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Straddling on a 160sqkm area in the Northern part of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the oldest National Park in Africa and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. This National Park is incredibly vast and known as a haven for the mountain gorillas. This park is a home to the five of the eight volcanoes that are of the Virunga Mountains (Muhabura, Karisimbi, Gahinga, Bisoke and Sabinyo), which are well covered in the rainforest and in bamboo. It was the base and bottom for the amazing zoologist Dian Fossey. The park has a unique eco-system, has a fauna with endangered species such as mountain Gorillas, Golden monkeys and several bird species.

About Volcanoes National Park – Gorilla Trekking Rwanda

Dian Fossey of (1932 to 1985) was an American primatologist, zoologist and anthropologist who created the effort and undertook a broad study of the mountain gorilla groups within a period of around 18 years. She studied them daily in their home the mountain forests of Rwanda, primarily she was encouraged to work there by an anthropologist Louis Leakey. Her book in the 1983, Gorillas in the Mist, combines her scientific study about the gorillas at Karisoke Research Center plus her own private story. It was modified into a 1988 film of the same name. However Fossey was murdered in 1985 and that case still remains open.

Mountain Gorillas;
In order to visit mountain gorillas, and have the thrilling feeling, one must first buy his or her gorilla permits which help in amending and possibly regulating the number of the people visiting the gorillas and hence good order so as to limit the stress on these beautiful yet endangered species and on their habitat. Only the maximum numbers of 8 permits are sold each day as per gorilla group simply to make sure they are not so overwhelmed by the human presence.

Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri
Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Ruhengeri

The Gorilla etiquette plus all the other guidelines on how to conduct yourself around gorillas are majorly meant to ensure both your own safety, and that of the gorillas themselves.
Gorillas are very susceptible and prone to human infections this is because their DNA is at 98% match with that of the human DNA. However, their immunity is not that strong as that of the humans so even the slightest contagion or even infection such as a common cold can be a life intimidating to the gorillas, hence a variety of rules and regulations. Most of which are pretty basic and can easily be followed. The Gorilla trekking guidelines in Rwanda includes the following.
• In case you have a cold, flu, or any other contagious infection, you should not go for gorilla trekking.
• One group of people or tourists can visit a particular group of mountain gorillas each day and you can only spend one hour with them.
• You are supposed to keep a distance of at least 7m away from the gorillas, and in case gorillas try to get close to you, try and move further away.
• Do not make sudden movements while in the presence of the gorillas and try to keep your voices low, just to create a relaxed atmosphere for the gorillas.
• Try to do not eat or even drink while you are with the gorillas.

Golden monkeys.
While in Volcanoes National Park, trekking Golden Monkeys in Rwanda begins around the same time as for trekking the mountain gorillas and visitors start the day by gathering at the park headquarters by exactly 7:00 AM in the morning for the briefing. Presently there are only two golden monkey groups that are accessible for visiting. Visitors should note that Places are limited!

Dian Fossey tom hike.
In addition, one of the most wanted activities in the Volcanoes National Park is hiking to the Dian Fossey Tomb for a gorilla trip. It is an inconceivable physical, touching and intellectual yet rational experience since it involves making the movements through the forests and then hiking up the slopes of the volcanoes as you keep learning about Dian Fossey whose enthusiasm to mountain gorillas left a legacy which exists even up to date.

Mount Bisoke hike.
This adventure at the Bisoke is one of the most impressive and unforgettable activities while in Rwanda. The top of this specific Volcano has a magnificent crater lake. It is minimally a 6-hour hike which includes the 2 hours descending down to the starting point. The good and experienced hikers can get to this top of the mountain in a matter of 3 hours or even less and then return to the base in about just an hour.
On the day of doing the hiking, hikers congregate at the park headquarters at Kinigi around 7:00 am so as to attend to a briefing and then be assigned a park ranger. These park rangers are typically inhabitants of this Volcanoes National Park surrounding area thus being very knowledgeable about the mountain adventures.
Your tour guide will then transfer you to the starting point at exactly 8:00am where the adventure begins. You will be assigned porters to carry your baggage in case of any baggage, and then they will provide you with the gears for hiking.

The Right Time to Visit Rwanda.

When planning to make a visit to Rwanda for gorilla trekking put in mind that it can be done all year around. The best time however, to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons, periods between the months of December to the early March and then June to the month of September. The period of December to March is the main long dry season for Rwanda, with the temperatures going up to around 29 degrees Celsius for particular days while the months of March to around Mid May, then July to the month of September, on the other hand, they are regarded as the main rainy periods in the country.
Generally Rwanda has a good weather all the way through the year but the dry season is automatically more preferable. The weather is usually good in addition wildlife viewing is also more common in this time. For the tourists interested in visiting the gorillas, this is also the best time for gorilla tours simply because there is the least chance of rain during the trek and so a good hiking terrain within the rainforest. So, It is still important to have your own waterproof garments even during these drier months, since this Equatorial climate is very impulsive and unpredictable. This period is also a peak season; hence the prices tend to be higher on several things that stand your enjoyable trip, for example prices of accommodation and car hire tend to raise.

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

How to Get to Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is situated in a small village called Musanze formerly well-known as Musanze (Ruhengeri), which is very reachable and accessible by the use of the public transport from Gisenyi or Kigali. The trip takes around 2 hours, meaning that you can do a gorilla tracking on that very same day and then after the trek, you return to Kigali. On your trekking day you will be required to come and be at the RDB Headquarters which is in Kinigi (park entrance) by at least 7:00 am. Therefore, if you are to trek gorillas for just one day, you are obliged to wake up very early for your early journey and so as to be on time. However, visitors should note that there isn’t any public transport from Musanze to the headquarters of the park at Kinigi. You will need by all means to hire transport for that special day of trekking.

In the nutshell, if you choose to go on a gorilla safari, you are choosing fun, excitement and thrill simply because this activity is adventurous and breath taking, go gorilla, go trek.