Virunga National Park Congo-Gorilla trekking , Nyiragongo hike and chimpanzee Habituation Guide
Popularly Known for it’s best diversity in the African continent, Virunga National Park , also recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage site is located in the Eastern part of Democratic Republic Of Congo. The park was established in 1925 by the then king of Belgium, King Albert 1, by whose name the park was name, say “Albert National Park” .
The park spans about 7800 square kilometers, from the Virunga ranges in the south-The Northern part of Rwenzori. The park boasts of two active volcanoes, although it is covered with almost half of what is in the sub-Saharan Africa, which considers it not one with the best diversity.
It is also clear that the park has for along time has been threatened by Political instability/conflicts yet it is still surviving, However it is still considered afresh sport for many tour discoveries, suitable for both tourism research and adventure.
Primarily, the park was gazetted for the protection of the endangered Mountain gorillas. Just as the country (Democratic Republic of Congo ) deteriorated, Virunga national Park had as well deteriorated, during the time when the country had attained it’s independence in 1960.
The Park was later revived and named ” Virunga National Park”, in 1970 when the president had gained interest in Conservation. The park is now prominent for it’s bird, mammal and reptile concentration more than other areas in the African Continent.
Virunga National Park, being one of the oldest wildlife protected area on the African soil, was created conserve and distinctive wildlife species, and protecting the local fruit gathering community-the Twa.
Virunga Wildlife Conservancy spans more than 300km along the Albertine rift that splits the continent from North to the south, and is a joint where the West African Rain Forest meets the East African Savannah grasslands.
The park is currently famed for mountain gorilla trekking, which is the major striking activity, due to the fact that Virunga national park is one of the volcanic mountain bringing in tourists Congo. Apart from Gorillas, the park is still blessed with other creatures including; Birds, mammals and other reptiles, not forgetting Chimpanzees at Budongo forest.
Despite the on and off disturbance of the park, Virunga National park still remains an ecological pillar for the entire eastern and central Eco system.
Getting To Virunga National Park Congo
So far getting to Virunga national Park, from Goma town(the main hub for most tourists visiting Virunga) is the most chosen way. it takes about 15 minutes drive from Goma to the national park. Virunga National Park can easily be accessed by either road or by air, or water depending on the travelers interest.
There are two routes through which travelers can travel to Virunga National park including, the bunagana route(uganda side ) and Gisenyi(Rwanda route).
The Rwanda route is the easiest and nearest route,starting from Kigali to Goma town through Gisenyi town. It take a 2 hours drive from Gisenyi to the park head quarters. Whereas, the requires a whole day travel from Kampala to Bunagana town, after then a an hours drive to the park headquarters.
No adventurer doubts that Virunga National park is the most prominent and popular sight seeing and trekking destination in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As we all know, that virunga National Park offers many activities to do, including Gorilla trekking, Nature walks, chimpanzee tracking, Nyiragongo Volcano Hike, among others.
When to visit Virunga National Park
It is true that Democratic Republic of Congo receives the highest frequencies of rain in the world. But this is not a strong reason why you should miss out visiting Virunga national park.
The Park is an all year round destination .with hot and humid temperature. Ideally, the best time to visit Virunga National park during the driest months of Mind June, July, August, and September. Despite the dry months, expect rains at anytime of the day.
The park as well experiences the rain season during the months of March, April, May, October and November. This still cannot interfere with your virunga trip because you atre advised to carry along heavy jackets.
Above all, most travelers prefer the months of January, February and March for their vacations in Congo
Things to do Virunga national Park
Since Virunga National park spans an area of 7800 square kilometers, it is endowed with tremendous activities, despite the political unrest that had affected it for years before it reformed again. Tourism has by far continuously grown within the park, and the vegetation is what has facilitated the habituation of most wildlife species such as the gorillas, chimpanzees, birds , other reptiles etc.
Mountain Gorilla trekking in Virunga National park Congo
Like Uganda and Rwanda, Mountain gorilla trekking is one of the heart warming activity and a life changing experience that draws most travelers to Democratic Republic of Congo.
Virunga National park is one of the parks with the remaining surviving Mountain Gorillas. The Mountain gorilla are classified into eight families including; Kabirizi, humba , Rugendo, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga, nyakamwe, and Bageni. Kabirizi is the largest family , consisting of 32 family members. The family has 10 babies, 11 adults, 4 sub adults, a black back and 1 silver back.
Mountain Gorilla trekking in Virunga National park is the best alternative due to its affordable gorilla permits at a cost of $ 400 , compared to Uganda’s permits at $ 700, and Rwanda’s $ 1500.
Gorilla trekking experience in virunga National park, takes in 8 members per group, per trek. Trekking lusts for about 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on the family and location of the gorillas. All trekkers are entitled to stay in the presence of the gorillas for at most an hour.
Nyiragongo Volcano hike
Make your trip to virunga National park complete climbing Mount Nyiragongo. Nyiragongo is the world’s number one active and largest strato volcano situated close to lake Kivu. The mountain harbors the largest largest lava lake at its summit. The summit as well show cases clear views of the dazzling lake with lots of fumes comming out of the melilite and nephelinite.
Nyiragongo volcano hiking experience takes on 2 days to reach the summit and slope back to the base,with an overnight sleep. The first day hike runs for 5-8 hours depending on strength of the group, whereas the second day takes lust for 3-5 to descend to the base.
The Nyiragongo permit costs 300 dollars, bu it is always advised to carry along 100 dollars for Mikeno package.
Chimpanzee Habituation in Virunga National Park(Tongo Forest)
Chimp Habituation is also another heart warming activity to do while in Democratic republic of Congo. Chimpanzee habituation was started by Zoologist named Franfurt in 1987. Frankfurt started this project so as to make the chimpanzees would get familiar with humans. This activity has led to the increase in number of tourists flocking into virunga National park for an evocative primate experince. The chimpanzee habituation permit costs 100 us dollars per person per trek.
Nature walks in Virunga national Park Congo
Since the park is composed of rain forest and dense vegetation, these features have made Virunga national park a home of nature. It contains of trails leading to diffrent directions and sites. The nature walks experience draws the travelers up close with the forest animals such as buffaloes, elephants, monkeys, thomas kobs, and large concentration of hippopotamus approximately living along the banks of lake Edward as well as other water bodies within the park.
There is no better place for landscape viewing than Virunga National park. A haven with splendid montane landscapes in the neighbouring countries. The snowy peak,jagged reliefs of the Rwenzori Mountains, the volcano ranges in the virunga conservation area together with the AFro alpine vegetation of tree ferns and the dense forests. Travelers are allowed to view eroded valleys spotted in ishango and sinda regions. These scenery offers remarkable experince since it doesn’t require the travelers to move to different places while in Virunga National park.
However Virunga National park is considered unique because of its diverse features rangin from natural, to cultural and historical resources.