Volcanoes National Park is among the only four forest reserves in the world where mountain gorillas are protected and where gorilla trekking excursions take place in Rwanda.

Recommended: 2 Days Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda Tour

Volcanoes National park offers tourists a rare chance to hike into the wild jungle and share personal moments with the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Volcanoes National park covers a portion of the Virunga Mountains measuring 62 square miles (160 square kilometers), including a group of nine volcanoes that reach into neighboring Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Recommended: 1 Day Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda tour

Volcanoes National Park protects about half of the endangered mountain gorillas in the world. It is located in the environmentally rich Virunga Mountains. Twelve gorilla family groupings that live with humans and are used for tourism and research are fiercely protected by the park. For a fee of $2,500, tourists can visit any one of the groups. Each group may only be viewed by a total of six people each day.

Recommended: 3 Days Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda

Rwanda’s tourism gem may be known for its gorillas, but there is much more to see and do there. Hikers who enjoy the outdoors can explore a network of volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains, including the 3,711-meter (12,175-foot) Mount Bisoke, which offers spectacular views of the Democratic Republic of the Congo across the border and a crater lake. Visitors interested in history and mammals can visit the research facility and tomb of renowned primatologist Dian Fossey, whose work served as the basis for the hit film Gorillas in the Mist.

Recommended: 3 Days Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tour

Volcanoes National Park offers golden monkey trekking for $ 100 per permit, which is well worth it to see the park’s golden monkey population.Occasionally diving down to the forest floor in search of a specific desirable bamboo stalk, these energetic, cherub-cheeked primates swing around the bamboo forests. Be aware that it can be challenging to capture them on camera. Volcanoes National Park also protects forest buffalo, spotted hyenas, forest elephants, and approximately 200 different bird species.

How can I obtain gorilla permits in Volcanoes National Park?

Travelers are advised to obtain their Rwanda gorilla trekking permit well in advance of their trip—at least three to six months. Less than 90 permits are available each day in Rwanda; therefore, reserve yours as soon as possible from a duly authorized local tour operator. At the park’s headquarters in neighboring Kinigi town, all trekkers are required to arrive by 0700. There, you must show your permit to find out which gorilla troop you will travel with later. In Rwanda, only adults over the age of 15 are eligible to apply for permits to track gorillas. Your adolescent can stay in the lodge, though.

When is the best time to go to Volcanoes National Park?

The two dry seasons in Rwanda—December to early February and June to September—are the best times for gorilla trekking. A nicer (and less muddy) hike can be had during the dry months. A gorilla permit and a place to stay should be booked in advance to avoid rush-hour problems because gorilla tickets are hard to come by during the busy season and housing is pricey. Rainy seasons are less busy and offer guests lower rates than the high season. Oh, and the weather might change at any time, so bring a jacket and a rain poncho for those dark hours.

How can I get to Volcanoes National Park?

Most likely, you’ll fly into Rwanda through Kigali International Airport (KGL), which is located a short distance from Kigali city. The majority of tour operators always arrange transportation for the two-hour trip from Kigali to Musanze, the nation’s thriving center of gorilla tourism. For less than $10, independent travelers can take a public bus from Kigali’s Nyabugogo bus station to Musanze. You may also book a 4×4 with a driver in Musanze for US$80 to get to the gorilla trekking trailhead the following day. Musanze is home to many of the best lodges for gorilla trekking. You can walk a short distance between Musanze, the meeting location, and the trailheads at the park’s limits.