Volcanoes national Park is the oldest national park in Africa established around the 1960.s under Dian Fossey – an American scientific researcher and also one of the most famous, national parks of Rwanda. It is located in the North western part of Rwanda, near the Virunga Mountains of the D Republic of Congo and Mgahinga gorilla national park of Uganda. The volcanoes national park covers a very wide area of about 130 sq km, and an altitude of 2400m – 4507m.
Volcanoes National park, is covered by 5 mountain peaks of the 8 Virunga ranges; Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabinyo, with Karisimbi the highest at 4507m. It has an average annual rainfall of 1975mm and mean annual temperature of 9.60C.
This national park was the first national park to be created in Africa and was established in 1925. After Rwanda gained independence, the national park was extended into its current borders and apparently one of Rwanda’s major tourist attractions.
In Rwanda, mountain gorillas – the world’s major tourist attraction in Africa are found in the locality of Volcanoes national park. The former research base for Dian Fossey – the famous American primatologist who devoted her life to the protection and conservation of these wild beasts / creatures – the mountain gorillas and her struggles for the survival of mountain gorillas are said to have caused her death in 1985 and her grave is within the national park.
The volcanoes national park is a habitat to various flora and fauna species. It’s flora offers great views to visitors due to the various vegetation types ascending the mountain in accordance to the different altitude ranges; bamboo forest, hagenia woodland, Afro-Alpine moorland, to grassland and marshy areas.
It is also a home to various species like primates which include among others the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, chimpanzees, baboons. Other mammals include spotted hyena, buffalo, black-fronted duicker, bushbuck, and elephants.
Volcanoes national park is also a habitat to various bird species of about 180 species where 13 species and 16 sub species are all endemic to the Virunga and Rwenzori ranges. Among the bird species found in Volcanoes national park , we have ; handsome francolin, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, Rwenzori batis, strange weaver, dusky crimson-wing, collared apalis, red-faced woodland warbler and Archer’s ground robin.
Volcanoes national park is a one place that is bless4ed with several tourist attractions and activities which include among others ; Mountain gorilla trekking, Primate watching such as the Golden Monkey tracking, Mountain climbing and hiking at Karisimbi ranges, Bisoke mountain, Lakes and Caves visits along the Virunga mountains, Visiting the Famous Scientist’s grave Dian Fossey, the beautiful vegetation of the Bamboo rain forests, it provides a good sight for birders, it also offers wonderful wildlife safaris since it is a known habitat for several wild animals like the spotted hyenas, golden and colubus monkeys that usually hung high in the trees, elephants, buffaloes and many other animals.