Traveler’s Guide to Volcanoes national park Rwanda featuring all you need to know about trekking safaris to watch gorillas in Rwanda, how to book gorilla permits, other attractions in the park, what to wear for gorilla trekking, gorilla groups in Rwanda, best time to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking, accommodation in Rwanda and so much more.

A visit to tour gorillas in Volcanoes national park is purely a life-changing adventure. Spanning on a 160sqkm area in the northern part of Rwanda, Volcanoes national park is the oldest national park in Africa. It was initially a small area around Karisimbi, Mikeno and Visoke volcanoes which was gazetted to protect the Mountain gorillas which were facing the threat of extinction as a result of poaching.

In 1929, the park was extended into Rwanda and the then Belgian Congo and was named Albert national park managed and run by the Belgian Colonial Authorities. During the early 1960s, the park was divided as Rwanda and Congo gained their independence and by the end of that decade, the park was almost half of its original size.
In 1967, the American zoologist; Dian Fossey who had been doing research on mountain Gorillas in the forests of Congo fled from insecurity and established her research base at a place between Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes that was yet to be known as Karisoke research center.

She spearheaded the conservation campaign of the mountain gorillas and mobilized resources to fight against poaching in this area, a fight she put up until her murder in 1985. She was buried at the research center next to the grave of her favorite gorilla called Digit.

The park continued to suffer at the mercies of poachers though conservation efforts were also underway. In the early 1990s, the park became a battlefield for Rwanda’s civil war which paralyzed tourism activities until 1999. In 2005, in a bid to boost conservation and gorilla tours in Volcanoes national park, Rwanda introduced the annual baby naming ceremony for baby gorillas known as ‘Kwita Iziina’ which has seen great results in as far as gorilla population in volcanoes is concerned.

Volcanoes national park is home to Mountain Gorilla; golden monkeys, Spotted Hyena, buffaloes, elephants, black-fronted duiker, and bushbuck. The park also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to Rwenzori mountains and the Virungas.
Volcanoes National Park is located in a small village called Musanze previously well-known as Ruhengeri, which is very accessible by public transport from Gisenyi or Kigali or from the airport. The drive to Volcanoes national park is 2 hrs and hence one can do gorilla tracking on the same day and drive back to Kigali after the trek. You will be required to arrive at the headquarters of ORTPN in Kinigi, at the park entrance, by 7:00 am, therefore, if you hope to trek gorillas for one day, you have to wake up very early for your journey so that you are on time. However, there isn’t any public transport from Musanze to the headquarters of the park at Kinigi.

Activities in the park include:

Gorilla trekking, Hiking Karisimbi volcano (3,800 m), One day Mount Bisoke volcano hike, Visiting Dian Fossey, Visiting the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Bulera

DAY 1:  Arrival Kigali and Transfer To Musanze

On arrival at Kigali International Airport, you will be met by land tours driver guide and your day starts with a complimentary tour of the city.  Named in 1907 by Dr. Richard Kandt, the first colonial resident governor of Rwanda; Kigali city is surrounded by lush hills of green and is referred to as the land of a thousand hills. Get to visit interesting spots which may include; the craft market, Gisozi genocide memorial site & Kigali museum we will lead you to the lunch place in Kigali city.

After lunch depart for a 2 hours’ drive to Musanze area, the second largest town in Rwanda, with its stunning backdrop of five volcanic mountains.

Activities: City Tour

Overnight:  Mountain Gorilla View Lodge | Virunga Lodge, etc

Meal Plan: Full board – Lunch, Dinner, bed & breakfast


After an early breakfast, you will proceed to the National Park headquarters – Kinigi to meet your guides for the day. After completing our park formalities, we are embarking on a once in a lifetime experience of tracking mountain gorillas. Once you spot them you are allowed to spend an hour watching your closest long lost cousin. This is perhaps one of the most breath-taking wildlife experiences on earth!!! You get so close to these awesome giant primates. You stare at each other blankly not knowing who to break the long silence first. Tracking the gorillas through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virunga is a magical experience. These massive primates are extremely rare, with less than 700 living today.

