Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park

Things to do - general

The “Parc National de Volcans” (or PNV as it’s known by locals) lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a short two hour drive from Rwanda’s capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences. While a visit to the mountain gorillas is often at the top of visitor, the dramatic landscape also offers thrilling hiking and visits to the fascinating golden monkeys.

PNV is also one of Rwanda’s conservation epicenters, where many non-profit organizations base their operations. Visitors can pay homage to the legendary scientist and gorilla advocate Dian Fossey with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fosse Gorilla Fund that continues her legacy of research and advocacy to this day.

Near the park, the bustling and vibrant markets of Musanze are a place to immerse yourself into everyday Rwandan culture. Go deep into the earth with Musanze’s caves – one of the area’s newest attractions.

Country RWANDA
Visa requirements

Visa is required for all non-American citizens.

Languages spokenEnglish
Currency usedAmerican dollar (USD)
Area (km2)9,857,306 km2

Culture and history info

Belgian colonists, who intended to protect the mountain gorillas on Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno in Rwanda and the Belgian Congo from poachers, first gazetted the Virungas as a national park in 1925. This small conservation triangle was the first protected area to be created on the continent of Africa. Four years later, the borders were extended further to form Parc National Albert (Albert National Park), a massive area that encompassed more than 8000 sq km.

Following the independence of the Congo in 1960 and Rwanda in 1962, Albert National Park was split into two entities, the Rwanda portion being assigned the name Parc National des Volcans. During the early years of Rwanda’s fragile independence, it wasn’t poaching or fighting that harmed the gorillas most, but rather a small daisy-like flower known as pyrethrum. Due to a large grant by the European Community (EC), the 1960s saw the conversion of half of Parc National des Volcans into commercial farms for pyrethrum, which can be processed into a natural insecticide.

By the early 1970s, poachers were making inroads on both sides of the Rwanda–Congo border as the demand for stuffed gorilla heads and hands (which were, depressingly, used as ashtrays) began to burgeon. Thankfully the plight of the mountain gorilla became an international issue following the work of the late Dian Fossey.

Gorilla tracking in Rwanda was first launched in 1979 by Amy Vedder and Bill Weber, who marketed the charismatic creatures to tourists on overland trips. By the late 1980s, the sale of gorilla permits was the country’s third-largest revenue earner, which was enough to convince ordinary Rwandans that these great apes were indeed a valuable natural resource worth protecting.

In 1991 Rwanda was plunged into civil war, and Parc National des Volcans became a battlefield. By the time the perpetrators of the genocide swept across Rwanda in 1994, the park had been heavily land-mined and then abandoned as refugees fled into the neighbouring DRC. When the dust from the conflict settled, many observors were surprised to discover that the gorillas had weathered the violence remarkably well. However, it wasn’t until 1999 that Parc National des Volcans was once again reopened to tourism. Since then tourism has boomed and gorilla tracking has once again become one of Rwanda's biggest earners. When the country changed one of its official languages from French to English in 2008, the park's name changed to Volcanoes National Park.

1 Day Gorilla Tour Rwanda

1 Day Gorilla Tour Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park
Price per person from $ 1,999.00
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2 AKAGERA SAFARIS WITH GORILLA TREKKING

2 AKAGERA SAFARIS WITH GORILLA TREKKING

Volcanoes National Park, AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Price per person from $ 2,412.00
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2 DAYS GORILLA TREKKING WITH CANOPY WALK AT NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK

2 DAYS GORILLA TREKKING WITH CANOPY WALK AT NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK

Volcanoes National Park, NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK
Price per person from $ 2,440.00
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2 DAYS GORILLA TREKKING WITH KIGALI CITY TOUR

2 DAYS GORILLA TREKKING WITH KIGALI CITY TOUR

Volcanoes National Park, KIGALI
Price per person from $ 2,280.00
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2 DAYS RWANDA GORILLA TREKKING SAFARI

2 DAYS RWANDA GORILLA TREKKING SAFARI

Volcanoes National Park, KIGALI
Price per person from $ 2,300.00
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3 DAY RWANDA SAFARI INCLUDING AKAGERA WILDFIFE AND GORILLA TREKKING

3 DAY RWANDA SAFARI INCLUDING AKAGERA WILDFIFE AND GORILLA TREKKING

Volcanoes National Park, KIGALI, AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Price per person from $ 3,050.00
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3 Days Rwanda Safari including Gorilla and Chimpanzee Trekking

3 Days Rwanda Safari including Gorilla and Chimpanzee Trekking

Volcanoes National Park, KIGALI, NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK
Price per person from $ 3,050.00
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Unfortunately there are no car rental offers at this location at the moment.