Mountain Gorilla tracking / trekking
Volcanoes National Park is the only park in Rwanda where mountain gorilla trekking can be conducted. The activity starts at 8am local time at the park headquarters Kinigi. Those who are able to arrive before that time catch up with traditional Kinyarwada dance performance and a thrilling cup of Rwandan coffee all presented to the gorilla trekkers for free. The gorilla family allocation is conducted at the site and this is followed by briefing by the rangers in respective gorilla family groups allocated to the trekkers as per the group of eight (8). The travellers then drive to the respective starting points for the allocated gorilla families. Heading to the jungle involves hiking encounters, enjoyment to the various bird species as they make their melodies, impressive views of the lush flora and the Volcanoes. The slopes might be challenging depend on which family that one has been allocated to as some involve hiking the steep slopes of Karisimbi Mountain. The gorilla trekking encounter tend to last 2 – 8 hours depending on the gorilla movements for that day and one (1) of full direct encounter with gorillas is availed to the trekkers to maximise the experience. The trekking encounter allows you take as many photos as you can but one has to observe the gorilla trekking rules and regulations like the minimum distance of 7m and avoiding flash photography among others. The Rwanda Development Board puts a minimum age for gorilla trekking at 15 years and to trek gorillas, you need a gorilla permit and on Rwanda a gorilla permit costs $750 per permit.
Golden Monkey Tracking
Apart from gorilla trekking, Volcanoes National Park offers impressive golden monkey tracking. The golden Monkeys are critically endangered Species that only thrive in the Virunga Massif alone. The golden monkey tracking commences at 8am at Kinigi Park headquarters tend to last 4 hours including one (1) full hours of direct encounter with the. They commonly dwell in the Bamboo zone of the Volcanoes and their golden patches, chatters and playful moments make the golden Monkey tracking encounter memorable. The golden Monkey tracking permit costs $100
There are 178 bird species existing in Volcanoes National Park of which 13 of these Species and 16 sub species are restricted in range to Virunga and Rwenzori Mountains. Therefore, birding can be conducted in the park. The bird species that can be encountered include; Rwenzori turaco, dusky crimson-wing, Archer’s ground robin, francolins, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, red-faced woodland warbler, strange weaver, collared apalis and Rwenzori batis.
Karisoke Mountain Climbing
The Karisimbi Volcano is noted to the highest of the all the Virunga Volcanoes that number to eight (8). The mountain towers up to 4,507m above sea level and taking the first postion in terms of high in Rwanda and sixth (6th) in Africa following Kilimanjaro, Kenya, Rwenzori, Meru and Ras Dashen. The climb the peak of Mount Karisimbi and back takes two (2) days and the encounter gives you an opportunity to explore the grave yards of Dian Fossey a famed Primate Conservationist at Karisoke Research Station though a visit to it would attract an added cost. The climb takes you through a range of vegetation zones including wild celery and Bamboo that cover the lower mountain slopes supporting the counts of mountain gorilla, hagenica forest before reaching the groundsel and giant Lobelia. You pitch at 3,700m for the first night with the views of Bisoke Mountain before approaching splendid giant lobelia and groundsel. The first camp is pitched at 3,700m with clear views of Mount Bisoke. On the following day, you embark on the hike to the summit which is a bit challenging before embarking on the descend to the starting point about 6 hours.
Hiking Bisoke Volcano
The Bisoke Mountain rises up to 3,711m involving one (1) day of ascend and descend thus providing an adventure excursion in Volcanoes National Park. The climb to Mount Bisoke starts at 7am and lasts about seven (7) hours round trip. The Mount Bisoke is 3,711m and offers a one day mountain climbing adventure in Volcanoes National Park. The climb takes you through impressive flora and remarkable scenic views of other volcanic mountains not forgetting the view of Lake Ngezi which is a crater lake. The Mount Bisoke climb is not too challenging and as a result can be ideal for the less experienced mountaineers.
Hiking the Dian Fossey Grave
Dian Fossey was a famed American Primatologist who dedicated her life to research about Mountain gorillas and advocate for their conservation. She established a research station and named it Karisoke between Karisimbi and Bisoke Mountains. She died in 1985 in unclear circumstances and she was put to rest at the site along with her favourite silver back called Digit. Therefore, undertaking a hike to the Dian Fossey site is a way of paying tribute and commemorating her remarkable works towards the conservation of these Species.
Twin Lakes Walk
The Lakes of Bulera and Ruhondo adjoin each other and appear as twins. Thus, the twin lakes walk exposes to these lakes and their remarkable beauty and the impressive sights of Russumo falls. There are impressive boat rides organised on any of the lakes and brings you closer to the locals as they paddle their canoes in search of fish. There are possible bird opportunities including African Marsh Harrier, Long crested Eagle, Stonechat, and Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater, Grey-throated tit, Common Moorhen and Paradise Fly catchers. The twin lakes tour can be done in the morning and in the afternoon.
Lake Ngezi Hike
The Lake Ngezi is a small crater lake on the raised slopes of Mount Bisoke which is one the eight Virunga volcanoes. The Lake Ngezi is at 11km distance from the mountain top and the hike to the lake involves 3 – 4 hours offering impressive views of the flora and birds en route. The park ranger is in your company for guidance and protection. The site offers you the views of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The ancient Musaze caves are impressive natural features that are positioned in the north west of Rwanda dating far back to 65 million years ago. The caves have got 31 entrances and extend underground to 2 Kilometres forming a cathedral like natural feature that is worth exploring while on Rwanda safaris and tours.
At the moment, the Musaze caves are the most visited caves among the 52 caves which are located in the northern Rwandan Province. The locals especially the children like to play near them showing that this feature has for long been part of the community life and it is part of their heritage. Visiting the caves requires you to put on a helmet with a torch for lighting not forgetting the nose and mouth cover in the company of the armed guides. The Rwanda Ministry of Defence Reserve Forces worked alongside Rwanda Development Board to develop the caves for use.
The Musaze Caves are believed to have been formed out of lava Basalt layers that flowed from the Volcanic Mountains of Bisoke and Sabyinyo. They have various rooms and if you wonder from the main path, you may get lost. The Musaze caves exploration lasts about 2 hours where you encounter the bats hanging upside down on the cave walls.
Though the walking paths are clearly indicated, one is always engulfed with fear that the ground may collapse or a rock might fall which in turn adds on the remarkable memories thereafter. Like other caves, the Caves of Musaze have got rooms within a point as to why their explorers are argued to avoid diverting from the main guided route. The caves presented a refugee for the Rwandese during the times of war in the traditional Africa and during the 1994 genocide.
Buhanga Sacred Forest Nature walks
The Nature walks in Buhanga Sacred forest allow you to explore the small forest of Buhanga of which the locals attach great culture and traditions. History gives it that the Kings of Rwanda would take a bath in the forest waters before their coronation and as a result people feared cutting tree from there or farming close to it as they considered as sacred. The traditions have it that Buhanga forest tends to change colors in various seasons of the year. The forest walk can be conducted in the morning and in the afternoon and the forest has counts of birds and butterflies. There are designated walkways denoted by lava stone.
More information about Volcanoes National Park
Accommodation in Volcanoes National Park
other national parks in Rwanda
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Volcanoes National Park
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