The Best Way To Access Virunga National Park
Are you coming to the Democratic Republic of Congo to visit Virunga national park and wondering the best way to access the park? there are important documents that must be first in your bag before traveling and these include a valid Visa, yellow fever card, and a passport. If you have all of them, you will be allowed to travel directly to the park. From Goma town which is a checking point for all travelers who want to visit Virunga national park, it takes only 15 minutes. Virunga national park is one of the oldest national parks in Africa which was established in 1925 to protect the rare mountain gorillas plus other wildlife. In 1994, Virunga national park was also listed as world heritage by UNESCO.
A few months back Virunga national park has been closed due to some factors but reopened on 15th February 2020 after the management introduced new security measures, and now there are is great hope for the development of tourism in this park. New measures were put in place to ensure the safety of tourists and one of them is every tourist who has come to visit Virunga national park should be escorted by a security convoy from your arrival day at Goma town until you finish your trip and they return you back to Goma. Another one is every tourist must check in with park offices at the Grande barrier border building before meeting the security covey. All these measures and others were put in place so that to improve the development of the tourism industry in the country and ensure the visitor’s safety.
Virunga national park can be accessed in several ways and the popular way is by using the Kigali international airport of Rwanda. There are many international airlines that operate flights to Kigali airport so it is you to choose what fits your interests. Tourists who like to fly into Rwanda and connect to the Virunga national park are advised to book flights that will be landing at Kigali airport at night and prepare enough to start your Virunga safari very early in the morning. You will have to cross the border of Congo through the Gisenyi border than to the Grande Barrier for about 4-5 hours’ drive. Then from the Grande Barrier to the Virunga Forest is just 15 kilometers and start enjoying the park activities.
You may access Virunga national park by landing directly at the Goma international airport of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ethiopian Airlines is the most recommended because it arranges flights every day to Goma airport. For those who are interested to visit only Virunga national park, this is the best way to access the park. instead of landing at the Kigali airport of Rwanda. Even if you want to visit both countries after here you can connect to Rwanda the following day and do a city tour of Kigali or visit the genocide Memorial ground.
Still, Virunga national park can be accessed by boat transfers between Bukavu and Goma. After visiting the lowland gorillas of Kahuzi Biega, you will use a morning boat transfer for like 3 hours from Bukavu port to Goma port at costs of 50USD and then from here is just a few minutes to Virunga national park where you will participate in a lot of tourist activities depending on you choose. Some of the activities to do in this park are trekking the endangered mountain gorillas, Hiking mount Nyiragongo, chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation, visiting the Senkwekwe orphaned gorilla center and many more.
In addition to this, while booking your flight to either the Democratic Republic of Congo or Rwanda, you are advised to first check with your embassy of your tour operator if your interested package fits the time and dates you want to travel because all packages for Virunga national park have a specific set of days, for instance, the packages for Rumangabo sector that is the Mikeno lodge and Bukima lodge, in a week are usually set off from Goma in only three days that is Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Activities one can do in Virunga national park.
Chimpanzee habituation is among the activities in the park, you can also add this to your list and get a chance to know how the researcher team do to make these primates familiar with chimpanzees and how many kilograms of fruits and vegetables they eat per day. Chimpanzee habituation is beginning very early in the morning at around 6:00 am. Here you will be having 4 hours of interaction which is unlike chimpanzee trekking.
Hiking the volcanoes.
There are three volcanoes in Virunga national park which offer an amazing experience for hikers and these include Mount Mikeno, Mount Nyiragongo, and Nyamuragira. On your Virunga safaris try to hike one of them mostly Mount Nyiragongo where you will enjoy an exciting experience that cannot be found elsewhere in the world.
Birding is also an amazing activity where you see over 700 bird species. Birders wake up very early in the morning with rangers and go into the forest to view different bird species, some of the birds see are the Rwenzori baits, Angolan swallow, African Fish Eagle, Miombo wren warbler, Ross’s turaco, Ruwenzori turaco, Narrow-tailed sterling, Chubb’s cisticola, Grey-throated Barbet, and others.
Virunga national park is surrounded by amazing views and these include the Rwenzori mountains, the Volcanoes in the Virunga conservation area, forest covers, snow summits, eroded valley that is seen in the Ishango and Sinda region and among others.
Guided nature walks
Is one activity carried out in the park where the tourists follow the trails with rangers to different areas of the forest and see different wildlife species like the rare mountain gorillas, buffaloes, monkeys, hippos, elephants, lions, and others, bird species to see are the Ruwenzori turaco, Narrow-tailed sterling, Chubb’s cisticola. You can also visit the Senkwekwe orphanage center and spend more time with these primates.
Lodges in Virunga national park.
Virunga national park has several accommodation facilities where one can spend a night and they are ranging from luxury, mid-range, and budget. These are some of the luxurious Mikeno lodges which are found inside Virunga Forest with beautiful views like mount Mikeno, Mount Nyiragongo, the chimpanzees plus a variety of bird species. While staying you will also have an opportunity to visit the Senkwekwe orphanage center free of charge. You can also rest at Lulimbi tented camp which offers high-quality service and give an opportunity to see various wildlife animals like elephants, Uganda kobs, buffaloes, giant forest hog, warthogs, and others. There is a Tchegera island camp where one can go and relax after trekking mountain gorillas or hiking mount Nyiragongo while enjoying the fresh clean water. Hikers can stay at Nyiragongo volcano summit shelter, it is constructed on Nyiragongo 5ft high with basic sleeping bags for travelers. Attractions to see while are chimpanzees, clear views of the wildlife species, and many more.