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Volcanoes National Park

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About Volcanoes National Park

The most famous destination in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park has become synonymous with mountain gorilla tracking safaris and no visit to the country would be complete without visiting these majestic primates.

Volcanoes National Park is the Ugandan section of the great volcanic massif called the Virunga Mountains that straddles the borders of Uganda, Uganda and the DRC. The massif covers a huge area of over 8,000km², encompassing six active and three extinct volcanoes. Gorillas, of course, pay no heed to borders and are known to cross between the countries, although most habituated groups are to be found in Volcanoes National Park. The massif is home to around half of the world’s precious mountain gorillas – some 400 of them – making Uganda probably the best place in Africa for a tracking safari.

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Where is Volcanoes National Park Located

Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans) lies in northwestern Uganda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rain forest and bamboo.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_mad_custom_title title_top_color=”#ffffff” title_color=”#ffffff” align=”center” title_top=”Volcanoes National Park is the top tourist destination in Uganda. Here’s what you can expect from a visit to the park” title=”Popular Activities at Volcanoes National park” css=”.vc_custom_1551943440741{padding-top: 6px !important;padding-right: 6px !important;padding-bottom: 6px !important;padding-left: 6px !important;background-color: #660400 !important;border-radius: 4px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1551943080339{padding-top: 6px !important;padding-right: 6px !important;padding-bottom: 6px !important;padding-left: 6px !important;border-radius: 5px !important;}”][vc_column_text]

Mountain Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park Uganda is second to none in attracting tourists into the country. The mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with fewer that 900 left in the wild worldwide.

Time is running out to see these gentle giants in their natural habitat, which is why this experience is at the top of most visitor’s lists.

Trekkers are accompanied by trained Tour Guides who are well-informed about different wildlife in the park and will lend a hand along the trek. They could carry your daypack or offer you a helping hand if you were to get stuck in the mud![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1554″ img_size=”600*350″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_rounded” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1556″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_rounded” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Golden Monkey Tracking

Rare golden monkeys have been sighted in the magnificent Virunga Mountains.

Tracking the beautiful golden monkeys is another popular tourist activity in Volcanoes National Park, Uganda. A glimpse of these creatures is considered to be a wonderful lifetime experience.

Most visitors book a 3-day gorilla tour package, to experience the golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park. Like gorilla tracking, this activity starts in the morning with an assembly at Kinigi Park Headquarters.

However, golden monkey tracking is less strenuous than to gorilla trekking, so you’ll be finished by around midday.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Adventurous Hike to Dian Fossey Tombs

A visit to Volcanoes National Park Uganda can be mixed up with a hike to the tomb of the late Dian Fossey.

Dian Fossey was an American primatologist who spent close to two decades in the park, studying the mountain gorillas. A biopic of her life was made into a movie in the late eighties, titled Gorillas in the Mist.

She was murdered by poachers in 1985. Her grave is nestled between the beautiful volcanic peaks of Bisoke and Karisimbi, near Karisoke Research Center.

Along the way on your hike journey, you may be lucky enough to see elephants, buffalo, primates like golden monkeys and sometimes even the mountain gorillas that Dian dedicated her life to.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1564″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_rounded” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1566″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_rounded” onclick=”link_image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Mountain Hiking Adventures

Mount Bisoke stands at 3,700 meters above sea level, with a deep crater lake on the top. Hiking Mount Bisoke does not require prior hiking experience; you only need to be physically fit, due to the high elevation and length of the climb.

The whole trek takes five to seven hours depending on your speed and the frequency of stops.

While at the top of the volcano, you will enjoy fantastic views of the other five volcanoes and the beautiful Twin Lakes.

Near the summit is the Crater Lake, which features drier vegetation than other parts of the park, with giant heather growing all over the slopes of the volcano.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_mad_custom_title title_color=”#660400″ align=”center” title=”Other Highlights at Volcanoes National Park”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][info_list icon_color=”#660400″ font_size_icon=”24″ icon_border_style=”solid” icon_border_size=”3″ border_color=”#660400″ eg_br_width=”3″ connector_color=”#660400″][info_list_item list_title=”Safaris to Volcanoes National Park” heading_tag=”h4″ list_icon=”Defaults-star” info_list_link_apply=”container” info_list_link=”url:%23|||”]The town of Musanze (more commonly known by its former name Ruhengeri) is the hub of Uganda’s gorilla trekking tourism, with plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants, and is easily accessible on a 1-2 hour drive from the capital Kampala. Volcanoes National Park’s Headquarters are based in the nearby village of Kinigi, the administrative centre for permits and the place where all visitors gather in the mornings for briefings before starting on their gorilla treks.

The issuing of gorilla tracking permits is strictly regulated in Volcanoes National Park (see Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda for further information on this) so it’s advisable to plan your holiday well ahead, particularly if you want to travel to Uganda in the busy period between June and September, to guarantee availability.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Safari camps and lodges in and around Volcanoes” list_icon=”Defaults-search”]There are several options for accommodation near Volcanoes National Park, and quite a range of choices – from simple and basic, to more upmarket. Those in Ruhengeri and Kinigi generally fall into the lower budget categories while the more expensive lodges can be found on the outskirts of the park or scattered further afield.

Tourism in Volcanoes National Park is well established. For the most part, the gorilla tracking experiences and hotels operate smoothly and the people are friendly, appreciating the value of visitors to their economy and their area. Indeed, some of the lodges actively work with the local communities on projects for job creation and education, offering interesting visits to local villages.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Wildlife of Volcanoes National Park” list_icon=”Defaults-heart”]Even without mountain gorilla safaris, Volcanoes National Park would be fascinating. Its altitude ranges from about 2,500m to the peak of Karisimbi, at 4,500m, resulting in extensive bamboo forests and some of the last remaining afro-montane forest habitat on the planet. On the higher slopes you’ll find an almost otherworldly habitat of thick moors with endemic giant lobelia and groundsel.

As well as its infamous mountain gorillas, the Park harbours a spectacular array of rare and endangered animals and plants. There is a variety of other primates, including the endemic golden monkeys, plus forest elephants, buffalo, giant forest hogs (Africa’s largest swine), bushpigs, bushbucks, black-fronted duikers, spotted hyenas, and around 200 species of birds.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Other Trips in Volcanoes National Park” list_icon=”Defaults-signal”]You don’t have to track gorillas to go trekking in Volcanoes National Park – there are other interesting hiking trails here. Before your visit to the gorillas, a guided walk into the mountains can be good for acclimatisation. It also allows you to spend more time looking at the other wildlife in forest, and to gain a better understanding of the overall ecosystem.

One of the more popular routes is to the tomb of Dian Fossey and the Karisoke Research Centre she established, which takes a couple of hours of fairly steep walking. Another beautiful option is a day hike to the crater lake on Mount Bisoke.

Several other primates have made Volcanoes National Park their home too and it’s possible to track two troops of habituated golden monkeys, a totally different experience to gorilla tracking. Golden monkeys tend to inhabit the bamboo forests on the lower slopes, so the walk to reach them is relatively easy. Again, once you find them, you’ll have just an hour in their presence. They’re fast-moving little creatures, and very entertaining as they constantly swing through the bamboo or chase each other in circles all around you. They’re also very pretty, with shiny reddish-gold backs that blend in perfectly with the golden bamboo.
People are as much a part of Volcanoes National Park as its primates and a visit to one of the cultural centres in the area to gain an insight into local life and traditions is not only very interesting but also benefits the local communities and deters them from engaging in negative activities like poaching. Two very good examples are the SACOLA Cultural Centre, with excellent traditional Intore dancing, and Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, both near Kinigi.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row]