Virunga National Park (Gorilla trekking & Nyiragongo Hike)
When planning for gorilla trekking & Nyiragongo volcano hiking while in Africa, our company offers complete information which allows you to visit the Virunga national park while you are on a Congo safari. The Virunga is the true story of a group of brave individuals that risk their lives to build a goof future in apart of Africa with in Congo. In the forested depths of the eastern Congo also lies the Virunga National Park, which is one of the most diverse places on earth and also home to the planet’s last remaining mountain gorillas. In this national park, there is the enchanted environment with a small team of rangers including the ex-child soldier who turned into a ranger, there is also a care taker of the gorillas and also a dedicated conservationist who protects the UNESCO world heritage site from the armed militia, dark forces, and the poachers who struggle to control the park resources.
About Virunga National Park
This National park was formerly named as Albert National park and it covers an area of 7,800 sq kilometres and streches from the Virunga Mountains in the south towards the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, in the eastern direction, there is the volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Rwenzori Mountains and Queen Elizabeth National park in Uganda. The national park was established in 1925 as the first African national park and UNESCO designated as a world heritage site in 1979. In the past years, the park faced poaching and civil wars which have damaged its wildlife population. This park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities, the institute Congolese pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and also its partners the Virunga Foundation commonly known as the Africa Conservation Fund.
When Congo was granted independence by the Beligians in 960, the new state collapsed highly, and so did the Virunga. In 1969, president Mobutu began to show interest in the conservation and the national park was revived. Within this process, the park was again named Virunga National park and the first Congolese wildlife Authority was established.
The country political situation has changed since then and is back in the hands of the ICCN and enjoy the great source of tourism and development in its history. There are also international donors who are investing in the development of the park’s infrastructure at different levels. The Virunga management is so efficient and very transparent, and the rangers have got a high morale.
The southern sector where there are gorillas and volcano is easily accessible in a many different ways and the common ones include;
- The overland via Uganda as you cross the border in Bunagana from the mountain gorilla sites in Jomba and Bikenge which can be accessed within 1 hour.
- There is also the overland via Rwanda as you cross the border at Gisenyi/Goma, here border crossing is easy if you pre-arranged with a visa, since the visa is so expensive at the border totaling to over $280.
- The other option can be to fly in to Goma from within DRC flights that connect to Goma from outside the DRC, Entebbe international Airport is the only city that is connected by TMK. You should have your pre-arranged visa ready.
Tourist Activities in Virunga
The Nyiragongo Volcano climbing
This volcano is so famous for it’s lave lake and it’s easy to climb from the direction of Goma. A trip to the top of this volcano takes 6 hours and most of the climbers spend a night at the top. This can make it possible to view the boiling lava by night, when it’s brighter, you can also check the Nyiragongo volcano facts.
Visiting the mountain gorillas
The gorillas are located within the Mikeno sector which is about 2 and half hour drive from Goma. These primates can also be reached from Bunagana which is border to Uganda. The permits to track these mountain gorillas costs only $400 which is cheaper than in Uganda or Rwanda. The visits here are more authentic and in smaller groups. The treks here usually require 1-2 hours of hiking in each of the direction, and this depends on where the gorillas spent the previous night and also the difficulty of the terrain. In order to safe guard the health of the Virunga Mountain gorillas, the visitors will be required to wear surgical masks which will be provided, when interacting with the gorillas. The time spent with the gorillas is strictly one hour.
The Rwenzori Mountain Trek
These Rwenzori Mountains are known to be snowcapped mountain ranges found in the north of Virunga National park on the border with Uganda. Its highest peak lies on the border and can be hiked from both countries. The trek to this glacier can be made in a 4-5 0r 6 days and in order to start, the visitors will need to travel to Beni by Airplane which is either from Goma or Entebbe.
About the Chimpanzee treks
The tourists who stay at Mikeno lodge will join the team on the daily visits on to the chimpanzees. The day also begins when a local tracker leaves the camp at 4:30am to locate where the chimps spent their previous night. The guests will then set out by 6:00am to find the chimpanzees. The groups here are limited to 4 people and time with these primates is strictly one hour. The groups also consist of 32 individuals.