Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park offers exceptional views from enchanted peaks, and stunning scenery from volcanic mountain slopes. The park is the Rwandan portion of the striking Virunga Volcanoes Mountains. This spectacular forested range is home to five of the eight Virunga volcanoes and is the absolute best place in Africa to track the endangered <a href="https://www.safarireviews.com/safaritype/gorilla-trekking>mountain gorilla"
Best Time To Go
June - September
Average Safari Cost
$300-$800 pp/day. Park fee: $75 - $2,230
Gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, Dian Fossey hike, Crater Lake hike, volcano trekking.
Why Visit Volcanos National Nark?
Gorilla trekking permit: $1500
Volcanoes National Park is world-famous for being the easiest place in Africa to track gorillas. If you decide to track these gentle creatures, be prepared for an intense hike through a beautiful, mountainous tropical rainforest.
Golden monkey trekking permit: $100
If tracking mountain gorillas is too far out of your budget, don’t fret. The rare golden monkey is protected in their bamboo habitat, and tracking them is cheaper and less strenuous. These unique primates are habituated, and you will not be disappointed.
Dian Fossey Hike: $75
Dian Fossey was a researcher and conservationist who is the main reason that the endangered gorillas are protected today. She was murdered by an unknown assailant and is buried in Volcanoes National Park. If you are up for it, you can hike up the slopes of Mt. Bisoke, to Dian Fossey’s tomb. It is a challenging, 3000m hike to the tomb, but the scenery is beautiful.
- Crater Lake Hike: $75
- Volcano Trekking: $75 - $400
Trekking to the top of Karisimbi volcano (a two-day trek with an overnight camp) or up Bisoke volcano (a one-day trek) is a great way to explore the Virunga Volcanoes range. You can also hike up to the Ngezi Crater Lake, which offers a spectacular view.
For all of these activities, it is best to book 3 – 6 months in advance, especially if you plan on visiting during the June to September high season.
Pros And Cons
- Gorilla and golden monkey trekking is fantastic
- Thrilling volcano trekking
- Hiking to Dian Fossey’s tomb
- Mesmerizing landscape and dramatically beautiful views
- Great park to visit all-year round
- Gorilla trekking permits are expensive
- All permits are limited in the high season (June-September) – advance booking is required
Best Time To Go
Wet season: February – April; October – November
Dry season: June – September; December - February
Volcanoes National Park can be visited all year-round, and gorilla and golden monkey trekking can be done throughout the year too. That being said, it is better to track gorillas in the drier months of June to September, and December to February. Less rains means a more pleasant hike through the mountain terrain, although wet-weather gear may still be necessary as you will be hiking through a rainforest – it is best to be prepared. It is good to remember though, that this is the high season as well, and accommodation will be less and prices will be higher.
For more details about when to visit broken down by months/seasons see our Rwanda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Start your African Adventure
Popular Tours in Rwanda
Adventure in Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe National Park lies in southwest Rwanda, partly abutting the Burundi border. This vast area of mountain rainforest is home to many species of chimpanzees, plus owl-faced and colobus monkeys. The Canopy Walkway, part of the Igishigishigi Trail, is a high suspension bridge with views over the valley and surrounding forests. A trail runs to the Kamiranzovu Marsh, with its birdlife, orchids and waterfall. “Come Fall in Love with Africa with those who Know It Better”
Virunga Primates and Mafia Island
This fantastic holiday combines Rwanda’s Parc des Volcans and Mafia Island in the Indian Ocean. You’ll spend time tracking wild mountain gorillas and endangered golden monkeys in Rwanda before flying to Tanzania's capital, Dar Es Salam. Following a night there, you will head off to laid-back Mafia Island, where you can enjoy activities such as kayaking, sailing trips with local fishermen, hiking, bird watching, diving, snorkeling, cultural tours and visits to local villages.
Wildlife And Birds
People come from all over the world to track gorillas through this misty, mountainous rainforest. The park protects 300 mountain gorillas – which is half the world’s population. These gentle creatures are sure to be the highlight of your visit to Rwanda. The rare golden monkey can be tracked through their bamboo habitat, as well. While not as popular as the gorillas, the golden monkey is worth a visit.
Other mammals include: black-fronted duiker, buffalo, spotted hyena, bushbuck, several species of primate and the very rarely seen elephant.
- Mountain Gorilla
Infrequently Seen Animals
- Black-fronted duiker
- Spotted hyena
Frequently Seen Animals
- Golden monkey
Birdwatching in Volcanoes is sure to surprise you. With only 178 recorded species, you may not think it has much to offer. However, you will not be disappointed – there are 13 species and 16 subspecies that are endemic to the Virunga and Rwenzori Mountains alone.
For a complete list of endangered birds in Rwanda see our Rwanda Safari - Complete Travel Guide
Endemic And Near-Endemic Birds
- Archer’s Ground Robin
- Collared Apalis
- Dusky Crimson-wing
- Red-faced Woodland Warbler
- Rwenzori Bartis
- Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird
- Rwenzori Turaco
- Strange Weaver
Getting There And Safety
Kigali International Airport is the main airport into Rwanda and is located 10km (6 miles) from the capital city of Kigali. From there, it is a two-hour drive to Volcanoes National Park, which is located roughly 80km (50 miles) from the capital.
If you are visiting as part of an organized tour, your operator will likely arrange for transportation from the airport as well as all further transportation for the duration of your stay.
For detailed information about visas see our Rwanda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
There is a moderate risk of contracting malaria. Please take precautions. Invest in a good insect repellent (30% DEET or more), and keep your arms and legs covered at night.
Please speak to your health care provider about malaria preventative medications before visiting Rwanda.There has been a yellow fever outbreak in the country, and you will need to get this vaccination before travelling to Rwanda.
For more information on vaccinations for Rwanda see our Rwanda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Rwanda. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.
Most of the park consists of tropical rainforest, and the weather can be a bit unpredictable. It is best to bring wet-weather gear, even for the dry months (June –September; December – February). Sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat are important for any safari.
Ensure that you have the appropriate foot-gear for mountain terrain and keep your arms and legs covered to avoid getting scratched up. It is a good idea to wear garden gloves so that you don’t hurt your hands. You will also need a good insect repellent (30% DEET or more) for the mosquitoes.
For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.
It is important that you do not attempt the trek unless you have a good level of fitness, as the hike can take from 30 minutes to 8 hours. Ensure that you have a waterproof backpack filled with essential items – sunscreen, high energy snacks, lots of water, lightweight waterproof jacket and pants, a warm sweater (higher altitudes are cooler) and insect repellent.
Dress appropriately for the trek – a wide-brimmed hat, garden gloves, good light-weight, waterproof boots, long-sleeved shirt and pants, and try to wear layered clothing, as the temperatures can vary with the changing altitudes.
Please make sure that you maintain a good distance from the gorillas, and don’t visit them if you have a cold or any contagious illness. It is also important to double check that the flash on your camera is off before taking photos of these gentle primates.
For a very detailed list of safety precautions and required behaviors around gorillas, please see our see our Gorilla Trekking Guide.