Visit Virunga National Park in DR Congo
Virunga National Park is in the Albertine Rift Valley in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo which was created in 1925 and is among the first protected areas in Africa. In altitude, it ranges from 680 m in the Semliki River valley to 5,109 m in the Rwenzori Mountains. From north to south it extends about 300 km and largely along the international borders with Uganda and Rwanda in the east. It covers an area of 8,090 km2
Two active volcanoes are located in the park, Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira which is Africa’s and one of the world’s most active volcano and it is believed that eruptions takes place roughly every after two years . They significantly shaped the national park’s diverse habitats and wildlife. More than 3,000 faunal and floral species were recorded, of which more than 300 are endemic to the Albertine Rift including eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei) and golden monkey
Mountain gorillas in Virunga have been the major attraction in this park given the fact that this is among the few parks in the area with these endangered gorillas. People prefer to track the gorillas here also because the cost is low and the park is also less congested compared to other tracking centers like mgahinga and Bwindi national parks.
Activities in virunga national park
There are lots of things to do in Virunga National Park. From gorilla trekking to wildlife viewing, Virunga is such a place where you can engage in several adventure activities, Check out the full list of things to do in Virunga.
Mountain gorilla trekking
This is the most done tourism activity and 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.
This is 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.
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, and 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.
The experience of hiking the Nyiragongo volcanoes will leave alot to be desired because 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 nearby communities.
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.