​Overview – Volcanoes NP

Ariadne van Zandbergen
Expert
By Ariadne van Zandbergen

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who write and update many Bradt guides, including the guide to Rwanda.

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who write and update many Bradt guides, including the guide to Rwanda.

Ariadne is a renowned Africa expert. She and her husband form a team who author the Bradt guide to Rwanda.

Ariadne and her husband form a team who author the Bradt guide to Rwanda.

Volcanoes National Park is arguably the best place in the world to observe the endangered mountain gorillas. This is where Dian Fossey started the habituation of these gentle giants decades ago. Other activities in the park include golden monkey trekking, a hike to Dian Fossey’s former camp, and several strenuous climbs to the volcanic peaks.

Best Time to Go June to August (It is drier and hiking is easier)
High Season June to September (Permits are scarce)
Size 160km² / 62mi²
Altitude 1,881-4,202m / 6,171-13,786ft

Pros & Cons

  • Best mountain gorilla trekking in Africa
  • Large golden monkey troops
  • Incredible scenery with volcanoes
  • Several other activities are available making a longer stay attractive
  • Very expensive gorilla trekking permit and limited availability
  • All accommodation is in cultivated areas outside the park

Volcanoes NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
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  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
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Wildlife

Aside from mountain gorillas, you can track one of the habituated troops of golden monkeys, one of which numbers up to 100 individuals. This endangered species is an Albertine Rift endemic. Buffalo and elephants are quite common in the forest, but they are skittish and rarely seen. Smaller animals present include bushbuck, bushpig, giant forest hog, black-fronted duiker and side-striped jackals.

Scenery

Volcanoes NP protects the Rwandan sector of the Virunga Mountains, a range of dormant and active volcanoes that straddle the Ugandan and Congolese borders. The dramatic scenery consists of a chain of freestanding mountains, connected by forested saddles. The gorillas are often found along these saddles, in enormous groves of bamboo.

Weather & Climate

Due to the mountain peaks and general high altitude, Volcanoes NP has a damp, cold climate. It rains throughout the year, but there is a drier period from June to August. Due to its location near the equator, temperatures don’t vary much through the year. Daytime temperatures average 15°C/59°F, but this drops to about 7°C/45°F at night. Waterproof, warm clothing is necessary throughout the year.

Best Time to Visit

Gorilla trekking is offered throughout the year. Sightings are almost guaranteed and are not weather dependent. However, the drier months, from June to August and to a lesser degree September, offer the best hiking conditions and these are the prime months for gorilla trekking and other hiking trips in the volcanoes. January and February are reasonably dry too. The trails can be slippery throughout the year and good hiking shoes are recommended.

Want to Visit Volcanoes NP?

Volcanoes NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Sue Watt  –  
United Kingdom UK

Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.

Magical mountain gorillas
4/5

I’m fortunate through my work to have tracked mountain gorillas six times and it never disappoints – it is the ultimate wildlife encounter. In Volcanoes National Park it’s a very smooth and well-managed operation, with strict rules to...

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Latest User Review
Moses Nezehose  –  
Rwanda RW
Reviewed: Aug 9, 2019
Our Gorillas Tracking was a trip to remember
5/5

Our Gorillas Tracking was a life changing trip because Our driver was very humble and the Weather was clear and Good , Gorillas was in an open place seeing the Kids playing with their mother , rolling up and down some times i don't have the...

Full Review