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Rwanda's National Parks

Rwanda's primates - Rwanda Factfile

Rwanda's Major Attractions

Volcanoes National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Akagera National Park
Lake Kivu

Best time to visit: All year round
For chimpanzees, February to June and mid September to mid December
For gorillas, June to September

Safaris: Upon Request

Activities: Game Walks, Bird Watching, Primate watching

Accommodation: Tented camps and lodges

Temperatures:
Day: 28-33° C, 82-91° F
Night: 17-20° C, 63-68° F

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Rwanda’s most famous national park where Dian Fossey had her research base for many years. Home to the world famed mountain gorillas.

The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is the most famous area in Rwanda, world re known for being the home of approximately half of the worlds remaining mountain gorillas. Tracking the mountain gorilla is, according to us, one of the absolute highlights of a journey anywhere in Africa! The thrill and excitement when meeting these gentle giants cannot be explained - it simply has to be experienced.

Volcanoes National Park is part of the Virunga Mountains, which is a range of six extinct and three active volcanoes situated in Rwanda, Uganda and The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The park is approximately 13,000 hectares and was formed 1929 during the Belgian colonial times, it was then named Albert National Park and extended into DRC.

Upon independence Rwanda confirmed that the area would remain a national park in spite of the pressing question of need for increased agricultural land.

The volcanoes in the park range in altitude from 2,400 to 4,507 meters above sea level, the highest one being Karisimbi (4,507). The vegetation consists of bamboo forest, hagenia woodland, Afro-Alpine moorland, grassland and marshy areas.

The park is probably best known for being the place where Dian Fossey, the American primatologist worked for almost 20 years. It is largely because of her tireless work that the gorillas were saved from extinction while there still were enough to be saved. She was murdered at her Karisoke Research Center in 1985, although the murder is still un resolved it was probably the work of poachers whom she was constantly crossing swords with during her efforts to save the gorillas from extinction.

In the early 1990;s the gorilla tourism was probably Rwanda’s main foreign exchange earner. This came to an abrupt end in 1994 during the genocide. Gorilla trekking was finally resumed on a permanent basis in 1999.

Volcanoes National Park is today not only a place for trekking the gorillas. Visitors can come and stay for several days doing various treks and walks such as visiting the ruins of the Karisoke Research station where Dian Fossey is buried as well as visiting a troupe of the recently habituated Golden Monkey – another of Rwanda’s world unique attractions. Walks range in difficulty from ascending the Karisimbi volcano to various walks and hikes in the forest and nearby lakes.

Animals found in the area include silver monkey, blue monkey, elephant, buffalo, forest hog, bush pig, bushbuck, spotted hyena, and black-fronted duiker. Approximately 180 bird species was recorded in 1980, some should with a bit of luck be spotted during various walks and treks.

NYUNGWE FOREST NATIONAL PARK

This magnificent national park covers an area of almost 1000 square kilometers in the mountainous southern parts of Rwanda. With a bit of luck you can here spot chimpanzees as well as a number of other primates and birds and spend days hiking on forest trails of various lengths and levels of difficulty.

This mountainous national park is the biggest single area of montane forest in East and Central Africa. It hosts an amazing diversity of both mammals, birds and plants – 86 mammal species, 120 butterfly species, 280 birds and close to 200 orchids. Nuyngwe has been protected as a forest reserve since 1933.

A picture of Nyungwe Forest moorlands.

The main attraction during a visit to Nyungwe are the primates and in specific the chimpanzees. 13 primates are found here including the common chimpanzee and eight types of monkey and the Ruwenzori colobus. Leopard are still present although not many and there are a number of smaller predators living in the forest such as golden cat, wild cat, serval, side striped jackal and a few types of mongoose.

The forest consists of more than 200 tree species including some magnificent tracts of African mahogany, Mulanje Cedar, newtonia and albizia. There are also large areas of bamboo forest at higher altitudes.

The forestry department and Rwanda tourism board maintains a number of very well kept and interesting trails of various lengths and levels of difficulty which is a delightful and pleasant activity. These activities do although require a reasonably good level of physical fitness.

AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK

Classic safari country adventure in eastern Rwanda!

In the drier parts of eastern Rwanda lies Akagera National Park, which is very good “classic” safari country. A large variety of game can be seen here in the open grasslands dotted with marshes, lakes and rivers. Zebra, gazelle, hippo, warthog, buffalo and an amazing variety of bird life are just a few of the attractions here. The park has one high quality lodge – Akagera Game Lodge - catering only for a limited number of visitors making a visit to Akagera National Park a peaceful and serene experience.

LAKE KIVU

Rwanda’s own white sanded paradise!

Sunbathing on Lake Kivu’s white-sanded beach is the ideal way to unwind after exploring Rwanda’s many attractions. This sweet water inland sea offers great swimming as well as other activities in the area. There is a magnificent hotel right on the beach, “The Kivu Sun”, which is highly recommended and the obvious choice when spending a few days by Lake Kivu.

Copyright Melinda Rees of Eco-resorts

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