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Things To Do In Volcanoes National Park – Activities

What To Do In Volcanoes National Park         

They are number activities to do in Volcanoes National Park. Top things to do in Volcanoes National Park include;

  1. Gorilla trekking
  2. Golden monkey tracking
  3. Dian Fossey’s Grave hike
  4. Volcano hiking
  5. Visiting Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village/Gorilla Guardians Village
  6. Visiting Musanze Caves
  7. Gorilla Trekking In Volcanoes National Park

1. Gorilla Trekkinga

Trekking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park is one of the ultimate highlights of a safari to Africa. The thrill attached to first setting eyes on a wild mountain gorilla is difficult to describe.

These are massive apes, up to 220 kilograms in weight (almost as three times as bulky as an average human) and their size is exaggerated by a shaggily luxuriant coat.

Yet given their intimidating appearance, gorillas are incredibly peaceful creatures. In fact trekking to see them would be a considerably a very risky pursuit if they had the aggressive temperament of, say, vervet monkeys or baboons or for that matter human beings.

More impressive even than the gorillas’ size or their peaceful behaviour is their enigmatic attitude to people, which differs greatly from that of other wild animals that visitors often encounter during their African wildlife safaris.

Almost everyone who encounters gorillas in tour in Rwanda experiences an almost mystical sense of recognition.

Often one of the gentle giant will break off from the business of chopping a bamboo to study human visitors, soft brown eyes staring deeply into theirs as if seeking a connection, a spine-tingling wildlife watching experience without peer.

What It’s Like On A Gorilla Trekking In Volcanoes National Park

  • On the day of your Rwanda gorilla trekking tour in Volcanoes National Park, you will set off very early in the morning to trek to the apes from the edge of the forest.
  • Your driver/guide will take you from your Rwanda safari lodge to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Kinigi village. The guides here are very good and speak excellent English.
  • They will be taking you to a specific group/family of ‘habituated’ mountain gorillas, which are used to human visitors, and known well by the guides.
  • Before trekking, you will be divided into groups of 8 (currently 6 during this period of COVID-19) and, after a briefing on safety and gorilla trekking etiquette; you will be allocated a gorilla family to track according to your level of fitness.
  • If you have any physical limitations, do inform the park officials so they can plan your trek accordingly. You can also inform them if you would like to track a particular family, so that you will be permitted to join the group headed to see them.
  • If you feel you need assistance to carry any photographic equipment or other gear you have with you, you can hire the services of a porter for the duration of your gorilla trek.
  • Please ensure that you have the necessary gorilla trekking essential before you set out for the trek and ensure you fallow all the gorillas trekking rules.
  • Don’t forget to put on your sturdiest shoes for the trek, wear trousers, bring sweat shirt, wear muted colours and carry a rain jacket. Also, drink plenty of water and do carry some quick calories such as biscuits and chocolate.
  • Then, you’ll be driven to the start of the trail to reach gorilla family. Your guide will lead you along generally clear paths up into the forest, in radio communication with the trackers that stay with the group so that they can be located.
  • First 30 minutes will be an easy walk through flat farmlands. Once the forest boundary is reached, the actual trek begins.
  • The altitude is over 2,500m, so although the pace is unhurried, the hike is tiring and can be steep in parts, taking from 30 minutes to a few hours. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit breathless at this altitude – this is perfectly normal.
  • As you trek, you will see other Volcanoes National Park attractions includes birds, you may see golden monkeys and other animals, different tree species, colourful butterflies, etc.
  • The good news is that in 99% of cases, whatever exhaustion you might fee on the way up will vanish with adrenaline charge that follows the first sighting these massive great apes.
  • Often the gorillas will be spread around a small area of dense vegetation. They will continue with their feeding and interactions, nonchalant about their visitors, though watching you with interest.
  • Occasionally one, often a playful youngster, will approach you with curiosity – sometimes coming so close that you will have to move away.
  • Please note that, at times gorillas may move closer to you, and you might even find them earlier than expected, but the trek can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours.
  • And despite the many hours you spend searching for gorillas. Travelers only spend 1 hour with gentle giants.
  • Above all, do bear in mind that gorillas are still wild animals, despite the gentle giants’ reputation that they has superseded the old King Kongo image. An adult gorilla is much stronger than a person and will act in accordance with its own social codes when provoked or surprised.

