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VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

 
Background Information

Destination Highlights

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.

 
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What to see and do

Of the primate family, olive baboons (Papio anubis) and vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythus) are common, less so is the secretive blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) which was thought to have become extinct in Akagera until recently. Bushbabies or Galagos (Galago moholi and Otolemur crassicaudatus) are often seen on night drives. Of the large predators only leopard (Panthera pardus) and hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) can still be found in the park. Although lion once occurred throughout Akagera, the population have been wiped out mostly through poisonings by cattle herders seeking to protect their livestock. A reduction in the prey-base due to heavy poaching would also have contributed to their demise. Smaller predators are still well represented with healthy populations of several mongoose species, viverrid species, serval (Leptailurus serval) and side-striped jackal (Canis adustus). Plans are underway for the reintroduction of lion in 2014, and black rhino in 2015 which will restore Akagera’s ‘Big 5’ status.