Virunga National Park

Virunga national park congo, mountain gorilla trekking safaris in Virunga park, golden monkey and chimpanzee tracking in Virunga park, wildlife safaris in Virunga park, mountain climbing safaris in Virunga massif, mount nyiragongo volcano hike safari tour. The Virunga National Park formerly named Albert National Park lies in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the border with Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains in the North and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in the East. The park includes part of Lake Edward, the Semliki River valley, parts of the Rwindi, Ishasha and Rutshuru valleys south of the lake, the Virunga area within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and part of the Rwenzori range. Lake Edward belongs to the Nile river system and Lake Kivu to the Congo Basin river system.

The park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979. The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities; the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its partner the Virunga Foundation, formerly known as the Africa Conservation Fund (UK).

Virunga National Park Congo

Virunga National Park covering an estimated area of 78,000sq.kms comprises of an exceptional diversity of habitats, ranging from swamps and steppes to the snowfields of Rwenzori at an altitude of over 5,000 m, and from lava plains to the savannahs on the slopes of volcanoes. Mountain gorillas are found in the park, some 20,000 hippopotamuses live in the rivers and birds from Siberia spend the winter there.

Virunga National Park is unique with its active chain of volcanoes and rich diversity of habitats that exceed those of any other African national parks. Its range contains an amalgamation of steppes, savannas and plains, marshlands, low altitude and afro-montane forest belts to unique afro-alpine vegetation and permanent glaciers and snow on Mounts Rwenzori whose peaks culminate in 5000 m height. The property includes the spectacular massifs of Rwenzori and Virunga Mountains containing the two most active volcanoes of Africa. The wide diversity of habitats produces exceptional biodiversity, notably endemic species and rare and globally threatened species such as the mountain gorilla.

Virunga National Park offers the most spectacular montane landscapes in Africa. Mt Rwenzori with its jagged reliefs and snowy summits, their cliffs and steep valleys, and the volcanoes of the Virunga massif covered with an afro-alpine vegetation of tree ferns and Lobelia and their slopes covered by dense forests, are the places of exceptional natural beauty. The volcanoes, which erupt at regular intervals every few years, constitute the dominant land features of the outstanding landscape. The Park presents several other spectacular panoramas like the eroded valleys in the Sinda and Ishango regions. The Park also contains important concentrations of wildlife, notably elephants, buffalo and Thomas cobs, and the largest concentration of hippopotamuses in Africa, with 20,000 individuals living on the banks of Lake Edward and along the Rwindi, Rutshuru and Semliki Rivers.

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Virunga National Park is located in the Centre of the Albertine Rift, of the Great Rift Valley. In the southern part of the Park, tectonic activity due to the extension of the earth’s crust in this region has caused the emergence of the Virunga massif, comprising eight volcanoes, seven of which are located, totally or partially, in the Park. Among them, are the two most active volcanoes of Africa – Nyamuragira and nearby Nyiragongo – which between them are responsible for two-fifths of the historic volcanic eruptions on the African continent and which are characterized by the extreme fluidity of the alkaline lava. The activity of Nyiragongo is of world importance as a witness to volcanism of a lava lake: the bottom of its crater is in fact filled by a lake of quasi permanent lava that empties periodically with catastrophic consequences for the local communities. The northern sector of the Park includes about 20% of the massif of Monts Rwenzori – the largest glacial region of Africa and the only true alpine mountain chain of the continent. It borders the Rwenzori Mountains National Park of Uganda, inscribed as World Heritage, with which it shares the ‘Pic Marguerite’, third highest summit of Africa (5,109 m).

Due to the park ‘s variations in altitude, rainfall and nature of the ground, Virunga National Park possesses a very wide diversity of plants and habitats, making it the top African National Park for biological diversity. More than 2,000 premier plant species have been identified, of which 10% are endemic to the Albertine Rift. The afro-montane forests represent about 15% of the vegetation. The Rift Albertine also contains more endemic vertebrate species than any other region of the African continent and the Park possesses numerous examples of them. The Park contains 218 mammal species, 706 bird species, 109 reptile species and 78 amphibian species. It also serves as refuge to 22 primate species of which three are the great ape – mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), the eastern plain gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) and the eastern chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthi), with a third of the world population of mountain gorillas. The savannah zones of the Park contain a diverse population of ungulates and the density of biomass of wildlife is one of the highest on the earth Planet (27.6 ton/km2). Among the ungulates, there are certain rare animals such as the okapi,endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the red forest duiker and endemic to Monts Rwenzori. The Park also comprises important tropical zones essential for the wintering of Palearctic avifauna.

Some of the largest wild animal concentrations in Africa occur along the rivers of the park. Mammals in the savannah of the Rwindi area include: elephant, hippopotamus, buffalo, numerous antelope including kob, defassa waterbuck and topi, warthog, lion and various monkeys. Large numbers of pelicans occur on the lower Rutshuru. In the Semiliki Valley and on the slopes of the Virunga mountains are gorilla, chimpanzee and okapi. In the extreme north are forest hog and bongo. Birds include Nahan’s francolin, forest ground thrush, shoebill and probably papyrus yellow warbler.

Tourist Attractions in Virunga national park Congo

Virunga national park has an array of many attractions which include; 2 active volcanoes ie Nyirangongo and Nyamugira as well as the presence of mt. Rwenzori. Virunga National Park hosts close to over 3000 species of wildlife of which about 300 of these species are endemics to the Albertine rift. Wildlife species in Virunga National Park include: 196 mammal species, 706 bird species, 109 reptiles, 65 amphibians. Mammals in Virunga National Park include 11 primate species such as mountain gorillas, common chimpanzees, and various monkey species Other mammals here include African bush elephants, cape buffaloes, lions, hippos, bongo, giant forest hog, red river hog and water chevrotain. Reptiles in the Virunga park include Nile crocodiles which are found on the shores of lake Edward and Semuliki river banks. Bird species in the Virunga national park include Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori batis, shelly’s crimson wing, mountain masked apalis, kivu ground thrush, blue headed sunbird, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, handsome francolin and many more. Due to the changing altitude in the Virunga national park has 5 distinct vegetation types.

Mountain gorillas as a tourist attractions in Virunga national park Congo

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

Virunga National Park is a proud habitat of close to 1000 of these gentle mountain giants according to the latest gorilla counting reports from the park. Scientifically termed as Gorilla beringei beringei, mountain gorillas are typically gentle and amazingly shy and calm animals that have thick and long fur and this enables them to live in cooler temperature climatic zones, each gorilla can be identified basing on its nose print which is unique to each individual, adult males can weigh as much as 195 kg with a standing height of 168cm or 66 inches while their female counterparts can weigh 100kg with a height of 140 cm or 55inches.

Mountain gorillas are diurnal animals as they are very active in the early morning and evening hours which they use for foraging or eating, they maintain an herbivorous diet which consists of leaves, fruits, tree branches and bamboo shoots. these gentle mountain giants are both Rwanda’s and volcanoes national park’s tourism signature symbol. These gorillas live in families of about 5 to 30 and is headed by a predominant male called a silverback due to its silver like lining on its back. It should be noted that, not all gorilla families that habituate in volcanoes national park can be viewed by tourists because not all of them have been habituated for human interaction and also there is a high risk of passing diseases between humans and gorillas. Virunga National Park has 8 habituated gorilla families and these include

Fauna and Flora as a tourist attractions in Virunga national park

Some of the largest wild animal concentrations in Africa occur along the rivers of the Virunga National park. The interesting Mammals in the savannah of the Rwindi area include: elephant, hippopotamus, buffalo, numerous antelope including kob, defassa waterbuck and topi, warthog, lion and various monkeys. Large numbers of pelicans occur on the lower Rutshuru. In the Semiliki Valley and on the slopes of the Virunga mountains are gorilla, chimpanzee and okapi.

