Holidays to Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Set amongst the spellbinding Virunga mountain range, Volcanoes National Park straddles the Rwandan borders with Uganda and the DRC. Probably Rwanda's most famous tourist attraction, and arguably one of Africa's most incredible national parks, the area was made famous by primatologist Dian Fossey who was murdered by poachers in 1985 and whose work was immortalised by the 1988 movie 'Gorillas in The Mist'.
Comprising five volcanoes, the Virunga mountains are a stunning and utterly unforgettable sight. The biggest attraction for visitors to the breathtaking national park are the mountain gorillas. Critically endangered, these magnificent animals number under a thousand worldwide, meaning that time is running out to see them in their natural habitat. Volcanoes National Park is home to eleven gorilla families and visitors could encounter any of them.
Due to their endangered status, you must first apply in advance for a gorilla permit, costing around $750. With the paperwork out of the way, the treks begin early in the morning, taking in the lush bamboo forests, keeping an eye out for the gorilla families and experiencing the ambience of this pristine and untouched mountainous forest. The moment when you spot these noble animals is a moment that stays with you forever.
Visiting Volcanoes National Park, it's not hard to understand why primatologist Dian Fossey made this place her home for nearly twenty years and dedicated her life to the protection of these majestic creatures. Many who come here take the trek to her grave which stands between the beautiful volcanic peaks of Karisimbi and Bisoke. This six-hour hike through beautiful green forests takes in astounding views and offers encounters with buffalo, golden monkeys, elephants, and even the mountain gorillas themselves, to which Dian gave her life to protecting.
The twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo are also a spectacular destination. You can either take a guided walk or go by canoe. Once there, you can stroll around these natural volcanic water bodies, take some snaps and enjoy the experience of being in such sublime natural surroundings.
Nearby lives the Nyange Community. Take a tour to see the way the locals live and work here and understand something of the culture. Meet ironmongers, basket weavers, carpenters and banana beer brewers, and sample some of their wares. You can also watch traditional Rwandan cuisine being prepared and partake if you choose.