Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is the setting for a memorable Rwanda gorilla safari as well as for tracking golden monkeys

Jun to Mar


Volcanoes National Park is the destination for memorable Rwanda gorilla trekking tours, plus other adventure safaris such as tracking golden monkeys, or hiking to see Dian Fossy's grave (see below).

The volcanic mountains of the Virungas straddle Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Over half of the world’s population of 1000 mountain gorillas live here. They thrive in the endangered high bamboo forests which cover these equatorial mountains.  In Rwanda, the Volcanoes National Park protect 12 habituated mountain gorilla groups. So this is one of the best places in the world to see the mountain gorillas.

Gorilla Trekking

However, Rwanda gorilla trekking is a highly regulated affair, given their endangered status. And permits are both very expensive, ($1,500 per person per trek), and relatively hard to come by. So we recommend you book as far in advance as possible. Each day, only one group of walkers tracks each group of gorillas. And they try to match the fitness levels of the walkers to the rough proximity of each group. But this is not an exact science, so your gorilla tracking experience may be anything from 2-3 hour up to 7 hours. Once you find them, you are allowed to spend one magical hour in their company.

Intore dance display at Virunga Lodge

How long to spend here?

We recommend at least two nights here, preferably three so that you have time to track the gorillas and also enjoy a second excursion on your second morning. Choose between trekking to see the Golden Monkeys, doing a second gorilla trek. or hiking up one of the higher peaks or to Dian Fossy's grave.

See our articles below on the best time for a gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda. It's best to avoid the very rainy times. But the summer months of Dec to mid-March can be a good alternative to the peak season.

Golden Monkey trekking, Volcanoes National Park


Why you may love it

  • Gorilla tracking.
  • Golden Monkey tracking.
  • Outstanding birding - 180 species.
  • Scenic hiking trails.
  • Grave of the world-famous Dian Fossey and the Karisoke Research Centre.
  • Beautiful day hike to the Crater Lake on Mount Bisoke.

When to visit Volcanoes National Park

December to February

Summer in Volcanoes National Park

The mountainous areas of Volcanoes National Park is noticeably cooler than the rest of Rwanda, thanks to the high altitude and the constant rainfall. Temperatures don’t vary much during the year, but depend on the altitude. The temperature tends to drop 7C for every 1000m climbed so it will be cooler to stay at Bisate than down in the town of Ruwengozi. The summer months are a time of intermediate rain. So it’s a reasonably good time for gorilla trekking, but rain gear is still essential. In the summer months the gorillas tend to come down to lower altitudes so gorilla trekking time tends to be a little shorter on average which may be a drawcard for some. Daytime temperatures are 16C but humid, while nights drop down to 6-8C.
MAX TEMP 22 ℃ / 71 ℉
MIN TEMP 10 ℃ / 51 ℉

March to May

Long rains in Volcanoes National Park

This is the time of the long rains so it is not an ideal time for gorilla tracking as the trails are muddy and challenging. Many lodges either close or offer lower prices. It is also fairly cold and clammy at night so you’ll appreciate any bedroom with a fireplace. However, the rain does start to ease off as May progresses.
MAX TEMP 20 ℃ / 68 ℉
MIN TEMP 10 ℃ / 51 ℉

June to mid-Aug

Good time to visit Volcanoes National Park

This is considered the best time to visit, being the only “dry” time. However, in the mountains, it can still rain on any day of the year. This is an excellent time for hiking, though the gorillas tend to head up the mountain so you may need to hike a little longer to see them. But they also tend to be more active, when its not rainy, and it’s a much better time for photography. The rains start increasing during August…
MAX TEMP 22 ℃ / 71 ℉
MIN TEMP 10 ℃ / 50 ℉

September to November

Short rains in Volcanoes National Park

The rains will definitely arrive by September (the time of the ‘short rains’ of East Africa). Again, not an ideal time to visit due to the muddy and slippery conditions underfoot. Take a porter to help you with the muddy sections. However, it could be easier to get gorilla permits at short notice. Rainfall is highest in October and November but starts to ease towards December.
MAX TEMP 21 ℃ / 70 ℉
MIN TEMP 10 ℃ / 50 ℉

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"Our local guides were superb – always punctual, extremely well-informed, and attentive to our individual needs. our driver for the week – Theo was the perfect mentor and we felt 100% safe in his hands at all times. That was also true for the guides and trackers we encountered at both Akagera and Volcanoes National Parks. " Mr David, USA

Country intrigued us

"We went to Rwanda thinking Gorillas and nothing else really. I was greatly mistaken as the country intrigued us. We loved it!!! The Gorillas were still the highlight. Had one swing round my leg closely followed by his twin brother (6 years old). Massive silverback and group of about 17 individuals. We were the only 2 people visiting this family so we felt privileged. We hiked for about a hour and a half before we found them. Wonderful experience!! The Musanzi caves was interesting too. " Mr Dennis Lee
Did you know
  • HistoryVery first National Park in Africa (1925)
  • Size5 Volcanoes in 160km²