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VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK RWANDA
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda is Located to the north west of the destination Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park shares borders with Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Congo’s Virunga National Park. It is the most popular park in destination Rwanda because it is the only National Park in the country with Mountain Gorillas which are listed as critically endangered world over. Besides the Mountain Gorillas, the other outstanding features of Volcanoes National Park are the five (5) breathtaking scenic volcanoes that include; Rwanda’s highest Mountain Karisimbi (4,507m), Mount Bisoke (3,711m), Mount Muhabura (4,127m), Mount Sabyinyo (3,669m) and Mount Gahinga (3,474m) with the last three having their peaks in the neighbouring destination Uganda.
Established in 1925, Volcanoes National Park ranks among the oldest National Parks of Africa and the aim of its gazzettion was to conserve the Mountain Gorillas from poachers. The borders were further increased in the year 1929 by the Belgian colonial Masters to cover more parts of Rwanda and Congo and it was named Albert National Park covering 8,090km2. However, 700ha were later cleared for human settlement in the year 1958.
Following the independence of Democratic Republic of Congo in the year 1960, the National Park was divided into two and after Rwanda gained independence in 1962, still the new government resolved to keep the park though the population was already dense. However, the National Park was reduced between 1969 and 1973 with 1,050ha cleared for pyrethrum growing. The arrival of Dian Fossey in 1967 in Volcanoes National Park saw its popularity rise all over the world as a centre for Mountain Gorilla research and conservation. Dian Fossey established a research station at Karisoke between Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi and spent great deal of her time researching about Mountain Gorillas and devising means for conserving them before she succumbed to unclear death in the year 1985. The Movie Gorillas in the Mist was showcased in her commemoration and she is buried at her research station along with her most admirable Silverback Digit.
During the Rwandan Civil War, Volcanoes National Park was turned into a battle field and the park headquarters were attacked in the year 1992 but the park resumed operations including receiving visitors in 1999 when it was believed to be safe and under complete control.
How to get to Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park positioned in Ruhengeri, Musaze District can be accessed by both Public and Private Transport. Volcanoes National Park is 116km about 2 ½ – 3 hours from Kigali which makes it possible to even do transfer from Kigali and catch up with Mountain Gorilla Trekking encounter in Volcanoes on the same day and transfer back.
From Musaze, it is 30 – 40 minutes drive to Kinigi Headquarters which is the main starting point for the activities in Volcanoes National Park including Mountain Gorilla trekking, Golden Monkey tracking, Dian Fossey hike, Volcano climbing among others.
Public transport is available from Kigali to Musaze but you will have to arrange a private transfer from Musaze to the Volcanoes Park headquarters as there is no public transfers there. Boda bodas are commonly used but you can as well hire a saloon car for the transfer.
Besides Kigali, Volcanoes National Park can as well be accessed from the neighbouring destinations of Uganda and Rwanda.
While visiting Volcanoes National Park Rwanda as an extension of a Uganda Safari, you can cross at Chanica border post 10km from Kisoro town to the south west of Uganda. This is close to Uganda tour destinations of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Lake Bunyonyi, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
From Democratic Republic of Congo, the Volcanoes National Park can be accessed via Goma the border between the two countries before connecting to Gisenyi on the shores of Lake Kivu 110km about 2 hours drive to Volcanoes National Park.
NYUNGWE FOREST NATIONAL PARK RWANDA
Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda is located to the south west of Rwanda bordering Burundi to the South and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West. This great montane forest is within the watershed between the River Nile basin to the east and River Congo basin to the west. It actually forms one of the remote sources of River Nile. Established in the year 2004, Nyungwe Forest National Park stretches to cover a geographical spread of 970km2 comprising of well conserved rain forest, grassland, bamboo, bogs and swamps. The closest town to Nyungwe Forest National Park is Cyangungu which is 54km to the west of the park. Mount Bigugu marks the highest point in the park rising to 2950m above sea level.
Nyungwe Forest National Park features a great diversity of wildlife species that qualify it as conservation priority on the African continent. It is positioned at the convergence of various bio-geographical zones and the range of terrestrial biomes facilitates the survival of diverse plant and animal species.
A total of thirteen (13) primate species are recorded in Nyungwe Forest National Park, 1068 species of plants, 275 species of birds, 85 species of mammals, 32 species of amphibians and 38 species of reptiles. A range of these wildlife species are limited in range to the montane forests of the Albertine Rift. Nyungwe is believed to be among the oldest forests on the African continent and is recorded to have survived the last ice age. This great diversity makes it one of the popular Rwanda Safari tour sites offering a range of adventure activities including Chimpanzee Trekking, Colobus monkey tracking, Canopy walk, Birding and breathtaking nature walks.
There are three categories of Accommodations/lodges/hotels where you can stay during your trip to Nyungwe Forest National Park Rwanda and these include;
One & Only Nyungwe is a five-star facility situated in a tea plantation close to the Nyungwe forest
Nyungwe Top View hotel was opened in 2011and it offers good accommodation. The hotel is only a five minutes-drive from Nyungwe National park and the facilities
Gisakura Guest House which is a budget guest house offering basic comfortable accommodation for budget travelers. It is located close to the Gisakura tea estate along the road that leads to Rusizi just about 2km from the park.