Don’t be taken up by the rumors you hear about democratic republic of Congo, the whispers of wars, Ebola, etc. This destination has a lot to offer on your safari to Africa ranging from wildlife, physical features, and accommodation to Culture.
Democratic Republic of Congo initially known as Zaire is the second largest country in Africa bordering Uganda in the East, and Central African Republic in the north, Zambia in the south and Gabon in the west. For all travelers, Congo has one of the most interesting National Parks that harbor the endangered Mountain Gorillas namely Virunga National Park
Virunga national park is located in the Eastern province of D.R. Congo where it borders Uganda and Rwanda, it happens to be the oldest National Park in Africa and the second oldest in the whole world (The first being Yellowstone national park). This park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 covering 7800sqkms, but due to the political conflict and poaching in 1994, it was pronounced a site in danger. The park is named after Virunga Mountain ranges that lies south of the park.
However, after three years of unrest, the southern sector of Virunga National park has been considered safe for visitors with over 100 travelers storming these sites every month. The park consists of magnificent variety of habitants ranging from swamps and steppes to the snow fields of Rwenzori, and from Savannah rangelands to the lava plains on the slopes of the Volcanoes.
The park is known to harbor a great number of mountain gorillas, birds from Siberia spending their winter in the park and hippos in the rivers. Besides this, the park also prides in a number of wildlife which include the African icons such as elephants, chimpanzees, remarkable okapi, lion, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others.
In addition to this, the park boasts recommendable biodiversity due to a large diversity of habitants it offers. A number of activities can be done which include chimpanzee trekking, nature walk, Nyiragongo hike, gorilla trekking and landscape viewing.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
With six habituated gorilla families in the park, Virunga national park is one of the four parks in the world harboring the only remaining endangered mountain Gorillas in the whole world thus making it the most done activity in the park. The largest family in the park with roughly 32 members and one silver back is called Kabirizi family. Other families in the park include Humba, Rugendo, Lulengo, Mapuwa and Munyaga.
This activity takes approximately 1-6 hours including one hour of interacting with the gorillas. A gorilla permit in Democratic republic of Congo goes for USD$400 per person according to the 2018-2019 Virunga tariff.
This will give you a chance to get out of the daily noise pollution, boring urban environment but head to destinations that will expose you to the sweet melodies of nature and romantic colors of the birds. There are many trails tourists follow leading to the interior of the forest and to various birding spots. While on this activity, trekkers encounter different fauna species such as elephants, monkeys, buffaloes among others. This is because the park is a tropical forest with dense vegetation.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
This is yet another wonderful wildlife activity to undertake while in the park. Thanks to the efforts of Frankfurt (1987) the zoologist who started this activity.
Since then, chimpanzees have been trained to get used to people thus giving travelers a reason to flock into the park for habituation and trekking experiences. The chimpanzee habituation permits in Virunga national park are sold at USD$100 per person giving a chance to interact with these amazing species for a whole day.
Virunga national park is the best site for viewing the eye catching landscapes in the neighboring countries. This includes the jagged relief and snow summits of Rwenzori Mountains.
The Volcanoes in the Virunga conservation area are connected with the Afro alpine vegetations of Tree ferns and the thick forests. Tourists see the eroded valleys spotted in the Sinda and Ishango region. This view gives an extra ordinary experience to all tourists since all these can be viewed from the comfort of your lodge in the park.
The experience in the park exceeds wild life and also includes hiking the Nyiragongo volcano. Virunga national park is home to the active Nyiragongo volcano in its center whose summit harbors the largest lava lake in the world.
Records show that it has erupted for over 30 times and the last one was in 2002 when the lava lake drained and lava flowed to the nearby communities and destroyed part of Goma town. Tourist hike up to the summit of the volcano and have a clear view of the dazzling lake with lots of fumes coming out of melilite and nephelinite.
Accommodation in Virunga
Accommodation options in Virunga national park range from budget to Luxury. Some of the lodges here include the Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters, Mikeno lodge, Lulimbi tented camp, Bukima tented camp and Kibumba Tented camp for midrange and budget travelers, among others
On the View of all the above, don’t be left because of fear. Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo has a lot to offer on your African trip. Come and find your fundamental experience.