Frequently Asked Questions About Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Where is Volcanoes National Park Rwanda Located
Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, a cherished natural treasure, stands as the oldest national park in Africa, with a rich history dating back to its gazettement in 1925. This historic sanctuary was established with a primary mission: the protection and preservation of the highly endangered mountain gorillas that call its lush and pristine forests home. Known as “Parc National Des Volcans” in French, Volcanoes National Park is a place of profound ecological importance and natural beauty.
This magnificent park is nestled in the enchanting region of Kinigi, a small village previously known as Ruhengeri, in the northwestern part of Rwanda. The park’s location in the Musanze district offers a serene and breathtaking setting, making it a perfect haven for nature enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and adventurers seeking an extraordinary experience.
Volcanoes National Park is a crucial part of the greater Virunga Conservation Area, which spans across borders, fostering regional cooperation and conservation efforts. This esteemed conservation area shares its boundaries with the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The collaboration among these neighboring parks contributes to the protection of the rich biodiversity and the preservation of this unique ecosystem, including the majestic mountain gorillas.
What is the opening and closing time of Volcanoes National Park?
The opening and closing times of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda may have been subject to contention by many people. It is something most visitors wish to know but they don’t get the right answer. We are here to answer the long-asked question about Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. This information is based on the official statement made by the park authority in January 2023
The park typically opens in the morning, around 6:00 AM.
The park usually closes in the late afternoon, around 5:00 PM.
These times allowed visitors to enjoy the park during the daylight hours and participate in activities such as gorilla trekking, nature walks, and other wildlife experiences. However, The time can change at any time so it is essential to check with the official website or contact the park authorities directly for the most up-to-date information regarding their opening and closing times, as they may have changed since the last update. Additionally, specific activities within the park, such as gorilla trekking, may have different start times and requirements, so it’s crucial to confirm those details as well.
How Can I Obtain The Gorilla Permit?
Rwanda is a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers, especially those seeking an up-close encounter with the magnificent mountain gorillas. To make this dream come true, you need to obtain a gorilla permit. These permits grant you access to the Volcanoes National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas. You can obtain gorilla permits either directly from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or indirectly through local tour operators. This article will guide you through both processes.
Directly from RDB:
Visit the RDB Website:
Start by visiting the official Rwanda Development Board (RDB) website (https://www.rdb.rw).
Create an Account:
If you do not already have an account, you will need to create one on the RDB website.
Once you have an account, you can log in and check the availability of gorilla permits for your desired date. Permits are often in high demand, so it’s advisable to do this well in advance.
Reserve Your Permit:
If permits are available for your preferred date, you can reserve them online.
Provide your personal information and details of your visit.
Be prepared to make a payment, as permits are not considered reserved until the fee is paid. Payment is typically made through the RDB’s online payment system.
- After payment, you will receive a confirmation email containing your gorilla permit details.
- Indirect obtaining of the gorilla permit
- Research Local Tour Operators:
- Look for reputable local tour operators that offer gorilla trekking packages in Rwanda.
- Read reviews, compare prices, and check their level of expertise in organizing gorilla trekking experiences.
Contact a Tour Operator:
- Reach out to the selected tour operator and inquire about gorilla trekking packages.
- Provide them with your preferred travel dates and any specific requests you may have.
- Booking and Permit Procurement:
- The tour operator will handle the booking process on your behalf.
- They will check permit availability and secure the necessary permits from RDB.
- You will receive a confirmation from the tour operator once the permits are secured.
Obtaining a gorilla permit in Rwanda is the first step to realizing your dream of encountering these incredible primates. Whether you choose to go directly through the Rwanda Development Board or indirectly through a local tour operator, both options can lead to a fantastic gorilla trekking experience. Make your choice based on your preferences and convenience, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in the lush forests of Rwanda.
Can I Resell My Rwanda Gorilla Permit?
No, you cannot resell your Rwanda Gorilla permit. These permits are non-transferable and can only be used by the person whose name is on the permit. Rwanda’s gorilla trekking regulations are strict, and the permits are issued with the specific purpose of controlling and regulating the number of visitors to protect the endangered mountain gorillas and their habitat. If you are unable to use your permit, you should contact the relevant authorities or the tour operator through which you obtained the permit to inquire about their cancellation and refund policies. It’s important to follow the rules and regulations in place to help conserve these magnificent animals and their environment.