Located at the border between several biogeographic zones, the park protects both tropical rainforest and eastern steppe species, and its range of altitudes adds to the habitat variety. The diversity includes: bamboo and Hagenia forest on the mountains; equatorial forest along the Semiliki; wooded savannah of the Rwindi; steppes; various low savannahs; swamps and transitional habitats; dry thick forest; Neoboutonia macrocalyx forest on the lava plains; wet thick forest; alpine forests; and sparse vegetation above 4,300 m comprising mainly lichens and spermatophyta, although Graminae have been found growing at over 5,000 m.

Blue monkey

Unlike what its name suggests, the blue monkey isn’t entirely blue but rather it has little hairs on its face with a bluish color and these led to naming this monkey species blue monkey. The blue monkey in actual sense is mainly grey or olive but its face is dark with a pale or yellowish patch on the forehead. Its feet, front legs and cap are blackish while its mantle may be brown, olive or grey. The blue monkey has a body length of between 50-65cm with the tail included and an adult male weighs about 8kg while an adult female weighs about 4kg hence exhibiting sexual dimorphism.

These monkeys live in groups of 10-40 individuals and the females will stay in their natal groups throughout their lifetime while males live their parent group when they mature. The family is usually led by an adult female and its consists of many other females, babies and juveniles and one adult male. These monkeys practice allo-mothering with many female monkeys usually juveniles looking after the babies. Their gestation period is about 5 months while their diet consists of mainly fruits during periods of abundance but they can also feed on flowers twigs and insects, figs and leaves.

Hippopotami

In Virunga National Park, hippos are found wondering around lake Edward and Semuliki river. Hippos are large animals only behind the African elephant that can weigh anywhere between 1300-1500kg or 2870-3310ib for both sexes. The hippos are semi aquatic as they both live on land and in water. Hippos are herbivores animals can come on land in the evening to graze, they can be easily identified basing on barrel shaped body, short legs and long muzzles or mouths, their body is hairless with a purplish gray to blue black color which is also thick about 2in or 6cm.

Due to lack of body hairs, hippos secret an element that is reddish orange to brown to act as a protective layer both from the scotching sun and bacterial infection. This phenomenon is referred to as “blood sweating” hippos have a very powerful jaw which can open as wide as 180o and its filled with monstrous teeth with their incisors growing up to 40cm or 1ft4in and canines growing up to 50cm or 1ft8in. despite their short legs and big sizes hippos can burst to 30km/hr in short distances. Hippos are highly territorial while in water but not on land, they have a gestation period of 243days and can live up to 40-50 years.

Cape buffalo

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

The cape buffalo is also referred to as the African buffalo and they are a very common sight throughout this park. It is usually mistaken to be a close relative to domesticated cattle but its rather related to other bigger bovines. Buffaloes have a coarse black coat unlike their close relatives the forest buffaloes which have a reddish coat. As the male buffaloes grow older, the bases of their horns grows closer and it can even unite forming a feature called a “boss” which is very had to penetrate even with a gun bullet of less 16mm. you can differentiate a male buffalo from a female one by observing the structure of their horns, the male buffalo horns grow while curving outwards while the ones of the female grow while curving inside. The African buffalo is a big animal with a shoulder height of 1.0-1.7m or 3.3-5.6ft. It has a body length of 1.7-3.4m or 5.6-11.2ft and its tail has a length of 70-110cm or 28-43in. An adult male African buffalo can weigh as much as between 500-1000kg but the females usually weigh less than this.

Cape buffaloes are usually found in the great plains of African savanna like Murchison falls park. Buffaloes usually stay in large herds that consist anywhere from 5-100 individuals and this is primarily for protection purposes from their predators. Although buffaloes have a very poor eye sight, this is compensated by possessing an acute sense of smell coupled with a keen sense of hearing, in fact, the buffaloes can stop whatever they are doing and stand still for many minutes or sometimes even hours just to listen even to the tiniest of sounds that may be made by any predator that may be stalking them. when buffaloes are attacked they male buffaloes form defensive wall by being at the flanks of the herd while the females and calves are within the inner part of the herd. the male buffaloes can even sometimes turn and chase the attacking predators They have a gestation period of 11.5 months and a life span of over 25 years in their natural habitats.

African bush elephants.

African elephants are the largest land mammals in the world with a male elephant weighing in at 4,700-6,048kg or 10,362-13,334Ib and a shoulder height of 3.2-4.0m or 10.5-13.1ft while their female counterparts weigh in at 2,160-3,232kg or 4,762-7,125Ib and a shoulder height of 2.2-2.6m or 7.2-8.5ft. these land giants have 24 teeth in their mouths and usually lose their teeth 4-6 times in their life time which lies between 60-70 years. What sets these land giants apart from the rest of crowd is their elongated tusks which are in fact their second set of incisors.

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

This means that the tusks are very strong as they are used to up root trees and also as weapons they use while fighting. The tusks weigh between 23-45 kg or 55-99Ib with a length of 1.5-2.4m or 5-8 ft. elephants usually live in groups called families which comprise of 10 or more closely related females with their calves and each of these families is led by an older female called a matriarch. Elephants have the ability to distinguish and communicate with each other using low frequency infrasonic calls. With a body mass that is compared to nothing else on land, African elephants have to feed on an average of 450 kg or 992Ib of foliage to sustain their huge bodies and also drink to over 50 liters of water per day.

In fact, these elephants have the ability to smell water to up to 20 km or 12miles away. Elephants have an exposed skin so in order to control over heating of their body, they flap their big ears so as to carry away the heat or bathe in water ponds. It is believed that when an elephant flaps its ears, it can lose about 10oF of heat hence always staying cool even in the hottest temperatures. They also employ their elongated trunk to carry water and pour it over their ears to try and cool themselves. These land giants have very thin hairs around body parts such as eyes and noses and these are mainly for ensuring that germs and other bacteria don’t find it easy to enter the elephants body through these parts.

The elephant trunk is a master piece of creation as it is equipped with 40000 muscles which is way more than an entire human body has at only 639 muscles. This makes the trunks a very strong and agile part of the elephant that can do many things. The elephant trunk is also used for breathing, snorkeling and also as an extended arm for holding, lifting or pushing anything they want to carry. A female elephant reaches sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 years and can reproduce after every 3-6 years throughout its lifetime. All elephants have a very poor metabolism and that’s why they eat a lot of food but ¾ of it will come out of the elephants undigested as dung.

Due to the poor metabolic system, elephant calves have been recorded doing something bizarre and that is eating dung that has been passed out by their mothers but this is all because elephant calves can’t process raw grass hence have they have to resort to eating pre-processed food that has been passed out as dung. They have a gestation period of up to 22 months being the longest in all land mammals. Just like humans and apes, elephants are also highly intelligent species with a brain that weighs about 5kg or 11Ib which about 4 times heavier than that of human making it the heaviest brain of any land mammal. With such a brain, these land giants are believed to exhibit character traits like grief, learning, sense of humor, compassion, self-awareness, a very strong and vivid memory, play and use of tools and possibly a language.

