs $15000, after acquiring it from a trusted tour operator and arrive in the country. Early morning our guide will pick you up and drive you to the park headquarters for a gorilla briefing at 7:00am .when you finally meet the mountain Gorillas you will spend 1 hour with the mountain Gorillas.
Other activities in the park include Golden monkey trekking, Karisimbi volcano climbing, tour the lakes and caves of the park, Visit the tomb of the zoologist Dian Fossey, Climbing bisoke volcanoes, Visiting the Ibyiwacu cultural village.
Some people may wonder why the permit fee is higher than the other countries inhabiting the mountain gorillas including Uganda which charges 600 USD and Democratic Republic of Congo charges 400 USD. However the money of revenue from the tourism sector helps on the conservation of the wildlife. The 10% goes to the government of Rwanda, to help on the local projects in the area to benefit from the large sums of revenue.
There other events that take place in the Volcanoes National park including Kwita Izina ,which is a baby gorilla ceremony celebration which takes place on every 1st of September.