Also known as Parc National des Volcans in French, and Parikiy’Igihuguy’Ibirungain Kinyarwanda, this small park is part of the greater Virunga Conservation Area that also includes Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Volcanoes National Park is best known as a haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, but just as breathtaking and unforgettable is the scenery that is easily one of the continent’s winners. Located inside the park are five of the eight lush and verdant volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains range, which feature magical white-capped peaks, fascinating rainforest and bamboo vegetation on their slopes, and even a couple of serene crater lakes.
Volcanoes National Park was the first National Park created in Africa in 1925, when a small area was gazetted to protect the mountain gorillas from poachers. During the colonial era when Belgium controlled both Rwanda and the Congo, the Park’s borders were extended into the Belgian Congo to become The Albert National park. The Park was split in two in 1965 when Congo gained her independence. In Rwanda, the newly created Volcanoes Park continued to lose large tracts of land to settlers and agriculture from independence until 1967 when Dian Fossey set up her base inside the park and started her cause to protect the gorillas. Although the park was a battlefield following the Rwanda genocide, today it is a safe place to visit.
Located only 2hours drive from Kigali, Volcanoes National Park is an ideal place to immerse oneself in Rwandan culture at various cultural centres and sacred sites.