The Volcanoes National Park or you can call it Parc National des Volcans in French was the very first National Park to be created in Africa. It lies in the north western part of Rwanda bordering the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
This park was part of the larger Albert National Park, created in 1925 to protect the mountain gorillas. The park is surrounded by the Virunga mountains including Karisimbi, Visoke and Mikeno.
Situated in the heart of Central Africa, far North-western corner of Rwanda is the remarkable Volcanoes National Park, nestled so high that you shiver more than you sweat. Don’t miss to add the Volcanoes National Park when you are for a safari in the “Land of a thousand Hills” because everything in this Park will leave breathless. This Park stretches along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, and is a haven to the critically endangered Mountain gorillas of Rwanda, and also shelters the Rwandan section of the Virunga Massif. Parc National des Volcans (in French) was gazzeted in 1925 mainly to conserve the Mountain gorillas, making it one of the oldest National Parks to be created in Africa and spans at 160 square kilometers/62 square miles.
Volcanoes National Park consists of five volcanoes (62.5%) of the Virungas including Mount Karisimbi (4507 meters above sea level), Mount Bisoke (3,711 meters), Mount Gahinga (3,474 meters), Mount Muhabura (4,127 meters) and Mount Sabinyo (3,634 meters), that are entirely fascinating and few would contend that this is not one of the most exhilarating National Parks in Africa. It is undeniable that one of the most outstanding sights and attractions around the Virungas, the one that actually draws thousands of tourists to Volcanoes National Park are the Mountain gorillas (there are about 300 individuals, representing about 63% of mountain gorillas within the Virunga Massif and 34% of the entire world’s mountain gorilla population).
As most travelers are motivated and moved by the inspiration and desire to have a face to face encounter with the actual/genuine gorillas in the mist, rare and endangered Golden m0nkeys, a group of which have been habituated to get used to human contact and presence can also be visited within Volcanoes National Park. This Park also rewards travelers with a variety of climbing and trekking options. In order for you to get the ultimate experience from the Virungas, give yourself as much time as you perhaps can, as this is a remarkable National Park that utterly rewards those who spend longer time. Besides the mountain gorillas and golden Monkeys, this Park is a home to other mammal species such as Buffaloes, Elephants, Spotted Hyenas, Bushbucks and Black-fronted duikers and over 178 bird species including 13 species endemic to the Virunga mountains and other 16 species endemic to the Rwenzori Mountains.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Date of creation:One of the very first national parks in Africa created in 1925 as Parc National Albert, renamed as Volcanoes National Park (Park National des Volcans) in 1960.
Location: Volcanoes National Park is located in North-western Rwanda, in Northern Province (Musanze and Gisenyi Districts).
Size: The current size of the national park is 1.6000 hectares. Extensions of its size are planned in the near future.
Altitude: The altitudinal range of the national park is 2400m to 4507m.
Volcanoes National Park is situated along the border with neighboring the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. The international border line stretches across the whole Virunga Range, joining the summits five of the six volcanoes. The park’s boundary in Rwanda extends over some 65km, from the Congolese border near Gisenyi all the way to the Ugandan border near Kisoro.
Volcanoes national park is the Rwandan part of the Virunga forest that extends over the border in the two neighboring countries to form one single international conservation area. In the DRC, the forest is protected as parc national des Virunga –secteur sud extending over more than 24.000 hectares , while in Uganda it is protected as “M” Gahinga Gorilla National park extending over some 4.000 hectares only.
Volcanoes national park is the smallest but the most famous of the three Rwanda’s national parks ( the other two being Nyungwe forest national park in the South and Akagere National park in the East of the country.)
The area currently protected by volcanoes National park used to be the part of parc national Albert created as early as 1925 under Belgian colonial rule. After independence ,parc national Albert was divided into two different management units. The Congolese side became parc national des virunga while the Rwandan side was renamed volcano national park.