Top Things to do in Virunga National Park
There are A number of Top things to do in the Virunga National Park including Mountain Gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee Habituation Experience, Mount Nyiragongo Hike, Nature walks in Virunga National Park, Bird watching, Visiting the Senkekwe orphanage center, and viewing the landscape. Virunga National Park fits well into most people’s dream of an African safari with its abundant number of mountain gorillas, forests, Savannah, lava plains, erosion valleys, swamps, active volcanoes with the glaciated peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.
Virunga National park that was the first National Park to be established on the continent of Africa to primarily cater for the Mountain Gorillas, who have been living in the Virunga Massif. The park was initially called Parc Albertin 1925.
The Current Virunga National Park, now has other animals including chimpanzees, hippopotami, bird species, forest and Savannah elephants and lions. However, the park is now famous for its two amazing peaks of Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira all situated in the massifs of the Rwenzori and Virunga mountains.
Primary, the first draw that carries most travelers to Virunga National Park the endangered mountain Gorillas and the famous Nyiragongo Volcano hiking, but there are other things you might want to consider adding to your itinerary. Below is our list of the top ten things to do in the Virunga National Park, in no particular order.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Mountain gorilla trekking expedition to Virunga is the most famous tourism activity that most travelers include in their bucket list when it comes to visiting Congo. There are not so many Mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park despite the large size of the habitat and eight families are open for tourism activities. Kabirizi family is popular to many travelers on gorilla trekking safari to Virunga National Park.
Trekking these famous gorillas, starts from Bukima Patrol post immediately after briefing. The trek takes about 1-3 hours depending where the gorillas spent the previous night. Visitors are allowed to only spend an hour in the presence of the gorillas. All trekkers are also urged to wear special surgical masks while with gorillas so as to safeguard the gorillas.
Where as for those who have cough, diarrhea, fever, sore throat among others, are asked to cancel their trek since the mountain gorillas are completely susceptible to human illnesses especially human respiratory viruses and other illnesses.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
Chimp Habituation experience started in February 2014, by a rrainee who was trained by Chimpanzee Mogulzee mogul Frankfurt Zoological Society in DRC who embarked on a journey to habituated chimpanzees living in the forest of Virunga national park more so in the areas of Rumangabo. All guests at Mikeno lodge are free to join the team every day for free.
The local guides then leave for the forest at 4:30am to locate the chimps whereas the other guests kick off at 6:00 am. Each chimpanzee group is restricted to four people and just like the gorillas, every guest is entitled to an hour in the presence in of the chimpanzees. All bookings for chimpanzee habituation are made at Mikeno lodge.
The ascent to the summit craters of Mount Nyiragongo volcano is one of the most coveted excursions an adventurous hiker can make. Nyiragongo Volcano is the most majestic active volcano in the Dempocratic Republic of Congo.The beauty of this spectacular scenery created by the forces of nature leaves hikers completely without breath, and the memory after the experience lusts forever.
Nyiragongo Volcano’s spectacular scenery is described by its vegetation and sometimes its dusted with the snow that features the world’s largest larva lake. The volcano on the other hand is regarded as a habitat for a variety of animals including chimpanzees, monkeys and bushbuck among others.
Democratic Republic of Congo is not to be conquered as she is the conqueror, but you can only hike to the summit to fulfill your long awaited dream.
Treks to Mount Nyiragongo are guided, in that ,a number of guides and rangers are assigned for every group hiking up the volcano so that they can be able to describe the various places visited, as well as the trails followed.
All Trekkers Start their experience from Kibati Patrol Post, located approximately 30 minutes from Goma and an hour form Rumangabo. The Park Guides are always available for hire . The trek takes about 4-7 hours hiking to the summit depending on the speed and fitness of each group alongside its hikers.
Treks to the Nyiragongo volcano peak always starts at 10-11:00am although every hiker is required to report at the station before 9:15 am for briefing. Trekkers are strongly urged to carry along warm weather gear because the temperatures at the peak are usually below freezing. Failure to bring proper gear leads to hypothermia. The permit fees are charged according to the race, that is , for the International adults pay $300 USD and $90 USD for the nationals.s
The shortest Safari to visit Nyiragongo volcano is the 2 Days Trekking tour and the 3 Days Nyiragongo trekking safari
Visiting the Orphaned Gorillas at Senkwekwe Orphanage Center
Visiting the orphaned gorillas is rated among the Top Things to do in Virunga National Park. Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center is a structure that was established to protect the orphaned gorillas from Goma, as well as those who were rescued from the hands of the poachers. The center is currently situated in Rumangabo near the park headquarters. The orphanage was named after a dominant silverback called Rugendo who was assassinated with three other members in 2007.
The center is one and only renowned gorilla orphanage in the world, with a total of 4 gorilla families that were rescued from being killed, including Maisha, Ndeze, Ndakasi and Matabishi. Initially, Maisha and Koboko were the first to be rescued from Rwanda, and were later connected with others.
Not only the mountain gorilla orphans are found in this Center, but also the Eastern lowland gorilla orphans, from Kahuzi Biega National park. However on your visit, you are urged to spend quality time with the primates watching them do their daily chores. You can as well spend time feeding them, playing with them and watching how they play with each other.
Nature Walks in Virunga National Park
The nature walks in Virunga National Park is one of the top activities included in every adventurers bucket list. The visitors are entitled to follow the trails to different areas within the tropical rain forest to spot different wildlife species. Most trekkers engage in nature walks so as to escape from the noise, relieve from stress among others. The Nature walks within the trails leads to successive encounters of the endangered gorillas, monkeys, baboons, elephants, buffaloes, okapis, lions, antelopes, hippos on the water banks of lake Edward , bird species like the narrow tailed starling, Madagascar bee-eater , track chimpanzees. However these nature walks are inspiring that vistors can also visit the senkwekwen gorilla orphanage and many more hence giving them a great experience in the Virunga national park.
Landscape Viewing in Virunga National Park
Virunga , except other National Parks is the only park with the best picturesque of the landscapes which include the volcanoes in the Virunga conservation area, the Rwenzori mountains, eroded valley that is spotted in the Ishango and Sinda region, forest cover, Afro-alpine vegetation, and snow peaks, which offers great memories to remember