VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK ALSO KNOWN AS PERC DES VOLCANOES
Location & Access:
Volcanoes national park is located in Ruhengeri district in the Northern Province and protects the Virunga Mountains that are in Rwanda and it is a contiguous with Mgahinga and Bwindi national park as it is at the boarder of Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. Volcanoes is known for being a home to over 300 mountain gorillas, hundreds of bird species, golden monkeys, elephants, buffaloes, among other attractions that all live in the bamboo forest.
Tourists Activities in Volcanoes NP
There are lots of tourism activities that can be done in this park among which is;
- Gorilla Tracking
This is the major tourism activity that takes place in the park because more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas live in this reserve. You walk through the Bamboo forests resulting from the high altitude of the area that ranges from 2500m to 4500m at the Karisimbi peak. This is an exciting adventure that most tourists never ever miss when they are on a tour in Rwanda as it’s the most selling tourism activity.
- Golden Monkey Trekking
Besides gorilla tracking, the second selling activity in the volcanoes in golden monkey trekking, and they are sub species of the blue monkeys, an unpredictable and unique primate only found in the Bamboo forest of Virunga that is in three countries Rwanda, Congo’s Virunga National Park as well as Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, all found on the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes. Golden Monkey tracking is an amazing experience which should not be missed by those interested in Chimpanzee and Gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda. You can watch them play in the bamboo forest for 1 hour when you meet them and it is exciting to see mothers carrying their children just like human.
- Visit the Twin Lakes of Ruhundo & Bulera
These two create beautiful scenery between Musanze and the boarder of Uganda. It is very useful to people that live around for fishing and other activities that the do from either the shore using the traditional canoes. You can always go for a boat ride to the islands in Burera and Ruhond, Walking and bird watching are possible in the hills and at some points around the lakes.
They are surrounded by steep and intensively farmed hills and offer wonderful views over the whole of the Virunga Volcanoes and they are about 45 minutes away from Sabinyo silver lodge.
- Visiting the Bisoke
Mt. Bisoke is one of the Virunga Volcanoes among others like Mounts Karisimbi, Gahinga, Sabinyo, and Muhabura. It is a sheer climb, most easy to climb during the short or long dry season and at the top is the biggest crater lake of the Virunga chain called the Bisoke crater lake which can be clearly seen unless its cover with too much fog.
- Dian Fossey Grave Walk
Dian Fossey was a famous gorilla research who was assassinated but her work had a great impact towards mountain gorilla conservation. She had established a research centre called the Karisoke research centre and you can always take a hike to Karisoke.
Dian walk buried within the reserve to stay close to her beloved mountain gorillas and so a trek to her grave may take about 3 hours.
- Tour to Mt Sabinyo Edges
Gorilla Tracking families or Groups in Rwanda
Rwanda has got 10 gorilla families that are for tourism business and they include;
- Sabyinyo Group
This family has got13 members among which are 2 Silverbacks and one of these two is the biggest of all the silverbacks in the volcanoes.
This group is found along the gentle slopes between Mount Sabyinyo and Mgahinga and thus is easily accessible group among them all taking one about ten minutes to an hour to reach, but generally, the slopes aren’t too daunting but can be slippery after rain.
- Karisimbi Group
There are 16 members in this family with 2 Silverbacks as well.
This group was formed after Susa which was the largest gorilla family was divided into 2. Finding these is quite a job and they get the name from the fact that they are found along the lower levels of Mt Karisimbi.
- Amahoro Group
This means peace and there are 18 members of the family, including 2 Silverback.
To track this family, it will require one to endure with a quite steep climb to reach this group, however the group is gentle and tranquil. Particularly, they are found on the slopes of Mt Bisoke.
- Group 13 now known as Agashya
These are 27 in a family and have 1 Silverback.
Agashya was the very first family of habituated gorillas and has kept on enlarging from an initial 13 members of the family to 27 as they are today! These can be found in the same area as the Sabyinyo group, although they at times move deeper into the mountain.
- Kwitonda Group
This family has 23 members among which are 4 Silverbacks.
This family is named after its dominant Silverback and that name means ‘humble one’. This family is located at the lower slopes of Mt Muhabura and it is also one of the more difficult families to track.
- Umubano Group
Umubano means living together and the family has 13 members, including 2 Silverbacks and it was formed by members of the Amahoro family after one of the males (Charles) broke off in order to lead his own group. Their territory overlaps with that of the Amahoro Group.
- Hirwa Group
There are 16 members in this family and with just 1 Silverback
This is still a relatively new group which was formed from two different families, Group 13 and Sabyinyo. Usually to be found in the foothills of Mt Sabyinyo on the Gahinga side. This group had two twins born at the beginning of 2011.
- Ugenda Group
Family has11 members include 2 Silverbacks. Ugenda means mobile. This group can be found around Mt Bisoke and the hike is generally not that difficult to take.
- Bwenge Group
Bwenge means wisdom and the family has11 members including 1 Silverback. This group is found around Mt Bisoke and the hike is gentle and not that difficult.
- Susa group
There are 33 members of this family, including 2 Silverbacks. Tracking this group is may sometimes be difficult because sometimes this group migrates to higher altitudes making them harder to track. It is a popular group for having twins a Byishimo and Impano. This was the group that was first studied by Dian Fossey. And to get to these, you will do a lot of hiking from the starting point from Kinigi. Later on in 2008, the team was split into two groups to form Karisimbi group.