Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park was previously baptised as Albert National park. The park covers an area of  a 7,800-square-kilometer that stretches from the  from Virunga mountains in the out Rwenzori mountains in the north ,democratic republic of Congo in the east, which is neighbouring volcanoes national park in Rwanda and queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda. The park was recognised in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and is a nominated as world heritage by UNESCO later by 1979. In latest years, poaching and the civil wars in Congo have extremely smashed its wildlife inhabitants. The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities; the Institute Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its partner the Virunga Foundation.

Virunga is Africa’s ancient national park and is also the mainland’s most naturally diverse sheltered area. The park’s 7800 square kilometres shelters forests, savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, active volcanoes, and the glaciated peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.

Virunga is household to about a quarter of the world’s analytically rare mountain gorillas. The parks two other Great Ape species, eastern lowland gorillas and chimpanzees, make Virunga the only park in the world to host three groups of Great Apes. Extra protruding occupant of the park is the Okapi, an scarce species that looks like a zebra but is more narrowly interrelated to the giraffe. Large groups of hippopotamus, forest and savanna elephants, lions, and numerous rare bird species can also be found in the park.

Virunga National Park is the most known national Park in Congo as it is well known for its endangered Mountain Gorillas and Nyiragongo. All these have supported the Congo Tourism industry for the last five years.

Gorilla Trekking

Virunga National ParkGorilla Trekking is a very extraordinary practice which is worth to take due to the existence of these apes in Virunga National Park that are delightful, clever and approachable to interact with. These are categorized in family groups with different characteristics with silver backs that act as leaders with adult female gorillas who are the take care of the young gorillas and the juveniles which are very playful and are always hanging in the trees. Tracking gorillas starts at Bukima Patrol post taking about 1 to 3 three hours and this depends on where they are located although park rangers will always led you to where they would have seen them the day before.

Virunga National Park is home to about 200 of gorillas living habitually in the southern areas of the park. Keep your eyes open during the numerous expeditions you’ll do in and around the park and while here you will see a diversity of monkeys and birds that have made Virunga National Park a home. Tourists must have an legitimate Gorilla permit that costs USD 465 to enjoy a safari holiday with hire a Car Uganda because self-drive is highly discouraged due to unanticipated revolutions and struggle in Congo.

Throughout trekking, visitors are required to put on medical covers when interrelating with the Gorillas in an hour’s time. Congo Gorilla Safaris is known for not altering for the crowds, Gorilla Tours Congo, as we believe that Africa shouldn’t be experienced in large groups but should rather be a friendly undertaking. In case of an appearance such as sicknesses, the visitors are recommended to cancel the trekking since the gorillas are defenceless to human diseases for example cough, colds, which has led to their loss of lives before and this is done to ensure they are safe.

Gorilla Groups

At Speedway Safaris, we offer our clients with Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Virunga National Park. Trekking gorillas in Virunga has been one of the most interesting and exciting activities that preferred by most tourists who   leave their countries and come and have this wonderful gorilla trekking experience and has contributed to the country’s economic development. Mountain gorillas are only found in four National parks in Africa. Gorilla Trekking is the most precious and treasured Safari Activity in Congo.

These great apes reside in the dense forest vegetation around the park and feed on fruits, leaves due to the fact that they are vegetarians with families that include a silver back who acts as the leader followed by an adult female, then by the young gorillas who are followed by the juveniles which are so playful and are always in the trees.

The park includes six habituated gorilla families and these include the Kabirizi, Humba, Rugendo, Lulengo, Mapuwa, Manyaga families which are open annually for gorilla trekking.

Lulengo Gorilla Family.

The group is composed of 6 members together with its silver back. The name Lulengo was derived from technical director of Virunga national park who was murdered by landmine. The group is led by Lulengo who came from Rugabo family who was killed by poachers during the great lakes refuge crisis in 1994.he there left power in the hands of his son Lulengo and this came to be the first habituated group in Virunga national park.

