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Parc National des Volcans is an untamed and timeless area where ancient volcanoes, swathed in rich, green rainforest, tower over 4,000m high, their steep slopes providing habitat for the rare mountain gorillas.

It is largely thanks to Dian Fossey that the poaching of gorilla has been greatly reduced; the release of the film ‘Gorillas in the Mist,’ three years after her untimely death brought her work to a worldwide audience, and the subsequent growth in tourism has also helped to raise local awareness.

The Parc National des Volcan hosts over 76 mammal species and over half the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Trekking through the rainforest in search of these wonderful creatures is an exhilarating experience. The forest is alive with the calls of colourful birds and chatterings of the rare golden monkey, and every so often there are tantalising glimpses of the magnificent peaks of the Virunga range through the forest canopy.

The range of activities available in the park (other than gorilla tracking for those with permits) includes nature walks, climbing Visoke volcano, trekking to the Karisoke Research Centre, visiting local communities or watching habituated golden monkeys.

Note that tracking gorillas through the forest requires both patience and stamina. Sometimes the trackers find the gorillas within a couple of hours, but equally it may take up to ten hours of tracking off-trail in dense jungle in order to find them. Steep gradients, slippery conditions underfoot, high humidity and regular rainfall add to the challenge, but the exhilaration of a close encounter with these magnificent creatures makes it all worthwhile. For the sake of the gorillas’ wellbeing, contact time is always limited to an hour, and if you are suffering from a cold you may not be allowed to approach them. For many people, seeing a gorilla face-to-face is truly a life-changing experience!

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: black-fronted duiker, Cape buffalo, golden monkey, mountain gorilla, spotted hyena
  • Where: South west Rwanda, Rwanda

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Classic Africa Explorer

This 37-day comprehensive itinerary, which visits no less than seven countries, delivers the ultimate African safari experience and a wealth of contrasts. Travel to some of Africa’s best National Parks and stay in a range of classic lodges, hotels and tented camps on this wildlife trip of a lifetime.

  • When to go: Apr-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 37 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £16,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Gorillas & Chimps

Take a unique primate safari, gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans and Bwindi National Park in Uganda, as well as tracking the equally fascinating chimpanzee in Uganda’s Kibale Forest. Observing these magnificent apes in their natural habitat is a wildlife experience of a lifetime.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,795 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Gorillas in Rwanda

This five night trip offers you the privileged experience of tracking a family of mountain gorillas in the dense cloud forests of Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans. This is a unique opportunity to interact with these charismatic creatures in their natural habitat, and a magical experience that won't be forgotten.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 6 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £4,995 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

With spectacular views of the volcanoes and easy access to Volcanoes National Park, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge is very well-placed for gorilla trekking. The lodge itself accommodates guests in 30 individual stone cottages, each with en suite facilities and queen-size beds.

Virunga Lodge

This eco-lodge stands on a stunning remote hillside, and is undoubtedly one of the best places in the area to stay. It has eight stone bandas (cottages), each with en suite bathroom and private terrace affording breathtaking views of the Virunga Volcanoes or the shimmering Lakes Ruhondo and Bulera.