Volcanoes National Park

Set high on the jungle-covered slopes of the volcanic Virunga Mountains, Parc National des Volcans provides a dramatic natural setting for what is considered one of the most poignant and thrilling wildlife experience in Africa. Volcanoes National Park is home to nearly half of the world’s remaining 1,000 mountain gorillas and is one of the most scenic regions the country.

In the park’s lush rainforests, travelers in groups of 8 (plus a park guide and porters) trek deep into the hills in search of habituated groups of mountain gorillas. On the morning of the trek, hikers are assigned a gorilla family based on how far the gorillas are from the park headquarters and therefore the group’s fitness level. Each group of travelers then treks between one and five hours into the forest to reach their gorilla group. Once you find the gorillas, you are able to spend an hour watching these incredible primates go about their daily lives.

The Volcanoes National Park is a 3 hour drive on good roads from Kigali (helicopter transfers are also getting more common). Clients typically spend 2-3 nights in the area depending on whether or not they do one or the gorilla (we recommend two), with perhaps a less rigorous Golden Monkey trek or day to enjoy the lodge in between treks.  Typically travelers will have a private driver and vehicle for the duration of their stay in Rwanda.

Travelers visiting the gorillas will stay at accommodation outside the park itself, often with lovely views of the mountains.  Three of the most luxurious options are Bisate Lodge, One and Only’s Gorilla’s Nest and Kwitonda, while nearby Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge has a bit more homey atmosphere. Alternatively, with its leafy garden and in town location, Bishop’s House, is a relatively lower cost option than the lodge style accommodations.  No matter where you stay, do make time to visit a local village or community project, plant a tree and ask your lodge staff and guides about ongoing community and conservation efforts which are critical to the wellbeing of this vital region.

In addition to gorillas, Volcanoes National Park is also home to a number of other animals and primates including the forest elephant, golden monkeys and giant forest hogs. One of the volcanoes in the park, Bisoke, is another option for a day hike for active travelers. The beautiful crater lake at the top is well worth the hike for its exceptional views and this area is also known for the hike to gorilla researcher, Dian Fossey’s, grave site.

Our favorite accommodation in Volcanoes National Park

Recommended itineraries featuring Volcanoes National Park

Other areas to trek for primates

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