Why Should Tourists Visit Virunga national park?
Why Should Tourists visit Virunga national park? There are so many reasons why tourists from different parts of the world take a visit to Virunga national park. The national park is located on the eastern side of DR Congo in the Albertine rift region. The national park is visited because it offers a number of safari activities that are amazing and memorable such as mountain gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, hiking, birding, primate habituation, and nature walk activities.
Reasons tourists visit Virunga national park
Gorilla trekking: One of the main reasons tourists visit Virunga national park is gorilla trekking. Tourists visit Virunga national park to encounter the endangered mountain gorillas that are not elsewhere in the country. To trek these primates, you need a valid gorilla trekking permit which you can get from a trusted local tour operator. You will present this permit to the park authorities at the time of briefing.
To trek mountain gorillas in Virunga national park, you must attend the briefing session where you learn about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity. Armed ranger guides then lead you into the jungle to search for these apes and while searching, you get to meet different mammals, primates, and birds. Once the mountain gorillas have been located, you will be given 1 hour to be around them, watch them do daily activities, take photos and learn about their habits.
Chimpanzee trekking: Chimpanzee trekking is another reason as to why tourists visit Virunga national park. The park is not only home to mountain gorillas but also chimpanzees that have been habituated for tourism purposes. You need to have a valid chimpanzee trekking permit to trek these apes for 1 hour. Just like mountain gorilla trekking, the activity starts with a briefing where participants learn about the dos and don’ts of the trekking activity before armed ranged guides lead them into the jungle.
During the search, the trekkers are able to meet different park animals such as elephants, okapis, warthogs, hippos, lions, buffaloes, topis, waterbucks, bushbucks, birds, and different plant species. When the chimpanzees are located, 1 hour is given to trekkers to be around these apes, learn about their habits and watch them do daily activities.
Birding: Tourists most especially birders do visit Virunga national park to encounter different bird species. The national park is home to over 706 bird species that have been so far recorded in this park. Birding activities in this park are done during morning and evening hours and are guided to protect the participants from rebels and different wild animals in the park.
Some of the bird species in Virunga national park include yellowed toothed barbet, Madagascar bee-eater, yellow-billed barbet, narrow-tailed starling, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori batis, stripe breasted tit, red-throated alethe, olive sunbird, white-headed wood hoopoe, black saw-wing, black-billed turaco, collared apalis, thick-billed seedeater, and black thirsted wattle.
Other notable bird species in Virunga national park include olive woodpecker, blue-headed coucal, olive pigeon, olive thrush, bronze sunbird, stray seedeater, double-toothed barbet, narrow-tailed starling, black kite, black-headed waxbill, alpine swift, chestnut throated apalis, and black bishop among others. To have the best birding activity in this park, come with your birding book, voice recorder, a pair of binoculars, camera, and a pen.
Hiking: Tourists visit Virunga national park for hiking purposes since the mountain hosts some of the Virunga volcanoes. There are 2 volcanoes in Virunga national park and these are Mountain Nyiragongo and mountain Nyamuragira. The most hiked volcano is Nyiragongo because it’s the most active in the world having last erupted in May 2021.
Hiking mountain Nyiragongo starts with a briefing where hikers gather to learn about the rules and regulations of the activity. armed ranger guides lead the hike and during the hiking the are chances of meeting different animals on the slopes such as buffaloes, topis, lions, duikers, warthogs, waterbucks, bushpigs, wild dogs, okapis, birds, and different plant species.
All you need to make it to the summit are good hiking boots, and a walking stick to help you balance. At the summit of Nyiragongo, you will find the largest lava lake in the world, have stunning views of surrounding mountains, plantations, national parks, Goma city, lake Kivu, and much more.
Visiting senkwekwe orphanage: Another reason as to why tourists take a visit to Virunga national park is to visit the Senkwekwe orphanage center. The home to orphaned gorillas is located in Rumangabo near the offices of Virunga national park. A visit to this place gives you an opportunity to meet the orphaned gorillas such as Ndezi, Maisha, Yalala, Ndakasi and Matabishi. You will be given an opportunity to feed these mountain gorillas, learn about their history and you will also be able to encounter other primates in this area.
Accommodation in Virunga national park
Virunga national park has a number of accommodation facilities where visitors that want to stay a night or more can stay and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury with where to stay depending on your budget. Some of the accommodation facilities include Lulimbi Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters, Bukima Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, Tchegera Island, Kikumba Tented Camp, and much more.
What is the best time to visit Virunga national park?
Virunga national park can be visited at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The drier months of June to September and December to February are the best to visit this park because they are characterized by little or no rainfall, the trekking and hiking trails are less slippery, the roads leading the park are passable and the vegetation in the park is short giving clear views of the animals.
Tourists can also visit Virunga national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts n accommodation facilities and gorilla trekking permits. However, during the dry season, there is plenty of rainfall which makes the trekking and hiking trails muddy and slippery, the vegetation is tall giving unclear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.