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Virunga National Park Congo

Virunga National park Congo, Gorilla Trekking Safaris to Virunga Park Congo, Mountain Climbing Safari Trips to Virunga Massif Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Congo.

Virunga National Park Congo, is one of the most diversified National park in Albertine Rift valley in the Eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo along the international borders with Uganda and Rwanda.

The National park has almost more than half of what is in Sub Saharan Africa concentrated in it. Being established in 1925 as Albert National park by the then king Albert 1 the king of Belgium, Virunga National park is among the most protected areas in Africa and boosts of two active volcanoes that is Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira.

The National park’s altitude ranges between 680m in the Semliki River valley and 5,109m in the Rwenzori Mountains.

Virunga National park is listed in the list of world Heritage in Danger since 1994 and later in 1996 it became a Ramsar site of international importance. Covering an area of 8,090km², the Virunga National park was gazetted to protect the endangered Mountain Gorillas

History of Virunga National park Congo

Several proponents of the European conservation movement in the early 1920s, championed the idea of creating a protected area in the northeastern Belgian Congo.

In 1925, April when the Albert National park was gazetted as the first Africa’s National park, the park was conceived as a science-oriented nature reserve and its aim was to study and preserve wildlife with the primitive hunter gatherer African pygmies.

When Congo had gotten her independence after 1960, the National park deteriorated just like the country until when the president picked interest in conservation in the early 1970s and the National park was revived and renamed Virunga National park which stretches from Virunga Mountains in the South to the Rwenzori in the North.

Due to her ecological importance, the Virunga was declared a UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1979 though the political upheavals have had a negative implication on the conservancy.

Virunga National park Congo

Congo Safari Attractions in Virunga National park

Mountain Gorilla as a Congo Safari Attraction in Virunga National park

Virunga National park is a habitat to the mountain Gorilla which is also the main attraction of the park. The National park is a home to over 8 mountain gorilla families namely Rugendo, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga, Nyakamwe, Bageni, Humba, and Kabirizi which are open for the trekking activity and roughly there are about 200 of the world’s mountain gorillas that reside in the tropical rainforest of the Virunga National park.

Chimpanzee as a Congo Safari Attraction in Virunga National park

The National park is a home to different habituated chimpanzee species which are ready for tracking and here each chimpanzee group is only limited to four people only.

The personnel trained by the Mogul Frankfurt Zoological society in Democratic Republic of Congo in the beginning of 2014 embarked on the journey to the habituated chimps living within Tongo forest in the areas of Rumangabo in Virunga National Park.

Wildlife as a Congo Safari Attraction in Virunga National park

The National park has over 3,000 flora and fauna species which were recorded and of this more than 300 species are endemic to the Albertine Rift including the Eastern gorilla and golden monkey.

Virunga National park is also well known for its concentration of mammal and reptiles and it is a habitant for its endangered Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees buffaloes, giraffes, savannah and forest elephants, lions and the okapi among others and the park has the joint wildlife conservancy where the West African rainforests meet with the African savanna grasslands running more than 300 kilometers along the Albertine rift that splits the African continent from north to south.

The National park is also a home to bird species which include the narrow-tailed starling, Yellow billed barbet among others.

Ecosystem as a Congo Safari Attraction in Virunga National park

The rich diverse ecosystem of Virunga includes the volcanic mountains, block mountains, crater lakes and craters, Albertine rift, rainforests, open grasslands, woodlands, swamp and wetland vegetation.

Congo Safari Activities in Virunga National park

Gorilla trekking as a Congo Safari activity in Virunga National park

This is one of the main activities within the park and it gives an amazing adventure together with the great experiences and ultimate memories and the gorilla tracking activity is carried out Bukima with different gorilla families.

This activity takes from 1-2 hours I each direction depending on where the gorillas spent their previous night and the time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour.

Chimpanzee habituation walks as a Congo Safari activity in Virunga National park

The chimpanzee habituation walks usually take one hour in each direction and also the time with the trackers to spend with the chimpanzees is limited to only one hour.

The walks on the Virunga’s habituated chimpanzees are available to the guests staying at the Mikeno lodge.

