Parc National des Volcans

Parc National des Volcans

The Parc National des Volcans (PNV) is part of the Virunga Conservation Area and covers more than 125 km².PNV is home of five Virunga volcanoes: Sabyinyo (3.674 m), Gahinga (3.474 m), Bisoke (3711 m), Muhabura (4.127 m), and the Karisimbi, the highest volcano with an altitude of 4.507 m. All five volcanoes are extinct, the active ones are located in Congo. Two of them erupted recently; the Nyiragongo erupted in January 2002 and Nyamulagira in July 2002.

The Virunga ecosystem is composed of 4 major vegetation zones: bamboo (base altitude), Hagenia and Hypericum forest (2600-3300m), Sub-alpine (3300-4000m), and Afro-alpine (4000m+).

The mountain gorillas ( gorilla beringei ) spend most of their time in the hagenia woodlands and bamboo forests. During the raining season when new bamboo shoots are growing, the gorillas spend more time foraging in the bamboo forests (base altitude). The climb to the natural habitat of bamboo forest and Hagenia woodlands offers fantastic views.

The PNV was Dian Fossey's base a long time ago (She died on the 26th of December 1985), and it is at the Karisoke Research Center that during 18 years she carried out her study on mountain gorillas.

The park was closed for tourism in 1991 when the war broke out and was reopened again in July 1999. The numbers of visitors are increasing every day and the PNV regains its former reputation as the best organized and most popular mountain gorilla sanctuary.

There are 5 gorilla groups habituated for tourism, the Sabinyo group has been divided up in two.

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