There have been no accidents on gorilla trekking tour for past many years, but it is still very important to listen to your guide at all times regarding correct protocol during gorilla trekking and in presence of the gorillas.

How Fit Do I Need To Be To Trek Gorillas In Volcanoes National Park

You do not have to be extremely fit for gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda, however it does benefit if you have a general level of fitness, if only to enhance your overall enjoyment of your Rwanda gorilla trekking experience.

Hiking will be at a slow pace, with time for breaks if required. Depending on which gorilla family you are allocated to trek, and the time of year you go (gorillas tend to move down the mountains in the rains); you might find yourself walking on some pretty steep slopes for several hours.

However, you can reach your gorilla group after a 30-minute trek. But it is advised that you prepare for the most active option and if nothing else, a few hill walks before you leave would be beneficial.

Gorilla Trekking Rules In Rwanda

For those planning a gorilla trek in Rwanda, the following gorilla trekking rules and regulations will apply.

Before You Visit The Gorillas
  • People who know that they are habouring potentially airborne diseases such flu or cold should not trek gorillas (the permit fees will be refunded). This is because gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases and it has long been feared by researchers that one ill tourist might infect a gorilla, resulting in the possible death of the whole family.
  • A maximum of 8 people per group (6 during this period of Coronavirus) are allowed to track one particular gorilla family per day to void behavioral disturbances to the gorillas.
  • The minimum age for gorilla trekking Rwanda is 15 years. This is because anyone below this age is considered a young and vulnerable person and therefore not fit to trek the gorillas. In most cases, persons below 15 have unpredictable characteristics that may lead to change of the primates’ behaviors. An example is when a gorilla tries to fume or come near a visitor in the presence of a child, she may decide to run or scream hence disorganizing the gorillas.
  • Always wash your hands when heading in to the forest and when out of the forest
On The Way To The Gorillas
  • Please always speak in a low voice in the forest. This will also enable you to observe other natural treasures in the forest such as birds and other mammals.
  • Don’t throw away garbage in the forest. Whatever you enter in to the forest with, must be brought back out when you are living the forest.
  • Human waste should be buried 30cm deep.
When You Are With Gorillas
  • One encountered, trekkers should not approach the gorillas more closely than 10 meters, a rule often contravened by curious youngsters and sometimes adults approaching their human visitor. In this case you will need to slowly and calmly move backward to regain the 10 meters distance.
  • Gorillas don’t like flash lights, so flash photography is forbidden since they may cause the gorilla to charge at you. You should note that, gorillas are tricky photographic subjects, on account of their sunken eyes, the gloomy habitat in which they are often found and the jet black coat that tends to distort light readings. So carrying a tripod or monopod will help you to get sharper results.

It is worth programing your camera to a relatively high ISO (around 800), and pushing it even higher if conditions demand it.

  • It is forbidden to eat, drink, smoke, urinate or defecate in the vicinity of the gorillas. Gorillas can easily can your diseases.
  • Speak in a low voice. However, it’s ok to ask the guide questions
  • Don’t feed gorillas
  • Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the instructions of the guide. Don’t run away, it will increase the risk of gorilla chasing you.
  • Don’t touch the gorillas, they are wild animals.
  • If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or germs.
  • Visits are limited to one hour per gorilla group per day. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  • After the visit, remain silent or speak in a low voice until you reach at least 200 meters away from the gorillas.

What Should I Bring For A Gorilla Trekking In Volcanoes National Park

  • Hand sanitizer and face masks
  • Sturdy waterproof hiking shoes
  • A light long sleeved shirt and long trouser are essential to avoid stinging nettles and branches. Tuck pants in socks to avoid ants.
  • Rain jacket/Poncho
  • Gaters or long hiking socks are recommended through the thick bush and to avoid those ants up your pants.
  • Pack extra socks: Since the Gorillas live on the side of the mountains, the ground is always damp. It is very likely that the pair of socks you are wearing when you start the trek will become wet, either from the conditions or from sweating.
  • Don’t forget gardening gloves. This sounds funny but they were handy for grabbing branches for support and pushing those stinging nettles off.
  • Floppy hats, bandanas, sunglasses and lots of sunscreen to protect you from strong sun.
  • Plenty of cold water and hydrating fluids.
  • Energy giving snacks are also good for a quick energy boost.
  • A Walking stick can be got at the park headquarters to keep sturdy on the ground.
  • Pair binoculars, a camera and extra batteries are never a bad idea in Africa.
  • You need to carry a waterproof bag to protect your camera and a rain jacket.
  • Insect repellent with DEET.
  • Basic first aid remedies kit for simple illnesses.
  • To avoid any potential hassles, carry your passport with you at all times in addition to your gorilla-tracking permit.

