How many mountain gorillas are in Virunga national park?
How many mountain gorillas are in Virunga national park? Yes, Virunga national park has about 400 mountain gorillas living in the thick tropical rainforests. These mountain gorillas are distributed in different places of the park and some of them are habituated for trekking purposes. The habituation process normally takes 2-3 years in Virunga national park until the mountain gorillas pass the mocking stage.
Not all the mountain gorillas in Virunga national park are habituated, some are wild and you will still meet them during some of the park activities like chimpanzee trekking, gorilla trekking, birding, hiking, and nature walks. Between 2013 to 2021, there has been new births in different gorilla families and more than 20 new born babies have been registered in this park.
The increase in number of mountain gorillas in Virunga national park comes as a result of great efforts done by different organizations to conserve these endangered mountain gorillas. The great increase in the population of gorillas in Virunga national park indicates that great work is being done by conservationists in sensitizing people about the importance of mountain gorillas in the society.
Mountain gorillas are among the endangered animal species in the world. Mountain gorillas in the whole world can be found in Virunga national park of DR Congo, Volcanoes national park, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, and Mgahinga national park of Uganda
How many gorilla families are in Virunga national park?
Gorilla families in Virunga national park are different groups in which mountain gorillas live as a family and take care of each other. Virunga national park has the least number of mountain gorilla families compared to other national parks like Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Volcanoes national park.
The park has more than a quarter of mountain gorillas left in the world and yes, Virunga national park has 8 fully habituated mountain gorilla families. All the gorilla families in Virunga national park are open for trekking purposes and they include Lulengo gorilla family, Rugendo gorilla family, Bageni gorilla family, Humba gorilla family, Mapuwa gorilla family, Kabirizi gorilla family, Munyaga gorilla family, and Nyakamwe gorilla family.
Trekking the mountain gorillas of Virunga national park
There are some mountain gorillas that have been habituated for tourism purposes in Virunga national park and trek any of these, you need to have a gorilla trekking permit to be part of the trekking activity in Virunga national park. The trekking activity does start early in the morning with a briefing at the park offices so participants are expected to be up early in the morning, take breakfast and wait for the drivers to transfer them to Bukima patrol station.
At Bukima patrol station, you will meet the park wardens who will take you through a briefing about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity. Grouping is done next and armed ranger guides lead different groups in the jungle as they search for these apes. The trekking activity in Virunga national park takes 2-5 hours of going through different vegetation covers, meeting different bird species, park animals, and much more.
Some of the animals you are likely to encounter while trekking mountain gorillas include monkeys, olive baboons, duikers, warthogs, bushbucks, lions, okapi, leopards, topis, buffaloes, elephants, and much more. when the mountain gorilla family you have been looking for is located, the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around this family, learn about gorilla behaviors, take photos and watch them do daily activities like hunting, nesting, breastfeeding, coupling, feeding, silverbacks patrol, and much more.
Gorilla trekking permits in Virunga national park.
There are 8 gorilla families in Virunga national park up for trekking purposes every day and only 8 people are allowed to trek a single gorilla family in this park to minimize the behavior disturbance of mountain gorillas and also the risk of spreading diseases to these apes. It implies 64 permits are available for trekkers every day at Virunga national park offices.
To get these gorilla trekking permits you must be 15 years and above. The permits can be best got using a local tour operator. What you will have to do is send a local tour operator an email containing the dates of the month and year you want to travel and using these dates, they well check with Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature for the availability of the permits and once they are there, you will be sent an email containing the banking details of how you can send the money for your permit to be secured.
How much does it cost to trek mountain gorillas in Virunga national park?
For you to trek mountain gorillas in Virunga national park, you need to have a gorilla trekking permit. Gorilla trekking permits in Virunga national park do cost $450 for foreign non-residents and foreign residents, $200 East African citizens and Congolese in the high season of June to September and December to February. In the low season of March to May and October to November, gorilla trekking permits go for $200 per person per hike.
What is the best time to encounter Virunga gorillas?
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park is done at any time of the year, however the best time to do gorilla trekking activities is the dry season which occurs in June to September and December to February. During the dry season, there is little or no rainfall that makes the trekking trails less muddy, vegetation is thin with clear views of animals, and roads leading to the park are passable.
Travelers can still visit Virunga national park for hiking activities in the rainy seasons of March to May and October to November and this favors budget travelers most because there are huge discounts on the trekking permits. However tourists should know that in this period, there is too much rainfall that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, vegetation is tall with unclear views of the park animal and the roads leading to the park are impassable.
What to pack for a gorilla trek in Virunga national park?
Intending to visit Virunga national park for gorilla trekking, you need to pack waterproof hiking shoes, gardening gloves, a pair of gaiters, long-sleeved clothes, a rain jacket, insect repellents, camera, a pair of binoculars, drinking water bottle, energy-giving snacks, a hat, sunscreen, face mask, sanitizer, and first aid kit.
Where to stay while trekking mountain gorillas in Virunga national park?
There is a wide range of accommodation facilities in Virunga national park ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury options. They have good services and facilities and they include Lulimbi Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters, Bukima Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, Tchegera Island, Kibumba Tented Camp, and much more.
Other wildlife in Virunga national park
Primates in Virunga national park: Primates present in Virunga national park except mountain gorillas include common chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, golden monkeys, dent’s mona monkeys, blue monkeys, hamlyn’s monkeys, mantled guereza, central African red colobus, olive baboons, and grey checked mangabeys.
Mammals in Virunga national park: Mammals present in Virunga national park include hippopotamus, elephants, buffaloes, okapi, duikers, water chevrotain, aardvark, giant forest hogs, topi, kobs, lions, warthogs, bushbucks, leopards, mongoose, giant pangolin, checkered elephant screw, and, western tree hyrax among others.
Birds: Bird species present in Virunga national park include Rwenzori batis, speckled mousebird, archer’s ground robin, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, red-throated alethe, white-starred robin, kivu ground thrush, white-browed robin-chat, collared apalis, chinspot batis, mountain masked apalis, brown woodland warbler, dusky crimson-wing, stonechat, shelley’s crimsonwing, cinnamon bracken warbler, red-faced woodland warbler, stripe-breasted tit, and chestnut-throated apalis.
Other bird species in Virunga national park do include black bishop, collared sunbird, grey-headed negrofinch, northen puffback, common waxbill, variable sunbird, black-headed waxbill, bronze mannikin, mountain sooty boubou, black and white mannikin, mountain illadopsis, pin-tailed whydah, grey-chested illadopsis, thick-billed seedeater, sharpe’s starling, and streaky seedeater among others.