Volcanoes National Park, Gorilla Park Rwanda

The Volcanoes National Park Rwanda which is part of the magnificent Virunga Mountains located in northern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in DRC as well as Mgahinga National Park in southwestern Uganda. The Volcanoes National Park Rwanda inhabits some population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas and it is also hosting 5 out of 8 Volcanoes of the Virunga ranges namely Mt. Bisoke, Mt. Muhabura, Mt. Karisimbi, Mt. Gahinga, and Sabyinyo covered in the rain-forest and bamboo.

This is where half of the world’s last remaining population of mountain gorillas live today. The rest of the population is found in the misty jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda. The park was the base for the American zoologist, primatologist, and anthropologist Dian Fossey who undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years.gorilla-baby-tree

The national park was initially gazetted in 1925, as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke, and Mikeno Volcanoes, intended to protect the rare and endangered mountain gorillas from poaching. It was the first National Park to be established in Africa. Consequently, in 1929, the borders of Volcanoes national park Rwanda were extended further into Rwanda and into the Belgian Congo, to create the Albert National Park, a huge area of 8090 km², run by the Belgian colonial authorities who were responsible for both colonies. In 1958, 700 hectares of the national park was cleared for a human settlement.

After DR. Congo gained Independence in 1960, the national park was divided into two, and upon Rwandan independence in 1962, the new government consented to maintain the national park as a conservation and tourism destination, despite the fact that the new republic was already suffering from overpopulation problem. The national park was halved in an area in 1969. Between 1969 and 1973, 1050 hectares of the park was cleared to grow pyrethrum.

The vegetation at Volcanoes National Park Rwanda varies significantly because of the large altitudinal range within the park. There is some lower montane forest (now mainly lost to farmers). Somewhere around 2400 and 2500m, there is Neoboutonia forest. From 2500 to 3200m Arundinaria alpina (bamboo) forest occurs, covering around 30% of the national park area. From 2600 to 3600m, mainly on the more humid slopes in the south and west, is Hagenia-Hypericum forest, which covers around 30% of the national park. This is one of the biggest forests of Hagenia abyssinica. The vegetation from 3500 to 4200m is described by Lobelia wollastonii, L. lanurensis, and Senecio eric-rosenii and covers around 25% of the national park. From 4300 to 4500m grassland occurs. Secondary thicket, meadows, marshes, swamps and small lakes also occur, but their total area is relatively small.

Gorilla trekking is the most popular tourist attraction into Volcanoes national park Rwanda. Other mammals in the national park include forest Buffaloes, golden monkey, Spotted Hyena, bush-buck and black-fronted duiker as well as elephants in but these are currently very rare. Volcanoes National Park Rwanda has 178 species of birds recorded, with over 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.

There are different tour activities to be enjoyed in Volcanoes National Park apart from gorillas tracking. This national park is home to various caves, various Cultural and Community Tourism initiates and it is also a perfect destination for bird lovers.

For the sport fan there are various hiking trails in the Virunga Mountains or you can take part in cycling the area, boat cruise on the Twin lakes or even try your hand at fishing.

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