Along with the neighboring parks of Mgahinga and Virunga, Volcanoes National Park is one of the last strongholds of wild mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Tropical flora, bamboo forest, and five individual volcanoes cover the park’s more than 60 square miles (160 square kilometers), which visitors explore on regulated wildlife tours.
Volcanoes National Park’s biggest draw is its flora and fauna. Travelers can enjoy intimate encounters with gorillas, golden monkeys, and other animals on supervised rainforest treks. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Kigali on a day trip, or widen your perspective of Rwanda on a multi-day tour, benefiting from a comprehensive itinerary to combine a park visit with other national landmarks, such as Akagera National Park or Kigali Genocide Memorial.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The mountain gorillas and golden monkeys are a must-see for nature lovers.
- Don’t forget your hiking boots, rain jacket, and long-sleeved tops. The rainforest is a mosquito playground, so it’s best to keep skin covered.
- Park permits are expensive, so take advantage of multi-day tours that include meals, permits, and park admission in the price.
- Be aware that treks involve a lot of uphill hiking, with altitude reaching upwards of 14,000 feet (4,500 meters).
How to Get There
Most tours offer hassle-free, round-trip transfer to the ranger station from the airport or capital. Private transfer is recommended, as public transport only goes as far as Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri), the closest town to the park, which is about 9 miles (13 kilometers) from the park.
When to Get There
Showers are a year-round occurence in the tropical region. Still, it’s best to avoid trekking during the rainy season from February to May and September to December. June, July, and August are generally the driest months, lending themselves to rainforest exploration.
Gorilla Population Growth
The gorilla population in Virunga Massif, which includes Volcanoes National Park, has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Though the great apes are still classified as endangered, sustainable conservation has led the species back from the brink of extinction—thanks to a policy of regulated ecotourism, locally shared revenue, and conservation education.