Lions.

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

Lions are part of the big cate family and are muscular, deep chested with rounded heads. Most of the African lion males can distinguished from their females by the presence of a mane around the necks and heads of male African lions which is clearly absent in females but there quite many cases in Africa where the males also don’t have a mane or have a very short and thin one. The male lions are usually bigger than the females but their sizes vary according to location. In east Africa, adult female lions have a body length of 160-184cm or 63-72in weighing in at 119.5kg or 263Ib on average while the adult males have a body length of184-208cm or 72-82in weighing in at 174.9kg or 386Ib on average.

Lions are social animals who live in groups called prides. A pride is always led by a dominant male and their highly territorial animals controlling vast expanses that are strategic with a lot of prey and water. Male dominant lions are responsible for protecting the pride and they will fight off other male invaders, in case the dominant male is defeated by the invading lions, the victor lions will kill off all the cubs that are off springs to the defeated dominant male as a way of ending its blood lineage. Lions are carnivores and are at the top of the food chain feeding on almost all browsers and grazers within their domain due to their ability to hunt as a pride and carry out well coordinated and planned attacks which enables them to take down prey that can even be between 2-4 times bigger than them such as zebras, elephants and buffaloes.

Lions usually hunt at night because of their well-developed sense of sight especially at night where their vision is almost 6 times better than that of humans due to the presence of white patches around their eyes which enable them to absorb even the smallest amount of light available during the cover of darkness. Hunting among lions is an affair carried out by female lions mostly and juvenile males and when a kill has been made by the lionesses in a pride, it’s always the dominant male lion who will eat first up to his fill then the rest of the pride will feed on what has remained after the he has finished eating. They have a gestation period of 97 days and a life span of about 10-14 years.

Leopards.

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

Leopards are some of the big cat family predators that roam the plains of queen Elizabeth national park and they are at the top of the food chain together. Leopards are usually taken to be the same with cheetahs but they are completely different as cheetahs have tear marks on their faces small round spots while leopards have no this distinctive mark on their faces and have larger rosettes on their body. The skin color of leopards ranges from pale yellow to golden or yellowish brown with rosettes and this enables these super predators to camouflage so that they can stalk their prey without ever being noticed.

Male leopards are muscular with short limbs and a broad head, the males have an average shoulder height of 60-70cm or 24-28in and weigh in at 37-90kg while the females have an average shoulder height of57-64cm or 22-25in and weigh in between26-60kg. the cheetah has a very long tail that’s white tipped with a length of 60-100cm or 24-39in and this enables the leopards make quick sharp turns at high speed while on a chase. Leopards can sometimes have black color and this is caused by melanism which is a recessive gene in these animals and when a leopard is having this phenomena, it turns from being called a leopard to a black panther. Leopards are usually solitary animals, they have a gestation period of 90-105 days and can live in their natural habitat for 12-17 years.

Batwa people communities

Virunga national park is home to the Batwa people. The Batwa people are also known as the Twa people. The Batwa are believed to be the earliest inhabitants of East Africa as some historians and anthropologists have dated their ancestry in this region to as far back as 60,000 years ago. In D.R. Congo, the Batwa are minority ethnic group of people with a population of not more than 10000 people. They are also commonly referred to as pygmies due to their short size heights. A fully grown Mutwa on average has about 4 feet or less of height and this makes them shorter than any other person of average height in east African region.

The Batwa are the original custodians and guardians of the Virunga forests, they lived a life that entirely depended on the forests as they hunted only what they could eat and gathered fruits from these forest. When they got sick, they still turned to the forest to provide them with herbs that were to cure them of their ailments. Long ago, the Batwa also lived a nomadic kind of life style where they built temporary huts using tree branches and covering them with leaves as they would easily migrate from one area to another looking for better fruits and animals to hunt.

Bird species or Avifauna as a tourist attractions in Virunga national park Congo

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

Is very diverse in the areas covered by Virunga National Park. Over 800 species are claimed to be protected in the park and of which 24 are considered to be endemic to the Virungas. The wetlands species include herons, ibisis, egrets, bitterns, duck, geese, darters, cormorants, skimmers, shoebills, openbills, ospreys, gulls, francolins, warblers and weavers and there are large numbers of pelicans on the lower Rutshuru River.

The papyrus yellow warbler may exist in the far north. Rare birds in the volcanic highlands are Grauer’s swamp warbler in highland swamps, and Rockefeller’s sunbird Nectarinia rockefelleri in bamboo, forest and heath stream thickets; in the Ruwenzori mountain forests, Shelley’s crimsonwing Cryptospiza shelleyi and Stuhlmann’s doublecollared sunbird Nectarinia stuhlmanni in the bamboo and alpine zones. Notable mountain forest birds are the Rwenzori turaco, Musophaga johnstoni and the handsome francolin, Francolinus nobilis; also the forest ground thrush Turdus oberlaenderi and the shoebill Balaeniceps rex.

Nyiragongo Volcano as a tourist attractions in Virunga national park Congo

Virunga national park congo

Nyiragongo

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 low 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.

Treks to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano begin at the Kibati patrol post, which is approximately 30 minutes by car from Goma. The patrol post is less than a one hour drive from the Mikeno Lodge in Rumangabo. Park rangers lead all treks and porters (unaffiliated with the park) are available for hire. The time required to reach the summit depends on the average fitness of each group, but typically takes 4 – 6 hours. Altitude sickness can be an issue for some because the climb begins at 1989m (6,525 ft) and ascends to 3470m (11,382ft) in a short time. Proper hydration is the best way to adapt to the change in altitude. People prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) should speak to their physicians about taking preventative measures before making the climb. It is possible for fitter people to climb up and descend in one day, but most groups choose to overnight in basic accommodation available at the top .

Chimpanzees in Virunga National Park Congo

Virunga National Park Congo

Virunga National Park Congo

These are close relatives of humans with a 99% matching DNA to that of humans, there are two species of chimpanzees, Common chimpanzee species and the Bonobo species. Virunga national park has the common chimpanzee species. An adult Common chimpanzee can weigh between 40-60 kg with a height of 1.6 meters or 5ft3inches while an adult female can weigh between 32-47kg with a height of 1.3 meters or 4feet3inches. Common chimpanzees have coarse black hair except on their toes, face, fingers, palms of the hands and the soles of their feet.

The chimpanzees have a firm grip because their thumbs and big toes are opposite to each other. These chimpanzees live in communities usually between 10-100 individuals, chimpanzee communities are led by a dominant male called the alpha male. The alpha male might not be the strongest male chimp in the community but rather the most canning and political. Besides protecting the community from external invasion and internal bickering among the individuals, the alpha male also spends its time grooming the other young males in the community.

The females on the other hand spend time taking care of the young ones. Chimpanzees reach puberty stage between 10-12 years and an adult female can produce between 4-6 babies throughout their lifetime. The chimps sleep in a different nest everyday which they build using a tree branches, twigs and leaves. Chimpanzees have a life span of up to 40 years in their natural habitat, this can increase to up to 50 years of age in captivity. The chimps have a gestation period of 8 months.

