A guide to gorilla trekking in Virunga national park in Congo
A guide to gorilla trekking in Virunga national park in Congo, Do you have plans to go off the beaten path to visit Virunga National Park in Congo for unforgettable gorilla trekking experiences, but don’t know how or where to start? Worry not because Mum and Dad Uganda Tours has got you covered. As one of the four National Parks providing shelter to the endangered mountain gorillas in the whole World. There are a number of incredible habituated gorilla families to visit and learn about. The breathtaking behavior of these Great Apes. However, how do you decide what to pack, when to visit, how to get there. Where to stay, safety guidelines, and other aspects within the shortest amount of time possible?
This guide to gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park in Congo covers will the aspects of a packing list. The best time to undertake the gorilla trekking tours, some of the recommended places to stay during your trip. Tips on how to get to and around the Park, and other activities you can enjoy on top of gorilla trekking. Simply dive in and straight away begin planning your gorilla trekking tour in Virunga National Park in Congo.
Why you should trek mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park in Congo
Gazetted in 1925, Virunga National Park was one of the first of Africa’s National Parks. It is popular for offering mountain gorilla trekking tours and because it doesn’t receive the multitude of visitors like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda. It is relatively untouched and gorilla treks are relatively secluded.
Virunga National Park has a total of 8 habituated gorilla families. Which means, 64 permits are issued each day by L’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). The Gorilla families are Nyakamwe, Kabirizi, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Humba, Rugendo, Munyaga and Bageni.
Also, Virunga National Park Gorilla permits are the cheapest compared to all three countries (Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda), and each permit is sold at $450 per person per trek.
Are you scared of the security situation in Virunga National Park? No, you shouldn’t be because the Park has been safe in recent years. Owing to the increased enforcement by the well-trained Park staff including Rangers, guides, and the military.
The Best time to visit Virunga National Park for gorilla trekking
The dry season- June to September and December to February is always the best time to visit Virunga National Park for gorilla trekking, thanks to the warm weather, reduced precipitation levels, and reduced vegetation, which are ideal for walking through the jungles while searching for the Giant Apes. However, you can avoid crowds by visiting in the wet/rainy season- March to May or October to November. The downside of this season is that rainfall is heavier, which makes hiking more challenging. Let me burst your bubble; Virunga National Park is generally a Tropical rainforest which means rains can be experienced at any time of the year. It is therefore important to be prepared for all conditions.
Where to stay during your gorilla trekking tour in Virunga National Park in Congo
Few but spectacular accommodation options exist within or at the borders of Virunga National Park, for travelers planning to trek the endangered mountain gorillas, and these include; the luxurious Mikeno Lodge, Lulimbi Tented Camp, Kibumba Camp, Bukima Tented Camp, and Tchegera Island Tented Camp overlooking the shores of Lake Kivu.
How to get there and around
The closest Airport to Virunga National Park is Goma International Airport (35 kilometers/35-45 minutes’ drive away). However, most travelers prefer landing at Kigali International Airport, then driving 4-5 hours to Virunga National Park via the Gisenyi-Goma border (at the Grande Barrier Border post). 4WD Vehicles are the most recommended for getting to this Park, given the loose-surface roads which become muddy and slippery during the wet months.
Packing List for gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park in Congo
When visiting Virunga National Park in Congo for gorilla trekking, it is always important to pack light and right. One important thing is your gorilla permit, passport, Congo tourist visa, and e-ticket. Also, be prepared for the jungles. For this reason, we always recommended carrying a long-sleeved shirt and safari pants. For protection against scratching vegetation and stinging nettles. Also, make sure that you have a rainproof backpack for storing some of the things you need while tracking such as the camera and others. Another unmissable thing is hiking boots which should be comfortable enough to allow you to maneuver through the jungles searching for mountain gorillas, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for sun protection, insect repellant, gardening gloves, rain jacket, warm sweater, to mention but a few.
Other things to do in Virunga National Park after gorilla trekking
Besides being a wonderful gorilla trekking destination, Virunga National Park is also home to Mount Nyiragongo, one of the active Virunga Volcanoes and known for its stunning peaks (largest Lava Lake in the whole World). Hikes are usually conducted on this Mountain.
Additionally, there are over 700 bird species in Virunga National Park alone, hence making it one of the unmissable birding destinations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.