Mapuwa Gorilla Family

This group consists of 15 individuals of gorillas with 1 silverback and is also found in Jomba close to Bunagana the border of Congo. The group is headed by a silverback baptized Mapuwa and has attained and defended his group by all means even in powerful fight. He was a son of Rugendo and left his father’s camp in 1998 and formed his own family. When he was leaving, he took 2 adult females baptized Jicho and Mafaze. Successive births have happened until now that the group has 15 individuals.

Kabirizi Gorilla Family

This group consists of 34 Gorillas together with 2 Silverbacks. The group resides in Bukima area which is nearby to Goma and the group is managed by Kabirizi Silver back. The group got its name from an ICCN Director who deceased in a traffic accident in the late 1990s. Formerly, the silver back Kabirizi was not a habituated gorilla family and instead a wild gorilla. Far along in 1998, he was baptized the head of his family after habituation. Previously, this group was recognised as Ndungutse family because by then it was led by Ndungutse Silverback who was murdered in 1997 after being trapped in clash between the DR Congo army and Rwandan rebels near the Bukima patrol post.

Humba Gorilla Family

The group is managed by Humba silver back and is also resides in Bukima region of the Park near to Goma. It is made up of 16 Gorillas together with 2 Silver backs. This is so far the peaceful habituated Gorilla group and many tourists and ranger like to track it. Humba is a brother to Senkwekwe Silver back who was killed on 22nd July 2007 by undisclosed gun men. Humba separated from Rugendo the father in 1998 and since he has been a Silver back till now.

Munyaga Gorilla Family

The group is found in Bukima next to Goma and it comprises of 7 gorillas including 2 silver backs. It was the latest Gorilla group to be discovered by rangers in 2008. The family was headed by Munyaga by then the Silverback and the leading adult female is called Bilali. She split from the Rugendo group in 2004 and after she merged, she had two babies but they both died in early stages. At the same time, Munyaga also wiped out and as of now, the group is under Silverback Mawazo.

Rugendo Gorilla Family

The group consists of 6 members of gorillas together with 2 Silverbacks. It is headed by Rugendo the ancestor of Humba. It was habituated in 1989 and by 1997 the group had 18 members with two Silverbacks (Rugendo and his son Humba). When Humba separated from his father in 1998, only 8 Individuals stayed with Rugendo and in the next few years, there was increase in the number of the Gorillas in this group because of the consecutive births that followed.

Best time to Visit.

Democratic Republic of Congo has complex and rather changeable weather conditions, making it tougher to choose the best time to visit, and the impact of climate alteration is remarkable to the Tourism in Goma southern Lake Kivu.

In general, most tourists prefer the cool r and dry months which begin from June to October. December and January should be the most perfect months to come to Virunga national park. Starting from November through February is also a great period for excursions and holidays.

The main tourist seasons start also from December to January and July to August. Dry-season travel has a quantity of benefits, not least of which is the greater visibility of wildlife ,gorilla tracking and Nyiragongo hiking.

How to get there.

International Airline Travel.

Tourists from all over the countries fly to Kigali international airports when coming to Virunga national park. International flights normally reach at the airport late evening, therefore we encourage you to spend a night in Kigali city and prior bookings must have been made .as speed way safaris, we organize for you a drive who will receive you at the airport, take you to the hotel where your to spend a night, and picks you up to start the journey to Virunga which takes approximately 3 to 4 hours drive. In case you are to use a tax, you will incur a taxi fee of $100 to $ 120 to reach Congo boarder.

Transference to and from Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is organises one-way and round trip transportation for the following locations. You can also find transportation options specific to the various lodging and activities from depending on the booking pages.

Other more activities.

Virunga National park is gifted with lots of activities which have increased the country’s economic development for they contribute a big percentage to the revenue of the country. Alongside gorilla trekking in Virunga national park, there is also Mount Nyiragongo volcano hiking to see the dynamic lava lake that discharges lava into the sky and forms a red lighting in the sky more so during the night together with hiking the Rwenzori Mountains in the east, chimpanzee habituation, birding nature walks etc. 