Gorilla Trekking Permit For Volcanoes National Park

You must have a gorilla trekking permit to trek gorillas in Rwanda. The gorilla permits are obtainable from the Rwanda Tourism Board offices in Kigali or Ruhengeri which is near the park.

You can book your Rwanda gorilla permit either online or via a reputable tour operator. Although you can book the permit on your own, the most convenient method is to use a reliable Rwanda tour operator.  Most Rwanda tour operators include a gorilla permit as part of the overall cost of a Rwanda gorilla safari.

How Many Gorilla Trekking Permits Are Available In Rwanda Daily

Eight permits gorilla trekking permits are issued per gorilla group per day, (currently 6 during this COVID-19 period).  Rwanda has 12 habituated gorillas’ families for trekking.

When Should I Book A Rwanda Gorilla Permit

With only 96 permits (72 during this Coronavirus period) available each day in Rwanda, it is highly recommended to book in advance.

Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda are in high demand. It is highly recommended to book   your permit at least 4-5 months in advance, especially during the peak seasons of December to January and July to August to avoid last minute inconveniences.

Once your permit is secured, you can then go ahead and organize your transport and overnight accommodation.

How Much Are Gorilla Permits In Rwanda

Rwanda gorilla trekking permit fees are as follows;

  • US$1500 —Non Residents, East African Residents, East African Citizens, Rwandan Residents, Rwandan Citizens
  • 30% Discount (US$ 1,050) on gorilla permits if visiting other Rwanda national parks (Akagera national park, Nyungwe national park) for 3 days and more during the low season of November−May
  • 15% discount (US$ 1,275) on conference guests who stay pre & post MICE events to see gorillas
  • $15,000 for Private gorilla trekking of an entire group with an exclusive personalized tour guide service
  • US$ 30,000 for a minimum of 3 visitors for 3 consecutive days (Behind the scenes)

The fees paid give you an opportunity to spend one hour with a particular gorilla group after encountering them.

It doesn’t include accommodation, ground transport or meals. The fee includes park entry, compulsory guides and guards.

10% of the revenue from the permits is channeled towards local communities, to build schools and health centres, as well as roads.

Also part of the fee the money earned from Rwanda gorilla tourism is used to protect the natural habitats where these endangered animals live.

When To Go Gorilla Trekking In Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Gorilla trekking safaris can be done throughout the year. The hiking itself can be more arduous in the rainy seasons from April – May and in November, but at an altitude of 2000m and more, it can of course rain here at any time of the year.

The most popular times for gorilla tracking are during the drier months, between December and February, and from about June to mid-September.

  1. Golden Monkey Tracking In Volcanoes National Park

While many travelers rush straight after trekking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, it is recommended to stay in the park for another day to visit rare and endangered golden monkeys.

Tarted up in an amazing multi-coloured coat of rusty red, fiery oranges, shadowy blacks, tints of blue and gold, golden monkeys are among the most beautiful primates you will see while on yours safaris in Africa.

There are two golden monkey groups in Volcanoes that have habituated for tracking and will happily jump and prance around visitors without a care in the world.

The larger and the often visited troop is Sabyinyo. This group consists of about 80 to 100 monkeys.

How Is Golden Monkey Tracking Like In Volcanoes National Park

Your driver-guide will pick you from your accommodation early in the morning. The trek starts from 7.00am at the park headquarters.

You will be placed in a group of a maximum of 8 people, accompanied by your trekking guide and an armed park ranger.

For a small fee, you will also have the choice to hire a porter to accompany you on the trek, to help carry your backpack and offer a hand during tricky parts of the hike. Even if you don’t really need them, hiring a porter is a helpful way to contribute directly to the local economy.

After a safety briefing, you will be driven to the start of the trail you will take to reach the golden monkeys.

Your guide will be in radio communication with the trackers locating the golden monkeys, and will lead you along generally clear paths to the edge of the forest, at which time you will then be moving through more dense vegetation.

