Things To Do in Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and was formerly named Albert National Park. The vegetation cover of this park includes forests, Savannah, lava plains, erosion valleys, swamps, active volcanoes with the glaciated peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains. It was mainly founded to safe guard endangered Mountain Gorillas that were constantly poached and killed during the Congo civil War.
Virunga National Park is a sensational place to visit as it harbors a number of other animals like chimpanzees, hippopotami, bird species, forest and Savannah elephants and lions. The park is now secured and also known for its two amazing active volcanoes of Mt. Nyiragongo and Mt.Nyamuragira located in the massifs of the Rwenzori and Virungas mountains.
A number of activities are done in Virunga National Park which include the following;
Gorilla Trekking in Congo
This is the most sought after activity in the Virunga national park. Gorilla Trekking is a significant practice done and a life changing experience in the Virunga National Park and is worth due to the existence of the primates in that area.
Gorillas are sub divided into family groups with different attributes with silver backs that act as leaders. The silverback’s powerful presence, his calmness, the care that mothers show their young and the playful juveniles is overwhelming. Mountain gorillas are good natured and fascinating to watch. Trekking begins at Bukima Patrol post and usually takes about 1-2 hours of hiking in each direction with a park rangers depending where the mountain gorillas spent the previous night. Visitors are always required to wear surgical masks when in the presence of gorillas so as to safeguard the health of Virunga’s gorillas.
It’s always advisable to cancel if one has a cold, fever, diarrhea or persistent sore throat since mountain gorillas are extremely susceptible to human illnesses especially human respiratory viruses and other common ailments.
For one to trek Gorillas at Virunga National park, you must have a gorilla permit that costs $400 USD for international adult and the Congolese residents at $150.
Chimpanzees habituation in Virunga National Park started in February 2014 when Congolese team trained by Frankfurt Zoological Society started living in the forests around park headquarters in Rumangabo.
Though these chimpanzees are always on probability to be seen but when seen they are really a good activity to engage in.Guests interested in tracking these primates always leave their hotels as early as possible in order to catch a glimpse of these primates.However,the rangers set off very early in the morning and go into the forest and first spot where these chimps are and then afterwards come for the guests after knowing that they are present.
Groups are limited to only 4 people and time with the chimpanzees is restricted to one hour. Chimpanzee habituation had come to a standstill due to the civil unrest1992-2001 and this had put the whole chimpanzee tourism to an end.
Visitors are always advised to cancel if they don’t feel well at the time of their planned walk i.e. if they have a cold, fever, diarrhea, or persistent sore throat because just like gorillas, chimpanzees are extremely susceptible to human illnesses. Most chimpanzees have died after being exposed to human respiratory viruses and other common ailments.
Mount Nyiragongo Hiking Tours
Mt. Nyiragongo is a beautiful volcano covered with vegetation and sometimes is dusted with snow that features the world’s largest lava lake. It is a home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys and bushbuck. Nyiragongo is greatly feared during eruptions because of the low silica content of its lava that flows extremely fluid.
Trekkers to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano always begin at the Kibati patrol post, 30 minutes by car from Goma and one hour from Rumangabo. Normally the park rangers lead all treks and porters are always available for hire. The fitness of each group determines on the average time required to reach the summit usually takes 4 – 6 hours
Climbs always begin at 10:00 am with a ranger station. Check in at the Kibati station by no later than 9:15 am on the day of their climb. Trekkers are strongly advised to bring full rain and cold weather gear as the temperatures at the summit are usually below freezing. Failure to bring proper gear leads to hypothermia. International adults pay $300 USD and $90 USD for the nationals.
Nature Walks in Virunga
Nature walking usually entails transferring from one destination to another for purposes of appeasing the mind, taking time to trail through various paths to spot different forms of nature like birds and relaxing from the noise of civilization and stress. During this nature walk,one strolls through the thick forest vegetation especially in the thick forest of Tongo.
Birding in Virunga Park
Watching different species of birds using either your ears or eyes, telescopes, binoculars in their natural habitat is a way of relaxation and taking time. The sounds and noise from the tremendous bird species usually rise you up very early in the morning at around 5:00 am as they sing in the trees. You are compelled to get out of bed as these sounds extra ordinary and persuasive. This makes your experience in Virunga National Park exceptional and rare to find anywhere else. In Virunga National park there are number of different bird species that inhabit the thick forest vegetation namely the Grey-throated Barbet, Double-toothed Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Madagascar Bee-eater, Narrow-tailed Starling
Virunga national park is the best site for viewing the spectacular montane landscapes in the neighboring countries. These include the snow summits and the jagged relief of the Rwenzori Mountains, the volcanoes in the virunga conservation area together with the Afro alpine vegetation of tree ferns and the dense forests. More still, travelers see the eroded valleys spotted in the ishango and Sinda regions. The views provide travelers with extra ordinary experience since they do not need to travel to the places viewed while in the virunga national park.
Visiting Senkwekwe Orphanage centre
The Senkwekwe orphanage centre refers to a facility that was created to take care of orphaned gorillas from Goma plus those that were rescued from poachers. This centre is located in Rumangabo near the park headquarters .This facility was named so after a dominant silverback called Rugendo who was assassinated in 2007 with three other members.
This is the only facility in the world over, that caters for the orphaned gorillas with 4 gorilla families that were rescued from being killed and these include Maisha,Ndeze,Ndakasi and Matabishi.Maisha and Koboko were the first to be rescued from Rwanda and then they interlacted and connected with the others.
Eastern lowland gorillas that are also orphaned from anywhere in the region are also transferred to the facility as well.
So please when you visit this facility, you spend a good time with these primates watching their day today activities, feeding them, playing with them as well as watching how they play with each other.
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