Home » Virunga National Park Congo – Travel Guide, Map & More
Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga National Park is the oldest national park in Africa and has the biggest population of mammals, birds and reptiles in the African continent.
It covers an area 7800Km2 (3000 square miles) (790,000 ha), that includes forests, savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, active volcanoes, and the astonishing glaciated peaks of Rwenzori mountains.
The only park in the globe that hosts three taxa of Great Apes, Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is most famous for housing up to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas, and the other two Great Ape species, the eastern lowland Grauer’s gorillas and chimpanzees.
Virunga National park is also home to the Okapi, a threatened species that resembles a zebra but is more closely related to the giraffe. Large colonies of hippopotami, forest and savanna elephants, lions, and numerous rare bird species can also be found in the park.
Attractions in Virunga Park DR.Congo
Virunga National Park in Congo, inhabits the sensational Mountain Gorillas and a number of other animals like chimpanzees-99% human like ape, hippopotami, bird species, forest and Savannah elephants and lions. The park is also notorious for its two remarkable active volcanoes of Mt. Nyiragongo and Mt. Nyamuragira set in the massifs of Rwenzori and Virunga`s mountains. A detailed list of attractions includes
Mountain Gorillas Virunga Park DR.Congo
Mountain Gorillas in Congo-Virunga National park is by far the most attractive ape in the world. Mountain Gorillas in Congo, found in Mikeno sector of the Virunga national park are grouped into families.
Wildlife in Virunga National Park DR.Congo
The Rift Albertine region houses more endemic vertebrate species than any other region on the African continent and Congo-Virunga national park contains several examples of them. About 218 species of animals.
Birdlife in Virunga National Park DR.Congo
Bird-Watching of different species in Virunga national park by the eyes or even hearing them provides you with a thrilling experience. The persuasive melodies of birds in Virunga forests are rare and hard to find somewhere else.
Volcanic Mountains in Virunga Park DR.Congo
Virunga National Park is unique with its active chain of volcanoes afro-montane forest belts to unique afro-alpine vegetation and permanent glaciers and snow on Mount Rwenzori whose peaks culminate in 5000 m height.
Tourist activities in Virunga Park DR.Congo
A number of activities are done in Virunga National Park which includes birding, nature walks, both Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking, Mt. Nyiragongo hiking and hiking to Senkwekwe orphanage. Tourist activities in Congo`s Virunga National park are detailed as below.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga Park DR.Congo
Gorilla tracking in Congo is a life changing experience that will secure you with eternal memory about Gorillas! Gorilla tracking in Congo enhances the trekkers with the thrilling lifestyle of Mountain gorillas which are very intelligent, good natured, and worth.
Chimpanzee Habituation in Virunga Park
Chimpanzee Habituation- Chimpanzee tracking in Congo Virunga National Park is made easy! tourists to Congo can do Chimpanzee habituation in Virunga Mountains. Chimpanzee habituation in Congo Virunga national park begun way back in 2014 when Congolese team.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo Volcano DR.Congo
Mt. Nyiragongo is a stunning volcano enclosed with vegetation and sometimes is dusted with snow that features the world’s largest lava lake. Nyiragongo mountain is a home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and bushbuck.
Birding in Virunga National Park DR.Congo
Watching different species of birds using either your ears or eyes, telescopes, binoculars in their natural habitat is a way of relaxation and taking time. The sounds and noise from the tremendous bird species usually rise you up very early in the morning at around 5:00 and they sing
About Virunga National Park in Congo
Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga National Park is the oldest national park in Africa and has the biggest population of mammals, birds and reptiles in the African continent. It covers an area 7800Km2 (3000 square miles) (790,000 ha), that includes forests, savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, active volcanoes, and the astonishing glaciated peaks of Rwenzori mountains. The only park in the globe that hosts three taxa of Great Apes, Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is most famous for housing up to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas, and the other two Great Ape species, the eastern lowland Grauer’s gorillas and chimpanzees. Virunga National park is also home to the Okapi, a threatened species that resembles a zebra but is more closely related to the giraffe. Large colonies of hippopotami, forest and savanna elephants, lions, and numerous rare bird species can also be found in the park.
The History of Virunga National Park DR.Congo
Virunga National Park was established as the first national park on the continent of Africa by King Albert I of Belgium in 1925 formally known as the Albert National Park. The park was mainly created to protect the vanishing mountain gorillas living in the Virunga Montane forests, controlled by the Belgian Congo. The park was later extended far north wards to comprise the Rwindi Plains, Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains. After Congo independence from Belgium in 1960, the park started declining rapidly due to state deterioration. It was until the influx of President Mobutu into Congo`s leadership in 1969, who took personal interest in conservation and he so revived the Virunga national park. In the process of President Mobutu’s Africanization campaign, the first Congolese Wildlife Authority was established. In 1970s, the park became a popular destination for tourists, receiving an average of 6500 visitors a year and in 1979 UNESCO declared Virunga National park as a World Heritage Site.