De brazza’s monkey.

The de brazza monkey has a grey agouti fur, reddish brown back, black limbs and tail with a white stripe running down its things. On the forehead of the de brazza monkey, there is an orange crescent shaped making and it has white eyelids that match with its muzzle aa well as its beard. These monkeys have cheek pouches in which they carry their food as they forage. These monkeys exhibit sexual dimorphism with males weighing at an average of 7kg while females come in at an average of 4kg. These monkeys have a lifespan that is over 20 years.

Red tailed monkeys

These monkeys are known as the Schmidt guenon. This monkey species is usually red, black or orange in color with a red coloring at its tail. This species has a body length of between 1-2 feet excluding the tail, the males weigh between 7-10 pounds by adulthood age while adult females weigh between 6-8 pounds. The red tailed monkeys are frictivoruous feeding mostly on a fruit diet. These monkeys can live in groups ranging between 7-30 individuals led by a dominant male. The red tailed monkeys are very active during early morning and late evening.

Blue monkey

Unlike what its name suggests, the blue monkey isn’t entirely blue but rather it has little hairs on its face with a bluish color and these led to naming this monkey species blue monkey. The blue monkey in actual sense is mainly grey or olive but its face is dark with a pale or yellowish patch on the forehead. Its feet, front legs and cap are blackish while its mantle may be brown, olive or grey. The blue monkey has a body length of between 50-65cm with the tail included and an adult male weighs about 8kg while an adult female weighs about 4kg hence exhibiting sexual dimorphism.

These monkeys live in groups of 10-40 individuals and the females will stay in their natal groups throughout their lifetime while males live their parent group when they mature. The family is usually led by an adult female and its consists of many other females, babies and juveniles and one adult male. These monkeys practice allo-mothering with many female monkeys usually juveniles looking after the babies. Their gestation period is about 5 months while their diet consists of mainly fruits during periods of abundance but they can also feed on flowers twigs and insects, figs and leaves.

Lake Edward (Rutanzige)

Lake Edward which is shallow has an impoverished fish fauna, but many cichlid species, and quite a rich invertebrate fauna. Recently crocodiles have returned to the upper Semliki River. The monitor lizard and snakes are common including python, puff adder, cobra and green mamba among others.

Glacier of the Rwenzori Mountains in Virunga National Park Congo

The Rwenzori Mountains is a snow capped mountain range in the north of Virunga National Park on the Border with Uganda. The highest peak in the range lies on the border and can be climbed from both countries. The trek to the glacier can be made in a 4-5 or 6 day trek. In order to start the trek visitors will need to travel to Beni by airplane (either from Goma or Entebbe).

Tourist Activities in Virunga national park Congo

With a presence of over 3000 species of wildlife, Virunga is a pandora’s box that can only be best understood when you personally visit the park. Activities in Virunga national park range from gorilla tracking to chimpanzee tracking to game drives to birding to nature walks and mountain climbing

Mountain Gorillas Trekking

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

Mountain Gorillas in the famous Virunga National Park are located in the Mikeno Sector, about a two and half hours’ drive from Goma. They can also be approached from Bunagana (border of Uganda). The permit is $400, so slightly cheaper than in Uganda or Rwanda. The visits are also a bit more authentic and in smaller groups. Gorilla trekking permit is booked via the Congolse Wildlife Authority sales office in Goma or alternatively, you can also book directly with ICCN.

A visit to habituated mountain gorilla family in Virunga is a life changing experience. Mountain gorillas are highly intelligent, good natured, and fascinating to observe. The silverback’s powerful presence is awe-inspiring, yet his calm clearly earns him the title, “gentle giant”. People are equally struck by the tenderness and care that mothers show their young. And then, of course, there are the juveniles who spend most of every waking hour at play and never cease to make visitors smile. We believe your time with Virunga’s mountain gorillas will leave you feeling changed for­­ the better.

All treks are led by park rangers and usually depart from Bukima patrol post. Treks usually require 1-2 hours of hiking in each direction, depending where the mountain gorillas spent the previous night and the difficulty of the terrain.

To safeguard the health of Virunga’s gorillas, visitors will be required to wear surgical masks that are provided to trekkers when they encountering the gorillas in their natural habitat of Virunga National Park. Time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour. If you don’t feel well, have a fever, diarrhea, or persistent sore throat – please do not go on the trek. Mountain gorillas are extremely susceptible to human illnesses. Gorillas have died after being exposed to human respiratory viruses and other common ailments.

Climb Nyiragongo Volcano

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

This volcano, famous for its lava lake, is a technically easy climb from the direction of Goma. A trip to the top should take 6 hours, most climbers spend the night at the top. This also makes it possible to see the boiling lava by night, when it becomes even brighter.

Treks to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano begin at the Kibati patrol post, which is approximately 30 minutes by car from Goma. The patrol post is less than a one hour drive from the Mikeno Lodge in Rumangabo. Park rangers lead all treks and porters (unaffiliated with the park) are available for hire. The time required to reach the summit depends on the average fitness of each group, but typically takes 4 – 6 hours. Altitude sickness can be an issue for some because the climb begins at 1989m (6,525 ft) and ascends to 3470m (11,382ft) in a short time. Proper hydration is the best way to adapt to the change in altitude. People prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) should speak to their physicians about taking preventative measures before making the climb. It is possible for fitter people to climb up and descend in one day, but most groups choose to overnight in basic accommodation available at the top (included in the permit fee). Trekkers are advised to bring raincoats and cold weather gear. Rain showers are a common occurrence on the climb up during the rainy season and temperatures at the summit can dip below 0°C/32°F.

Rwenzori Mountain Trek

Glacier of the Rwenzori Mountains in Virunga National Park

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

The Rwenzori Mountains are a snow capped mountain range in the north of Virunga National Park on the Border with Uganda. The highest peak in the range lies on the border and can be climbed from both countries. The trek to the glacier can be made in a 4-5 or 6 day trek. in order to start the trek visitors will need to travel to Beni by airplane (either from Goma or Entebbe).

Virunga National Park also offers spectacular trekking and climbing trips to the Rwenzori Mountains in the north of the park. Known also as the “Mountains of the Moon,” the Rwenzoris reach a height of 5,109 m (16,761 ft) and contain the largest glaciers left on the African continent. Those who trek and climb in the Rwenzoris will experience a stunning variety of landscapes, including bamboo forests, alpine meadows, lakes, and snowcapped peaks. The flora and fauna of the Rwenzoris is equally diverse. Forest elephant, Okapi, chimpanzees, and numerous bird species make the Rwenzoris their home. The best weather in the Rwenzoris usually happens from January through mid-March and June to late August.

The cost of a permit for the Rwenzoris is $232 for both trekkers and climbers. For an additional $116, visitors are welcome to overnight in the huts along the track. At this time, the park is not able to supply gear or food for guests, so please come prepared. Trekkers wanting only to reach the summit hut will need good hiking boots, rain gear, and a warm base layers. Those wanting to climb Margherita Peak or any of the other summits will need to bring their own climbing hardware, crampons, and ice axes. Bivouc gear is also a good idea. A Virunga ranger accompanies all trekkers and climbers and independent porters are available for hire. Porters negotiate their prices on the spot, but the cost is typically less than a dollar per kilogram with a maximum of 15.

