Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans) is found north of Rwanda along the borders of Uganda in the north and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the west. The park is home to Mountain gorillas (with almost 480 primates) which were listed as critically endangered species by UICN, the park was designated in 1925 in a bid to control poaching and conserve the gorillas.
The Volcanoes is found in the Virunga Mountains which is the origin of eight ancient volcanoes and five are found in Rwanda which includes Mt. Muhabura, Mt. Sabyinyo, Mt. Gahinga, Mt. Bisoke and Mt. Karisimbi all found in the Volcanoes National Park.
The park has tropical forests which have helped to maintain the Mountain gorillas in their wild and natural environment, gorillas in Rwanda were first habituated by an American primatologist known as Dian Fossey from 1967 to 1985. She based her research center on the slopes of Mt. Karisimbi and Mt. Bisoke; she named Karisoke Research Center (Kari from Karisimbi and Soke from Bisoke). She did extensive research and studies on Mountain gorillas in their natural habitats and the Titus group was the first group to be habituated by Dian Fossey.
Bwenge is also another habituated gorilla family in the Volcanoes National park of Rwanda, it occupies the slopes of Mt. Bisoke led by Silverback Bwenge which is part of the 10 habituated Gorilla groups. Other habituated Gorilla groups include Amahoro group, Agasha (Group 13), Hirwa group, Karisimbi group, Kwitonda, Sabyinyo group, Susa group, Ugenda group and Umubano group.
Bwenge gorilla group is led by Silverback Bwenge and comprises of 11 family members, it occupies the slopes of Mt. Bisoke. It seceded away from the Natal group and Bwenge was left by was left by his biological family, as time went on, Bwenge was joined by other females who left other groups and which made Bwenge’s group to grow stronger.
This group came up in 2007, the group has experienced some break down like at one time, the family witnessed the death of 6 infants. Trekking this particular group offers a double experience, hiking above 600m to find the primates foraging. The hiking is not difficult though sometimes the tracks may be covered up with mud and slippery terrains. This is the famous group that might have appeared in the Iconic movie “Gorillas in the Mist,” a movie which was shot and covered Dian Fossey life and work about the Mountain gorillas in the jungles of Rwanda.
There are over 80 guides (Rwanda Development Board rangers) who offer guided services in English, French and other international languages. The Gorilla tracking permits can be obtained from Kinigi headquarters in the Volcanoes National Park.
Gorilla tracking permits in Rwanda go for about $1500USD per individual . Gorillas every day are visited by 72 tourists and each in a group of 8 tourists. This is similar to Uganda’s gorilla park regulations also allowing the same number of tourists in the gorilla parks.