Volcanoes National Park
The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda forms a cross border conservation area with Congo’s Virunga National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda to create a protected habitat for the last of the endangered mountain gorillas. It is Africa’s oldest national park, formed in 1925. The park is dominated by six extinct volcanoes whose slopes are covered by a range of different habitats from bamboo forests to heath and montane forests. This is the perfect habitat for the mountain gorilla, as well as rare mountain elephant, forest hogs, buffalo, spotted hyena and golden monkeys.
The region gained fame through the research work of Diane Fossey, which was featured in the documentary, Gorillas in the Mist. Her murder was a great blow to conservation efforts but inspired others to carry on her work. Conservation initiatives have continued to grow, and tourism has played a key role in providing funding to support local communities and help combat poaching. Coming face to face with the powerful mountain gorilla in its domain allows guests to experience what gentle giants these magnificent creatures are.
There are strict regulations about tracking to see habituated gorillas in Rwanda. Permits must be purchased which allow guests to track to specific habituated gorilla groups. Rwanda has deliberately chosen to make the price of these permits very high to help keep tourist numbers down and limit the impact on these gorilla populations. The trek is considered to be easier than the trek in Bwindi in nearby Uganda to see the mountain gorillas.