The park is located in the northwestern region of Rwanda. It was gazette in 1925. In 1965 the park was slip into two after Congo gained its independence and in 1967 Dian Fossey set up a research base and fought against poaching the humble creatures. The park covers over 160sqkms of rain forests, and it has 5 of the 8 Virunga Mountains. These include, Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabinyo. The vegetation in the park varies, it has lower montane forests with bamboo trees, grasslands, meadows, marches, swamps, and several lakes. The park is a home for wildlife, and has recorded over 178 species, with 13 species and 16 subspecies that are endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains. The park is bordered by the Virunga National Park of Democratic Republic of Cong, and Mgahinga National Park of Uganda. The park is commonly known for being a home for mountain gorillas and the unique golden monkeys. The primary reason for the conservation of the park was to protect gorillas from poachers.
How to access the Park
The park can be accessed with road transport. From the capital city Kigali, its only 2 hours to reach to the park.
What to Carry
Among what you will be having on your package list, these shouldn’t miss out: a camera with good resolution, and with spare charged batteries, hiking boots or shoes, sun glasses, hat, light shirts and pants, warm clothing for the cold mornings and nights, gloves, a light rain jacket, sun screen, a mosquito net, snacks, drinking water, insect repellent, a note book, a first aid kit, a guide book, and more of your personal requirements. Some items can be hired at an affordable fee, for example sleeping bags, among others.
Things to do
This activity will reward you with the best view in and around the park. You will get an opportunity of looking through Congo, and Uganda. The activity though might take at least 3 days depending on the peak that is concentrated on. Sometimes it’s tiring so you will need to prepare for it. You will feel very good as you reach the time. Bring your friends or family and enjoy the activity.
Gorilla trekking and Golden Monkey trekking
The most practiced activity and the highlight of the park. The country boosts as one of the few with these creatures. You will track these animals to their homes in the park. The activity will give you a feel of the park, and an opportunity to see the humble creatures up close. Before you embark on the activity, you will be briefed first of the dos and don’ts of the park and how you are supposed to act around the humble creatures. On meeting them, you will have over an hour with them, and enjoying their presence.
The park is a home for the flying creatures. These will be enjoyed all the time during day, but the climax of the activity is in the early wet season when home birds are joined by migratory birds. You will enjoy pleasant views of these creatures that you will enjoy during any activity in the park. The likes of wax bills, black kite, stone chat, pin tailed whydah, ibis, white napped raven, yellow vented bulbul, and among others can be seen.
Guided Nature Walks
These walks are enjoyable. You may choose to visit the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo, or visit Nyange community or visit Musanze Market. Come and enjoy guided nature walks in the dense forest in the park. There trails provided leading to different parts of the park. As you enjoy your safaris, you will meet these tree climbing animals. The mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, birds of different species, park’s vegetation, among other. You also get an opportunity of enjoying a cultural entertainment from the locals. You may also visit the tombs f Dian Fossey, an American conservationist who was researching about mountain gorillas and dedicated her life to protect them though poachers murdered her, her efforts were never in vain.
You will have an opportunity of visiting Batwa pygmies. These were the natives of the land and used to hunt from the park grounds. After the establishment of the par, they were sent to settle on the edges of the forest. They still uphold their culture and an interaction with them will be a great experience. Await to learn their medicinal trees, how they cook and where they stay.
When to visit
The park can be visited throughout the year, but the dry season is better than the wet season. Below is an elaboration of both seasons.
Dry Season (June-September and December-February)
The season is characterized of sunny weather most of the time and there’s hardly any rain. This weather favors both animals and tourists. During this season the trees aren’t so thick and the grass not so tall, thus mountain gorillas and other animals are easily spotted.
During this season walking through the forest trails is easy because the land is dry, you won’t need a lot of time to penetrate through.
Since its, sunny, there no mosquitoes that could spread malaria to the guests.
This is the peak season of the park and therefore it can be crowded and very busy. Therefore it advisable to book early for competition can be high.
Wet Season (October-November and March-May)
The season is characterized of mostly short and long rains, and towards the peak of the season rains are very heavy. However much there is rain, the amazing wildlife of the park can be seen though not easily. Mountain Gorillas and other animals endure the conditions in the park throughout the year. You will need more tie compared to the dry season.
The best scenery of the park can be seen during this period.
The early stages of the season is the peak season of migratory birds. To bird lovers this is the season.
The park during this season registers the low season and therefore less competition. The prices for tickets and places of accommodation is normally discounted thus lower than the dry season prices, thou sometimes some places of accommodation close at the peak of the wet season.
During this season walking through the muddy and slippery trails can be challenging and sometimes safaris can be disorganized by the heavy rains.
It should be noted that sometimes weather can be unpredictable and it can rain in the dry season. So tourists are advised to be well equipped for any changes in the weather.
The park has almost half of the world’s mountains gorillas. The landscape in the park is an ideal ground for the protection of these unique creatures. Forests lie in the center of the three parks that is Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga national Park, and the Virunga National park. The forest is the hiding ground of these creatures. They have been habituated to be visited by human also you don’t have to get too familiar. The playful creatures will love your company and you will enjoy thei9r way of life, how they gather food, how they feed young ones, how they handle their differences, among others. All this will be seen once you trek them.
Other wild animals
There are other wild animals in the park that you will enjoy seeing. The likes of spotted hyena, buffalo, and bushbucks estimated to be 1760-7040 animals, elephants, will not be missed.
The park has 5 mountains on its side. These you will enjoy clear views once you embark on the climbing activity. They are Mountain Sabyinyo, Muhabura and Gahinga mountains. Climbing these volcanos is an interesting experience. Normally done with a guide, each mountain can be climbed in one day. All of them are climbable and on top you enjoy the amazing scenery of the park. Access to these there volcanoes is access to Uganda, Rwanda and Congo who share them.
If you’re a bird lover, a visit to this park will be good for you. These will be seen all the time and more will be seen during mountain climbing. These are common during the wet season. The likes of grey capped warbler, stone chat, speckled mouse bird, Ruwenzori nightjar, double collared sunbird, Ruwenzori turaco, white napped waven, black kite, paradise fly catcher, among others will be at your sight.
Get an opportunity of meeting the Batwa people. These were the first settlers in the area before it was protected, and have an origin of most of the physical features in the park. Commonly known as the pygmies, have an interesting culture. Their life has always been associated with the forest and animals. You will get a chance to see their way of life.
- Bisate Lodge
- Sabyinyo Silver back Lodge
- Virunga Lodge
- Mount Gorilla View Lodge
- Best View Hotel
- Kiningi Guest house
- Hotel Muhabura
- Villa Gorilla
In conclusion, a safari to this park will be good for you and your family or friends. Please contact us so we can plan your trip.