Virunga National park

Virunga National Park Congo.

Virunga National Park, the continent’s oldest national park, is also its most ecologically diversified. Despite recent problems from poachers and refugee settlement, the 3000-square-mile park is now a tourist destination and home to 25% of the world’s remaining silverback gorilla population. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, about one million refugees sought safety in the park grounds, putting great pressure on the animal population and straining the local ability to accept more people.

Later, in 2007, a mafia gang pursuing de-nationalization of the grounds slaughtered nine mountain gorillas in the belief that the government would see no need to defend the park without the gorillas. The park is now quiet, owing to the efforts of park rangers and conservation organizations, and it is an essential visit on any Rwanda safari.

The Senkwekwe Orphan Mountain Gorilla Center, located near the Virunga area Headquarters, is one example of conservation initiatives in the area. This facility provides medical care to gorillas who have been injured or who have been isolated in a secure enclosure. Senkwekwe now has four orphaned gorillas. Because many of the creatures in the park are critically endangered, it is critical that visitors understand the need of conservation.

What to see and do in Virunga National Park, Congo?

Primates, The Park is home to a variety of primates, including roughly 200 mountain gorillas, chimps, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, golden monkeys, and grey cheeked mangabeys, among others.

Mammals; Over 200 mammals live in the national park, including buffaloes, bush elephants, leopards, duikers, big forest pigs, gigantic pangolins, marsh mongooses, bush squirrels, hippos, warthogs, and antelopes, among others.

Birds; The park is recognized as a birder’s paradise since it is home to 708 different bird species, including the grey throated barbet, white headed wood hoopoe, thick bellied sea eater, blue headed sunbird, black headed waxbill, blue spotted wood dove, and weird weaver.

Vegetation; Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is mostly consists of tropical rainforest with a variety of flora types such as savannah woodland and grassland, alpine vegetation, and swamp. The park’s greenery serves as both food and habitat for the animals.

Mt. Nyiragongo; Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano located inside the Virunga National Park. The mountain peak is 6500 feet high and contains the world’s biggest lava lake. Mount Nyiragongo has erupted 34 times, the most recent in 2002. This site provides excellent views from the summit, including the Virunga forest, animal and primate species that may be viewed when trekking, and so on.

Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage; Senkwekwe is the world’s only orphanage that cares for gorillas. The orphanage, which established in 2010, is located near Mikeno Lodge at the park headquarters. The orphaned gorillas in Senkwekwe are treated by a medical gorilla doctor and given nourishment, among other things.

Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park.

The cost of gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is $400 USD per person. The park’s gorilla trekking activities begin at the Bukima Patrol Post. Tracking can take between three and eight hours, including one hour of actual contact with the gorillas. Tourists may monitor the following gorilla families when visiting the park: Bageni, Humba, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga, Nyakamwe, and Rugendo.

The national park is home to one-third of the world’s mountain gorilla population. There are eight habituated gorilla groups accessible for tourists to track in the national park, with the Kabirizi gorilla family being the largest and most sought after group by gorilla trekkers. This gorilla group of 34 individuals may be located in the Bukima area.

Chimpanzee Trekking and Habituation

Chimpanzee trekking at Virunga National Park in Congo begins early in the morning with a briefing, after which tourists are divided into groups and assigned a park guide who will accompany them on their journey into the bush. Chimpanzees are a nomadic species that likes to travel from one location to another in quest of food, thus trekking might take a short or long time, and once the chimps are located, tourists will spend one hour with them in their natural environment.

Chimpanzee habituation is the training of chimps to get used to human presence. The park’s chimp habituation began in 1987 by a biologist named Frankfurt and was introduced to the public in 2014. A team of researchers, park guides, park rangers, and visitors conduct chimp trekking. Chimpanzee trekking is a full-day activity that permits a maximum of four people to participate and spend four hours with the chimps, as opposed to chimp trekking, which lasts only one hour. Chimpanzee trekking provides exceptional and stunning experiences for visitors to the national park.

Climbing Mount Nyiragongo.

Tourists visiting Congo’s Virunga National Park can hike up Nyiragongo Mountain. Mountain Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano located within the national park, and tourists may go on hiking trips to the mountain’s lava lake. Hiking activities to the mountain begin at the Kibati Patrol post, which is 30 minutes from Goma and an hour from Mikeno Lodge. Hiking trips begin at 9 a.m. and run between 1 and 6 hours.

 Hiking Mount Rwenzori, guided nature hikes, landscape gazing, and bird watching are some of the other activities available at Virunga National Park.

When is the best time to visit Virunga National Park?

The national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is open all year, although the ideal time to come is during the dry season, which runs from June to September and December to February. The dry season is also regarded as the peak season since there is less rainfall and hence most activities like as gorilla trekking, nature walks, and climbing Mount Nyiragongo will be successful.

The gorilla trekking, nature walk, and hiking routes will be passable during the dry season, as opposed to the rainy season from March to May and October to November, when there is substantial rainfall, making the trail wet, muddy, and treacherous.

Where can I stay during my visit to Virunga National Park?

The Virunga National Park features a limited number of hotel options, including premium, midrange, and budget options. Mikeno Lodge, Bukima Tented Camp, Tchegera Island Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Summit Shelter, Kibumba Tented Camp in the south-east of Virunga, Lulimbi Tented Camp in the east, and Lake Kivu Hotel near Goma are among them.

Lodges in the park provide a quiet and conducive environment for relaxation, especially after gorilla trekking, as well as great scenic views of the forest and surrounding communities, views of wildlife species, spacious and comfortable beds, and prepare both local and international dishes for visitors to enjoy their stay during their Congo gorilla safari.

How can I get to Virunga National Park?

Virunga National Park in Congo is easier and more straightforward for travelers to get from Kigali, Rwanda. Travelers must travel three hours from Kigali to Gisenyi, then pass the Rwanda-Congo border at Le Grande Barrier into Goma, Congo.

The travel from Goma to the park headquarters takes about 1-2 hours. Visitors who want to visit the park can also fly from Kigali International Airport to Goma International Airport on Ethiopian Airlines. All gorilla trekking tours in Congo begin and end in Goma.


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