How to get to Virunga National park
How to get to Virunga National park: Virunga National Park could just be the perfect getaway safari destination for you and your family. The national park, which is situated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the ideal place for visitors on vacation in Congo. The national park is also a top destination for gorilla trekking activities in Congo.
Virunga Park is one of the places in the world where visitors have the opportunity to trek some of the last mountain gorillas left in the world. The last population of mountain gorillas can only be found in three countries in the world, which include; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A recent census carried out on mountain gorillas shows that there at least 1,004 mountain gorillas living in the world. The species is critically listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List. There are believed to be about 604 mountain gorillas living within the Virunga Massif, which encompasses Virunga park in Congo, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, and Mgahinga national park in Uganda.
Virunga park in Congo is the oldest national park on the African continent following its establishment in 1925. The national park is located in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and spans over an area of 8090 square kilometres. It was gazetted as a national park in an effort to protect and conserve the endangered species of wildlife living within the park such as mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants, and the highly sought after Okapi species among others.
The national park is home to over 218 species of mammals, including 22 types of primates like; the Red Tailed Monkey, Black and White Monkey, Olive Baboons, Chimpanzees and so many more. Virunga national park is also home to over 706 bird species such as the yellow white-eye, Mackinnon’s Shrike, the Mountain Sooty Boubou, the tropical Boubou, and the narrow-tailed starling.
Virunga national park in Congo offers visitors a wide range of tourist activities such as gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking and habituation, bird watching, nature walks, visiting Senkwekwe Orphanage Centre, and hiking Mount Nyiragongo among others.
Getting to Virunga Park in Congo.
Visitors travelling Virunga park in Congo can access the national park preferably by road or air. Visitors who opt to travel to the national park by road have better opportunities to explore the beautiful scenery of Congo during the road trip.
Travelling to Virunga Park by Road.
Travellers who are the adventurous type can travel to Virunga park by road. Virunga park in Congo can be accessed by travellers from Uganda and Rwanda. Travellers accessing the national park from Uganda will have to drive to Kisoro town and cross over to Goma town via the Congo-Uganda border at Bunagana. However, this route is long and entails travellers spending a night in Kisoro town. It wakes about 1 hour for travellers to drive to Virunga national park from Goma, and it is advisable for travellers to use 4×4 wheel drive safari vehicles when travelling to the national park.
However, there is an alternative route that travellers can use when travelling to Virunga national in Congo. This route involves travellers accessing the national park from the Rwandan side. Travellers will have to fly into Kigali International Airport in Rwanda, and proceed to drive to Gisenyi town, which is located in the western province of Rwanda. From Gisenyi town, travellers can drive to Goma town using the ‘Le Grand Barrier’ border. It takes a total journey time of about 4 hours for travellers to drive from Kigali airport to Virunga Park in Congo.
Travellers can also access Virunga Park from Bukavu in Congo. This route is mostly used by visitors who have been trekking eastern lowland gorillas or mountain gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega national park. Visitors using this route will have to drive to Bukima patrol post, which takes about 5- 6 hours. Travellers using this route have an advantage as this route offers visitors more scenic views like lakes and lush, green landscapes.
Visitors travelling from Bukavu can choose to use the water transport means available such as a ferry, public boats or a speed boat, from Lake Kivu to Goma town. Visitors can then proceed to hire a private vehicle from Goma to Virunga headquarters in Bukima.
Before crossing the border at Goma or Bunagana, visitors will have to present their Congo visas to the immigrations officials. In case you don’t have one, you will have to purchase one from the border. However, it is advisable for travellers to acquire your visas to Congo at least a month in advance.
Visitors who wish to get a visa to the Democratic Republic of Congo are advised to have the necessary requirements for a visa, such as; a valid passport, a valid Yellow fever card and a gorilla trekking permit in case you are planning to trek mountain gorillas in Virunga national park.
Travelling by Air.
Visitors travelling to Virunga National Park by air will have to fly into Goma International Airport. Ethiopian Airlines offers travellers direct flights from Kigali and Entebbe International Airports to the airport in Goma. Visitors are advised to book their flights to Goma in advance to avoid any inconveniences.
Upon your arrival at Goma International Airport, you will be picked up by officials from Virunga national park and transferred to the park’s headquarters in Bukima. This is the starting point for most of the activities in Virunga National Park.
Visitors will take about one hours’ drive from Goma to Virunga national park. Alternatively, visitors can fly into Kigali airport in Rwanda, and the drive to Gisenyi town and then cross the border to Goma. Visitors using this route can take between 3-4 hours to get to Virunga.
Travellers visiting Virunga National Park in Congo are require by law to fulfill a couple of requirements such as; a Congo Tourist Visa, a valid yellow fever card, a valid passport, and a gorilla trekking permit in case you plan on doing gorilla trekking in Virunga.
Where to stay when visiting Virunga National Park.
Travellers who are visiting Virunga park and plan on staying longer in the national park can find accommodation in the following facilities; Mikeno Lodge, Bukima Tented Camp, Tchegera Island Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Summit Shelters, and Lulimbi Tented Camp to mention but a few.
In conclusion; Travellers planning a trip to Virunga National Park have a lot of activities to do while visiting the national park given the wide variety of tourism activities offered by the park. Visitors in Virunga national park do not stand a chance of being disappointed during their entire stay in the national park.
Book now your perfect gorilla trekking tour to Virunga National Park and enjoy explore this wildlife paradise in style and comfort.