Best Time To Visit Virunga National Park
What is the best time to visit Virunga national park? This is one of the African national parks where mountain gorilla trekking safaris do take place. Besides gorilla tourism, travelers visit this magnificent destination to hike Mount Nyiragongo volcano, go bird watching, chimpanzee trekking & habituation, nature walk and a lot more!
Yes, Virunga national park can be visited throughout the year however; the best time to visit this park is during the dry season from June to September and December to February. These months are also considered as peak seasons of the year and most tourists tend to book for their respective activities due favorable weather and climatic conditions. The tails are often dry and makes movement of tourist through the forest easy. Gorilla trackers and mount Nyiragongo hikers are strongly encouraged to book their trips during this period.
For those who intend to visit the park during the wet season (March, April, May then from October to early December), it is still okay. The experience will be the same! However, you may be disrupted by heavy rains during tracking due to slippery and muddy trails in the park hence making movement of the guests hard and tough
A point of advice, for price sensitive travelers, the wet season is the best time to visit Virunga national park due to crazy discounts offered by different service suppliers. The gorilla trekking permits during this period go for $200 per person per trek instead of the normal price of $400. The discount on the gorilla permits normally runs from 15th October to 15th December. In addition to this, hotels subsidize their room rates in order to attract more guests.
Since Virunga national park safari packages are sold as fully inclusive tour with permits, accommodation and ground transportation, travelers can easily attain packages at a lower rate during the wet season or low season.
Therefore, depending on your budget and time of convince, Virunga national park in DR Congo can be visited any time of the year through booking directly with the park or any trusted local tour operator like Africa Adventure Vacations.
How to get to Virunga National Park in DR Congo
There are a number of ways of how you can access Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most guests use air, road and water transport to get to the park. All those modes of transport come at a cost depending on the clients’ tastes and preferences.
Those who prefer to fly via Kigali international airport, it takes approximately 4 hours to drive by road from Kigali to Virunga national park through Gisenyi. From the Goma boarder, you will drive for about 1 ½ hours to the park headquarters of Bukima.
Visitors with tour activities in southwestern Uganda and wish to extend their expedition to Virunga national park may take an overnight stay in Kisoro town and cross to DR Congo through Bunagana border the following day. The distance from Bunagana to Goma then Bukima is about 4 ¾ hours drive.
Tourists can fly directly to Goma international airport using some airlines like Ethiopia airways that flies once every week to Goma. Among other airlines that operate at Goma include Air France, Kenya airways among others.
The airport is just 32km away from the national park and guests normally arrange transfers directly with the park management or through trusted local travel agencies.
Finally; tourists can use water transport to get to Virunga national park. The distance is shorter to those who use speed boats with a riding time of about 2-3 hours while normal boats take around 3-4 hours to cruise on the waters of Lake Kivu.
Where to stay in Virunga National Park in DR Congo
Virunga national park has well developed safari lodges and hotel facilities to accommodate a number of tourists on their voyage to the home of mountain gorillas. Lodges at this park range from budget, mid-range to super luxury properties. Below are some of the camps where most tourists stay before and after different activities;
Mikeno lodge is among the luxury accommodation properties located in Virunga national park. The lodge is destined in area with magnificent views of a rift valley and Nyiragongo volcano. Staying at Mikeno lodge gives you an opportunity to engage in a number of park activities ranging from gorilla trekking, Nyiragingo mount hiking, birding and visiting the Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center. Guests do watch a number of bird species just right from the lodge, several monkeys and chimpanzees are also usual visitors of the property.
Kibumba tented Camp
Kibumba tented camp is a mid-range accommodation and a great choice for tourists looking at staying the outskirts of the park. The lodge offers authentic African camping experiences amidst Virunga’s flora and fauna with the added advantage of not driving a long distance to the starting point of gorilla trekking activity.
The lodge provides a warm and welcoming space for traveler to gather and share stories during their vacation in this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lulimbi tented camp
Lulimbi tented camp has ten well-constructed and comfortable canvas tents built at the shoreline of Ishasha River, on the savannah plains of Vuringa national park. The camp is destined in the heart of Virunga and hosts a number of elephants and hippos.
The location of Lulimbi tented camp offers good access to savannah wildlife and trained rangers; Guests’ wilderness experience starts right from their room!
Bukima Tented Camp
Bukima tented camp is a semi luxury accommodation located just outside the Virunga National Park boundary. Bukima is one of the main starting points for Virunga mountain gorilla trekking experiences. This lodge was formerly built for researchers, but currently it is mostly used by tourists intending to go for gorilla trekking. Just like the name of this property, travelers at Bukima sleep in platform tents but the camping standards are quite luxurious. Each tent is well equipped with standard beds overlooking the magnificent views of Mt. Mikeno, whose height goes for 4437m (14,560′) above the sea level.
Tchengera Island camp
Tchegera Island Camp is located off the northern shore of Lake Kivu in Virunga National Park, just 30 minutes boat ride from Goma and offers standard safari accommodation to tourists on an isolated and horseshoe-shaped island.
The camp is an ideal accommodation for tourists to stay after an adventurous mount Nyiragongo hiking and Goma city tour. Each tent opens up to Lake Kivu and the four volcanoes of Virunga region. The main building is a simple mess tent and includes a lounge, dining and bar.
Other lodges and hotels around Virunga national park include; lakeside Hotel Bukavu, Orchids Safari Club, hotel Begonias, Exodus Bukavu, Lodge coco, Mount Kahuzi Hotel and Mount Nyiragongo summit shelter.
In a nutshell, if you are looking for the best time to visit Virunga national park we can say that the park can be visited throughout the year and travelers may either explore the park during dry season (peak season) or wet season (low season). We advise you to always seek firsthand information from the park management or a local tour operator while planning to book and visit DR Congo safari.