The park is located in northwestern Rwanda and is one of three national parks inhabited by the Virunga mountain gorillas. It is bordered by the other two parks i.e Virunga national park in the DRC and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. Five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga mountains are found in this park and are generally covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park is home to the world famous mountain gorillas and visitors from all over the world come in thousands every year just to have a glimpse of these magnificient creatures.
This was the first park in Africa as it was first gazette by the Belgian colonial government. At this point the park was very large and extended into both Rwanda and Zaire as they were both Belgian colonies and it was called Albert national park. The park has gone through several incidents that have led to its reduction in size, name changing even for example upon independence of Zaire in 1960, the park was split and also a large portion was cleared for settlement in 1962 when Rwanda also gained independence.
If you love mountain gorillas then its only fair that you know something about Dian Fossey. She is remembered for her tireless effort in saving the primates as she brought their plight to the attention of the entire world community. She arrived at the park in 1967 and set up shop between the Karisimbi and Visoke volcanoes and named this the Karisoke research centre. She was influential in fighting poachers within this particular park but unfortunately she was murdered in 1985 while at her home by unknown assailants who many assume were the poachers whose lives she made very difficult. Rest in peace Dian Fossey!!!!
The park has a large range of altitudes with a host of mountains , valleys and plains. This is the reason why there are several types of vegetation within the park with several types of forests at the higher altitudes. There is bamboo, montane, neoboutonia and grasslands on the slopes of the mountains. This makes the park a home to very many animal species.
Volcanoes national park is known for the mountain gorillas. There is another very interesting primate in the park-the golden monkey which is very rare indeed. The golden monkey has pretty different characteristics from the normal monkeys starting with its appearance since it has a dash of gold. There are also other mammals in the park like the buffalo, duiker, hyena and several other species of antelopes. The park is also a haven for birds with atleast 178 species already recorded 10 of which are endemic to the mountains of Virunga and Rwenzori.
Activities in the park
• Gorilla tracking: this is one of the most sought after tourism activities in the world mainly because of the fact that it is only available in three countries in the world and this national park is the one with the highest probability of spotting these magnificent primates.
• Golden monkey tracking: these are also extremely rare and so are very interesting to watch while they are in action.
• Nature walks: the park is in a forested area and this is essentially important for people who love nature.
• Bird watching: the park is filled with several species of birds and could prove to be a real haven for bird watchers.
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