Derek Keats

photo: Derek Keats

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Overview

Volcanoes National Park is Africa’s premier gorilla-tracking destination. It protects the Rwandan portion of the Virungas, a chain of eight freestanding volcanoes that span the border with Uganda and the Congo. It is on these steep forested slopes that Dian Fossey undertook the pioneering behavioral study documented in the book and film "Gorillas In the Mist." Today, eight mountain gorilla groups are habituated for tourist visits, an epiphanal and peerless wildlife experience, though one that can be physically demanding to less fit travelers, especially those unused to high altitudes. Access to the national park is strictly controlled, and ...

Volcanoes National Park is Africa’s premier gorilla-tracking destination. It protects the Rwandan portion of the Virungas, a chain of eight freestanding volcanoes that span the border with Uganda and the Congo. It is on these steep forested slopes that Dian Fossey undertook the pioneering behavioral study documented in the book and film "Gorillas In the Mist." Today, eight mountain gorilla groups are habituated for tourist visits, an epiphanal and peerless wildlife experience, though one that can be physically demanding to less fit travelers, especially those unused to high altitudes. Access to the national park is strictly controlled, and limited to guided activities. Aside from gorilla tracking, these activities include a visit to a habituated troop of golden monkeys, colorful primates which – like mountain gorillas – are partial to bamboo, and whose range is largely restricted to the Virungas. More demanding is the steep hike up Mount Bisoke, a dormant volcano whose crater holds a beautiful lake. Another possibility is the relatively flat hike to Dian Fossey’s abandoned research station on the lower slopes of Karisimbi (the tallest of the Virungas at 14,787ft), where the researcher, who was killed by poachers, is buried alongside several of the gorillas she fought so hard to protect.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The park lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla and was zoologist Dian Fossey's base.
  • Language: Kinyarwanda, French, English and Kiswahili
  • Currency: Rwanda Franc
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Tracking is possible all year, but usually easiest during the long dry season running from June to September.