Treks in Virunga national park
Treks in Virunga national park- The park is the best destination in Africa for treks and adventure experiences. Travelers can either book mountain gorilla treks or Mount Nyiragongo treks to explore Virunga national park.
The things to carry if you book treks in Virunga national park include; long-sleeved shirts, a rain jacket, cameras, warm long stockings, hand gloves, hiking shoes, water, passport, VISA, and gorilla & Mount Nyiragongo permits.
The following are the treks in Virunga national park;
Mountain Gorilla Trek
Mountain gorilla trek in Virunga National Park is scheduled every morning and travelers are advised to wake up early morning for breakfast and carry all the things they will need for the activity.
Visitors then drive to the park headquarters for briefing sessions. You will get information about the history of the park, gorilla group, gorilla habitats and gorilla trekking rules & regulations.
You will also present your passport for cross-checking to help the rangers allocate you to a particular gorilla family in accordance with a specific language spoken by trekkers.
Other criteria like physical fitness and personal preference are noted by the park officials when allocating travelers to certain gorilla families in Virunga national park DR Congo.
In the process, you may be entertained by traditional local dances before starting your trek to see the mountain gorillas of the park.
During your mountain gorilla trek in Virunga national park, you will be put in a group of 8 people per gorilla group under the guidance of park guides and armed rangers.
Yes, the chances of seeing the mountain gorillas in Virunga national park DR Congo is high because rangers always know their last location however, there are challenges along the way which may prolong the trekking time such as bad weather, rough terrain, and the long-distance from the starting point to the location of the particular gorilla family.
After meeting the gorilla group, you will be allowed to spend a full hour with the gorillas; watch and take photos of the dominant male silverback and other group members grooming each other, see the females breastfeed their young ones, playing and stubborn adolescents climbing up and down the short trees.
On a lucky day, you may witness some members making nests for the afternoon nap or in preparation for an overnight stay.
Mount Nyiragongo Trek
Mount Nyiragongo trek takes you to Virunga National Park in the Congo to encounter a boiling lava lake at the summit of the volcano to observe the boiling magma up-close. This volcano in Virunga national park is located in the eastern part of DR Congo, just 17 km away from Goma town.
Mount Nyiragongo is 3,470m high and forms part of the Virunga chain of volcanoes. Others volcanoes include Mikeno, Karisimbi, Muhavura, Bisoke, Gahinga and Sabyinyo.
Mount Nyiragongo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world with a crater of about 2 km wide. This Volcano is believed to have erupted over 30 times however, the recent eruptions have happened in 1882, 1977, 1994, 2002, and 2021.
Travelers interested in the mount Nyiragongo hike must be at the border point at exactly 7 am for clearance from the Virunga tourism office before transferring to the gathering point in Kibati by 8 am.
The briefing point for hiking mount Nyiragongo is relatively close to the Congo Rwanda border crossing, therefore expect to get your Nyiragongo volcano permit after registration with the tourism office. This is also a good time to hire a personal porter.
The cost of hiring a personnel porter in Virunga national park for the mount Nyiragongo trek is about $25 and you are advised to pay it in cash.
After briefing sessions, visitors head out to the mountain slopes alongside their personal porter and those carrying supplies like water and food to start their adventure.
A trek to the summit of Mount Nyiragongo takes between 3 to 6 hours depending on the physical fitness of the climbers. Most hikers are always at the top of the Volcano by 5 pm.
The hike is divided into 4 major sections and it gets tougher when you get closer to the summit. For the first three sections, the whole group on the tour moves as one with no one left behind. In case of a slow hiker, the group has to wait for him/her.
It is only after the 3rd section that faster hikers may leave the slower climber behind. By this time the remaining distance is short and anyone left behind is expected to catch up.
Once you reach the summit, you will check in any of the cabins which are built on a rim just above the lava lake. Each cabin has a bed, mattress, and warm bed sheets however, we recommend climbers to bring their own sleeping bags if possible.
While at the top of Mount Nyiragongo, you will enjoy views of Virunga forest, Rwenzori mountain, Goma city, Lake Kivu and several Virunga volcanoes.
Descending normally starts at 6:30 and it takes like 3hours to the base of Mount Nyiragongo and you will meet several vegetation and lava soils. On reaching the starting point at Kibati Patrol post, you will meet your driver for a transfer to any of your preferred destinations.
The number of cabins is 12 and can accommodate 2 people on sharing basis.
The summit has a public latrine toilet but with no running water.
Nyiragongo backpacks from Virunga national park are charged at USD 100 and the rate is inclusive of a sleeping bag, snacks, warm clothes, water, lunch, dinner, and breakfast.
You can hire porters at USD 25 for a 15kg bag.
Locally made walking sticks can be purchased at the start of the trek at a cost of $10.
Best time to book gorilla and Nyiragongo volcano treks in Virunga national park
Virunga national park can be visited for treks all year round however the best time to book your tour is during the months of July through to September and by far the driest months of the year.
The low season in the Democratic Republic of Congo usually starts in the month of November which is by far the wettest month of the year. When you choose to travel during the months of October or November or March to May, a number of accommodation facilities offer discounted rates because of the low number of guests that travel to the park during that time.