This is mountain gorilla central! Made famous by primatologist Dian Fossey’s work with these endangered primates, beautiful Volcanoes National Park is world-famous for gorilla safaris – perhaps the most thrilling and poignant wildlife experience possible.
Magnificent Volcanoes National Park – where legendary primatologist and conservationist Dian Fossey did her groundbreaking work – is the spot for gorilla safaris. Known locally as the Parc National de Volcans (or PNV for short), Volcanoes Park straddles 160km2 of the Virunga Mountains that spread across Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It takes just 2 hours to drive from Kigali to this dramatically beautiful and varied park, which has six active and three extinct volcanoes and is clad in thick rainforest and bamboo forests.
Most famous for the mountain gorilla safaris that allow you to track and get right up close to these endangered primates – perhaps one of the most dramatic, thrilling and poignant wildlife experiences possible – Volcanoes National Park has other wildlife drawcards: the fascinating golden monkeys, rarely sighted forest elephants, black-fronted duiker, spotted hyena, buffalo and bushbuck, as well as 178 recorded bird species.
PNV is also a conservation epicentre, where many non-profit organizations base their operations. Visitors can pay homage to the legendary scientist Dian Fossey with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fosse Gorilla Fund that continues her legacy of research and advocacy to this day.
Near the park, you can immerse yourself in the bustling and vibrant markets of Musanze (previously called Ruhengeri). The area’s newest attraction is Msanze Caves, which date back 65 million years and lie within the volcanic region where lava flow created the Albertine Rift Valley. An easy 2km hike into the caves will reward you with brilliant views of coloured light shafts from the unusual rock formations… and a colony of bats. Discover small but beautiful Buhange Ecopark, a serene forest of biological and cultural significance. Built on an ancient sacred site used in the past for coronation rituals of Rwandan kings. And then there’s the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, a living museum just outside the national park where you can delve into traditional Rwandan rituals and ways of life –thunderous drumming, joyful dancing and the kind of hospitality that has permeated Rwandan society for centuries.
Volcanoes National Park