Volcanoes National Park is a national park in northwestern Rwanda. It covers 160 km² of rainforest and encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains, namely Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo.
The park is best known for tracking Mountain Gorilla but there is plenty more to see and do. The shortest hike is to Lake Ngezi, a scenic little lake nestled in a volcanic depression at the foot of Mount Bisoke. It takes about three hours in total and is relatively easy going, with the possibility of encountering wildlife along the way as well as gaze across to the Congolese forests.
For those keen to summit Mount Bisoke, a crater lake awaits at the top, which lies at 3,700m. This trail takes anything from five hours to a whole day.
The highest peak in Rwanda is Mount Karisimbi, which translates as white shell, referring to the frequently white-capped cloud cover at the summit. At 4,507m it is a strenuous yet rewarding hike, which takes two days, camping along the way. As this is the territory of gorillas, other primates and many bird species, hikers could be blessed with a chance meeting along the way.
In the saddle area between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke is the karisoke research center founded by Dian Fossey in 1967, as well as the site of her grave. The walk up takes about an hour to an hour and a half, starting with a drive from the park headquarters 30 minutes away.
Other hikes include Mount Muhubura, a demanding full day climb up to 4,127m, and the scenic twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo. It is possible to reach a viewpoint over the lakes by car, so hikers shouldn’t expect to be alone. For those keen to change it up a bit, it is possible to hire a boat for a scenic lake cruise.
The Buhanga Eco-Park offers more of a wander than a hike but is nevertheless worth considering. Paths crafted from lava stones form an interconnecting network between observation platforms, sometimes running between ancient ficus trees with creepers clinging to their trunks.
Rwandan kings of old were crowned in the caves in the Buhanga sacred forest, which translates as creation. Alongside its cultural significance, it is also quite beautiful, with rare orchids and butterflie
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