What is the best time to visit volcanoes national park Rwanda
What is the best time to visit volcanoes national park Rwanda? Volcanoes national park is located in Musanze district in the northwestern part of Rwanda. The park happens to be one of the oldest national parks in Africa having been gazetted in 1925. Volcanoes national park is popular in the world for hosting the endangered mountain gorillas that have found their home on the slopes of Virunga mountains -Sabyinyo, Gahinga, Muhabura, Bisoke, and Karisimbi.
Mountain gorillas are not the only animals in volcanoes national park for the park has other animals like the golden monkeys which are habituated for trekking, buffaloes, forest elephants, duikers, spotted hyenas, several primates, and different bird species. There are so many attractions in volcanoes national park in the northwestern part of Rwanda and the most done is mountain gorilla trekking, and then other activities are golden monkey trekking, hiking, birding, nature walk, and cultural visits.
The best time to visit volcanoes national park Rwanda
Volcanoes national park is open throughout the year which means tourists can come at any time they want bit there are some months that do favor certain activities.
The drier months
The drier months are the best to take a visit to volcanoes national park if you are intending to trek mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and hike any of the Virunga mountains. The months happen from June to September and December to February and are charactered by little or no rainfall and this makes the trekking trails less muddy and not slippery, the roads to the park passable, and the grass in the park short for clear views of the park animals.
The wet months
The wet months in volcanoes national park are the best for those interested in birding activities reason being it’s always time the migratory birds are in the park which means you will be able to spot these birds and also those that live permanently here. During the wet months, there is always plenty of food for animals and birds in the park which means you won’t go far searching for them. Budget travelers benefit from reduced accommodation price rates but the trekking trails in the park are muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall with unclear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.
Activities to do after understanding the best time to visit volcanoes national park Rwanda
Encountering mountain gorillas
On a safari to volcanoes national park, you can plan in advance, buy your gorilla trekking permit and be part of the amazing gorilla trekking. Encountering mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park of Rwanda is done on the slopes of Virunga mountains where these apes found their comfortable stay in the tropical forests and bamboo trees. The Virunga mountains we are talking about include Mountain Bisoke, Mountain Gahinga, Mountain Muhabura, Mountain Sabyinyo and Mountain Karisimbi.
Trekking mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park is done by those possessing permits and all are expected to be 15 years and above according to the Rwanda Development Board that issues out the permits. On the final day of gorilla trekking, all people with valid gorilla trekking permits are expected to wake up early in the morning have breakfast, join their safari guides who will drive them to Kinigi park headquarters to meet fellow trekkers for a briefing.
In the briefing, the park wardens do teach the trekkers about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity and they are grouped after which move to the starting point where different armed ranger guides will lead them into the jungle to search for the fully habituated mountain gorilla family assigned to them. During the trekking, the trekkers and armed ranger guides get opportunities to see some of the park animals like the elephants, duikers, giant forest hogs, forest buffaloes, monkeys, birds, and much more. when the mountain gorilla family assigned is located, the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around it and this will help them to know about their habits, watch them do daily activities, and take photos.
Encountering golden monkeys
With golden monkeys being endangered and only found nm volcanoes national park, tourists can plan to encounter these apes for 1 hour in their natural habitat. To trek the golden monkeys of volcanoes park Rwanda, you will have to book a golden monkey trekking permit first from Rwanda Development Board or through a trusted local tour operator like Africa Adventure Vacations Limited.
Golden monkey trekking activities in volcanoes national park Rwanda start with the trekkers waking up early in the morning and moving to Kinigi park headquarters where they gather with others to get a briefing from the park rangers. It is during the briefing that these trekkers are taught about the dos and don’ts of the trekking activities and then they move to the starting point where ranged ranger guides lead different groups into the jungle to search for these primates.
During the search on the slopes of different Virunga mountains, the trekkers get opportunities of meeting some of the park animals like the buffaloes, bush pigs, duikers, spotted hyenas, giant forest hogs, several primates, and different bird species. Once the assigned golden monkey family is located, the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around this family, watch the group members do daily activities, learn about their habits and take photos.
Encountering birds on a safari
Tourists most especially bird lovers can be part of eth birding activities in the volcanoes national park. Volcanoes is home to 178 bird species which means that it’s one of the best bird spotting areas in the country. While on a birding safari to volcanoes national park, you will encounter birds such as Rwenzori turaco, red-faced woodland warbler, black and white manikin, handsome francolin, collared apalis, red-backed shrike, bateleur, dusky crimson wing, baglafecht weaver, and.
Other notable bird species in volcanoes national park are white collared silverback, bat hawk, Archer’s ground robin, African green broadbill, francolin, archer’s ground robin, purple-throated, Rwenzori double-collared, dusky crimson wing, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, lesser honeyguide, regal sunbirds, grauer’s rush warbler, Rwenzori batis, and strange weaver among others.
Take a visit to Iby’Iwacu cultural village
Tourists on a safari in volcanoes national park can take a simple visit to Iby’Iwacu cultural village where they will meet and interact with local people among which include former poachers. A visit to this cultural village can be organized when you are already in the park for it does not need to book in advance and the local people themselves will lead you through this cultural visit.
While in the Iby’Iwacu cultural village, you will be able to interact with the former poachers, local people who will show you their day to day activities, be part of the local ceremonies if any, taste their local food and at the end, you will be entertained by the traditional dancers who will take you through dance and drama.
Hiking on a safari
Hiking is another activity you can be part of while in volcanoes national park and this is done on the 5 Virunga volcanoes – Karisimbi, Gahinga, Muhabura, Bisoke, and Sabyinyo. Hikers can hike any of these mountains apart from Sabyinyo which is said to be very steep at the moment but the hiking is done by those with valid hiking permits.
Hiking any of the Virunga mountains in volcanoes national park starts with the rangers briefing hikers early in the morning about how to hike, behave, and what to expect during the hike. Later the hikers are led by the ranger guides who lead them through the hiking trails and the time taken to reach the top depend on the mountain you have hiked for some like Karisimbi takes 2 days.
While hiking the mountains you will encounter some of the park animals like mountain gorillas which you won’t be allowed to be around them or take photos, golden monkeys, spotted hyenas, duikers, giant forest hogs, buffaloes, elephants, and different bird species. at the summit of any of these mountains, you will have an aerial view of the surrounding, see twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera, Lake Kivu, borders, the national park and for Mountain Bisoke you will see the crater lake.