The duration of your trek depends on the location of the golden monkey group. The monkeys can cover a fair amount of distance daily, so it can sometimes take a while for the trackers to locate them.

You might not get as close to the golden monkeys as you may to the gorillas, but their antics are fun to watch. These monkeys live in bamboo forests at the higher elevations of the Virunga Mountains, as well as at the foot of Sabyinyo Mountain.

As you hike along the trail, enjoy the beauty of the flora and spot some of the stunning 200 bird species that Volcanoes National Park is famous for.

When you near the monkeys, your guide will point them out in the trees and you can watch them swing through the bamboo, foraging for food or chasing each other in circles all around you.

They’re also very pretty, with shiny reddish-gold backs that blend in perfectly with the golden bamboo.

Take all the photographs you want, but be warned that golden monkeys are fast-moving creatures and very active and make for challenging subjects.

On rare occasions, you may even spot these fascinating creatures grooming one another on the forest floor. Remember, you’re allowed an hour, maximum, with them before heading back.

Do Trekking Golden Monkeys Require Physical Fitness

You don’t have to be super-fit for a golden monkey trek, but it does help if you have a good general level of fitness, if only to enhance your overall enjoyment.

The monkeys can move fast when they’re searching for food, and so at times the pace of the trek can move fairly swiftly, though the guides will stop regularly for breaks.

Some travellers can find the treks particularly strenuous; though you’re not climbing up into the volcanoes, and the terrain near the bamboo forests is relatively flat, you’re still going to be at an altitude of around 2000-3000m.

Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit breathless at this altitude, this is perfectly normal. We’d advise keeping well hydrated, paying attention to the directions given by your guide, and letting your guide know if you feel unwell at any point during the trek.

The golden monkeys are a great stand-alone experience for primate lovers, but we also do suggest that anyone trekking to see the mountain gorillas takes part in a trek to see the golden monkeys on the previous day, to help acclimatize to the altitude and surrounding terrain.

What To Carry For Golden Monkey Tracking In Volcanoes National Park

  • Garden gloves long sleeved shirt/blouse and long pair of trousers to protect your skin from stinging nettles, thistles and branches.
  • You will need a rain jacket since the weather in the forest cannot be predicted you will expect rain at any time.
  • Carry some energy giving snacks and enough drinking water.
  • Paths on the treks can be slippery and muddy, so sturdy walking boots are essential.
  • You will also need to carry good hiking shoes that do not slide due to the wet ground.
  • A wide brimmed hat when it is hot to shield you from the sunshine can be necessary.
  • Do not forget repellent to avoid insect bites.
  • Carry your camera and a pair of binoculars

How Much Is A Golden Monkey Trekking Permit

Travellers who wish to visit the golden monkeys while on their vacation in Rwanda should work with their Rwanda tour operators to get the necessary golden monkey trekking permit. The Rwanda golden monkey permit costs;

  • Foreign Non-residents: US$100 per person
  • Foreign Residents in Rwanda: US$65 per person
  • Rwandans citizen: 4,000 Rwf per person
  • East African citizen: US$65 per person
  • East Africa Foreign Resident: US$ 80

Even in the peak season, there are general plenty of permits available, though is advised to book your trekking permit prior to your trip, to be on the safe side.

Golden Monkey Trekking Rules In Volcanoes National Park

  • As with the gorillas, your time with the monkeys is limited to 1 hour.
  • During the trek, trekkers are not allowed to feed the golden monkeys since this may cause infections to the monkeys.
  • During photography, flash lights are not allowed when taking photos of the monkeys since these will scare away the golden monkeys.
  • When you’re with your group, you should try not to make sudden movements and to keep your voices low so that the group remains relaxed.
  • You won’t be allowed to eat or drink when you’re with the golden monkeys, and smoking is not allowed during the trek.
  • Although these monkeys are now used to seeing people, do bear in mind that they are still wild animals and can sometimes react unexpectedly, so always heed your guide’s and trackers’ instructions.
  • Unlike the gorillas, children are allowed to take part and permit price is the same as for adults.
  1. Dian Fossey’s Tomb Hike In Volcanoes National Park

Hiking to Dian Fossey Grave while on a gorilla safari in Rwanda is a tribute to her great work of saving these primates that you are able to come and see today.  This popular activity gives visitors to Volcanoes National Park an insight into the life of Fossey and gorilla conservation in the Virunga region. You will learn more about her interest in the gorillas and how over the years gorilla conservation picked on which later led to gorilla tourism.