Can The Rwanda Gorilla permit or Chimpanzee permit be Rescheduled?
The Gorilla and Chimpanzee permits are typically non-transferable and non-refundable, but in certain cases, rescheduling may be possible under specific conditions.
Rescheduling a Rwanda Gorilla Permit:
Health Issues: If you or a member of your group falls ill or encounters a medical emergency that prevents you from using your gorilla permit, rescheduling may be allowed. You will need to provide a medical certificate or documentation as proof.
Availability: Rescheduling may also be considered if there is availability on another date. However, this is subject to the discretion of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and depends on the number of permits available.
Advance Notice: It’s crucial to request rescheduling well in advance of your scheduled trek. Last-minute changes are less likely to be accommodated.
Rescheduling a Rwanda Chimpanzee Permit:
Rescheduling policies for chimpanzee permits may vary depending on the specific national park or sanctuary you are visiting. Gishwati-Mukura National Park and Nyungwe National Park are the two primary locations for chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda, and their rescheduling policies can differ. Be sure to check with the respective park authorities for their specific guidelines.
General Tips for Rescheduling:
Contact the RDB or park authority: Reach out to the Rwanda Development Board or the relevant park authority as soon as you know you need to reschedule. They can provide you with information on the available options.
- Provide documentation: To support your request for rescheduling, you may need to provide relevant documentation, such as medical certificates or a valid reason for the change.
- Be flexible: Keep in mind that rescheduling is subject to availability. You may need to be flexible with your travel plans and accept an alternative trekking date.
- Be aware of deadlines: There may be specific deadlines or timeframes within which you can request rescheduling. Be sure to adhere to these guidelines to increase your chances of success.
- Respect the rules: Always follow the rules and guidelines set by the authorities and respect the gorillas and chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
It’s important to note that rescheduling is not guaranteed and is subject to the discretion of the relevant authorities. Additionally, it’s essential to plan your trip carefully, taking into account any potential scheduling conflicts or unforeseen circumstances to minimize the need for rescheduling. Conservation efforts rely on responsible tourism, so always prioritize the welfare of these magnificent animals and their natural habitats when planning your gorilla or chimpanzee trek in Rwanda.
Can I Choose a Gorilla Family to Trek?
This is still a grey area to address, sometimes you can be able to choose the gorilla family to trek, sometimes not. This depends on the prevailing situation on the day of your gorilla tracking. This is sometimes done if inform your tour operator who can make arrangements with the park patron to allocate to your preferred family.
How gorilla family allocated to Trackers
Choosing the right gorilla family to trek is a crucial decision when visiting Volcanoes National Park. With over 10 gorilla families to choose from, each offers a unique and exciting experience. The family you select can greatly impact your trekking adventure, and there are several important factors to consider when making your choice.
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that gorilla families vary in their level of habituation. Some families are well-habituated, which means they are accustomed to human presence and can be observed from a closer distance. This provides an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. On the other hand, less habituated families may require more distance to be maintained for safety reasons.
The composition of the gorilla family is another important factor to consider. Some families boast numerous silverbacks, juveniles, and females, creating a diverse and dynamic experience. Larger groups can increase your chances of encountering more gorillas during your trek, making it a memorable and enriching experience.
Trekking difficulty is also a key consideration. Gorilla families are categorized into three trekking levels: easy, medium, and difficult. Easy treks are ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed experience with minimal hiking. Medium treks involve a bit more physical effort, and you’ll need to be prepared for some hiking. Difficult treks require more strenuous hiking and can be quite challenging, but they often lead to some of the most rewarding encounters with gorilla families.
Your personal physical fitness plays a significant role in determining which gorilla family is right for you. Experienced guides from reputable trekking companies will take your interests and fitness level into account when assigning you to a family. If you have any health concerns or mobility issues, it’s crucial to communicate them with your guide to ensure your safety and comfort during the trek.
