There are various things to do in Virunga National Park. From gorilla trekking to climbing active volcano, there are many adventure activities that you can enjoy on a tour within the Virunga National Park.
The Southern part is the most accessible and visited by tourists who come come from all over the world for mainly gorilla tracking adventure, Nyiragongo Hiking and Chimpanzee tracking.
Gorilla Tracking is the most thought after tourist activity in Virunga National park. There are five habituated gorilla families in Virunga National Park which can all be accessed through Goma side and two of the gorilla groups can best be accessed when you cross via Bunagana border or Uganda-DR Congo border. The gorilla permit costs USD400 for foreign non residents and USD150 for the Congolese. Gorilla tracking is a life changing adventure which is so far the best and memorable activity tourists look out for in the world. Read More
Nyiragongo hike is another top activity in Virumga National park. Nyiragongo Volcano has the largest lava lake on top and is one of the few active volcanoes in the world. Hiking Nyiragongo takes 5-6 hours depending on the fitness and speed of the hikers. The hiking starts at 10am from Kibatsi Village and the tourists have an overnight at the top shelters enjoying the scenic view of the molten lava lake.
Nyiragongo Volcano stands at 3470 meters above sea level which makes it necessary to consider the high altitude effects before hiking up to the top.
The Volcano can be hiked in one day ascend and descend but most tourists prefer to overnight at the top for clear view of the lava lake at night.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Virunga: Chimpanzee tracking is a lesser known activity which is open to visitors in Virunga. It is organized close to the park headquarters in Rumangabo. There is only one fully habituated group with about twelve individual chimps. Chimpanzee tracking starts at 6am and the probability of seeing them is high. Unlike gorillas, chimps love to spend time on tree tops. They don’t stay in one place for long and you might have to follow them for some time before taking good photos. Chimpanzee permits in Virunga cost $100 per person.
Chimpanzee habituation is another great activity in Virunga national park. This is done around the Park headquarters near Mikeno Lodge. Chimpanzee habituation walks starts at 6am and is limited to four people. Like gorilla tracking, a maximum of one hour is allocated to stay in presence of the chimpanzees. The chimpanzee permit costs USD100 and booking chimpanzee habituation is done through the park.
Mountain Rwenzori Trekking
Virunga National Park also offers spectacular trekking and climbing trips to the Rwenzori Mountains in the north of the park. Those who trek and climb in the Rwenzori will experience a stunning variety of landscapes, including bamboo forests, alpine meadows, lakes, and snow capped peaks.
The flora and fauna of the Rwenzori is equally diverse. Forest elephant, Okapi, chimpanzees, and numerous bird species make the Rwenzori their home. The best weather in the Rwenzori usually happens from January through mid-March and June to late August.
The Congo bloodhounds:
In an effort to curb poaching in Virunga National Park, the management acquired bloodhounds. Bloodhounds are known for possessing a strong sense of smell and can trail humans who enter into the park illegally. The dogs are trained by Dr. Marlene Zahner and have been successfully in tracking mountain gorilla poachers as well as injured rangers. If you happen to be visiting Virunga national park and have some spare time after a morning activity, spare time to meet the Congo bloodhounds. You will learn about their extensive training program and contribution to conservation.
Nature walks in Virunga national park:
Walking through the trails in the rain forests of Virunga national park is one of the spectacular activities to do on a safari to DRC. As the ranger guide leads you through the forests, you will get to the most silent corners and be entertained by beautiful songs of birds. Also, expect to spot some of the park’s residents like the monkeys, elephants, buffaloes, lions, zebra, giraffes and crocodiles and hippos at Lake Edward. You may also spot gorillas if you are lucky.
Visiting Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage center:
Senkwekwe orphanage center was established in 2010 to help in taking care of orphaned gorillas that were rescued from poachers in Virunga. Named after one of the silverbacks that were killed in 2007, the orphanage is located in Rumangabo near the park headquarters and Mikeno lodge. It is the only gorilla orphanage center in the whole world and boasts to have professional vet doctors, chefs and more staff to give the required care to these gorillas. Senkwekwe orphanage centre started with 2 orphan gorillas ndakasi and ndeze. Today, the number has increased to about 6 gorillas; ndeze, ndakasi, Kaboko, Yalala, matabishi. They have been habituated and a visit to the orphanage is an irreplaceable extraordinary part of the safari.
Birding in Virunga Park:
Virunga is a home to over 700 bird species. This indicates that bird lovers would have a great experience during bird watsching in the park. Bird watching is done in varied vegetations where a number of bird sightings are found; it could be in the mountainous areas, the swamps, the rainforests and all other landscapes. Some of the bird species there are white-headed wood hoopoe, blue-spotted wooddove, strange weaver, mountain greenbul, black-headed waxbill and chestnut throated apalis among others
The best views of the landscape come out clear when at Virunga national park in the DRC. There are multiple landscapes to view including the Nyiragongo volcano, Rwenzori mountains national park, forests and grasslands in and around Virunga, water bodies, eroded valleys in Ishango and Sinda and other beautiful places as far the eyes can see.