What to do in Virunga National Park – Congo Safari News
Virunga National Park is blessed to be home to West Africa’s only Mountain Gorillas, making it a top Congo safari destination. Gazetted by 1925 purposely to protect the elusive Mountain Gorillas in the park, this is Africa’s oldest and ost diverse national park. The park covers a total land area of 7800 square kilometers and is part of the Virunga conservation area just adjacent to Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park both also home to Mountain Gorillas. Many travelers, on Congo tours to the park, may wonder what they can actually do during their safari, here is what to do in Virunga National Park;
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
The most popular Congo safaris activity in Virunga National Park. In the park are six habituated gorilla families available for gorilla trekking safaris in Congo. 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. Congo gorilla trekking safaris is an all year round activity and a total of 8 tourists are allowed to trek a single gorilla family each day. Mountain Gorilla trekking starts at 8:00am each morning and takes about 6 hours though only a maximum of 1 hour in the presence of the gentle giants.
To trek a gorilla family in Congo, a traveler needs a Congo gorilla trekking permit. A Congo gorilla safari permit costs USD 400 per person per trek which is far less than both the price for a Uganda or Rwanda gorilla safari permit.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo
Mount Nyiragongo is within the Virunga massif close to the Albertine rift a region that is very rich in diversity within Africa. Mount Nyiragongo is about 3,470m high with two distinct lava benches one about 3,175m (10,417ft) and the other at 2,975m (9,760ft). Mount Nyiragongo is one of Africa’s recently active stratovolcanoes with a lava lake once known as the most voluminous. Mount Nyiragongo hike is a top Congo tour activity in the park with tourists spending only 2 days to reach to this beautiful lava lake, spending one night on the summit of the volcano. This is no ordinary hike but a lifetime adventure. You can decide to take the Nyiragongo volcano hike either as a stand-alone trip or tailor it with a Congo gorilla trekking safari to Virunga National Park.
Chimpanzee trekking / Habituation on a Congo wildlife safari can be done in Virunga National Park. Chimpanzee habituation and trekking/tracking are a day to day activity in Virunga National Park in search of man’s closest relatives surviving in the Virunga Mountain. Chimpanzee trekking is done in the forest near the headquarters of the park in the area called Rumangabo. Chimpanzee trekking is opened after a chimpanzee habituation process which involves a painstakingly slow process of making chimps used to human presence. Chimpanzee Habituation or chimp habituation in Congo as of now isn’t open to tourists because the section in which the activity is undertaken is still closed (the park was closed in 2018 July and re-opened in February 2019). After Virunga National Park was re-opened, gorilla trekking safaris were open to tourists however the sector in which Chimpanzee habituation was previously undertaken is still closed.
Virunga national park is a tropical rain forest with dense vegetation. There are various trails that travelers follow leading to different directions and sites. During the walks, travelers encounter various animals including buffalos, elephants, different types of monkeys, Thomas cobs and large concentration of hippopotamuses approximately 20,000 living on the banks of Lake Edward.
Virunga National Park is a great Congo safaris destination and a good place to visit on your African safari. Each of what to do in Viunga National Park can be done as standalone activities and yet can also be done as tailored activities with trips like Uganda safaris, wildlife tour Uganda and Rwanda safaris especially for gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking. With eased chartered flights to the neighboring Uganda or Rwanda, safaris in Congo can also be tailored to Kenya safaris or Tanzania tours thanks to great wildebeest migration that crosses through the two countries.