How to Access Mikeno Lodge

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Mikeno Lodge offers accommodation of 12 unique bungalows. It is a luxurious facility tucked deep in Africa’s oldest most diverse national park, Virunga National Park.

The park is famous for its astonishing inhabitants, the endangered mountain gorillas, which annually attract mammoth number of tourists from all over the globe.

Many tourists and travelers enjoy spending their time with these great apes which are only found in three countries and four national parks, including Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park.

However, due to some instability in Virunga National Park, tourists have been restricted from visiting this Park until further notice. Good news is that the park is now reopened for visitors but not it entirely.

In fact, Mikeno Lodge is the only secure accommodation in the park and it’s only this lodge that will arrange for you the gorilla expeditions in the only authorized region of the Park to trek from.

Booking through a trusted tour operator, your tour operator will contact Mikeno Lodge instantly after sending in your invoice.

Therefore, trips to take include the Le Petit Mikeno with the mountain gorilla trekking experience in Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga, is the cheapest and so unique; in that you will also have a great opportunity of visiting the orphan gorillas in the world’s only Mountain Gorilla Orphanage – the Senkwekwe Centre, just a stone’s throw away from the luxurious Mikeno Lodge.

The lodge’s beauty is aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eye; fashioned with lava stone and mahogany. All its 12 bungalows offer commanding views of the surrounding forest and the eye-catching Virunga Volcanoes.

Meanwhile, below is how you can access the Mikeno Lodge ahead of your gorilla excursions in DR Congo’s Virunga National Park.

Accessibility of Mikeno Lodge:

The lodge is distanced only a one hour’s drive from Goma, making it easier to be accessed from Goma. However, within DR Congo you can fly into the Goma Airport with TMK Air Commuter, Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation, Wimbi Dira Airways, and Hewa Bora Airways.

Outside of DR Congo, you can fly into Kigali, Rwanda, with Brussels Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Air Ugandan, Lufthansa Airlines, and RwandAir Express.

In your hired private car, from your trusted tour operator, you will drive from Kigali to Gisenyi/Goma which takes almost 3 hours.

Then from Goma, you will further drive for an hour to access the prestigious Mikeno Lodge. Immediately after arriving at the lodge, you will be given a warm welcome from the very delightful and friendly staff of the lodge.

The beauty of Virunga will start revealing to you from the lodge and you will spot very many bird species and animals while having a sun downer, such as the different monkey species that you will see playing from tree to tree – what a way to start off your stay at the lodge!!!

More so, traveling in a private vehicle is quicker and more convenient on any African trip than in the public transport.

Therefore, you are advised to book/hire a private car from your trusted tour operator that you will use for transportation and this will give you a lot of independence and flexibility while on a trip.

There are very many types of vehicles offered and the rates of course vary according to the car type you want to take.

Kenya Tours and Congo Gorilla Trek

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Democratic Republic of Congo lies on the border of East Africa where Kenya is found. After having your Kenya tours you can still go for gorilla trekking in DR Congo.

Democratic Republic of Congo is a perfect country for gorilla trekking tours because the country protects both the mountain gorillas and Eastern Low-land gorillas of which it is the only country in the world to contain the both types of gorillas.

Virunga National Park is the only park in Central Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo which keeps the mountain gorillas and the eastern low-land gorillas in Congo are only found in Kahuzi Biega National Park though there is a believe that the eastern low-land gorillas can still be seen in Virunga National Park but Kahuzi Biega National Park is the most appropriate Park for the eastern low-land gorillas in Congo.

A gorilla permit in Congo costs US$ 400 a cheaper price compared to that of Uganda which costs US$ 600 and for Rwanda which costs US$ 1500 thus viewing the rare endangered mountain gorillas at a cheaper and an affordable price.

Gorilla trekkers in Virunga National Park will meet all the eight habituated mountain gorilla families which exist in the Park which are; Bageni, Lulengo, Munyaga, Nyakamwe, Mapuwa, Humba, Kabirizi and Rugendo which are all tracked from Bukima patrol post.

The tracking begins with briefings scheduled at 07:00am where trekkers are briefed on how to easily find these primates. There are some rules and regulations governing the tracking activity in the park.

These include; keeping maximum silence, not littering in the park, not eating and smoking from the park, keeping a distance of at least 7 meters away from the primates while viewing, not using flashlight cameras while taking photos, tracking in a group of eight individuals just to mention but a few.

Virunga National Park is really a perfect place for tourists who go there to track mountain gorillas. Besides gorilla tracking, the Park offers endless views of the most active volcanos in the whole world.

These are Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo Volcano. Nyiragongo is situated within Virunga and also provides views to the most violet and largest Lava Lake that lies at the top thus having a complete tour in Congo especially when you as well visit Kahuzi Biega National Park to see the eastern low-land gorillas and other primates in place.

Accommodation in Virunga National Park include; Bukima tented camp, Mikeno lodge, Tchegera Island tented camp and the Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters which are situated on Nyiragongo Volcano therefore hikers to this Volcano are not encouraged to carry camping tents and they are instead emphasized to carry light hiking boots, heavy clothes for the coldness at the summit of the Volcano especially during the night since hiking of the Nyiragongo takes two days meaning that hikers will stay in the Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters. Hikers are also advised to carry enough drinking water and packed food.

However, though not compulsory but for the sake of your success during the hike, you are also emphasized to employ porters to help you in carrying your luggage and the porters are found in Congo and paid an agreed price between the two of you and still you can also employ a cook if you want because at the summit there is no ready meals.

