Virunga National Park – CONGO
If you haven’t been to the Democratic Republic of Congo, then it’s hard for you to testify that a country can be with so much to offer to its tourists, almost everything.
DR Congo is one of the less visited destinations in Africa yet the country literary summarizes everything that is African. The mountain and lowland gorillas, the active and extinct volcanoes, meandering rivers, huge lakes with amazing islands, over 20 wildlife national parks and the beautiful and kind people. With all these, DR Congo is really worth a visit.
Though Congo has several spectacular features to behold and the thrilling activities to engage in, it is famously known for its exceptional gorilla trekking experiences. Tourists to the country can trek both the lowland and mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in DR Congo is done in Kahuzi-Biega and Virunga national parks.
This article specifically takes you through Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park. Are you desiring to stand next to the mighty silverbacks and watching the juveniles in their natural habitats play on tree branches? Then there is no better place than Virunga national park.
Virunga national park is Africa’s oldest park, established in 1925 by King Albert 1 of Belgium and was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979. Covering almost 7800 square kilometers, Virunga is one of the largest forest national parks in Africa. It encompasses the world’s largest lake and a dwelling to almost a quarter of the remaining total population of mountain gorillas.
About 200 mountain gorillas reside in Virunga tropical rainforests. The park has eight habituated gorilla families ready to be trekked, the Kabirizi, Rugendo, Nyakamwe, Munyaga, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Bageni and Humba.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park offers a unique experience, taking you to the lower slopes of the numerous volcanoes that the park encompasses, for simple hikes through the rugged terrain, coming across other primate species like the baboons, white and black colobus monkeys and others.
Just like all other gorilla destinations in Africa, trekkers spend one hour with apes on meeting them. Tourists can take as many pictures and short videos as they want, ask as many questions to the park ranger as they want to know and watch the gorillas carry on their normal lives.
Unlike Uganda and Rwanda, where the gorilla permits cost 600 USD and 1500 USD respectively, gorilla trekking in Virunga national park costs 450 USD, making it the cheapest destination to see the mountain gorillas in Africa.
Despite all the insecurity sagas and the lack of accessibility to Congo’s parks, it is very possible to trek the gorillas in Virunga national park. The country can best be accessed through Gisenyi in Rwanda, crossing to Goma town.
There are also lowland gorillas in Virunga national park, though they are not yet habituated for gorilla trekking. On a lucky day, trekkers could still see several other wildlife species like forest elephants, forest buffalos and other primate species like the golden monkeys, grey cheeked monkeys, baboons, and numerous bird species.
Other activities to do in Virunga national park are; hiking to the top of Nyiragongo mountain to face to face with the world’s lava lake. This is one of the most active volcanoes in Africa, and a Congo gorilla safari combined with a Nyiragongo Hike is the only complete safari in Congo.
Tourists in Congo also engage in golden monkey tracking, lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National park, wildlife viewing, community walks, cultural treats and many others.
There are several hotels developed in Virunga national park and Goma; the closest town to the park. So for accommodation, you can never fail to sort it out.