Gorilla Lydia Nandudu

Parc National des Volcans Safaris

An awe inspiring, utterly spellbinding experience

Gorilla, Parc National des Volcans (Lydia Nandudu)

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Exceptionally scenic and ecologically diverse

Parc National des Volcans, hidden away in the deep, dense jungles of northern Rwanda

Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans, is part of a Transfrontier Conservation Area, that includes the southern section of DR Congo's Virunga National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and together they are the home of about half of the world’s endangered mountain gorilla. Five of the nine free standing volcanoes fall within, or partly within, the Parc National des Volcans.

In the 1950s George Schaller completed groundbreaking study on Mountain gorilla behaviour in the Virungas. This was followed by more recent, better-known behavioural studies by American primatologist Dian Fossey, who was supported by Kenyan paleontologist Louis Leaky. In 1967, Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Centre on the slopes of Mt Karisimbi, where she dedicated over 18 years of her life to her ongoing studies and struggle to protect the Rwandan Mountain gorilla population. This was to cost her her life, as she was murdered in December 1985.

Due to its altitudinal variation, the park has a varied array of habitat zones including agricultural land and lower afro-montane forest, bamboo forest, Hagenia woodlands, upper Afro-montane forest, and grasslands, meadows, and marshes.

The park has a modest bird checklist and notable among the primates present is the Golden monkey, a subspecies of the Blue monkey. Elephant and buffalo do inhabit the forest, but deep within the park so are almost never sighted.

Activities

First and foremost, the park is renowned for Gorilla tracking. Golden monkey tracking too, is popular. Active travellers can climb Mt Bisoke as a full day excursion.

Those who don’t mind overnight camping, can tackle Mt Karisimbi. This entails a two day trek during which you summit Africa’s 5th highest mountain and stay at the campsite (3,800m).

There is also a fairly challenging hike up Mt Bisoke (3,000m) or to Ngezi Crater Lake at the top. Many visit Dian Fossey’s tomb and Karisoke Research Centre.

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Ben Morison

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