The Volcanoes National Park is situated at about 110 from the capital city of Kigali and 80km from the lakeside resort of Gisenyi. The nearest town is Musanze (formelyRuhengeri). Tarmac roads in fair conditions link Kigali and Gisenyi to Musanze. A smaller tarmac road links Musanze to Kigali, where Volcanoes National Park’s headquarters and booking office are situated. It will take typically two and half hours by road from Kigali to the park’s office and 2 hours from Gisenyi by road to the park’s office (all with own Vehicle).
Frequent public transport (shuttles) link Kigali, Gisenyi and Musanze. Regular public transport (shuttles) also link Musanze to the small settlement of Kinigi, where it is another 3 km to the park’s office (only motorbike taxis are available to reach the park’s office from the settlement of Kinigi).
The Volcanoes National park’s office is opened everyday of the year from 6.00 a.m to 4.00 p.m . It is at this office where all formalities referring to the visits in the park need to be made. It is possible to book for gorilla visits on the same day ( depending on availabilities ), but pre-bookings for gorilla visits for coming days or later dates need to be made at the central booking office in Kigali only.
All activities in the Volcanoes National Park start at Kinigi office at 7.00 a.m . For gorilla visits, it is recommended to be there at least fifteen minutes in advance , as to make formalities quicker. After they have presented their proof of booking (gorilla permits) or booked and paid the fees for other activities (golden monkey visits, hiking trails), all visitors are allocated a guide by the Tourism Warden at the Park’s Office.
It is an offense to enter the national park without an official guide. Volcanoes national Park is open all year as far seasons are concerned.
Please note that the Volcanoes National Park’s Headquarters and booking office are physically situated outside the national park. From the office up to the different entry points in the forest, all visitors will need their own transportation, as there is no public transport and the park cannot provide vehicles. Some of the entry points in the forest are situated quite far from Kinigi office (up to one and a half hours driving).
Local tracks can be very rough , rocky and steep. 4WD high clearance vehicles are needed on most of the local tracks.
It is possible to hire porters at an official daily rate at all entry points in the park. Visitors can hire as many porters as they need/wish . Only porters that are members of the porters Association are allowed to enter into the forest . porters are really helpful to assist visitors on difficult stretches .
Hiking in Virunga forest can be physically demanding. Visitors should be prepared to the high altitudes , especially when attempting the ascent of one of the volcanoes. To visit mountain gorillas and golden monkeys , it may be necessary to leave the trails and make one’s way through dense vegetation.
Getting Around Rwanda
- Rwanda has a reasonable road system, due mostly to its small size and a large dose of foreign assistance.
- The only major unsealed roads are those running along the shore of Lake Kivu; they were in the early stages of being sealed in 2016.
- The privately run buses and minibuses are more organised than elsewhere in East Africa, with regular, scheduled departures.
- Buy bus tickets at bus offices prior to travelling; every passenger is guaranteed a seat.
- Most towns are small enough to negotiate by foot, but both Kigali and Huye (Butare) sprawl over several steep hills – you’ll need to catch a minibus or a taxi to get around.
- Taxis are plentiful in Kigali although moto-taxis are cheaper and faster.