Here's a little trivia for you. Do you know the name of the oldest national park in Africa? Its the Volcanoes National Park and it's in the landlocked of Rwanda which has been more in the news for the ethnic genocides than the raw magnetism of national parks that attracts wildlife enthusiasts, naturalists and adventure seekers from around the world. Straddling an area of 160 sq km in the small town of Musanze, in northwestern Rwanda is the Volcanoes NP, a constituent of one of the country's conservation epicenters, the Virunga volcano conservation. The conservation area harbors the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda of which fewer than 900 are left in the wild today. As the home to the highest number of mountain gorilla's in the conservation which also spreads over to Congo and Uganda, Volcanoes NP is the renowned for it gorilla trekking adventures that allow you to experience the gorillas up close and personal for that most memorable and rewarding experience. There are 11 habituated gorilla families in the park and you can meet – Susa, Amahoro, Sabyinyo, Uganda, Hirwa, Umubano, Karisimbi, to name a few, while on the trek. Though gorilla trekking hogs the limelight, don't miss out on the endangered Golden Monkeys which you can encounter while trekking through the dramatic landscapes. A variety of birds, nearly 178 species, some of them endemic to the Virunga conservation area and the great Ruwenzori Mountains can also be spotted beside reptiles, amphibians, and insects which makes the visit a complete experience.
Volcanoes National Park also shelters five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains which are: Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Muhabura, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Sabyinyo). Mount Bisoke stands tall at 3,700 meters above sea level followed by Mountain Karisimbi and nestled somewhere between the two mountain ranges is the grave of American primatologist Dian Fossey who fell prey to the poachers in 1985. The park also offers opportunities for mountain trekking, guided walks to Iby’iwacu Cultural Village and Musanze market and nature walk to the beautiful Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo.
The best time to visit Volcanoes Park is during the dry months of June through September and December to February as the temperatures are pleasant between 25C and 27C (77F to 81F) degrees during the day and fall to between 13.5C and 15C (56F to 59F) at night. The sunny dry conditions mean wildlife is out and easily seen. Hiking trails are also not wet and muddy and rendered risky and inaccessible.March to May and October to November, which are the wet seasons in Rwanda, the flowers are in full blooms, birding is in full flight and scenic lushness takes over the park. But hiking trails are wet and tough to tread on.
In addition to endangered mountain gorillas, Volcanoes national park is home to golden monkeys, spotted hyena, buffaloes, elephants, black-fronted duiker, and bushbuck. The park also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to the Rwenzori Mountains and the Virungas. The park also offers opportunities for mountain trekking, guided walks to Iby’iwacu Cultural Village and Musanze market and nature walk to the beautiful Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo.
The park is about 105 kilometers (65 miles) away from the Country’s city and Airport (Kigali), it can be accessed by road and by air. By air you can land in Kigali International Airport after which you drive/be driven for 2 hours to reach the Park. From the airport, you can use both public and private means. You can pre-organize with a tour operator or hire a cab at the airport.