Nyiragongo Hiking

Ascending Mount Nyiragongo Volcano needs one to be bodily fit and those that are fit can climb up with too much elasticity in just one day and the trails to start at Kibati patrol post which takes 30 minutes only from the town of Goma and an hour from Mikeno Lodge in Rumangabo. The time required to touch the volcano depends on one’s bodily appropriateness and the trajectories are led by park wardens with porters to help the visitors carry their luggage/load up the volcano at fair prices.

The climbing normally takes about six hours to reach the  top which sometimes makes some times tired  due to the fact that the entire climbing process starts at 1989m (6,525 ft) and increases to 3470m(11,382 ft) quickly. When preparation to hike, all climbers are recommended to move with  enough drinking  water for the whole activity which is quite strenuous and those with severe mountain illness must talk to their doctors about ways of stoppage before the hike.

Chimpanzee habituation

This activity started in in February 2014 by a Congolese team trained by Frankfurt Zoological Society and these previously survived in the thick forests near the park headquarters in Rumangabo. They were familiarised in Tongo forest a protected area by the park rangers with a total number of 32 members hence making trekking them informal and guileless yearly by visitors worldwide. Tracking chimpanzee starts at 4.30 in the morning although tourists may start at 6:00 am, Visitors who spend a night at Mikeeno Lodge can find it easy to connect with the team to going to track the chimpanzee. Only four people are allowed to track the chimpanzee which done with in just 1 hour. Visitors who feel sick are advised to cancel the trekking since chimpanzees are vulnerable to human sicknes. An alternative arrangements will be organised for you to trek the chimps. 

Boat cruise on Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is a very vast lake that covers some part of Congo and Rwanda which diversity of very clear outlooks of the Islands, vegetation and birds of the air that are always feeding on small fish in the waters while singing softly which enables anyone that takes on such an experience to enjoy it extensively throughout their stay around Congo. There are very many activities that take place on Lake Kivu and among these are boat cruises from the shores into the Lake.

The boat cruises we involves cruising on Lake Kivu to see a range of Islands for example some with thousands of fruit bats, a candid island with mango trees with some bulls. The cruise initiates at the shores into the lake and while here you will see different bird species with unique characteristics, colours and attributes.

Birding

Birding refers to the process of watching birds in their natural habitat as a way of relaxation and taking time. One can use a variety of items like the telescopes, binoculars or the naked eye to spot their attributes and differences while enjoying the natural habitat.. In Virunga National park there a number of different bird species that inhabit the thick forest vegetation such as the grey throated barbet, double toothed barbet, yellow billed barbet, Madagascar Bee-eater, Narrow tailed Starling.

Whereas still a sleep, you will hear sounds and noise from the incredible bird species which normally rise up. This will be reward you with an extraordinary experience for it is rare to find such incredible birds anywhere else rather than at Virunga National Park. 

Accommodations.

At Virunga National Park there are a diversity of accommodation that are, affordable comfortable, trustworthy and always on point all the way through. These have got nice tranquil rooms and are applicable according to one’s preferences since all people worldwide have diverse tastes/choices.

  • Mikeno lodge which is strategically located to fit one’s desires especially those that prefer to stay close to the park.
  • Bukima tented Camp which also provides appropriate accommodation for people interested in adventure and this is due to its location within the forest where you will spot a variety of wildlife like the monkeys, gorilla along with birds of the air.
  • Nyiragongo summit shelters that are situated at the top of Mount Nyiragongo and these provide accommodation to hikers.
  • Tchegera Island Tented Camp which also provides accommodation in form of tent camps.

The accommodation differs in terms of costs one has to pay and the facilities availed also differ. As speedway safaris we advise you to book with us gorilla trekking safari in Virunga to ensure that you never regret but otherwise have a memorable safari.