Virunga’s new Tchegera Island Camp opened on August 21st. The island, located off the northern shore of Lake Kivu, offers fantastic views of four volcanoes in the Virunga chain. Visitors have been enjoying kayak outings and good old R&R. Paddle boards will soon be part of the Tchegera offering, too. For those keen on “birding”, you’ll be interested to know that Tchegera is rich in birdlife. Guests have already identified Green Sandpipers, Yellow Throated Greenbul, Willow Warblers, and others. Interest in Bukima Camp, located in the
Mikeno mountain gorilla sector, has picked up a great deal since it was completely upgraded. Bukima is truly a success story — so much so that it has become the Director’s personal favorite. The atmosphere is rustic, yet the camp is quite plush. Manager Jean Pierre and his assistant manager Alice are doing a fantastic job taking care of the guests. Although they’re not supposed to come near the camp, there has been a considerable increase in gorilla sightings. Guests have been treated to face-offs between silverbacks, mating gorillas, and even babies riding on the backs of their mothers.
Tchegera Island Camp is the perfect way 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 of the lake and four volcanoes. On clear nights, Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira volcanoes add to the drama by turning the night sky red with their glowing lava. There is also an abundance of birdlife on the island, including African eagles, cormorants, herons and gulls. Whether one chooses to relax on the beach or explore other parts of the island in a sea kayak or by paddle board, Tchegera is the perfect place for rest and relaxation.
The Mikeno Lodge is a 90 minute 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. Nature walks and visits to local places of interest can be arranged. There is an abundance of bird life, as well as resident blue monkeys, colobus monkeys, and baboons. Chimpanzees are also frequent visitors to the area.
Just outside the Virunga National Park boundary lays the Bukima tented camp, which is one of the main starting points Virunga mountain gorilla treks. The camp was originally built for researchers, but is now used primarily by trekkers. As the name suggests, overnight guests at Bukima sleep in platform tents, but by camping standards they are quite plush. Each tent features an adjoining bathroom with running water and a nicely appointed bed and dresser for clothes. The views from the tent sites – or anywhere in camp for that matter – are spectacular. To the south, the view is dominated by Mt. Mikeno, whose 4437m (14,560’) summit towers over the gorilla sector. Across the valley is Nyiragongo volcano, whose lava lake colors the night sky with a red glow. Every few years, Nyamulagira volcano erupts and steals the nighttime show by spewing hot lava hundreds of feet into the air. Occasionally, the mountain gorillas themselves wander into the Bukima tented camp. Although this is highly frowned upon by park staff, it never ceases to impress the guests.
Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano that features the world’s largest lava lake. The volcano’s forested lower slopes are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and bushbuck. Nyiragongo’s summit rim is largely devoid of vegetation and is frequently dusted with snow. From the rim, visitors can peer down into a churning lava lake and see and hear hot gases exploding up though a mosaic of molten lava. Although predictable and therefore safe for tourists, Nyiragongo is greatly feared during eruptions. Because of the high silica content of its lava, Nyiragongo’s lava flows are extremely fluid. During the 2002 eruption, some of Nyiragongo’s lava flows were clocked at 100 km/hr (62 mph) and reached all the way to Lake Kivu.