This trek involves passing through the forest which offers beautiful views of many attractions. You have chances of sighting some forest animals like elephants, buffaloes, forest hogs, and several bird species.

You arrive at Dian Fossey house where she was mysteriously murdered in 1985 and later buried next to Digit her favorite gorilla friend. The gorilla graveyard has about 20 gorillas buried here that were killed either by poachers or by natural causes. The circumstances that led to Fossey’s murder still remain mystery but it’s believed that the murder could have happened due to the reason that she had devoted herself to see poaching come to an end and protect the gorillas.

Following her sad ending, Dian Fossey’s reputation and success continues, and her popular book Gorillas in the Mist was eventually made a film portraying her personal life and dealing with the gorillas you don’t want to miss to watch this.  This film shows how she was devoted in her work and truly it wasn’t in vain even with her death, her history still lives.

How Long Is The Dian Fossey Tomb Hike

The hike includes a 30-minute drive from the park headquarters to the trail head for access to the Karisoke test camp where tourists stroll to the park border for about 10 minutes.

Walking from the park boundaries to the Dian Fossey grave, takes approximately 1 to 2 hours

Is The Dian Fossey Hike Difficult

The hike is not as strenuous as hiking the Virunga volcanoes but it’s quite tiresome requiring one to be physically fit and committed.

It involves moving through the woods and climbing the hills, needing a degree of endurance and flexibility for one to be able to hike the steep slopes.

To ease the movements, travelers are also reminded to wear hiking boots to overcome the muddy and slippery grounds especially in the rainy season.

Similarly, dress in long trousers, which you will tack into stockings to prevent bites from ground insects and being hurt by stinging nettles.

How Much Is The Dian Fossey Grave Hike

To hike to Fossey’s grave; a visitor is expected to have a valid permit. Ironically, Dian Fossey Graveyard Hike has a relatively low cost of US$ 75 per person which is worth paying for compared to other activities such gorilla trekking which costs $1500 per person.

Travellers taking part in this hike can get the permits on the actual day of hiking at the Karisoke Research centre.

The permit includes park fees and a guide (though you are responsible for your own transportation to/from the trailhead).

  1. Volcano Hikes In Volcanoes National Park

Although mountain gorilla trekking is the most popular activity in Volcanoes National Park, you can also do hiking and volcano climbing.

With steep mountain slopes almost reaching the skies with clear views will offer you an opportunity to view the all of volcanoes national park at one angle.

One of the best parts of climbing and trekking the volcanoes is that you will be awarded ample opportunities to view wildlife including gorillas, golden monkey, bushbucks and black-fronted duikers and buffaloes.

Also, expect to see birds such as turacos, francolins, sunbirds, waxbills, crimson-wings and various hawks and buzzards plus a variety of unique plant species.  You will do a hike on any of the mountains listed below

Mount Karisimbi Hike

Karisimbi volcano also known as the white shell Mountain rises to a level of over 4507 meters. Karisimbi is the highest point in Rwanda, the 6th highest point in Africa and the highest of the Virunga massif.

The trek to the summit of Karisimbi takes two days and it is a real adventure, which involves hiking through different vegetation zones.

To climb Mount Karisimbi, visitors have to head out from their accommodation near volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to meet the guide a the park headquarters at Kinigi.

From here it’s a drive of an hour or so to the start of the trail, at around 2,600m above sea level, where you will join your porters, and begin the trek.

Over the course of the day you will hike through a number of different vegetation zones, starting with the bamboo forest on the lower slopes, where you can visit Dian Fossey’s tomb for an additional fee.

On the higher slopes you will find hagania-hypericum forest, and then higher still the open hillside is dotted with giant lobelia and Senecio. The Virunga Mountains are home to a wide array of wildlife and birds, and keep an eye out for birds as you go.

Your camp for the night will be at 3,700m: a basic mountain camp with small, backpacking-style tents. Here you can enjoy a well-earned rest and a hearty meal before settling into your sleeping bag for the night.

The following morning you will be up early, around 5.30am, in order to make the push for the summit. Although no climbing skills are required, the final ascent is physically demanding as you will be hiking up relatively steep slopes at high altitude.

After around two hours you should reach the top, from where you can peer down in to the steaming crater below. You will be on the edge of the Congolese border, and on a clear day the views from the top are beautiful.