Chimpanzee habituation

Virunga national park has a strong presence of chimpanzees and currently is undertaking a programme to habituate these great apes so that they can be added to already fully packed arena of activities you can engage in while in Virunga national park. You can decide to be part of the habituating team and trek into the jungles to see to it that these chimpanzees get accustomed to human presence without losing their natural sense of wilderness.

Game drives

The northern sector of Virunga which covers the plains near Semuliki river and also areas adjacent to lake Edward and or queen Elizabeth national park of Uganda are rich in savannah plain mammals such African bush elephants, cape buffaloes, lions, leopards, Uganda kobs, Nile crocodiles, bongo, hippos, red river hog, okapi, water chevrotain can easily be sighted roaming the savanna plains of the Virunga national park in the north.

Birding

Virunga national park boosts of a formidable bird species count of about 706 birds. This is definitely a jewel for any birding enthusiast as you are guaranteed of being spoilt for choice as there are so many bird species to watch out for while here including about 16 albertine rift endemics such as include Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori batis, shelly’s crimson wing, mountain masked apalis, kivu ground thrush, blue headed sunbird, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, handsome francolin, archer’s ground robin, red throated alethe and many more birds like the grey crown crested crane, yellow billed barbet, African paradise fly catcher and the list continues.

Mountain hikes

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park congo

Virunga national park is home to 8 Virunga volcano ranges which are Muhavura, Gahinga, Sabyinyo, Karisimbi, Bisoke, Mikeno Nyiragongo and Nyamugira ranges. 2 of these ranges ie Nyiragongo and Nyamugira are active volcanoes. The hike to the summit of Nyiragongo will get your blood boiling as you get nearer to what I can only relate to as the devil’s kitchen given the enormous amount of lava fluid being spewed from this lake. Nyiragongo has the largest lava lake in the world giving you a free glance at what and how the inner core of our planet looks like as you get to see lava fluids being pushed out of the earth’s crust.

You can hike almost all these ranges and get to experience the thrill and adrenaline rush of conquering the heights of these ranges. For hikers whose hiking thirst can’t be easily quenched by a hike to any of these ranges, Virunga national park still has one ace card up its sleeves to match your thirst and that’s a hike to the mountains of moon as named by Cladius Plotemy or Rwenzori mountains which will see you scale up to 5109m above sea level and feel rush of experiencing snow while you are at the equator.

Visit the Tongo Chimps

Virunga National Park has a habituated Chimpanzee group in the picturesque hills of Tongo, located in the southern sector of Virunga National Park, west of the park headquarters of Rumangabo, Tongo is a unique forest island and home to a small population of chimpanzees. The forest lies on one of the lava flows from Nyamulagira Volcano and is estimated to be 300 years old. NB Tongo is not yet open for visitors due to safety issues, please check the Virunga National Park Tourism Website for current information on the chimpanzee treks

Getting to Virunga National Park Congo

The southern sector (Gorillas and Volcano) of Virunga National Park is easily accessible in a number of different ways the most common are:
Overland via Uganda, cross the border in Bunagana, from where the Mountain gorilla sites Jomba and Bikenge are easily accessable within 1 hour. The border crossing is easy, and a local visa can be bought at the border for only 50$, however this visa is not a fully recognized visa and can only be used to visit the park and subsequently leaving the country at the Bunagana border post again. Overland via Rwanda, cross the border at Gisenyi/Goma, the border crossing is easy if you pre-arranged a visa, if not it will be difficult or expensive (280$ if bought at the border). Fly into Goma, from within the DRC many flights connect to Goma, from outside the DRC Entebbe is the only city connected by TMK. Once again make sure you have a pre-arranged visa.

map-virunga-nationalpark

Accommodation in Virunga National Park Congo

Mikeno Lodge-Luxury/Upmarket

mikeno-lodge

The Mikeno Lodge is a one and a half hour 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.

The bungalow accommodation is spacious, luxurious & very private, each with fabulous tree or valley views. Each bungalow has its own fireplace, which the staff light every evening while you are out enjoying the scrumptious dinner. You will thoroughly enjoy your stay at Mikeno Lodge.

Note that at the lodge,accommodation prices include 16% Gov’t VAT

Room Occupancy Rate Rates in USD
Single person $244 (including breakfast)
Double occupancy $325 (including breakfast)

Bukima Tented Camp-Mid-Range

bukima-tented-camp

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.

Prices for the camp are based on double occupancy and include breakfast. Lunch, dinner, and drinks are available for an additional charge. Of the six tents, four feature double beds and two are outfitted with twin beds.

Note that the Tented camp prices include 16% Gov’t VAT

Bukima Tented Camp cost per day:

Room Type Rates in USD
Single: $244 (including breakfast)
Double $325 (including breakfast)

Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters-Budget

Each of the twelve summit shelters contains two single beds on which visitors can put their sleeping bags. Although these shelters aren’t plush, they offer a welcome escape from the elements. Note that the cost of staying in a summit shelter is included in the Nyiragoongo Valcono permit fee.

Nyiragongo volcano trekking permit:

Tourists Type Rates in USD
International Adults: $250
Non –International Adults $90
International Child $125
Congolese Child $25

GORILLA FAMILIES IN VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK CONGO

Virunga National Park is a proud habitat of close to 1004 of these gentle mountain giants according to the latest gorilla counting reports from the park. Scientifically termed as Gorilla beringei beringei, Mountain Gorillas are typically gentle and amazingly shy and calm animals that have thick and long fur and this enables them to live in cooler temperature climatic zones, each gorilla can be identified basing on its nose print which is unique to each individual, adult males can weigh as much as 195 kg with a standing height of 168cm or 66 inches while their female counterparts can weigh 100kg with a height of 140 cm or 55inches. Mountain gorillas are diurnal animals as they are very active in the early morning and evening hours which they use for foraging or eating, they maintain an herbivorous diet which consists of leaves, fruits, tree branches and bamboo shoots. these gentle mountain giants are both D.R. Congo’s and Virunga National Park’s tourism signature symbol. These gorillas live in families of about 5 to 30 and is headed by a predominant male called a silverback due to its silver like lining on its back. It should be noted that, not all gorilla families that habituate in Virunga National Park can be viewed by tourists because not all of them have been habituated for human interaction and also there is a high risk of passing diseases between humans and gorillas. Virunga National Park has 8 habituated gorilla families and these include

Rugendo family

Rugendo family was one of the gorilla families that were habituated first in 1985. It was initially led by a silverback named Rugendo who unfortunately got killed in 2001. Rugendo is believed to have fathered most of the silverbacks such as Mapuwa, Humba, Nyakamwe, Baseka, Ruzirzbwoba, Mukunda, Kongomani, Mburanumwe, Lubutu and Bahati and these silverbacks head various gorilla families in the Virunga region. Rugendo was succeeded by his son Senkwekwe. In 2008, the leadership of Rugendo family saw another silverback named Bukima come to power due to a power vacuum that had been created by the mysterious death of Senkwekwe in 2007. Bukima was a solitary silverback who was formerly a member of the Buhanga group and also had a spell at Munyaga family. Rugendo family comprises of 9 members with 3 silverbacks, 1 black back, 1 adult female, 2 sub adult females and 2 babies. This family is found habituating in areas around Mikeno sector in between Bukima and Bikenge.

