The magnificent Virunga Mountains are situated in the Northern Province of Rwanda, on the border of Rwanda, DRC and Uganda. The mountains are made up of 125 km2 of mountain forest and the Virunga National Park or Parc National des Volcanoes covers an area of about 46 square miles and encompasses six volcanoes. It is an area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno Volcanoes. The Virunga National Park is the home of mountain gorillas. The Parc National des Volcans was where Dian Fossey set up her base and research centre.
Virunga Mountains also called Mountain Mufumbiro is a chain of volcanoes mountains in East Africa along northern border western branch of East Africa Rift located between lake Edward and Lake Kivu.
The National Park was first gazetted in 1925 as the very first National Park created in Africa to protect the gorillas from poaching.
A lot of investment has gone into the park in order to improve its social infrastructure as well as security within the park. Over 3000 tourists a year visit Virunga National Park to admire the gorillas as well as the lava lake of the Nyiragongo Volcano.
The Africa Conservation Fund (UK) has signed a 10-year management agreement to manage the park since February 2011.
Vegetation in the park
The vegetation in the park includes the following:
- Lower montane forest
- .Neoboutonia forest,
- Arundinaria alpine (bamboo) forest which covers about 30% of the park area
- Hagenia-Hypericum forest representing the largest forests of Hagenia abyssinica.
- Thicket, meadows, marshes, swamps
- small lakes
Activities in the Area
The activities in the park include the following:
- Gorillas Treking in the Volcanoes National Park.
- Visiting nmerous caves
- A number of Cultural and Community Tourism initiates.
- Good location for bird watching.
- Hiking trails in the majestic Virunga Mountains
- One can do have some cycling around the area.
- Boating on the Twin lakes
Population of people in the Area
Virunga Mountains rise out of densely populated plateaus that are inhabited mostly by Rwandan cultivators and cattle herders.
The neighbouring Mount Hoyo area a home to a population of Bambuti Pygmy people, caves and waterfalls
Population of gorillas
There are five habituated families of gorillas which are generally visited, having from 7 to 35 individuals in each family.
Biodiversity in the Virunga Mountain
The park is known for its exceptional bio-diversity which includes the following:
- Golden Monkeys,
- Forest Elephants,
- Variety Of Birds,