For elderly clients and individuals with mobility issues, it’s common to be assigned to gorilla families that are closer and easier to reach. These families are located in proximity to the trekking point, minimizing the physical demands of the journey. It’s essential to be honest about your physical condition, as appearances can be deceiving, and it’s better to have a manageable and enjoyable trek rather than struggle to reach the gorillas.
Finally, keep in mind that the location of the gorilla families can also affect your choice. Some families are conveniently located near the trekking point, requiring only a short drive to reach them. Others may be farther away, necessitating a longer drive to the trekking point. Your decision should take into account your preferences for transportation and the overall experience you desire.
In the end, successfully trekking to see these magnificent creatures is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that leaves visitors with lasting memories. Whether you choose an easy, medium, or difficult trek, encountering gorillas in their natural habitat is a truly awe-inspiring adventure that will bring a smile to your face and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
How much I can tip a guide and what is the tipping policy while doing gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Tipping is a common practice when participating in gorilla trekking in Rwanda, as it is in many parts of the world where tourism is a significant industry. Tipping is a way to show your appreciation for the hard work and dedication of your guide, as well as other staff members who contribute to your gorilla trekking experience. While there is no strict rule for how much you should tip, here are some general guidelines to consider:
- Guide: Your gorilla trekking guide plays a crucial role in ensuring your safety and a successful trek. It is customary to tip your guide, and the amount can vary. A typical range is $10 to $20 per trekker, but you can adjust it based on your satisfaction and means.
- Porter: Many trekkers hire porters to help carry their backpacks and provide support during the trek. Tipping porters is also appreciated, and a tip of around $5 to $10 per trek is usually considered fair.
- Rangers and Trackers: The park rangers and trackers who work to protect the gorillas and guide trekkers also appreciate tips. A tip of $5 to $10 per trekker is a common range.
- Lodge Staff: If you’re staying at a lodge or camp, it’s customary to leave a tip for the staff who provide services during your stay. This can vary depending on the level of service, but a general guideline is around $10 to $20 per day.
- Group Size: The size of your group can influence the overall tip amount. Larger groups may tip slightly less per person, but it’s essential to ensure that the tips adequately reflect the quality of service you receive.
It’s important to remember that tipping is voluntary, and you should feel comfortable with the amount you choose to give based on your satisfaction with the service provided. If you have an exceptional experience or feel that the staff went above and beyond, consider giving a more generous tip.
It’s also a good practice to bring small bills or local currency for tipping, as it may be more convenient for the staff. Always check with your tour operator or guide to see if there are any specific tipping guidelines or recommendations, as they may vary depending on the organization or lodge you choose for your gorilla trekking adventure.
Ultimately, tipping is a way to express your gratitude for the hard work of those who make your gorilla trekking experience possible and memorable, while also supporting the local communities and the conservation efforts in the region.
Is Volcanoes National Park Rwanda open during public Holidays?
According to The Rwanda Development Board, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is typically open to visitors throughout the year, including public holidays. However, it’s important to note that park hours and accessibility may vary depending on local regulations, holidays, and any unforeseen circumstances. We recommend checking with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or the official Volcanoes National Park website for the most up-to-date information on park hours, holiday closures, and any special requirements or restrictions that may be in place. It’s always a good idea to plan your visit and confirm the park’s status closer to your intended date of visit.
What are the Entrance Fees For Volcanoes National Park?
Based on The Rwanda Development Board tariff plan, the entrance fees for Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda were as follows:
East African Citizen: 60 USD
Foreign residents: 75USD
Rwandan citizen: RWF 5000
Below are also fees for the different activities done at the Park:
Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit:
Foreign Non-resident: $1,500 per person per trek.
Foreign Resident: $750 per person per trek.
East African Community (EAC) Citizen: RWF 30,000 per person per trek.
Golden Monkey Trekking Permit:
Foreign Non-resident: $100 per person per trek.
Foreign Resident: $50 per person per trek.
East African Community (EAC) Citizen: RWF 10,000 per person per trek.
Please note that these fees are subject to change, and it’s essential to verify the current fees and any updated regulations with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or the official Volcanoes National Park website before planning your visit.
Gorilla trekking permits are in high demand, and it’s advisable to book them well in advance due to limited availability. These fees contribute to the conservation efforts in the park and support the protection of critically endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife in the region.