You will be surely overwhelmed by breathtaking panoramas, with Nyiragongo to the west, Bisoke to the east, and Mikeno to the north.

Climbing Mt Karisimbi is highly dependent on weather conditions. It should only be attempted in the dry season, between June and August, and even then it is inadvisable to climb in poor weather.

The two-day climb up Karisimbi costs US$400 per person for groups of two or more, including park fees and a guide.

Age limit is 15 years and maximum number of twelve (12) of Karisimbi hikers is permitted in one group.

Mount Bisoke Hike

Standing at 3,711 meters above sea level, Mount Bisoke is possibly the most scaled peak in Volcanoes National Park.

Although the hike up the mountain tests your physical fitness and stamina, the trek is well worth it thanks to the superb views of Lake Ngezi in the crater atop the volcanic peak.

You will begin your day at 7.00am at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, where you will be assigned your guide before a half-hour drive to the start point for your trek, at an elevation of 2,700m. You will pass through Bisate Village, with its picturesque potato farms.

At this stage, you also have the option of renting trekking clothing including raincoats, gumboots, and gloves, which are important for navigating this potentially muddy terrain. Those seeking assistance can request a porter to help carry any equipment along the way.

Your trek should take about 6 to 7 hours to complete if you are not used to scaling mountains; of this time, 2 or 3 hours is spent returning to the base.

More experienced of hikers may complete the trek in a total time of 4 or 5 hours. According to regulations, hikers must reach the summit by 2:00 p.m. You must turn back at that time, even if you have not made it to the top.

During the ascent, you’ll be trekking through a number of different vegetation zones. On the lower slopes you’ll pass through bamboo forest, the preferred food of golden monkeys and mountain gorillas.

As you climb up to the higher slopes you will come to a band of Hagenia forest, which then opens out to Lobelia bush as you approach the summit, after about three hours. A wide variety of birds are found on the slopes of Mt Bisoke, so keep your binoculars handy.

The summit is dominated by a large crater lake, and on a clear day the views are far reaching. This is a great place to relax and enjoy your lunch, before starting your descent.

Age limit: You need to be at least 15 years old for this trek and the hike cost US$75 per person.

Gahinga And Muhabura Hikes

Hiking Gahinga (3474m) and Muhabura (4127m) is a two-day trip from Gasiza (US$200 per person including guide).

The first volcano’s summit can be reached after climbing for about four hours along the route that passes through a swampy saddle between the two mountains.

The trek to the top of Muhabura takes about four hours from the saddle. It is also possible to climb these volcanoes separately.

For Gahinga, allow seven to eight hours for the return hike, and a minimum of nine hours for Muhabura.

You’ll need to be very fit to climb Muhabura as there’s an altitude gain of more than 2000m. The trekking fee is US$100 for Muhabura and US$75 for Gahinga, including a guide.

The minimum age for hiking Muhabura and Gahinga is 15 years. A maximum of twelve (12) of Muhabura hikers is permitted in one group.

What To Pack For Volcanoes National Park Mountain Climbing Safari

  • Snacks and water
  • Long sleeved shirts
  • Cameras and binoculars
  • Hiking boots and a rain Jacket
  • Garden gloves and hats

5) Visit Iby’iwacu Cultural Village, Volcanoes National Park

Iby’Iwacu Village is located in Kinigi, close to Volcanoes National Park. It was started by Edwin Sabuhoro when he worked as a warden at Volcanoes national park with a desire to transform the then notorious poachers into conservationists.

‘Iby’Iwacu’ means ‘treasure of our home’ or ‘our heritage’. The village is committed at showcasing the ways of living, traditional lifestyles and dances to tourists.

After a fantastic and memorable gorilla trek in Rwanda, the Iby’Iwacu cultural village is the best place to hide, relax and you recuperate your mind. You will feel as though you have stepped back in time, to when kings ruled over the kingdom of Rwanda.

During your guided Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village walk you will also be overwhelmed by the warmth and friendliness of the local folk.

The activities to do during your Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village tour depend on the interest of the visitors.

They include the following;

Community walk: This is guided by a community member and involves visiting different sites within the community. This tour offers an unusual and unforgettable insight into the everyday lives of the village communities.

