With about 200 species recorded (including 17 Albertine Rift endemics), Volcanoes National Park offers great bird watching. However, most of the park’s special birds can also be seen in Nyungwe National Park, which is set up better for birding. Local specialties are the vulnerable Grauer’s swamp warbler and the scarlet-tufted sunbird, which can be found on the summit of Mt Bisoke. The birdlife in Volcanoes National Park is good year-round, but the volcanoes are especially wet and often shrouded in mist. This means that birding in this area is easiest during the Dry season, from June to August, and to a lesser extent in September, January and February when it rains slightly less. This is also the best time for gorilla trekking.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park lies in north-western Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is home to 5 of the 8 volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains. The mountainous park is adorned with a variety of forest types, occurring at different altitudes, providing a number of different habitats. Gorilla safaris are conducted in Volcanoes National Park, after having re-established this unique tourist experience in 1999. There are 300 of these gentle giants residing in the park and 4 habituated families that tolerate the presence of humans in their midst. The gorillas have the freedom to roam far and wide within the park, so the effort involved in tracking them can sometimes involve a substantial amount of hiking and trekking. This, however, is all part of the experience and is an incredible and unique forest and bamboo environment that is an extremely special place to be in.
Volcanoes National Park is most famous for its mountain gorillas, which are comfortably viewed on organised gorilla safaris. Tracking the gorillas and spending an hour with the habituated families is a unique and fascinating experience. There is also the existence of other intriguing mammals, including the golden monkey, black-fronted duiker, buffalo, spotted hyena and bushbuck. There are also reported to be some elephants in the park, though these are now very rarely seen. Out of the 178 recorded bird species, at least 13 species and 16 subspecies are endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains. A variety of activities allow visitors to absorb the surroundings and view the stunning terrain that makes the Volcanoes National Park so unique. Climbing Karisimbi volcano is a two day trek with overnight camping at an altitude of 3 800m. Alternatively guests can do a one-day climb of Bisoke volcano, tour of the lakes and caves, or take part in the baby gorilla naming ceremony.