Munyaga family

Munyaga family is led by a dominant silver back called Munyaga who was actually a solitary silverback roaming the jungles of Virunga but in February of 1998, he met Buhanga gorilla family that was under the leadership of an adult female named Nsekuye hence Munyaga imposed himself as the male dominant head of this family taking over from Nsekuye. Munyaga’s family lost all the females of the group due to numerous interactions with other gorilla families such as Kabirizi and this forced Munyaga to abdicate from his due to lack of females to mate with within the family in 2007, this in turn created space for the top leadership position which had become vacant after Munyaga’s abdication. Mawazo another silverback in the family stepped up to fill the void and he now reigns as the dominant silver back of Munyaga family up to today. Munyaga family has 9 members which include 3 silver backs, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 babies. This family traverses areas around Bukima.

Mapuwa family

Mapuwa family was founded by one of Rugendo’s sons Mapuwa who left his father’s family Rugendo for solitary life in 1995 at round the same time his brother Ruzirabwoba also left the Rugendo family. In 1998, Mapuwa interacted with the Lulengo family and he managed to annex 2 of its adult females namely Kagofero and Kanepo with whom he started his own family. Over a period of close to 20 years, Mapuwa family has expanded and evolved to reach a membership count of 22 individuals with 3 silverbacks, 3 black backs, 6 adult females, 4 juveniles, 2 sub adult females and 5 babies. During all this transformation, Mapuwa is still at the helm of this family as the dominant silverback.

Lulengo family

Initially named as Rugabo family, this was one of the 1st gorilla families to be habituated in the Virunga park in 1985 with Rugabo as the dominant silverback, Rugabo’s reign at the helm was cut short only after 9 years at the top when he got shot dead along with 2 other females and an abduction of one of the juveniles in the group named Mvuyekure in 1994, although Mvuyekure was successfully rescued from poacher who had intended on selling him in neighboring Uganda. The leadership void created by the untimely demise of Rugabo was filled when one of his sons Lulengo stepped up for the leadership position. Being a younger leader, Lulengo family experienced loss of many of its family members due to interactions with other gorilla families such as Rugendo. As of today Lulengo family has 9 members with 1 silver back, 3 adult females, 1 sub adult male, 3 babies and 1 juvenile. Lulengo family habituates in areas around Jomba.

Kabirizi family

This group was habituated around 1994 and by this time it was under the leadership of Zunguruka as the dominant silverback. Zinguruka later on died from his old age and was succeeded by his son Ndungutse who stay at the top only lasted for a few years as he got fatally shot amidst a cross fire between the Congolese army and a Rwandese rebel group around Bukima patrol area. Following the death of Ndungutse, his son Buhanga took over the reign of the group but he faced stiff resistance from his brother karateka hence they had a bitter stand off after which karateka managed to annex 3 family members but these were soon taken back by Buhanga on 10th January 1998 following an interaction with karateka and this left karateka as a lonely wonderer without any family to belong to. On 06th February 1998, the fight for supremacy continued on when Buhanga had a bitter contest with Kabirizi who was by then a loner silverback. The contest left Buhanga severely bruised but out of sheer power he managed to keep the family stuck together. Buhanga later on succumbed to his injuries which left the family without a dominant silverback to take over the reign, this led to an adult female named Nsekuye to take on the leadership role acting as a dominant silverback to keep the family together. Nsekuye’s leadership was a short spell as she was overthrown on 23rd February 1998 by Munyaga who was a loner wondering the jungles of Virunga. Kabirizi continued interacting with Munyaga until he managed to get back all his females that Munyaga had annexed earlier on, he also had managed to annex more family members from Luwawa family whose dominant silverback had been killed sometime back in1995. This made the Kabirizi family to be so large and as result, the group split into 2 groups on 27th January 2013. Kabirizi was left with 16 members while the breakaway faction led by Kabirizi’s son Bageni left with 20 members. Kabirizi as of now comprises of 19 members with 2 silverbacks,1 black back, 1 sub adult male, 3 sub adult females, 4 juveniles and 4 infants. This group can be found in the Bukima area.

Bageni family

Bageni family was formed when Bageni silverback son of Kabirizi decided to split from his father’s family Kabirizi and form his own family in January of 2013. Bageni left Kabrizi family with 20 individuals including his mother Mapendo and some of his brothers. Over the past few years, Bageni has managed to oversee growth of his family and now controls a family of 26 individuals with Bageni as the dominant silverback, 2 black backs, 10 adult females, 1 sub adult female, 3 juveniles and 9 babies. This family can be seen in Bukima and Gatovu areas

Nyakamwe family

The Nyakamwe family came into existence after split from Humba family which was as a result of internal bickering between Humba the leader of Humba family and his younger brother Nyakamwe. Nyakamwe managed to break away from Humba with 10 family members on the 24th of April 2014 leaving Humba with only 6 members under his control. Nyakamwe now leads a group of 11 members with 2 silverbacks, 1 black back, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles, 1 sub adult female and 2 babies. This family is found in Bukima area of Virunga national park

Humba family

Humba family was created after a split from Rugendo family in 1998. Humba is a son to Rugendo but he left his natal family with 6 individuals among which was his brother silverback Nyakamwe. By 2014, Humba had grown his family to 16 members but a bitter rivalry erupted between Humba and Nyakamwe after which Nyakamwe managed to break away from Humba with 10 of his family members and started his own group. After a few months, Humba managed to get new members into his family like a sub adult female Kakule left Munyaga group and joined Humba. As of now Humba has 10 family members of which 3 are silverbacks, 2 are adult females, 1 is a sub adult female, 2 are juveniles and 2 are babies. Humba family is located in the Gatovu and Bikenge areas.

With 8 habituated gorilla families, Virunga National Park gives you a new dimension of gorilla tracking as you get to explore this beautiful tucked away paradise as you search for the gorilla families that habituate in the forests of Virunga ranges. Just like in Bwindi impenetrable national park in Uganda and volcanoes national park in Rwanda, gorilla tracking here is also done in groups of not more than 8 people who get to track each family of gorillas.

How Many People Can Track a Gorilla Family In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

Each gorilla family in Virunga National Park can be tracked by a group of people between 1-8 individuals. This means that if you come in group of more than 8 people you will be divided in groups of not more than 8 individuals and each group will track a different gorilla family at the same time.

What Is the Best Time To Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

In order to experience the thrill of tracking these adorable giant but shy mountain gorillas, you need to come to Virunga National Park during the dry season months June- October and January – February. The dry season is the best time to track gorillas in Virunga National Park because accessibility is quite easy during the dry season and the trails for gorilla tracking are also navigable. During the dry months, the weather is very fine in Virunga National Park with temperatures ranging in the mid 20s and there are low chances of rain though it may occasionally rain especially in the afternoon hours. You can also track gorillas during the wet months, gorilla families tend to stay nearer in the lower slopes of these ranges due to abundance of food in these lower slopes of the ranges hence making the trekking time shorter and quite easy for you but still loaded with a multitude of unimaginable experience. During the rainy season you should come with some rain gear as it can shower anytime of the day but it doesn’t rain all day.

When Should I Book A Gorilla Trekking Permit In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

A gorilla trekking permit in Virunga National Park should be booked at least 3 months, this is because the demand of gorilla trekking permits in Virunga National Park is very high as there are only 8 gorilla families in Virunga national park translating into only 64 permits available per day.

