Experience Gorilla Encounters in the Virunga National Park

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Virunga National Park

The Virunga National Park is a legendary national park situated in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Albertine Rift Valley. The Park which was inaugurated in 1925 is the oldest protected area on the African continent.

What to see in Virunga:
There is a common bucket list for park activities in Africa ranging from game drives, nature walks, hikes, cultural adventures, and birding experiences. However, this might not be the case in the Virunga national park since it has more to offer. It mainly provides primate safaris which often exclude game drives but include other African bucket list national park activities. Along with such, below are some of the exceptional activities to consider on your African safari in Virunga national park.

Mountain Gorillas:
Gorillas are classified into two categories; western gorillas and Eastern gorillas. The Democratic Republic of Congo is blessed to host the two subspecies of the Eastern gorillas; the mountain gorillas and the Eastern lowland gorillas.

The Virunga is blessed to host a considerable population of the mountain gorillas, the second most endangered species in the wild after the Nigerian cross river gorillas. Endeavors have been taken to insure that these animals are preserved in their natural habitats for the sake of nature and the future generations.

What is Gorilla Trekking in Virunga Like?
Apart from the varying thickness of the forests and altitudes in the different gorilla habitats in Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, below are some extra snippets to consider in regard to Virunga national park for the gorilla trekking experience.

  • Trekking these precious and beautiful creatures in their natural habitats is done in groups. A group of 8 individuals is always allowed to enter the forests in search (trekking) of gorillas. The trekking of mountain gorillas starts very early in the morning (at around 8 am – with briefings about the activity) and the trekking can take like 30 minutes to 5 hours depending on where the gorillas might have spent the previous night.
  • During the trekking activity, you will usually be spearheaded by local experienced rangers/guides who will help you locate the gorillas quickly – since rangers will be having a clue on where gorillas would have spent their previous night.
  • When you meet the gorillas in their natural habitats, you are allowed/given one hour to be with them but that one hour is always priceless – filled up with many beautiful memories.  In that one hour, you will be able to observe all the beautiful and awing gorilla behaviors and you will also get to know more about these great apes while with them.

Gorilla trekking in DR Congo Vs Other Trekking Locations:

Trekking the endangered mountain gorillas in Congo is always the cheapest as compared to the other two rival countries – Uganda and Rwanda (which also reside these great apes). Congo gorilla permit costs only US$ 400; far cheaper than Uganda’s that costs US$ 700 as well as Rwanda’s that also goes for US$ 1500. Here is why you should go gorilla tracking in Congo;

  1. See Lowland Gorillas

    The other amazing thing with gorilla trekking in DR Congo is that you will have a huge opportunity to trek both the mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas as the country is the only one [in the world] to reside both gorilla species. It will really be a great experience for you to trek these two gorilla species separately, as it will help you know more about gorillas and you will automatically get to know the differences between the two. The eastern lowland gorillas in DR Congo are inhabited in the beautiful Kahuzi-Biega National Park, which lies in Bukavu Province of eastern DR Congo.
  2. Hike the Nyiragongo Volcano:
    Besides mountain gorillas; Virunga National Park is really a home to untold tourist attractions among them also include the eye-catching Nyiragongo Volcano! This volcano is among the most sought after attractions in Virunga. Annual visitors in Virunga always opt to also hike this legendary volcano after trekking the endangered mountain gorillas.The hikers who dare climb Nyiragongo always enjoy spectacular views of the world’s largest [bubbling] lake at the summits of the volcano. This eye-catching bubbling lava lake may really seem unreal to you at your first glimpse [because you will be awestricken] but bit by bit you will start realizing that what you’re looking at is a real thing. Staring at this magnificent scenery atop Nyiragongo will make you think that [maybe] it has been photo-shopped but guess what, the thing is real!!!!!! While at the top, you will also enjoy breathtaking views of the surroundings such as Lake Kivu, the gorillas in Virunga, and many more.
  3. Hike the Rwenzori Mountains
    Many travelers do not know that you can hike the Rwenzori Mountains from the Virunga National Park. The Rwenzoris are the third highest mountain in Africa and offer challenging hikes to even avid climbers. You can plan an amazing Rwenzori trekking tour from the Virunga National Park and go off the beaten path.

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