Road trips from Kigali to Virunga national park
Is it possible to run road trips from Kigali to Virunga national park in DR Congo? Virunga national park is located in the eastern parts of DR Congo on the borders of Rwanda and Uganda. The national park is part of the Virunga conservation area together with Mgahinga national park of Uganda and Volcanoes national park of Rwanda. All these national parks are homes to mountain gorillas that are believed to be 98% human DNA.
Virunga national park can be accessed by both air transport and road transport. Flights to Virunga national park do start from Jomo Kenyatta international airport and end at Goma international airstrip using the Jambo Jet. Travelers using road transport can access Virunga national park starting from Kigali Rwanda or Kisoro Uganda. The road trip from Kigali to Virunga national park is the best way to explore Rwanda and DR Congo on top of the activities to be done in Virunga national park.
Yes, the road trip from Kigali city to Virunga national park takes 4-5 hours of beautiful views of the surrounding areas. The road trip takes you through beautiful scenery, plantations, hills, and much more. The journey that starts from Kigali takes you to Gisenyi town where you move to the Congo-Rwanda border at Goma. At Goma border, you present documents like the Congo visa, passport, and yellow fever card to be allowed to DR Congo where armed rangers transport you to Virunga national park in their security cars.
Africa Adventure Vacations organizes road trips from Kigali to Virunga national park for different safari activities such as gorilla trekking, birding, hiking, and much more. The road trips start from Kigali international airport or your hotel in Kigali. During the road trips safaris, travelers are picked by our English-speaking safari guides who welcome them first and brief them about the safari.
During the road trips to Virunga national park, travelers will have different stopovers for breakfast, lunch, and much more. Some of the places include the Genocide memorials, king’s places, factories, plantations, rivers, swamps, and towns.
What vehicles should be used for road trips to Virunga national park?
The best vehicles to use for road trips from Kigali to Virunga national park are 4×4 safari vehicles. Most tour operators have a number of vehicles driven by well-trained safari guides who take you through different roads to the DR Congo border with Rwanda at Goma. Depending on the choice and budget of the client, there are 4×4 safari customized super customs that are normally used by mid-range and budget travelers then there are 4×4 land cruisers used by luxury travelers.
Condition of roads from Kigali to Virunga national park
Rwanda has good roads that are not world-class but well constructed. The roads connecting to national parks, towns, and airports are all in good condition in Rwanda. A road trip to Virunga national park takes you through tarmacked roads also there are times you will pass through marram roads at some point. Rwanda is a hilly country known for a thousand hills so the road trip will take you through curvy roads. Despite the different natures of roads, the driving time from Kigali to Virunga national park is 4-5 hours.
What to do on a road trip from Kigali to Virunga national park?
Mountain gorilla trekking: Gorilla trekking is the most done activity in Virunga national park which gives travelers a chance to encounter mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. Virunga national park is home to 8 fully habituated mountain gorilla families which can only be encountered during the trekking activity. To trek mountain gorillas in Virunga national park a gorilla trekking permit is a must. The gorilla trekking permit can be got from a trusted local tour operator or Virunga national park offices.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga starts with a briefing at the park offices, grouping, and all treks are done by well-trained armed ranger guides. The gorilla trekking activity takes 2-5 hours of going through different trekking trails with opportunities of meeting different park mammals, primates, and birds. When the gorillas are located, the trekkers are given 1 hour to be around these primates watch them do daily activities take photos, learn about their behaviors, and watch them do daily activities like hunting, nesting, eating, and breastfeeding among others.
Birding: Virunga national park is home to over 760 bird species of which some are endemic to the Albertine region. The national park is a perfect place for birders to go while on a safari in DR Congo. Some of the birds to encounter in Virunga national park include mountain yellow warbler, mountain greenbul, yellowed toothed barbet, thick-billed seedeater, yellow-billed barbet, black bishop, narrow-tailed starling, olive thrush, Rwenzori turaco, streaky seedeater, Rwenzori batis, stripe breasted tit, bronze mannikin, red-throated alethe, white-headed wood hoopoe, common waxbill, black saw-wing, black-billed turaco, mountain sooty boubou, collared apalis, thick-billed seedeater, chestnut throated apalis, malachite sunbird, and rufous thrush.
Other bird species in Virunga are Dusky crimson-wing, Madagascar bee-eater, white-headed wood hoopoe, olive woodpecker, blue-headed coucal, narina trogon, olive sunbird, olive pigeon, tambourine dove, bronze sunbird, alpine swift, African thrush, stray seedeater, double-toothed barbet, mountain buzzard, narrow-tailed starling, black kite, red-eyed dove, black-headed waxbill, alpine swift, handsome spurfowl, chinspot batis, and grassland pipit among others.
Hiking: Virunga national park comprises 3 volcanoes which are Mount Mikeno, Mount Nyamuragira, and Mount Nyiragongo. All these mountains are available for hiking and can be hiked at any time of the year. Mountain Nyiragongo being an active volcano is the most hiked in Virunga national park and to be part of the hikers you need a hiking permit which can be got from the Virunga national park offices or a trusted tour operator.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo starts with a briefing where hikers are checked for the hiking permits and taught about the rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity. The hiking is led by well-trained armed ranger guides who show you the routes to use and also protect you from dangerous animals. The hiking activity takes 4-5 hours of going through different thick vegetation, meeting wild animals, rugged terrain, and steep slopes. At the summit of Mount Nyiragongo are great views of the lava lake, Virunga volcanoes, Lake Kivu, Virunga national park, and much more. Nights are spent at the summit.
Where to stay during road trips to Virunga national park?
Virunga national park has a lot of accommodation facilities where you can stay so you will have to choose one depending on your choice and budget. The national park has hotels ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury options such as Lulimbi Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters, Bukima Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, Tchegera Island, and Kibumba Tented Camp.
When to have road trips from Kigali to Virunga national park?
Road trips from Kigali to Virunga national park can be done at any time of the year however there are months that are better than the rest. The dry months of June to September and October to November characterized by little or no rainfall are the best to have road trips to Virunga national park. The roads will be in good condition and passable since there is no rain, trekking/hiking trails are dry and the vegetation is thin with clear views of the park animals.
Travelers can still have road trips from Kigali to Virunga national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities as well as transport in the park. Travelers should know that in the rainy season there is plenty of rainfall that makes the roads leading to Virunga impassable, the vegetation is tall with unclear views of the surroundings and animals, and the trekking/hiking trails in the park are mussy and slippery.