Additionally, there may be separate fees for park entry and other activities within the park, so it’s essential to inquire about the complete cost structure for your visit to Volcanoes National Park.
What is The Best Time to Visit Volcanoes National Park and For Gorilla Trekking
The best time to visit Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda depends on your interests and what you hope to experience during your visit. Volcanoes National Park is renowned for its mountain gorilla trekking, and the timing of your visit can influence your experience. Here’s a guide to help you decide the best time to visit:
Gorilla Trekking Season:
The high season for gorilla trekking, which is the park’s main attraction, is generally during the dry months, making it the best time for this activity. These months include:
June to September: This is the long dry season, and it’s considered the best time for gorilla trekking. The weather is generally cool and dry, and the trails are in better condition.
- The rainy season in Rwanda runs from October to November and from March to May. While this period may not be the best for gorilla trekking due to wet and muddy conditions, it can be a great time to visit for other reasons:
- Lush Green Scenery: The rain rejuvenates the landscape, resulting in lush green vegetation, which can provide beautiful photo opportunities.
Fewer Tourists: Fewer tourists visit during the rainy season, so you might have a more intimate and less crowded experience.
- December to February: This is another good time to visit, as the weather is relatively dry and the park is less crowded than during the peak season.
- April and May: Towards the end of the rainy season, the weather begins to improve, and the gorilla trekking permits are usually at a lower price. It’s a budget-friendly option for those willing to accept some rain.
Gorilla permits can be in high demand, especially during the peak season. It’s essential to book your permits well in advance.
If you plan to do other activities in the park, such as golden monkey trekking or hiking, the weather and availability may also influence your choice of timing.
In summary, the best time to visit Volcanoes National Park largely depends on your priorities. If your main goal is gorilla trekking in the best weather conditions, consider the dry season months of June to September. However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly or less crowded experience, the shoulder seasons or the rainy season can also be rewarding, each offering its unique charm and advantages.
Is Volcanoes National Park Rwanda Worth a Visit?
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is undoubtedly worth a visit for a myriad of compelling reasons. This iconic national park has captured the hearts of travelers and conservation enthusiasts from around the world. Here are some key factors that make Volcanoes National Park a destination that’s truly worth exploring:
Gorilla Trekking: Volcanoes National Park is most famous for its population of critically endangered mountain gorillas. The opportunity to embark on a gorilla trek and observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The park is home to several habituated gorilla families, and the chance to witness their behaviors up close is an awe-inspiring and unforgettable adventure.
Incredible Biodiversity: Beyond gorillas, the park boasts a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna. It’s home to various other primates, including golden monkeys, as well as a wide range of bird species and unique plant life. Exploring the park’s lush forests and diverse ecosystems is a treat for nature enthusiasts.
Stunning Scenery: The Volcanoes National Park landscape is nothing short of breathtaking. The chain of volcanic mountains, with their lush forests and bamboo thickets, provides a dramatic backdrop for your adventure. The vistas, including views of the Virunga volcanoes, are simply stunning.
Cultural Experiences: The park isn’t just about wildlife and nature; it also offers opportunities to engage with local communities and learn about Rwandan culture. You can visit nearby villages, participate in cultural activities, and gain a deeper understanding of the region’s history and traditions.
Conservation and Research: Volcanoes National Park plays a crucial role in the conservation of mountain gorillas. By visiting, you are contributing to the protection of these endangered animals and their habitat. The park is also involved in important scientific research and conservation efforts.
Adventure and Outdoor Activities: In addition to gorilla trekking, the park offers a range of outdoor activities, including hikes to the Dian Fossey Tomb, volcano climbing, and golden monkey trekking. These adventures allow you to explore the park from various perspectives.
Memorable Experiences: The memories created during a visit to Volcanoes National Park are indelible. The encounters with gorillas and the breathtaking surroundings leave a lasting impact and often lead visitors to develop a deeper appreciation for wildlife and conservation.
In conclusion, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is unquestionably worth a visit, whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, a wildlife enthusiast, or someone seeking a unique and transformative travel experience. The park offers a rare opportunity to connect with nature and make a positive impact on conservation efforts while creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.