Virunga was established in 1925 by Albert 1, the king of Belgium. It remains the oldest National Park in Africa and formerly called Albert National Park.
The reason for its introduction was to provide habitat and protect the flourishing Wildlife species in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
It is home to almost half of the Wildlife species recorded in the Sub Saharan Africa. Though it was threatened by political conflicts in Dr Congo, Virunga is still surviving and used for tourism purposes in Dr Congo.
Virunga covers a total area of 7800 square kilometers and stretches from the Ruwenzori Mountains in the north to the Virunga Mountains in the South. At first it was by names of Albert National Park but later renamed to Virunga National Park
It is renowned for the huge concentration of bird species, mammals and reptiles that are more than any other Park in Africa. These include Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees primates, wild animals like giraffes, buffaloes and more to admire.
Virungas rich diverse ecosystem includes Volcanic Mountains, crater lakes, Albertine rift, tropical rainforests, woodlands, grasslands, Wetlands and swampy areas. All this provide fantastic habitats to a number of Wildlife species.
Mountain Gorillas used to the main highlight for a safari to Virunga but now there is a lot to try including Chimpanzee habituation, Nyiragongo hiking and volunteering programs. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 and later in 1994 listed among world heritage site under danger.
Average temperatures in vary between 23 – 28 degrees Celsius in the lowlands and 16 – 24 degrees Celsius at higher altitudes. High rain fall rates appear in the months of March, May, September and November.
Because of these favorable climatic conditions, there is growth of vibrant plant life. Out of the 2077 plant species, 264 are trees, 230 of grasses endemic to the Albertine rift.
More than flora, over 218 mammals including 22 primates, 109 reptiles, 65 amphibians and 706 bird species embrace the nice habitats of Virunga National Park.
The Park’s wild animals that are common in open savannahs include elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, okapi, water bucks, bush bucks, duikers, topi, kobs, bongo, forest hogs and more.
Hippopotamus, monitor lizards, Nile crocodiles appear in the surrounding lakes and rivers. Primates such as red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys are common while on Mountain Gorilla trekking and Chimpanzee tracking expeditions.
Travelling to Virunga National Park by road is so challenging but not a hassle if you arrange all transportation with Virunga foundation.
With the help of a local tour operator you can book with Virunga foundation for all ground transportation from Goma border to Virunga. Visitors to DR Congo often fly to Kigali international Airport – the safest option.
From Kigali connect to Goma border by road. You will be transported from Kigali to Goma border by the driver guide of your local tour operator.
After crossing Goma border, Virunga foundation takes up the control and they will transfer you to Virunga by use of their jeeps. It’s a two hours’ drive from Goma up to Bukima where Virunga Park headquarters are found.
The Tourist Visa, Valid passport and Yellow fever vaccination card are a must have in order to be issued with entry permission to DR Congo. You can apply for the Visa by use of your local tour operator to be out of delays in service delivery.
More to know, travelers from Uganda to DR Congo can cross via Bunagana border from Kisoro town. From the border it’s one hour’s drive to Bukima.