Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
This is Rwanda’s most popular tourism destination, located in the northern part of the country in Musanze district, about 2 hours drive from Kigali. Volcanoes national park is part of the Virunga chain of volcanic mountains shared amongst Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Virunga chain of mountains is made up of about 8 mountains that include Sabyinyo, Muhabura, Karisimbi, Gahinga, Bishoke, Nyamurangira, and Nyiragongo among others.
Volcanoes National Park is also known as Parc National Des Volcans. It is home to some of the world’s last remaining population of the mountain gorillas. According to the gorilla census of 2011, there are only 880 mountain gorillas left in the whole world. Half of this (440 gorillas) is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda. The remaining population is distributed in the Virunga chain of mountains; that is; Virunga National Park in DR Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Mgahinga National Park in South Western Uganda.
Rwanda mainly has 3 national parks namely; Akagera, Nyungwe Forest and Volcanoes National Park. the last one is the most popular and attracts the majority of the tourists mainly to see the gorillas in the wild. However, the park also inhabits the rare golden monkeys habituated for tracking by tourists in Rwanda. There are also a number of bird species, forest mammals such as Elephants and Buffaloes.
Despite the fact that there are other mountain gorilla destinations like Uganda and DR Congo, Rwanda is more preferred mainly because of the driving distance from Kigali International Airport to the park, which is just 2 hours drive, compared to the 8-10hours drive from Entebbe International Airport in Uganda to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga National park.
To see gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo, one must possess a gorilla permit that acts as a pass to enter the forest to track the gorillas. Gorilla permits in Rwanda cost US$750 each, US$600 in Uganda, and US$500 in DR Congo. The number available per day is limited and one must book in advance through travel agents.
Accommodations around Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda
A wide variety of accommodation units available for all levels near volcanoes national park and in nearby towns of Musanze / Ruhengeri. They include lodges/motels/hotels for budget travelers, deluxe / Mid-range travelers, and superior lodges for luxury travelers. Some examples of accommodations near Volcanoes national park include; Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Gorillas nest Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Hotel La Palme, Villa Gorilla Rwanda, Kinigi Guest House, and Muhavura hotel among others.