Visiting the king’s house replica:  Here you will listen to all the Kings stories, the meanings of different symbols within the palace guided by a local guide

In this site you can be a king for minutes, hours and days. You will be enthroned and can exercise king’s powers as bestowed to you by a village elder through a village ceremony.

Enjoying local traditional dances: Visitors to Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village are offered eight different types of traditional dances by all community categories; men, women, youths and the children, and other local and traditional musical instruments (i.e. Intore dances, drumming, Ibyivugo, Umuduri, Ikembe, Iningiri, Inanga, Ingoma, Amakondera, Agakenke, etc)

The famous Songs of the Gorillas sang by the famous Ngayabatema, commonly referred to as Kayuku.

Visiting a local traditional healer: Here you will hear about the different medicinal trees, shrubs, grass and their traditional medicinal uses and how they are administered to local patients

You will visit the traditional clinics and pharmacies, the elderly and hear their interesting stories of pre and post-colonial era.

Visit local schools: If you are a teacher, you could offer and attend lessons and see how children are taught in schools.

Prepare and have a local lunch or dinner with local people.

Attend a local banana brewery process and have a taste of local banana beer.

Sharing cultural experiences: Exchange of flow of experiences and ideas between local people and visitors

Experience the ex-poachers ways of hunting /techniques, methods and stories from ex-poachers in particular Batwa (pygmies)

Batwa pottery making experience, lessons and engagement

Artisans and craft making by women, men and children, etc

Agricultural tourism will be part of the wider experience where guests will join local people when they go to their agricultural fields to work and learn about their work, harvest and participate in food preparation and making processes like millet grinding using stones, carrying potatoes and water on their heads, and attend lessons and participate in preparing a local dish i.e. (Ubugari, Igikoma etc).

The wider part of experience is IGITARAMO, where all gather around camp fire, with drums and local dances before sunset, where stories, riddles are recounted by storytellers of the old Rwanda with everyone seated around the fire.

Every evening the village members gather around a campfire and begin a session of storytelling and dancing. Most of the time after trekking gorillas, tourists don’t have what to do; this is the utmost time for other activities to supplement tourism outside the park.

Code of Conduct in the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village

By following these single guidelines, you can help in preserving the unique environment and culture of community.

  • Use bins and carry all non-degradable litter.
  • Plants should be left to flourish in their natural environment-taking cuttings, seeds and roots are illegal in the community.
  • When taking photographs, respect privacy, ask the community leader or guide if it is alright and use restraint.
  • Avoid giving to children empty bottles “agacupa” it encourages begging.
  • A donation to the community project is a more constructive way to help, and only give to the community leader.
  • You will be accepted and welcomed if you follow local customs.
  • Use only your right hand when greeting and eating.
  • It’s also polite to use both hands while giving and receiving gifts.
  • Respect for local etiquette earns respect.
  • Light weight clothes are preferable to revealing or see-through, skimpy tops and tight fitting action wear. Kissing in public is disliked by local people.

Visit Rates

A day visit to Gorilla Guardians costs US$35 per person. This includes all activities at the village and a community walks in the village to visit village elders, women, and children and other community projects.

An overnight stay at Village costs US$70 per person per night including breakfast, lunch and dinner and all village activities. The village receive visitors receive visitors throughout the year.

  1. Visiting Musanze Caves At Volcanoes National Park

Located at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park, the caves offer a peek into the geological history of the region, which was created by intense volcanic activity that formed the Albertine Rift Valley some 65 million years ago.

Extending for a length of two kilometers and relatively easy to hike, the underground caverns provide guests with a profound understanding of the origins of the area.

The Rwanda Development Board and Rwanda Defense Forces have provided access to the caves so adventurous holidaymakers can enjoy exploring them.

The floors of the cave are paved, while the trails have stairways and walkways in place to facilitate easy movement.

As you wander through the various subterranean areas, you can view intricate rock formations lit by pockets of soft sunlight, which filters through gaps in the ceiling.

You might also chance to encounter some of the Rwandan bat species that have taken up residence there.

Add a trip to the caves to your Rwanda safari itinerary and enjoy exploring this quiet, ethereal world with an expert guide accompanying you and a headlamp to light your way. You could also spend an afternoon here following your gorilla trek in the Parc National des Volcans.

Visiting Musanze Caves cost US$ 50 per person.

Want to visit Volcanoes Park?

Want to visit Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda's only mountain gorilla trekking park?