Located in Albertine Rift Valley in the Eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo is the oldest national park in Africa, Virunga National park. Created in 1925 formally as Albert National park, the park was among the first protected areas to be gazzetted in Africa due to its biodiverse ecosystem.
Its altitude ranges from 2,230 ft in the Semliki River valley to 16,762 ft. on Rwenzori Mountains. Looking at its borders from north to south, it extends about 300 km (190 mi), largely along the international borders with Uganda and Rwanda in the east. This historical Park covers an area of 8,090 km2 (3,120 sq. mi) and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994.
Virunga National park has two active volcanic mountains, namely Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira which offer excellent hiking experiences to all adventurous travelers who visit the destination. While at the top of these two mountains, your eyes are fed with beautiful scenic views of plantations, water bodies, adjacent hills plus the entire strikingly beautiful Virunga massif, that runs along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo.
Virunga nation park possesses diverse habitats and abundant wildlife; there are over 3,000 faunal and floral species recorded, of which more than 300 are endemic to the Albertine Rift such as the eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei) and golden monkeys (Cercopithecus Kandi).
Though this park has been for long threatened by political tension and insecurity that led to its closure several times, the situation has changed and the operations of the park are going on normally. The park is open for discoveries and adventure, with very qualified security personnel taking charge of the destination.
Attractions and Activities in Virunga National Park
Virunga National park has a wide range of experiences for all its tourists ranging from, a very pleasant warm weather and mild shower, several bird species, mammals and primates such as chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, baboons and so many others.
Mountain gorillas are the prime attractions in this wonderful park, it’s amazing that even the Gorilla permits are sold at a relatively cheaper price as compared to its counterparts Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga national park gives its visitors a chance of getting involved in once in lifetime Mountain Gorilla Trekking as well as a full day habituation experience while visiting one of the eight gorilla families that are resident in the park.
Other popular activities in the park include Mount Nyiragongo hike, chimpanzee trekking and Habituation, visiting the Senkwekwe Gorilla orphanage, Forest Nature walks, Birding, Research, and hiking Mount Rwenzori.
How to get to Virunga national park
Accessing Virunga national park is very possible; the park is situated in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though traveling by road might be quite challenging except when using the Goma route which is 32km close. One can choose to fly to Kigali international Airport then connect by road through Gisenyi town crossing via Goma border.
The total journey time is approximately two hour’s drive to reach the park’s headquarters at Bukima or Mikeno. However, in case a traveler is connecting from Uganda, they will cross at Bunagana border post in Kisoro district,
Through Uganda, it is an hour’s drive to Bukima or Mikeno sectors – the two renown gorilla trekking starting points.
Where to stay in Virunga national park
Virunga National Park (Pac National des Volcans), located in the Democratic Republic of Congo offers a wide range of accommodation options to its guests ranging from luxury, midrange, and budget. Even though they are classified that way, all these accommodation options offer professional services and care to their clients no matter where you come from.
For those who love camping, the destination also has space designated for those who love camping and its related activities. No matter your demands, the park has got you covered and will ensure that all guests are happily attended to.
Virunga national park is now very open and receiving and an influx of guests each day, Why not think of being one of those visiting the oldest national park in Africa?, Let rumors of diseases, Cholera, or even political instability not stop you from reaching one of the richest and biologically diverse parks in the world.