The Volcanoes National Park is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Africa. You can enjoy a fun filled holiday in this off the beaten path places in the world.
Planning a trip to PNV all requires adequate time to put together everything that is required of any a successful holiday. Volcanoes National Park -VNP is Rwanda’s most visited park it being one of the only 4 places in Africa where mountain gorillas live. This park is geographically lying in the Northern province of Rwanda, and it is reachable within 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali.
- Basic Information
- Directions & Transportation
- Visitor Centers
- Things To Do
When to visit mountain gorillas
Visiting mountain gorillas in Rwanda is possible at any time of the year, but the best time is the dry season. The dry season in Volcanoes National Park is experienced right from June to September then the short phase of it starts from December to February of every year.
Stay safe in PNV
PNV is safe and secure whether you are interested in guided gorilla trekking safaris, hiking tours, golden monkey tracking or birding tours. There are well-trained and experienced park rangers- they offer ultimate protection to wildlife, and visitors at large. But before visiting the park, you should come along with rain jacket, good hiking boots or shoes, safari hat, sunscreen, bottled water, long trousers, gorilla permits, hand gloves, long sleeved shirt, and more.
What to pack for Actual Gorilla Trekking?
Carry a good camera free of flashlight, daypack- should be waterproof, long-sleeved shirts, passport, valid gorilla permit (each costs USD1500 in Rwanda), long trousers, insect repellents, snacks, bottled water, sweater, rain coat/jacket, walking stock, trekking boots-waterproof, gardening gloves, first aid kit and more.
Altitude and acclimatization are key when it comes to Rwanda safaris to Volcanoes National Park. Volcanoes NP lies at an altitude of 2200 to 3000m, and tracking mountain gorillas requires you to be physically fit although most visitors often don’t encounter altitude sickness. While on a trek to see gorillas, visitors should expect to navigate through the lush vegetation, an altitude of 2200-3000m, and a normal day trek runs from 2 to 6 hours.
What to Wear?
Once you have understood when best to visit Rwanda for gorilla trekking, next is to plan or consider what items to pack. What you plan to wear for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is key and here are some essentials: long sleeved shirts, long trousers, waterproof hiking boots, rain jacket, sweater, pair of socks, safari hat, daypack and many others.
Getting Rwanda VISA
In view of the bilateral agreements, the Nationals of the following Countries may visit Rwanda without visa for a period up to 90 days: USA, Germany, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Great Britain, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong and Burundi. The visitor’s visa should not be used for employment. For other countries and having more information –please visit www.migration.gov.rw
What to bring?
Binoculars greatly enhance game drives, forest walks and bird watching. Bring a camera and an adequate stock of film. Print film is available but transparency film is not. Toiletries and other essentials can be bought in the cities.
This is completely up to the discretion of travelers. Below are guidelines.The porter for your bags = $1.00 per person.
- Driver/Guides = $10.00 per person/day – (Minimum of $20.00 to $30.00)
- Restaurants =3 to 5% of bill. – Even when restaurant meals are included it is a kind gesture to leave a little something.
- Gorilla Guide = $10.00 to $20.00
- Gorilla Tracker = $5.00 to $10.00
- Gorilla Porter = $ 5.00 to $10.00 depending on how much help is provided.
- Camp Staff = $5.00 to $10.00 per day depending on service and size of staff.
- Bellhop = $1.00 per bag.
As always, if anyone does a special service for you, a little tip is always appreciated. You can tip your drivers in USD, as well as the ORTPN trackers and guides but small tips and tips to locals should be handled in the local currency since it is often difficult to change money for small quantities and especially in the rural areas. The large tip for the lodge staff can also be in USD.
All international flights arrive at Kigali International Airport, just 10 Km from Kigali city centre. International flights that operate to Kigali are: AIR France/KLM – Brussels Airlines – Qatar Airways – Turkish Airlines – South Africa Airways – Kenya Airways – Ethiopian Airlines – Air Uganda & Rwanda’s national carrier Rwanda Air.
The unit of currency is the Rwanda franc. The US dollar is the hard currency of preference. It may be impossible to exchange travellers’ cheques away from the capital. Credit cards are usually only accepted at the major hotels in Kigali.
What to wear:
Recommended clothing is long trousers and shirts when in the forest to avoid nettle stings. Steady walking shoes or hiking boots are essential. Raingear useful.
What else to bring:
Bring a water bottle and a small snack although eating, drinking and smoking near the gorillas is forbidden. Don’t forget your camera!
Photographs are permitted, although you may not use flash.
Porters are available to help you carry your daypack for a small charge.
Mountain gorillas live at high altitude and this may cause difficulties for some visitors. You should walk slowly and drink plenty of water. No one should feel deterred from making this trip.
The Bradt Guides for Rwanda by Janice Booth and Philip Briggs is an excellent reference. It has an excellent chapter on the history of Rwanda.