You will get within meters of the family, and be privileged to spend an hour amongst them. The trekking may be fairly strenuous; up to six hours or longer at a relatively high altitude. We encourage for your own enjoyment to make sure that you are perfectly fit and healthy. (We’ve had people as old as 70years old do gorilla tracking so this should not be a problem; all you need is to ask your driver guide to request a shorter group for you if you cannot trek far)It is important to bring good hiking boots, long trousers, gloves for protection against stinging nettles, some snacks & sweets (for you, not the gorillas) as well as sufficient water as the rain forest gets hot and humid during the day.

You will spend one hour with the gorillas, but it is an hour you will never forget. Return to your hotel for lunch and later dinner and overnight.

Driving distance:  45 minutes

Activities: 1 Gorilla Trek

Overnight: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge | Virunga Lodge, etc

Meal Plan: Full board – Lunch, Dinner, bed & breakfast


In the early morning after breakfast, you will be driven to the National Park headquarters – Kinigi to meet your guides for the day for your second gorilla trekking experience. Mountain gorillas do not survive in captivity, which is why they are not seen in zoos and meeting them in the undergrowth is an inspiring moment. Quietly chewing away at their vegetarian delicacies, they seem like a marooned human family. The tender grooming and firm disciplining of their offspring seem all too familiar. The gorilla family cast a wary glance at the sudden human intrusion into their private world but is comforted by the clucking made by the trackers. When provoked, the noisy but harmless silverback grunts, screeches, bares his fangs and beats his chest, before slithering off with attendant females, offspring and other mature males. Later return to your hotel to freshen up then have lunch. You will then be transferred to Kigali town in the afternoon for overnight at your hotel on bed and breakfast basis.

Driving distance:  2 hrs

Activities: 1 Gorilla Trek

Overnight:  | Lemigo Hotel | Kigali Serena Hotel

Meal Plan: Bed & breakfast


After breakfast, you will depart for a 2 hours’ drive to Kigali. Engage in last-minute shopping in one of the friendliest African capitals, before returning to the airport for your onward international flight back home.

End of service

Meal Plan: Breakfast

Driving distance: 15 Minutes

Activities: Shopping in craft market

Overnight:  0

Meal Plan: Breakfast

Cost Includes

  • Transport in a 4WD safari vehicle exclusive to you
  • English speaking driver-guide
  • Accommodation and meals as stated in the program
  • All guide fees
  • Two Gorilla tracking permit per person

Cost Excludes

  • International flights & Visas
  • Travel Insurances
  • Driver guide or local escort tips
  • Drinks and dining rooms tips, porterage, personal travel and baggage
  • Telephone bill, laundry and any items of a personal nature
  • Activities not mentioned in the program


  • day tour — mountain gorilla trekking (including 1 hour with the great apes, guaranteed);
  • 1-day hiking and mountain climbing (Mt. Bisoke – 3,711m) ;
  • 2 days hiking and mountain climbing (Mt. Karisimbi – 4,507m, overnight camping);
  • Golden Monkey trekking;
  • Visit to the Karisoke Research Centre;
  • Visit to the tomb of the legendary Dian Fossey;
  • Nature walk (view volcano flora and fauna).


    Paddle across two of Rwanda’s most spectacular lakes in a traditional wooden canoe hand-crafted locally. Then head west and be a speologist for a day, admiring one of the most impressive unspoiled caves in Rwanda


    • Nature discovery tours in traditional canoes, with breath-taking landscapes, expansive wetland habitats, and views of diverse and colourful water birds.
    • Tour of the Musanze Cave — a whopping 2km long (1.25 miles) cave with 31 entrances, made of Cenozoic volcanic rock. It’s now home to a massive bat colony, and it can be reached by crossing a naturally made bridge over the Albertine Rift Valley formed of lava flow layers as old as 65 million years ago.

Send an inquiry for this itinerary. You can even ask us to help you plan your tailor-made itinerary for your journey to Rwanda, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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    August 12, 2019

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