Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is a captivating destination throughout the year, offering a range of activities like gorilla trekking, hiking, and nature walks. While it’s accessible in both rainy and dry seasons, the dry months are preferred for ease of travel. The prime time for visiting is from June to mid-September and December to February when the weather is drier. During these periods,activities gorilla trekking is more comfortable as the trails are less slippery. Game viewing is also optimal, as animals gather around water sources due to scarcity during the dry season.
June to Mid-September and December to February: Best Time for Gorilla Trekking
The long dry season from June to mid-September and the short dry season from December to February are ideal for gorilla trekking. The weather is relatively dry, making it easier to navigate the rainforest. Hiking becomes more manageable, and game viewing is excellent. However, occasional rain showers can occur, so packing a raincoat and boots is advisable.
March to May and October to November: Best Time for Bird Watching and Photography
March to May constitutes the long wet season, while October and November mark the short wet season. Despite the rain, activities like gorilla trekking can still take place, though they might be more challenging. This period is perfect for bird watchers, as the flourishing vegetation attracts numerous bird species. Photographers can capture vibrant landscapes with blooming flowers, lush greenery, and clear blue skies.
Attractions in Ruhengeri Region
Kinigi Town: Gateway to Gorillas
Kinigi town, located at the foot of the Virunga Mountains, serves as the starting point for gorilla trekking adventures. The town offers breathtaking views of the Volcanoes National Park and the Virunga Mountains, spanning Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Unique Scenery and Climate: As one approaches Kinigi, the temperature drops, and the mountainous terrain becomes colder. The area provides opportunities for various treks, walks, and observing unique attractions such as gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park.
Testimonials and Experiences: Tourists, like Australian visitor John Collins, express awe at encountering primates and birds in the Kinigi area. The experience of witnessing gentle giants like gorillas is deemed a highlight of any African journey. The town offers classic hotels and stopovers, enhancing the overall journey experience.
Historical and Cultural Significance: Kinigi is the only place where visitors can access the ruins of the Karisoke Research station, the burial place of Dian Fossey—an American zoologist dedicated to gorilla conservation. The town’s hospitality, variety of edibles, and generous reception contribute to visitor satisfaction.
Volcanoes National Park: A Conservation Haven
The park, spanning approximately 13,000 hectares, is renowned for mountain gorilla tracking on an international level. In addition to gorillas, the park is home to the recently habituated Golden Monkey, an endangered species. Golden Monkeys, living in bamboo thickets, offer a unique viewing experience compared to gorillas. Prosper Uwingeri, the chief warden, emphasizes Kinigi’s role in saving these primates from extinction.
Biodiversity and Bird Species: Kinigi stands out for its biodiversity, with over 200 bird species inhabiting the forest. The region’s terrain and environment make it an exemplary tourist destination. Despite challenges faced during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, gorilla tourism resumed in 1999, making Kinigi a crucial conservation area.
Conclusion: With only around 600 mountain gorillas left globally, approximately half of them reside near Kinigi town. The Ruhengeri region, particularly Kinigi, offers a remarkable opportunity to witness and preserve these world attractions. Whether exploring the Volcanoes National Park, engaging in gorilla trekking, or enjoying the diverse flora and fauna, a visit to Kinigi promises an unforgettable experience in the heart of Rwanda’s natural beauty.