Virunga National Park is located in a region that is often troubled by unrest. In the last three years, the southern sector of Virunga National Park (gorillas and volcano) has been considered safe for visitors with over a 100 tourists visiting these sites every month. It is Africa’s oldest national park, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area. It is also home to a quarter of the world’s approximately 900 remaining mountain gorillas. Two other Great Ape species can also be found in Virunga, the eastern lowland gorillas and chimpanzees
The Rwenzori Mountains are also open for tourists and can be reached from Beni in the North of the park. The management of Virunga National Park is emphasizing the importance that all visitors be aware of current security issues at the time of their visit. Before organizing a trip to Virunga National Park it is wise to inform yourself on the security situation.
It is now possible for adventurous travelers to visit the once again accessible southern section of the Virunga National Park.
The journey leading to gorilla trek
From Goma it is a scenic drive through the region’s dramatic landscape to the newly opened Bukima Tented Camp, which is located at the forest’s edge and is the starting point for the gorilla trek. You can spend an unforgettable night in one of the platform tents, with spectacular views of the Virunga Mountains, while listening to the atmospheric sounds of the park as night slowly falls. All treks are led by park rangers and usually depart from Bukima Patrol Post. Congo gorilla Trek usually require 1-2 hours of hiking in each direction, depending where the mountain gorillas spent the previous night and the difficulty of the terrain. Time with the gorillas is strictly limited to 1 hour.
From Bukima, travelers you can embark on a morning gorilla trekking through the tropical forest to spend an awe-inspiring one hour in the company of a band of gorillas. From only a short distance away, take in the impressive sight of a silverback as he keeps a watchful eye over his family. Observe young gorillas pumping their chests, swinging on trees, mothers tenderly feeding their young and watch baby gorillas gleefully play-fighting, somersaulting in their natural environment.
The following day of the night you will stay overnight at Mikeno Lodge, which sits inside the Virunga park headquarters at Rumangabo. A dense canopy of trees overhead provides a refuge for Sykes monkeys, baboons, Vervet monkeys and a variety of birds. The lodge has a collection of charming thatched cottages located within the grounds of Virunga’s Rumangabo headquarters, offering spacious accommodation and breathtaking views from the hilltop over the sweeping forest plain and Mikeno volcanoes.
In case you opt for Nyiragongo hike
From Mikeno Lodge, the next day’s expedition involves an hour and a half’s drive to Mount Nyiragongo, a 3470m volcano that famously erupted in 2002 engulfing the local town of Goma with two meters of lava. With the help of porters, guests will be able to spend the day trekking directly up to the edge of the active volcano and watch the world’s largest lava lake with sparking fire light and bubbling below them. Guests will set up camp on the volcano’s edge before making the descent at dawn.its the reason why Congo safaris is an extra ordinary journey from other Safari Destination when it comes to Mountaineering.
After the good adventure of hiking up mount Nyiragongo, you can set on the white sandy shores of Lake Kivu, the sixth largest lake in Africa, and surrounded by extensive tropical gardens, the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel offers the perfect place for you to relax after your Virunga adventure. Comfortable rooms and suites as well as the restaurant offer views of the Lake. In addition there are indoor and beachside bars, a luxury swimming pool, and the ‘Maisha’ Health Centre (offering an extensive range of health and beauty regimes, boating, swimming, volley ball, tennis, fishing, hiking and trekking).