VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK.
Virunga National park dwells into the Great Western Albertine Rift Valley. It the largest joint of the Virunga Conservation Areas that is shared across borders of DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. It’s an endemic home for the giant mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas are endangered species which only found favorable home in the tropical volcanos on the shared borders of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
Virunga National Park is located in Eastern Congo in the Eastern Kivu province. Virunga is Congo’s most popular park and mainly is known for the great gorilla trekking adventure. It’s one of the oldest wildlife protected area in African. It was created to protect and conserve the unique wildlife species therein.
Established in 1925 by the then King of Beligium King Albert 1, first called Albert national Park. Primarily Virunga was gazetted to protect the endangered Mountain Gorillas. Since independence the park has suffered with political instabilities of the rebel activities which have prevailed in the eastern Congo right from early 70s. When the DRC government again picked interest in conservation, the area was revived and renamed Virunga National Park.
Though Virunga National Park became a UNESCO site since 1997, the political commotions instigated negative implications on the conservancy. Several civil wars and the neighboring Rwanda genocide of 1990’s caused high influx of refugees into conservancy who encroached. In 1994, the Virunga conservancy was declared World Heritage in Danger and later became a Ramsar site of international importance in 1996. The Virunga is static rated a strong ecological pillar for the encircled east and central African ecosystem.
The remnants of Virunga’s rich ecosystem contains volcanic mountains with two active volcanoes. The lining shadows of Western Albertine Rift, several craters and crater lakes, famous tropical thick rainforests, woodlands, open grasslands, swamp and wetland vegetation. The Virunga National Park extend Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki National Park, Rwenzori mountain ranges and Mgahinga National Park. As well this beautiful natural jewelry stretches to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
What to do at Virunga National Park?
Gorilla trekking remains an adventure which is only done the Virunga Massif and Bwindi Forests. Gorilla trekking is the most famous attraction done in DR Congo.
Gorillas for trekking at Virunga are fully habituated. This amazing rich eco-biodiversity has 6 habituated mountain gorilla families. These habituated gorilla families include; Kabirizi family, this is the largest gorilla family with about 32 individuals. Then the two families of Humba and Mapuwa families also have sizeable number with about 16 individuals each family. Other families of Rugendo, Lulendo and Munyaga habituated gorilla families have the least individuals.
Gorilla tours in Congo tropical majesty is cheaper compared to other trekking destinations. Securing a permit costs $400 to trek per day compared to Uganda’s $700 permit and Rwanda $1500. The other benefit, is the park is less congested with tourist due to instability reputation.
Another wild rewarding adventure activity at Virunga is considering a nature walk. There are various walking trails of which some leads to the hiking the volcanos. Being majorly a tropical rainforest with composed vegetation, it’s rich for nature walks with numerous amended encounters. The morning breathtaking nature walks are magnificent with moist vegetation and morning wildlife watches. Several monkeys/primate species, bird species, vast flora and the rolling terrain and several mammals can be encountered alongside nature walks.
The larger eco-system hosts quite a larger number of bird species. Virunga National Park records about 700 bird species, one of the largest records from any forest in African. Some of the bird species recorded here are endemic and others are migrants. The wider habitant variation that ranges from rainforest, swamps, open grasslands and marsh and water bodies all have acted to accommodate varieties of bird species. This is a perfect point for bird enthusiasts, researchers and tourist to exploit the wide range of birds.
The park is joined with several dormant and active volcanos. These volcanos suggest a perfect hiking option for traveler who wish for more adventures within the park. The most common volcano is the active Mount Nyiragongo just erupted twice in one decade. Climbing to the peak of Mt Nyiragongo provides clearest view of the biodiverse of the Virunga. Watching the geographic forces of boiling molten lava at the summit if the volcano.
Virunga also accommodate another endangered species the chimpanzees. These are rare species, however, they are habituated for perfect close-up encounter. Chimpanzee tracking here started earlier in 198 by the famous primatologist of the Frunkfurt Zoological Society for research study purposes. There is an exploitation chance of either tracking chimpanzees or doing chimpanzee habituation. With chimpanzee habituation, trackers have a chance to almost take a full day stay into the forest
Golden monkey tracking
Golden monkeys are endemic to the Virunga Conservation Areas. And Virunga National Park hosts larger communities of primates which are as well habituated. Golden monkeys are endangered species but unique species which can beautify your primate walk through the Virunga forests. Golden monkey trekking leads close to watching flooding communities of these rare beauty of primates. Alongside the mountain gorilla trails it’s easily to find the beautiful golden monkeys jumping around. This let’s to the common Mgahinga talk of Gold meets Silver, finding the golden monkeys living alongside the silverback.