Do you need to see Mountain Gorillas and also hike mountain Nyiragongo? Virunga National Park should be your first stop.
Renowned as the oldest protected area in Africa, this park is located in the eastern side of democratic Republic of Congo along the boarders with Uganda and Rwanda.
From Uganda you can reach this park via the Bunagana border. The route from this border is not so good you need to stay in Goma a day before if you are to experience Congo Gorilla tours.
From Rwanda you can reach the park via the Goma border. In one day you can leave Gisenyi, Rwanda side and go hike the mount Nyiragongo from Kibati.
The park covers an area of 7800 km2 and is home to over 200 gorilla individuals mostly situated in the southern part of the park.
The park is found in the west direction of Goma which is the capital of North Kivu province. Transport from the city to the park can be arranged by the Virunga park management.
Tourists traveling from Rwanda have the best option of reaching Goma since here the road infrastructures are well developed.
It takes just 3 hours to drive from Kigali to Goma near the border of the Democratic republic of Congo.
Goma can also be accessed from south western Uganda at the border crossing area of Bunagana where you can be able to purchase a local visa for crossing.
Besides Gorilla trekking, visitors to Virunga National Park enjoy the jaw dropping mount Nyiragongo hike.
For those who are planning to track mountain gorillas in Virunga, be sure to book unforgettable Eco tours in Congo with Nature Adventure Africa Safaris Ltd. The Congo gorilla permits costs ($400) per person.
The mountain gorillas in Virunga national park can be visited anytime during the year, however some paths are hard to navigate during the wet seasons of (Mid – March to Mid – May), in this season, Congo gorilla trekking permits are reduced to ($200) per person.
Other months are okay for gorilla trekking since it’s a dry season. The season also applies to the Nyiragongo hike though it’s done throughout the year.
It’s only a maximum of eight individuals per day that are allowed to trek, this helps to reduce the spreading of diseases from humans to the mountain gorillas.
It’s only 15 years and over individuals allowed to trek. Gorilla trekking takes place during day time and it’s between 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. It’s strictly 1 hour allowed to spend with the mountain gorillas.
More so if you are having much time you can too experience the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Tango forest near the Mikeno lodge and this experience Eco tour experience cost $ 100 USD per person.
Don’t miss the visit to the Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center where the rescued mountain gorillas are protected from and if you want to participate in this experience you are only required to take an overnight at Mikeno Lodge and you will enjoy this for free.
After a safety debrief and final check of everyone’s packs and equipment you begin the climb towards mount Nyiragongo summit. The party will be lead and escorted by a set of rangers/guides and a small contingent of porters.
For the first two hours of the walk you will traverse a lush pristine forest, where towering trees offer a welcome shelter from the sun until you emerge from the forest onto a small plateau with commanding views that stretch towards the infinite horizon, with Lake Kivu, Bukavu, Rwanda and Burundi at your feet.
You are now standing on the lava flow remnants of Mount Nyiragongo 2002 eruption. From here on, the climbing trail becomes firmer and the forest gives way to several swathes of recovering heath with vegetation dominated by ferns, sedges, heather and everlastings.
Shortly after noon, you will reach Mount Nyiragongo crater and your overnight in the Nyiragongo Shelter Cabins.
Please, with the arrangement of your tour operator and each of you having the Mikeno Package you will have delicious dinner and hot coffee prepared by the chief from Mikeno Lodge.
Thereafter go for the overnight but with the security guards of the park will keep patrolling the camp the whole night and then in the morning have breakfast and after descend down to the Kibati point and walk will take like 4 – 5 hours and you can either transfer to Goma border for your return back to Kigali or you can decide not to miss the Tchegera Island that is situated at the north shores of Lake Kivu.
While at this amazing place stay in the fabulous Tented Safari Tents overlooking the shores of Lake Kivu and you can enjoy the cool breeze of the Lake as well as spotting the various species of birds.