What Is Included In A Gorilla Trekking Permit In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

A gorilla trekking permit in Virunga National Park comes along with services which include entry fees to the park, services of a guide/ranger that will accompany you as track a gorilla family and it also gets you an hour with the gorilla family after successfully tracking and finding its current location.

How And Where To Get Gorilla Permits For Gorilla Tracking In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

Gorilla tracking permits for Virunga National Park can only be obtained from the Virunga national park using their website or through a tour operator who will buy it on your behalf as part of your tour package to Virunga National Park.

What Is The Cost Of Gorilla Tracking Permits In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

Gorilla tracking permits in Democratic republic of Congo in Virunga National Park are relatively cheap as compared to other permit prices within the region only costing 400USD for a permit and secure yourself a magical experience of a life time with these gentle mountain giants.

Does Virunga Nationl Park Have Discounted Gorilla Permits?

Yes, very true, since 2018, Virunga National Park has discounted gorilla permits has discounted gorilla permits. The discounted gorilla permits are available in low season periods. During this time, discounted gorilla permits can be bought for as low as low 200USD, these discounted permits are only available between 15th March- 15th May for the first batch and the second batch of these permits is available between 15th October – 15th December every year.

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM AGE OF GORILLA TRACKING IN VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK D.R. CONGO?

All people of all ages are welcome to Virunga National Park. However, the gorilla tracking experience is only available to visitors who are aged 15 years and above. This so because of the greater challenges that might be involved like tracking gorillas for a long time or getting scared on seeing the gorillas themselves as they are huge animals. Children below 15 years shouldn’t be left behind on a visit to Virunga National Park as there are other activities they engage in such as birding, game drives.

How Long Is Gorilla Tracking In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

Gorilla tracking in Virunga National Park can take anywhere between 1 hour to possibly 8 hours before you will find the gorilla family you have tracked. The tracking time will majorly depend on the location of gorilla family whether it is near or very far away, it will also depend on the moods of the gorillas you have tracked, if they seem to be agitated, your ranger guide will cut short your time with the gorillas so as to ensure that you are safe because these animals are wild can sometimes be aggressive though this is a rare occurrence because before gorilla families are open for tourism purposes, they go through a rigorous habituation process in which they get to acclimatize to human presence near them so rest assured that you will be safe.

What Are The Chances Of Seeing A Gorilla Family In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

Your chances of seeing a gorilla family in Virunga National Park are high almost over 90% because before you track a gorilla family, park rangers track it very early in the morning, establish its current location and will radio to your ranger guide about the current location of the gorilla family you are to track so that you have prior knowledge of their location before you set out to track that family. The only challenge that might raise is that of the gorilla family to keep changing its location

What Rules Should I Observe Before Starting The Gorilla Tracking Process In Viirunga National Park D.R. Congo?

  • For anyone to take part in this activity, they should be aged 15years and above.
  • A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. this minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
  • Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas on the way to the gorillas:
  • Please always keep your voices low. you will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  • Do not leave rubbish in the park. whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  • You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. from there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
  • When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

What Rules Should I Observe When I Get To See The Gorillas In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

  • A 7-meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. the further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  • You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
  • Keep your voices down at all times. however, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  • Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
  • Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  • Flash photography is not permitted! when taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  • Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  • The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. however, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  • After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

What Are General Health Rules That Are Observed On Gorilla Tracking Safari In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

  • Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. the following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:
  • Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. this minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  • If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. an alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  • If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  • Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. this is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  • Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  • If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

What Should I Bring Or Carry On Your Gorilla Tracking Safari In Virunga National Park D.R. Congo?

  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  • Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
  • Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water
  • Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
  • Bring a photo of film camera. using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.
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Virunga National Park in Democratic republic of Congo (D.R. Congo)

Name: Virunga National Park

Location: continent- Africa, region – central Africa, country- Democratic Republic of Congo, direction- eastern Congo in the Virunga province

Geographical co-ordinates: 0o55’S 29o10’E

Responsible governing body: l’institut Conglais pour la conservation de la nature.

Size: 8090sqkm                       Year of designation: 1925

Climate of Virunga National Park: tropical rainforest climate with 2 peak rainfall seasons during the months of March –May and September- November.

Attractions of Virunga National Park: 196 mammal species like close to 1000 mountain gorillas, common chimpanzees, lions, leopards, elephants, cape buffaloes, 706 bird species with about 16 albertine rift endemics, 109 reptiles like nile crocodiles, 65 amphibians.  8 virunga ranges with 2 active volcanoes ie mt nyiragongo and mt. nyamugira and snowcapped mountain Rwenzori

Activities of Virunga National Park:  gorilla tracking, game drives, birding, volcano hikes, mountain climbing, nature walks

Accommodation of Virunga National Park: Mikeno safari lodge, Kibumba tent camp, Bukima tented camp, Nyiragongo summit shelters

Accessibility: the park can be accessed by both air and road transport means.

Best Time to Visit Virunga National Park in D.R. Congo

Virunga national park can be visited throughout the year with the most convenient being the dry months of December – February and June- August but these will favour more those that want to do game drives in the northern sector and also climb the nyiragongo active volcano and Rwenzori mountains. Those who are interested in gorilla tracking should visit during the wet months of September to December or March- May.

Location and Historical Background of Virunga National Park in D.R. Congo

Virunga national park is found in the eastern end of the Democratic Republic of Congo which lies on the African continent along geographical co-ordinates of 0o55’S 29o10’E. Virunga National Park is bordered by Uganda and Rwanda on its eastern border, in the north, its bordered by Boga, in the western end of the park, Virunga national park is bordered by towns like Beni, Mbau, Butembo and Mweso while in its southern end, its bordered by Goma town which is one of the biggest towns in the eastern side of D. R. Congo. Virunga National Park shares boundaries with other national parks in the region of eastern Africa and these are queen Elizabeth national park, mt Rwenzori national park, Semuliki national park in Uganda and volcanoes national park in Rwanda.

Congo Travel Information

Congo Travel Information

Congo Travel Information

Kinshasa City Congo

Congo Travel Information, Best Time to Travel to Congo, Congo Health Considerations, Congo Visa Information, Congo National Parks Game Reserves, Congo Safari Attractions. Following the Civil wars that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the Independence time, the travel in the destination Congo has been limited and only undertaken by the most adventurous or daring travellers along with businessmen.
Fortunately, that Congo is no more. The expanses of Congo stretching from Kinshasa to Goma, the Rwanda border to the Congo River system until its emptying in Atlantic Ocean, destination Congo only features amazing riches of the continent of Africa with diversity of wildlife, scenery and culture all thriving in a tranquil and peaceful environment.

With the assistance of the Chinese, a range of infrastructural developments including roads and rail lines connect Democratic Republic of Congo with the neighbouring states especially the Republic of Congo. The range of Airlines also connect to Congo including; Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways, South African, African Sky, Air France, Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines. Kinshasa the main capital of Democratic Republic of Congo features a range of twenty (20) carriers that operate flights to it.
The City of Kinshasa is one of the lively cities on the continent of Africa with rich internet access; International cuisine including European, Middle Eastern, Asian, Western and Asian Cuisine is available in most of the restaurants and actually across the main Cities of Congo while the Night life is full of fun listening to the famous indigenous Lingala songs.

