Virunga National Park is located in Democratic Republic of Congo within the Eastern side of the country. It is one of the only four national parks that protect the mountain gorillas. The park shares boundaries with the neighboring Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.
A 7800 square kilometer protected area was gazetted mainly to conserve the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest conservation area, founded in 1925 by the Belgium’s first King Albert. It is surrounded by the Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. However, the country is still recovering from the insecurity but the park is open for tourism. It comprises of vast plant species that are estimated to be 2000, 10% of them are endemic to the region. These have favored the protection of varied biodiversity that depend on its distinct vegetation zones.
The park is the oldest in Africa and the second oldest in the whole world covering an area of 7800 square kilometers.
Founded in 1925, the park is named after the Virunga mountain ranges which cover Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic republic of Congo with several mountain ranges that form part of the Virunga mountain ranges. The park however stretches beyond the Virunga mountain ranges to cover Lake Edward and Rwenzori Mountains.
- Mountain Gorillas
- The Virunga Volcanoes including Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Nyamulagira
- Okapis – antelopes endemic to the Congo
Top Things to Do
- Mountain Gorilla Trekking
- Nyiragongo Volcano Trekking
- Chimpanzee Tracking
Safaris to this remarkable national park mainly depend on the following activities;
Mountain gorilla tracking
The most sought after adventure in the Virunga National Park. This incredible protected area inhabits over 200 rare mountain gorillas. For tourism purposes, there are eight (8) habituated gorilla groups in the park for tourists to track. Virunga is one of the only 4 conservation areas in the entire world with the thriving endangered species alongside the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. The notable habituated families that are available for tourists to catch a glimpse at these unique creatures include the Kabirizi, Rugendo, Humba, Mapuwa, Munyaga and Lulengo groups.
This is another most remarkable primate adventure that you shouldn’t miss out while in safari in Virunga National Park that was initiated by a primatologist known Frankfurt in 1987. Chimpanzees were habituated and this means that they are used to human presence and given the fact that several visitors have always flocked in the park for chimpanzee habituation and trekking experiences. Habituation experience costs $100.
Virunga National Park is one of the most stunning tropical rainforest with intense vegetation. It offers visitors opportunity to explore its remarkable species while on nature walks. There are several trails that visitors follow leading towards distinct directions and sites. While in this exciting experience, chances are you will sight at buffaloes, elephants, various monkey species, Thomas cobs and large concentration of hippos which make up about 20000 on the banks of Lake Edwards and other water in the protected area.
A breathtaking adventure that offers visitors opportunity to explore the world’s most powerful volcano, a home to world’s largest most smoky Lava Lake. This active volcano popular to have erupted for about 40 times and the last eruption took place in 2002 whereby the Lava Lake drained and Lava spread to surrounding local communities. Setting into the summits of this incredible volcano fills hikers with the most stunning views of exceptional Lake with much fumes that a rise from melilitenephelinite
For perfect viewing sites, Virunga offers the most exceptional montane landscapes for viewing experiences including its surrounding areas. They include the snow summits and the jagged relief of the Rwenzori Mountains, the Volcanoes within the park along with its Afro alpine vegetation of fern trees and intense forests. Further still, visitors can also view the eroded valleys that can be best spotted in the Ishango and Sinda areas. Its spectacular views reward visitors with life time experiences.
In conclusion Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest protected area that is found in Eastern DR Congo. The park harbors rare and varied biodiversity that range from natural, cultural, historical and man made features that reward travelers’ endeavors with unforgettable experiences.