The Geography of Virunga National Park DR.Congo
Virunga National Park in Congo is unbeatable in its diversity of landscapes and ecosystems, comprising of three sectors; The northern sector of the Virunga National Park features eternal snow-caped Rwenzori mountains bordering Uganda, the Alpine forest, the Riverine lowland forest, African Savanna and the lake shores. Snowmelt from Rwenzori mountains is one of the primary sources of the Nile River. The Okapis also known as forest giraffe or Zebra giraffe can be found living along the Semliki River valley below.
The central sector is defined by the lake shores, Riverine forest, Marshland and African Savanna, Lake Edward has over 50 species of fish and a variety of bird species. The lake shores and the adjacent Ishasha river valley are home to the park’s high hippo population, the Rwindi plains is the Virunga national Park`s highest concentration of elephants, herds of buffalos, warthogs, and topis.
The southern sector is the most visited famous for its worldly endangered mountain gorillas in the borders of Mt. Mikeno, a dormant volcano (4380m) above sea level. The southern sector of Virunga national park is covered by the dense forests which make it an ideal home for chimpanzees and various monkey species.
The western side of the valley is the dormant Nyiragongo volcano (3470m/11,382 ft), whose top provides the spectacular views of the world`s largest lava lake. Also in the north in the Nyamulagira Volcano-Africa`s most active volcano with recent eruptions which occurred in January 2010 and November 2011.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park DR.Congo
Gorilla tracking in Congo is a life changing experience that will secure you with eternal memory about Gorillas! Gorilla tracking in Congo enhances the trekkers with the thrilling lifestyle of Mountain gorillas which are very intelligent, good natured, and worth to spend on. The presence of the powerful silverback’s Gorilla family is tremendous, his calmness clearly earns him the title, “gentle giant”.
While tracking Gorillas in Congo, you will certainly be struck by the parenting and care of mothers to their young ones. And of course, not missing are the smiles that you will never stop during Gorilla tracking in Congo upon watching the juveniles who spend most of time entertaining visitors and parents. Gorilla tracking in Congo-Virunga national Park will guarantee you with a sensational feeling and a better change!.
Gorilla Tracks in Congo-Virunga national park are led by park rangers and usually depart from Bukima patrol post. Gorilla trekking usually requires 1-2 hours, hiking in each direction depending on where the mountain gorillas spent the previous night and the difficulty of the terrain.
To ensure that the Mountain Gorillas are safe and healthy, gorilla trekkers will be required to wear Gorilla tracking gears like surgical masks that will be provided to you when it reaches time for gorilla tracking. At least a minimum of 15 years is allowed for children to go for gorilla trekking in Congo.
And Gorilla tracks are restricted to one hour. Should you feel un healthy at the time of your scheduled gorilla trek, your advised not to go for the activity at that particular time, say you have diarrhea, fever, or persistent sore throat. Cancelling the gorilla trekking activity is meant to conserve gorillas, this is because gorillas are very prone to acquiring human illness and perhaps death.
How to Get to Virunga National Park in DR.Congo
International Airline Travel to Virunga Park DR.Congo” font_container=”tag:h4|text_align:left|color:%233a4b44″][vc_column_text]A flight to Kigali international airport is the most appropriate for visitors to Virunga national park in Congo. It takes about 3hours taxi drive to the border crossing at Gisenyi, Rwanda/Goma, DRC.
For evening or afternoon arrivals, spending a night in Kigali and leave for Virunga the following morning in recommended. Many hotels in Kigali arrange airport pickups at a small additional charge. Ethiopian Airlines and domestic DRC airlines fly into Goma, but the airport is not up to international standards.
Taxi Service to Virunga National Park DR.Congo
There are taxes that operate from Kigali Rwanda`s capital to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We can arrange a taxi for you.
The Grand Barrière border crossing is open to all Virunga visitors from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm daily. You can cross the border at 8:00 am for a same day volcano trek. Our driver can pick you up from the border at 8:30 am. However, Same day gorilla treks are hard, prior arrangements need to be considered.
Where to Stay/Accommodation in Virunga Park DR.Congo
Mikeno Lodge in Virunga Park DR.Congo
The Mikeno Lodge is a 90minute drive from Goma and offers large bungalows and a good restaurant. The lodge and restaurant are located within a forest and offer beautiful views of the rift valley and Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes.
Kibumba Tented Camp in Virunga Park DR.Congo
Kibumba Camp is an excellent choice for those seeking a more affordable way to experience the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park. The camp is conveniently located near the trailhead for Nyiragongo volcano.
Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters
Each of the twelve summit shelters contains two single beds on which visitors can put their sleeping bags. Although these shelters aren’t plush, they offer a welcome escape from the elements.
Tchegera Island Tented Camp
Tchegera Island Camp is good place to escape the hustle and bustle of Goma or to relax after climbing Nyiragongo volcano. Situated off the northern shore of Lake Kivu, Tchegera camp offers spectacular views.