At the centre piece of the famous Congo basing ranked as second largest tropical rain forest in the world following the Amazon, there lies the famous Congo River noted to be offering the world’s greatest river journey. Apparently, the cruise along the Congo River is possible subject to correct home work.
Regarding the accommodation, the a range of comfortable hotels and lodges including 5 start hotels are being constructed across the main towns while Safari lodges present accommodation for travellers on Congo Safaris and tours. The Kinshasa Hotels range from around $60 but a Congo safari undertaker friendly room is around $80 – $300. Read More Here

Best Time to Travel to Congo

Best Time to Travel

The average day time temperature in Democratic Republic of Congo is 24 degrees Celsius while the nights are between 16 degrees Celsius and 21 degrees Celsius. The Annual rainfall ranges from 1100mm to 2000mm while seasons of the year are categorized into four namely; October to December which is a long rainy season, January to February is a short dry season, March to April is a short rainy season and May to September is a long dry season.

The Odzala National Park is the main destination in Democratic Republic of Congo and features 1500mm every year and the best time to visit it is May to December.

Kinshasa City Congo

Congo Travel Information

Kinshasa City Congo

Kin La Belle stands a long-aged misnomer nestled in its monster of electric African sky as visible across all the streets. Kinshasa stands as one of the vibrant African cities famed for its indigenous music and less dangerous compared to some other African cities. The Lola ya Bonobo is about one hour’s drive from Kinshasa which is the popular site for day excursion from the city.

The Democratic Republic of Congo features the best hotels in the Central of Africa including the famous Kempinski Residence and Fleuve Congo Hotel. Though the nightlife is buzzing in Kinshasa, you can’t take a walk in a range of places at night apart from the areas close to embassies and good hotels.
Kinshasa is popular for its history, music and culture, the neighbouring McVallee Lake and the Bonono Orphanage. The boat ride to Kisangani is a lasting adventure into the Congo’s darkest wild. The Avenue de tourisme presents the best scenic drive along River Congo in Kinshasa.

The men in uniform are common along the road drives in Democratic Republic of Congo and they may or may not request for money from foreigners but it is advisable to carry along a pocket change for a bottle of soda for them. It is important to keep calm and sense of humour as it would help to make things smooth along the way.

If you opt to connect to Kisangani by public ferry, be prepared for an awful but a lasting adventure of its own. It is always expensive if not dangerous to procure or hire own boat to Kisangani. The public Ferry departs Kinshasa with 2 – 4 platforms in tandem that turn into floating dirty market places per 10 – 20 days.

Connecting to Kisangani takes about 15 – 20 days and the boat does not pass through the secluded and beautiful parts of Congo River. There is need for flexibility until you land on a bunk and though you may be required to secure a four bed room alone, the guarantee is low that you will have it yourself. Mosquitoes and Theft are common along the Ferry and this is not a cruise ship thus hot, not clean and unsafe. It is always exciting to see some fish being sold some of which have never been documented in science prior.

The private boat operators also exist and can as well be used where you travel in a covered boat marked by powerful engines along with a full team of porters, cooks, camping gear and permits.

On a sad note, at about 400km River Congo stretch in the south of Kisangani has developed the man eating crocodiles and canoeing and kayaking should be avoided along that area.

IS CONGO SAFE?

It can be noted that Congo is Safe. The Kinshasa City is recorded to be even safer than Johannesburg and Nairobi where crime rate is high. However, like other cities, there are parts on Kinshasa that one should not walk in alone at night.

Despite the negative media coverage positioning Congo as a land of war torn people, the destination Congo is steadily rising from the civil war conflict especially to the east of the country and presents harmonious travel platform for the world travellers. But the issues of men in uniform still remain though could be avoided with a friendly gesture and compliance. Read More Here

Congo visa inforamtion and airport hassless in Kinshasa

CONGO VISA INFORMATION AND AIRPORT HASSLES IN KINSHASA

CONGO TRAVEL INFORMATION

CONGO VISA

The travellers intending to take up Democratic Republic of Congo Safaris and tours require a valid passport and tourist Visa. The Passport should be valid for six (6) months with at least one blank passport page on which the Visa can be stamped.

You require a letter of invitation from your host company in Democratic Republic of Congo which you will attach on the Visa application letter submitted to the local embassy or online at travisa. The letter of invitation has to specify the period of stay, place stay and contact information. The computer generated flight itinerary from a travel agency or an airline detailing the port of entry and exit from Democratic Republic of Congo is as well required.

Other requirements include; the birth certificate copy and a notarized consent letter for minors, medical requirements especially the International Yellow Fever Vaccination and financial statement with enough money to sustain you during the entire period of stay in DR Congo. Important to note is that Democratic Republic of Congo is usually given as Congo- Kinshasa to avoid confusion with the neighbouring Congo Republic.

The duration of the Congo Tourist Visa which can be obtained at all accredited Congo Consulates world over is 90 Days for Single entry but Multiple Entry Visas are as well available. Kinshasa Airport though not so developed handles considerable traffic compared to the Brazzaville across the River. At Kinshasa, you may have issues going through the Immigration formalities in terms of delay and intensive scrutiny but a small tip can take you through such hurdles. Read More Here

Health Considerations in Democratic Republic of Congo

HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The travellers planning a safari to Congo are advised to consult with their doctors for any necessary medical arrangement. But generally on top of yellow Fever Vaccination, the traveller has to take along Malaria medicine as recommended by his / her doctor.

It is always advisable to have travel insurance or look out for embassy assistance in case of an emergency to advise on recommended hospitals though emergency evacuation to South Africa or Europe is much better if the problem is too serious.

GETTING TO & AROUND DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

CONGO TRAVEL INFORMATION

Travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo

A range of Airlines connect to Kinshasa from Johannesburg, Nairobi and Addis Ababa along with a range of other European cities. Asia and America have not yet had direct flights to Kinshasa.

In DR Congo, the Korongo Airlines is the dominant carrier operated by Brussels Airlines and it flies between Kinshasa and Lubumbashi and Johannesburg.

The African low cost carriers though affordable haven’t reached Kinshasa but once they do, it will be great.

The Plane Charters of up to 10,000 connecting to Basankusu with thousands of Bonobos in the heart of Congo can be arranged either from Entebbe Uganda or Kinshasa.

Democratic Republic of Congo can as well be accessed overland through a range of border posts including Bunagana for Uganda and Goma for Rwanda for those interested in Congo Gorilla Safaris in Virunga National Park.

It is also possible to enter close to Bangui in Central Africa Republic or from Cameroon and these borders are less troublesome so long as you are in possession of a visa. While entering through Angola is still a challenge due to a range of illegal stops along the road by even people who pose as officials.

Crossing at Ndola close to Lubumbashi from Zambia is possible and would cost $40 – $60 for the Visa with no questions. But Lubumbashi is quite far from Kinshasa.

Katanga region has good road access constructed by the French, Chinese and African hands as they seek to connect to the mineral rich region to the ports of Atlantic Ocean at Matadi.

There are buses from Kinshasa that connect to the main towns including Matadi costing $13 and Boma $20. Read More Here

2019-06-25T13:25:58+00:00October 28th, 2016|Tourist Attractions in Congo|
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