Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park holds half of the biodiversity in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Besides, Virunga park is the second oldest national park in the world besides yellow stone. The park is also a UNESCO heritage site found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Virunga was inscribed as a heritage site under UNESCO for the protection of the endangered gorilla community it holds and the critically rare golden monkeys.

Virunga National Park shoves up for the two active volcanoes including Mount Nyiragongo. The incredible hikes to the nyiragongo volcano are by far the best activities by the travelers who visit Virunga National Park annually. The park has faced a lot of threats from the politics which have been raging throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, Virunga park manages to stay standing due to its high resilience ability.

Besides the political unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga has also been marked as unsafe for tourism due to several unpleasant incidents that have happened in the previous years. For example two rangers were killed and also tourists kidnaped on 4th/ June/ 2018, however, the park was reopened in March 2019, and it is safe for travel currently.

Virunga park is one of the most biodiverse protected areas in Africa and other parts of the world.  Virunga National Park has such a hard background, so is the countries spring of life into the tourism sector of Congo. Therefore, it is protected by truly dedicated game rangers, who are over 600, to help curb the malpractices like poaching.

The park manages its community sensitization program by supporting the local community. The profits got from tourism activities are shared with the local society through proving social amenities like schools, boreholes, hospitals among others. Also, the local people get materials from the forest like fire wood, herbs, and foodstuff among others. This has led to a reduction in poaching and encroachment on the park’s land as the local people experience the benefits of tourism through better living standards.

How to reach Virunga National Park

You can reach Virunga National Park bypassing via Goma town which is just 32km nearest to the park. Alternatively, from Rwanda, you can connect to Gisenyi town from Kigali international airport, and then cross to Goma town to Virunga national park. It is about 2km from Gisenyi town to Bukima park headquarters.

From Uganda, you can reach Virunga national park from the Bunagana border post which is found in kisoro town. From kisoro, you can take a drive for about 1 hour to Bukima park headquarters where mountain gorilla trekking commences from in the park.

Virunga National Park

Activities in Virunga National Park

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Mountain gorilla trekking

This is the most done tourism activity in the Virunga national park. There are six habituated gorilla families in the national park available for trekking. Virunga national park is one of the four national parks in the whole world with the surviving mountain gorillas alongside the volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park both in Uganda. Kabirizi is the largest family in the national park with approximately 32 members including 10 babies, 4 sub adults, I black back, 11 adults, five juveniles and 1 silver back named kabirizi. The other gorilla families in the national park are Rugendo, Munyaga, Humba, Mapuwa and Lulengo families.

Chimpanzee habituation

This is yet another interesting wild life activity done in virunga national park started by a zoologist named Frankfurt in 1987. Chimpanzees were made familiar to human beings and since the travelers have been flocking into the national park for chimpanzee habituation and trekking experiences. The chimpanzee habituation permit is sold at 100usd and allows travelers to interact with the chimpanzees learning more about them.

Nature walks

Virunga national park is a tropical rain forest with dense vegetation. There are various trails that travelers follow leading to different directions and sites. Travelers encounter various animals during the walks, which include buffalos, elephants, different types of monkeys, Thomas cobs and large concentration of hippotamuses approximately 20,000 living on the banks of lake Edwards and other water in the national park.

Nyiragongo hike

The experience does not only stop at wild life but also include hiking the Nyiragongo volcanoes. Virunga national park has the very active Nyiragongo volcano in its center whose summit harbors the largest large lava lake in the whole world. The volcano is very active in that records show that it has erupted over 34 times and the last one was in 2002 when the lava lake drained and lava flowed to the near by communities. Travelers hike up to the summit of the volcano and have a clear view of the dazzling lake with lots fumes coming out of melilite nephelinite.

Landscape viewing

Virunga national park is the best site for viewing the spectacular montane landscapes in the neighboring countries. These include the snow summits and the jagged relief of the Rwenzori Mountains, the volcanoes in the virunga conservation area together with the Afro alpine vegetation of tree ferns and the dense forests. More still, travelers see the eroded valleys spotted in the ishango and Sinda regions. The views provide travelers with extra ordinary experience since they do not need to travel to the places viewed while in the virunga national park.

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