At the foothill of the 5 volcanoes
Kinigi is beautifully placed on the foothill of the 5 volcanoes of Virunga, all with legends and stories of their own. We live right on the equator, on the border between Rwanda and Uganda. At this altitude, 6000 ft, we have a pleasant tropical climate all year round.
What makes this place special is the great Volcanoes National Park. The beautiful jungle holds one of the last populations of Mountain Gorillas in the world. This is the place where Diane Fossey conducted her research in the 1970s and 80s. Kinigi is situated in the Musanze District, 102 km (63,5 miles) north west of Rwandas capital Kigali. You can either take a bus or car to get here. Read more about this on our Contact page.
From poachers to guardians
Most people in Kinigi are poor farmers and the protected jungle was for a long time seen as a threat to us locals. Now and then animals like elephants, buffalos and golden monkeys exit the park to eat our crops. Hunting is forbidden and poaching can lead to severe penalties. Still, many villagers used to hunt for bushmeat to survive and to pay school fees for their children. Gorillas were accidentally caught in snares meant for antelopes and buffaloes, and the population declined rapidly.
Since then, successful conservation and eco-tourism has led people from all over the world to visit us and our mighty gorillas. Tourists provide vital resources to our community, creating jobs and knowledge. This is building people’s confidence that the national park can provide long term livelihoods for many, if protected. Many poachers have now turned into guardians of the jungle.
The fight goes on
Poaching is still the biggest threat to the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla. Muhisimbi Volunteer Guides addresses this in two ways. By caring for and strengthening the relationships between nature, tourists and locals, and by putting unemployed youth and ex poachers to work. The population of Mountain Gorillas is now increasing by 3.7% annually, and currently consists of nearly 900 individuals. We are happy to contribute to the sustainable development of this area, and to the survival of our big relatives in the jungle. We would love for you to visit us and become a part of the solution.