Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park famously called Parc National des Volcans in French is perfectly positioned in northwestern Rwanda. The gorilla park in Rwanda is bordered by Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in South western Uganda.

Volcanoes National Park is most popular to many travellers as gorilla trekking destination in the picturesque Virunga Conservation Area and as the first African national park that was established in the year 1925 as the area covered by Virunga Volcanoes i.e. Mikeno, Karisimbi and Visoke volcanic peaks and a mountain gorilla’s natural sanctuary.

virunga-volcanoes-np

Spanning on a 160sqkm area, Parc National des Volcans became known to the world after the most popular primatologist Dr Dian Fossey who arrived and settled in this park in the year 1967 establishing up Karisoke Research Centre between the two Virunga Volcanoes of Karisimbi and Visoke Volcano. The prominent American researcher Dian Fossey was later merciless killed by local poachers whom she had violently criticized all her life as showed in her hot cake selling autobiography – Gorillas in the Mist. The graveyard of this world respected conservationists located at the research Centre has up to date become a unique tourist attraction frequently explored by visitors on Rwanda Gorilla safaris.

This famous national park suited in the land of thousand hills was turned a battlefield/ fighting grounds during the Rwandan Civil War, with its park headquarters being attacked in 1992. During that time, the research Centre that was earlier on established by Dian Fossey was left and even all tourist activities gorilla trekking inclusive were stopped. The tourists activities where not regained until year 1999 when the park area was declared safe and secure from the rebels.

Volcanoes national park is also an outstanding national park gifted with different Vegetation types that change according to the altitude. The lower slopes of the park are mainly covered/ occupied with montane forests which are under extinction or thereat of disappearing due to increasing illegal human activities done by the local people staying around the park. Between altitudes of 2400 - 2500 m above sea level, Neoboutonia forests are present. From an elevation of 2500 to 3200 m above sea level, bamboo forest exists, covering about thirty percent (30%) of the park area. From 2600 to 3600 m, mainly on the more humid slopes in the south and west, is Hagenia-Hypericum forest, which covers about 30% of the park. This is one of the largest forests of Hagenia abyssinica. The vegetation from 3500 to 4200 m is characterized by Lobelia wollastonii, L. lanurensis, and Senecio erici-rosenii and covers about 25% of the park. From 4300 to 4500 m grassland occurs. Secondary thicket, meadows, marshes, swamps and small lakes also occur, but their total area is relatively small.

It is also one of the ecologically richest regions of Africa and worldwide. In specific the most significant world endangered populations of the Mountain gorillas that use the diversified natural habitat characterize Volcanoes national park. The park is natural habitat to rare mammal species and the famous one being Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). Other mammals include the threatened /extinct species of golden monkeys, buffalo, black-fronted duiker, Spotted Hyena as well as bushbuck. Though rarely seen, the park also provides refuge grounds for Africa elephants.  In regard to Avi-flora, the park protects an estimated 178 bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies being endemic to the Ruwenzori Mountains in Uganda and Virunga National Park in Congo.

dian-fossey-rwanda

As earlier described by the famous American researcher Dian Fossey, Parc National des Volcans is conveniently  in the  middle of Central Africa and being home of Virunga massifs ,visitor  has to shiver more than he or she sweats when climbing/hiking the hills in the park. A thrilling trek through the farmed foothills of the Virungas provides exciting sights / views in all parts of the park. Then, suddenly, the trail enters the national park, immersing visitors in the peculiars intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of different colorful bird’s species as well as chattering of the exclusive golden monkey, and littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive populations of buffalo and elephant.