A Guide To Gorilla Trekking In Virunga National Park
Are you interested in Gorilla Trekking In Virunga National Park Congo? Yes, Virunga national park is the only national park in DR Congo where you can meet the endangered mountain gorilla. It’s located on the eastern side of the country with some of the Virunga volcanoes right inside the park. Virunga national park is one of the 4 African national parks that do harbor mountain gorillas in the world and the other 3 parks to find mountain gorillas are Mgahinga national park, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, and volcanoes national park Rwanda.
Virunga national park comprises so many vegetation types such as savannah, marshland, and montane type of vegetation and is one of the oldest protected areas in Africa. The park is part of the Virunga conservation area together with Mgahinga national park of Uganda, and the volcanoes national park of Rwanda.
Virunga national park is home to so many wildlife among which include 200 mammals, 706 bird species, and 22 primates. With all these animals living in the park, it’s the mountain gorillas that have made the park famous because most tourists come to this park to spend time with the human closest relatives that do share 98% human DNA.
Virunga national park is the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world seated at the eastern edge of the Congo Basin. The park is just sometimes affected by the wars, illegal activities such as poaching and so much more. mountain gorilla trekking is the most done activity in volcanoes national park and to trek any of the habituated mountain gorilla families, you will need to book the gorilla trekking permits from Virunga national park website.
Encountering Virunga national park mountain gorillas.
Virunga national park is one of the 4 national parks in the world that do have gorilla trekking activities to spend time with mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. Although the national park is not open at all times of the year due to civil wars, some visitors do visit the park for gorilla tourism once the park is opened. The trekkers in Virunga national park are escorted by well-trained armed ranger guides and expert trackers who lead the trekkers through different park trails until they meet the mountain gorillas.
Like Mgahinga national park or Bwindi impenetrable forest national park or Virunga national park, mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga starts very early in the morning at 8 am with the briefing at the park headquarters where the ranger guides do teach the trekkers about the rules and regulations of the mountain gorilla trekking activity. it’s from here that trekkers go through different trekking trails looking for these mountain gorillas but with opportunities of seeing park animals, birds, and different plant species.
Virunga national park has 8 mountain gorilla families that are open for trekking experiences and these include Bageni gorilla family, Nyakamwe gorilla family, Kabirizi gorilla family, Rugendo gorilla family, Humba gorilla family, Munyaga gorilla family, Lulengo gorilla family, and Mapuwa gorilla family. All these mountain gorilla families are open for trekking on any day of the year if the park is open for tourism. Trekking these mountain gorilla families give the same experience just that the trekking time is what differs.
Mountain gorilla trekking permits in Virunga national park?
Mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga national park can only be done by all those people that have valid mountain gorilla trekking permits. These mountain gorilla trekking permits are sold to people above the age of 15 years at a fee of $450 per person per trek in the dry season and $200 in the low season. Mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga national park is very cheap compared to Uganda where its $700 and Rwanda where it goes for $1500 per person per trek.
How to get to Virunga national park
There is no operating airport in DR Congo at the moment but tourists who want to trek mountain gorillas in Virunga national park can first land in Uganda or Rwanda and later use ground means to DR Congo. Tourists in Uganda can get to Virunga national park by driving to Kisoro and then crossing to Goma city at Bunagana a DR Congo- Uganda border. From Goma city, the journey to Virunga national park takes 1 hour.
Travelers who use Kigali international airport can drive from Kigali to Gisenyi town which is found in the western province of Rwanda. After reaching Gisenyi town, travelers can drive to Goma town using the border of Le Grand Barrier’. Driving from Kigali city to Virunga national park of DR Congo takes 4 hours. All tourists from Uganda and Rwanda crossing to trek mountain gorillas in Virunga national park will have to acquire a DR Congo visa which they will present at the immigration office.
Best time to go to Virunga national park for Gorilla Trekking
Virunga national park is open throughout the year for mountain gorilla trekking and other activities, there are some months that are better than the rest. The drier months are the best for mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga national park and these occur in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January, and February.
During the dry months, there is little and some days no rainfall at all, the trekking trails are always less muddy and not slippery which increases speed of trekkers, the vegetation in the park is thin giving clear views of the mountain gorillas, and the roads to the park are passable. If you are out there planning to trek mountain gorillas in Virunga in the dry season, we advise you to book your mountain gorilla trekking permits for Virunga national park in advance of 3-4 months to avoid inconveniences.
Tourists can also visit Virunga national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November and in this period, they will enjoy huge discounts on the gorilla trekking permits because it does drop from $400 to $200. During the rainy season in Virunga, the lodges also offer huge discounts.
Where to stay on a gorilla safari to Virunga national park?
Tourists intending to visit Virunga national park and spend a night there are informed that the park has so many accommodation facilities in and around the park where visitors can have a comfortable stay. The accommodation facilities do range from budget to mid-range to luxury options such as Bukima Tented Camp, Lulimbi Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, Kibumba Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Summit Shelters, and Tchegera Island Camp to mention but a few.
What to pack for a mountain gorilla trekking safari in Virunga national park?
There are a lot of things that a traveler would pack to have a successful safari in Virunga national park but we are going to tell you about the essentials or those you don’t have to miss out on. Some of the things you don’t have to miss on the day of trekking are waterproof hiking boots, a pair of gaiters, insect repellents, long-sleeved clothes, gardening gloves, a rain jacket, sunscreen, a hat, a rain jacket, a camera and accompanying equipment, enough drinking water, energy-giving snacks, a pair of binoculars, face mask and sanitizer.