Birding as a Congo Safari activity in Virunga National park

The National park is a home to different species of birds and it provides excellent bird viewing and the species of birds within the park include the Double toothed Barbet, Grey throated Barbet, Narrow tailed starling, Yellow billed Barbet, Madagascar Bee eater among others which do make persuasive and extra-ordinary sounds.

Volcano treks as a Congo Safari activity in Virunga National park

Virunga National park provides different volcano climbs such as the Nyiragongo volcano which is a beautiful volcano covered with the vegetation which is sometimes dusted with snow also features the world’s largest lava lake.

The trekkers to this summit begin at the kibati patrol post which is about 30 minutes’ drive from Goma and less than one hour from Rumangabo where the park headquarters are located.

The climbs do usually begin at 10am and takes about 4-6 hours to reach the summit.

Mount Nyiragongo hike as a Congo Safari activity in Virunga National park

Mount Nyiragongo with a 1.2kilometer diameter summit caldera containing the world’s most largest and active lava lake is situated at the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo with Rwanda and is one of the world’s most active and beautiful volcanoes with a large stratovolcano near Lake Kivu in Virunga National park.

It is notorious for its extremely fluid lava and Nyiragongo erupted on January 17, 2002 and the lava lake drained on its western flanks from fissures and its fluid lava runs as water when the lava lake drains and the experience does not only stop at wild life but also include hiking the Nyiragongo volcanoes

The large lava lake which is contained in its deep summit crater, now active again, became famous in the 1960’s and 70’s when volcanologists such as the Kraffts and Tazieff studied it.

It had been active for half a century before it drained in one of the volcano’s recent most catastrophic eruptions in 1977.

Mount Nyamuragira as a Congo Safari activity in Virunga National park

This is an active volcano which is also known as Nyamulagira situated 25kilometers north of Lake Kivu near the city of Goma in the Virunga Mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Being the Africa’s most active volcano, its name is derived from the Kifuru and Kishi verb Kuragira nguvu meaning to herd cows.

Nyamuragira since 1885 has erupted over 40 times creating smaller new volcanoes that have lasted for a short time for example Murara from late 1976 to 1977.

Mount Nyamuragira covers and area of 1,500 square kilometers with a volume of 500 cubic andn it is responsible for a large portion of the sulfur dioxide released into the atmosphere by volcanoes.

Accessibility to Virunga National park Congo

By road

Virunga National park can be reached by road from Goma to the park. You can also use the Rwandan which is about 4 hours’ drive from Kigali to the city of Gisenyi which is a nearest town to Goma and after crossing the two borders it’s about one and half hours’ drive to reach the park’s headquarters.

You can also use the Ugandan side driving through Kisoro and then proceed to DRC via Bunagana border which is about 30min drive to Bukima where gorilla trekking is done for all families.

By Air

The park can also be accessed by air from either Kigali international airport or Goma international airports.

By water

The National park can be accessed by water through the use of ferries which run from Bukavu to Goma through the Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu and it takes about 4-5 hours for the public boat and for the speed boat it takes about 3hours.

Where to stay in Virunga National park

Virunga National park has a range of accommodation facilities categorized from budget, mid-range to luxury and the accommodation facilities offered by the national park include;

Mikeno lodge

The Mikeno lodge is a luxury located within the Rumangabo forest which is a 90 minutes’ drive from Goma offering beautiful views of the rift valley, Mikeno volcanoes and Nyiragongo and it offers the following facilities.

  • 12 bungalows
  • A dining area
  • A bar and lounge

Kibumba Tented camp

Kibumba Tented camp is a budget camp located near the trail head for Nyiragongo volcano. Having all the necessities for a classic tented camp, Kibumba has also;

  • A fully stocked bar
  • well-appointed tents with comfortable beds
  • en suite bathrooms with hot showers

Bukima tented camp

This camp is located just outside the Virunga National park boundary which is the main starting point of Virunga trek. Bukima tented camp has;

  • 6 tents featuring,
  • Double beds and twin beds
  • Bathroom with running water
  • A dresser for clothes

Mount Nyiragongo volcano porters summit shelters

Nyiragongo offers a basic accommodation available at the top.

Nyiragongo is comprised of;

  • 12 summit shelters with
  • 2 single beds on which visitors can put their sleeping bags.