Ultimate guide to visiting the Virunga National Park in 2024: Virunga National Park is the world’s second largest tropical rainforest and is well known as the park of fire and ice for its diverse habitat.  Virunga National Park, also known as Albert National Park, was established in 1925 to protect the endangered mountain gorillas during the civil wars in Congo, and it is also one of the oldest UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  The park covers an area of 8,090 square kilometers and features active volcanoes, savannah plains, rainforests, erosion valleys, swamps, lava plains, and the stunning Mountains of the Moon. Virunga National Park is a protected area located in the Albertine Rift Valley in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Virunga National Park lies at the borders of Rwanda and Uganda and it comprises two of the eight volcanos that make up the Virunga region mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira. Virunga National Park is home to a third of the world’s population of mountain gorillas of about 300 mountain gorillas residing in the southern sectors, with approximately 1000 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild living in over 8 habituated communities such as Kabirizi, Humba, Rugendo, Mapuwa, Lulengo, munyanga, Nyakamwe and Bageni. Virunga National Park is home to the world’s lava lake found at the summit of volcano Nyiragongo, the park also boasts stunning vegetation types, animal species such as Congo buffaloes, African elephants, giant forest hogs, hyenas, duckers, bush backs, conngo giraffes among others. this article presents to you the guide of vesting Virunga National Park;

Gorilla trekking; gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is a famous activity tourists on Congo safari normally carry out while at the Virunga National Park. Endangered mountain gorillas are the main highlight of any trip to Virunga National Park. Gorilla trekking is a venturous activity in Virunga National Park where tourists get to explore the thick tropical rainforest on foot in search of this fascinating habituated mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park begins in the morning with a briefing at Bukima patrol about the rules regulations, and expectations among others. After the briefing, tourists are allocated an experienced guide who will lead them to the forest in search for the gorilla families which takes about 2-6 hours depending on where the mountain gorillas are allocated. During the trekking, you will also get a chance to explore some of the hidden treasures of the forest such as birds, mammals, reptiles as well as other primate species. Upon meeting with these fascinating creatures, you will be allowed to have face-to-face interaction with the gorillas, observing their daily activities search as feeding, breastfeeding, and playing among others. In Virunga National Park, a maximum of 8 individuals above 15 years old are allowed to trek with mountain gorilla families in a day

Ultimate guide to visiting the Virunga National Park in 2024
A gorilla in Virunga National Park

Other venturous activities to do while in Virunga National Park

Besides mountain gorilla trekking, tourists can also encounter uncommon chimpanzees, and wildlife viewing, Virunga National Park also offers a chance for bird viewing with over 702 bird species inhabited in the area. Tourists will also get an opportunity to engage in active volcano hiking such as Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira, Rwenzori mountain trek, nature walks, community encounters, and visiting the Nyiragongo hot springs among others

Rules and regulations you should follow while in the park

When planning to visit Virunga National Park, it is essential to follow the rules and regulations especially when you’re planning to engage in gorilla trekking; here are some of the guiding rules and regulations to follow.

Wash your hands before seeing this fascinating mountain gorilla in their nature habitant

Avoid littering in the park to avoid accidents like primates choking on the little which can hinder the sustainability of the goals of the park

Eating in the presence of the primates is prohibited because they can easily lead the species to attack you.

Avoid direct contact with the mountain gorillas if found in the forest.

Tourists trekking on the gorilla family in Virunga National Park should be above 15 years old and this is because individuals above 15 years can understand and be able to move in the jungles of the forest while maintaining the rules and regulations effectively.

Tourists while in the Congo gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park are only allowed to interact with the gorillas in their presence for only one hour this is because little time given to tourists in the gorillas’ presence reduces the level of disturbances, risks of infects, and stress to the primates.

Flash photography is not allowed as this can easily lead to worry of these primates, frightened and may cause an aggressive reaction from the gorilla which we usually call a charge.

Avoid making noise in the park because it can trigger the primates as a threat which can lead them to easily attack you which can be fatal because they in the wild

Cost of a gorilla trekking permit in Virunga National Park

A gorilla trekking permit is a legal document that is issued by the Institute Congolese Pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) to any person above the age of 15 years allowing him or her to trek the endangered mountain gorilla family in Virunga national park. Trekking endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park cost US$400 per person trekking, and young are advanced to book the gorilla permit in advance to avoid the convinces

Accessing Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is situated in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Goma, tourists from Kigali – Rwanda will have to fly to Kigali International Airport and the link to the town of Gisenyi and then cross the Rwanda border to  Goma town and drive to Virunga National Park headquarters where the gorilla trekking takes place. And those in Uganda can fly from Entebbe to Goma town. Tourists opting to use road transport means and access the park through Uganda on the Bunagana border which is an hour’s drive to Humba and Bageni gorilla families and through Rwanda crossing via Gisenyi-Goma.

 Accommodation facilities in Virunga National Park

Tourists traveling to Virunga National Park shouldn’t worry about where to stay, the park has a wide option of accommodation facilities to cater to every tourist ranging from luxury level, mid-range level, and budget level such as Bukima tented lodge, Mikeno lodge, Nyiragongo volcano summit shelter, Ngai Lodge, Lulimbi Tented Camp, Tchegera Island tented camp amount others.

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