The Virunga Volcanoes are among the most attractive sights to look out for in East Africa. Dian Fossey wrote an interesting phrase which says that “You are so high up that you shiver more than you sweat”! The series of 8 peaks projects so high to a height of about 15,000 feet in some areas, and 5 of these peaks are located within Rwanda. The bottom of each is covered with dense rain forest, and also gives way to the stunning montane grassland as well as alpine moorland as you move higher.
There are 8 habituated Gorilla groups living in the Volcanoes National Park, each group is so charming and very interesting, as well as unforgettable as the rest of the other groups, although there is a variation in the walks to catch-up with them. As you are trekking through the verdant foothills of the Virunga Mountains, always look out for the uncommon Golden Monkeys, an overabundance of vivid birds, as well as the scent of the Buffalos which are considerably hard to catch, plus Elephants.
The entire Volcanoes national park covers an area of about 160 sq km and it shadows the Rwandan part of the Virunga Mountains, 3 active, and 6 extinct volcanoes that overlap the borders of Rwanda with Uganda and also the DRC. The Volcanoes Park is a section of the adjacent 433 sq km Trans border conservation area that comprises of the Virunga National Park, and Mgahinga National Park, which shadows the Ugandan and the DRC fraction of the Virunga ranges respectively.
During independence period, Rwanda’s newly elected leaders established that they would by all means maintain the mountain gorillas which are today being famed internationally regardless of the serious problem of overpopulation. The Volcanoes National Park has an altitude that ranges from 2400 – 4507 kms. the chain of sheer, all free-standing mountains is connected by fertile lumber that were formed by hardened lava flows, and is among the most interesting and unforgettable sights in East Africa . The Karisimbi is the most elevated mountain on this chain and is situated on Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. When you travel eastward, you will find Visoke peak on the border of DRC; Sabinyo peak at the meeting of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, and the Gahinga as well as Muhabura peaks on the border of Uganda.
The Volcanoes National Park is known internationally as a place where nearly for 20 years Dian Fossey who was an American primatologist conducted her studies about the behavior of the mountain gorillas. 3 years after the death of Dian Fossey, her work was unveiled to a crowd audience with the launch of “Gorilla in the mist”, a cinematic story of her impressive life filmed within the Volcanoes national Park. The “Gorilla in the Mist” attracted international attention to the troubles of the mountain gorillas and brought awareness in the gorilla-tourism programme which had been launched in the park a few years earlier.
Way back in 1990, the Volcanoes national Park was the most organized and most popular mountain gorilla habitats in Africa and so gorilla trekking was perhaps the leading contributor of Rwanda’s tourist revenue. In June 1993, The park was re-opened to tourism although in April 1994 the park was evacuated as a result of the genocide. Towards the end of 1995, it re-opened once again to the tourism industry, and unfortunately close few months afterwards. Gorilla tracking was at last recommenced permanent in the month of July 1999, and since then, the number of visitors traveling to the Virungas had greatly increased.
For more information about Volcanoes National Park click here to get all the information from the official Rwanda Tourist Board.