Nyiragongo hiking permit cost US$ 300 and hiking sticks will helps in balancing while hiking are also sold at US$ 5 at the starting point of the hike.

Kenya Tours:

Before or after your gorilla safari in Democratic Republic of Congo you can have your tour in Kenya of which it is one of the best countries for wildlife safaris in Africa and East Africa.

The Maasai Mara National Park is Kenya’s best Park for the wildlife safaris of which the Park is one of Africa’s best due to its quantity in the wildlife resided in the Park which include Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Rhinos, Leopards, Wildebeests, Zebras, Topis, Thomson’s gazelles, Impalas, Cheetahs, Hyenas, Grant’s antelope, Elands, Giraffes, Crocodiles, Hippos and many others of which all the present wildlife species in the Park are viewed in a large quantity.

The park also inhabits Rivers such as; Talek River and Mara River where hippos and Crocodiles are viewed from.

Maasai Mara National Park is contiguous to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania of which the two Parks are East Africa’s finest due to the large number of wildlife they inhabit and all the Parks are situated on the same conservation area of Maasai village thus a visit to any of the Park will link you to interact with the Maasai people who live in both Tanzania and Kenya.

The park is a habitant to over 470 bird species and interestingly during July to November, some animals such as Wildebeests, Zebras, Thomson’s gazelles and Topis migrate from Serengeti to Maasai Mara National Park looking for pastures and then return back in the following months and since these animals migrate in a very huge number, most tourists make it the most ideal period to visit the Park due to the fact that they will be able to view a large quantity of wildlife including a view to over 1.5 million Wildebeests, over 97,000 Topis, over 500,000 Thomson’s gazelles, over 200,000 Zebras and also a very huge number of Lions and other animals.

The park entry fee is US$ 80 which is paid at the Park’s main gates which include; Sekenani main gate and Ololaimutia gate.

The park’s accommodations include; Entumoto camp, Little governor’s camp, Mara bush houses, Mara expedition camp, Mara intrepids, Mara plains camp, Mara leisure camp among others.

However still in the Kenya, you can also visit Amboseli National Park which is the best park in the whole world for a tourist to view the free-ranging elephants and it is Kenya’s second best park for wildlife tours after Maasai Mara National Park.

The Amboseli National Park also protects other species such as Cape buffaloes, Impalas, African lions, Masai giraffes, Spotted Hyenas, Cheetahs, Blue Wildebeests, Zebras and many others however the Park also boosts over 400 bird species.

The Park’s best accommodations include; Kibo safari camp, Ol Tukai safari lodge, Amboseli safari Serena lodge, Campi ya Kanzu, Amboseli Sopa lodge and many more.

Top Tourist Things to Do in Goma, DR Congo

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Goma is a city found in Democratic Republic of Congo and there are many attractive things which you can explore and enjoy their display plus their inhabitants.

The top things you can do in Goma are; to visit Virunga National Park, visit Nyiragongo volcano and then take a visit to Lake Kivu.

Virunga National Park plays host to the world’s rare endangered mountain gorillas and this draws several tourists to Democratic Republic of Congo.

The park inhabits over 200 mountain gorillas which are adventured through shifts of 8 individuals per group per day and the Congo gorilla safaris start at 08:30am after being briefed at 07:00am at the head offices of the Park.

It is to be noticed that viewing the gorillas you must keep at least a distance of 8 meters away from them and you should also spend strictly one hour with the gorillas.

Keeping a distance of 8 meters is due to personal security because though the gorillas are habituated, but the fact is that they are wild and also this is done too to avoid and prevent the easy spread of diseases to the primates since they catch human diseases.

This was the first African park to be put in place and it is the only place in central Africa where you can find the mountain gorillas however other gorillas are further found in East Africa in Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park) and in Volcanoes National Park found in Northwestern parts of Rwanda.

Those are the only places in the whole world where you can find the mountain gorillas but what makes Virunga the finest place for gorilla tours is that, it is the cheapest of all.

A gorilla permit in Democratic Republic of Congo costs US$ 400, in Uganda it costs US$ 600 and in Rwanda it can cost US$ 1050 if you are to visit more than one park in Rwanda or it can also cost US$ 1275 if you are to first have a conference in Rwanda and then visit Volcanoes National Park however the actual amount for the gorilla permit in Rwanda is US$ 1500 if you are to specifically visit Volcanoes National Park without addition of another park or without having a conference  you are to detain in Rwanda.

This all makes Virunga the most affordable and cheapest Park in the whole world ideal for gorilla tours.

Other things to see in Virunga National Park include; elephants, giraffes, low-land gorillas, chimpanzees, Okapi, buffaloes along with interacting with the Bambuti pygmy people. Best shelters in the Park include Bukima tented camp, Mikeno lodge and Lulimbi tented camp.

A visit to Nyiragongo Volcano:

This is one of the most enjoyable creatures within Goma and it should be an added tour after visiting Virunga national thus making your tour a complete one.

Hiking Nyiragongo is the best experience you will ever achieve while at the volcano and Goma. Hiking of Nyiragongo volcano takes two days and reaching the summit of the volcano you will enjoy many things from there including the amazing magma at the summit.

The hiking takes 5 to 7 hours and it doesn’t require you to carry the camping tents because at the Mountain, there is a good shelter known as the Nyiragongo volcano summit shelters where you will rest from and talk about the highlights of your hiking.

However, due to the much coldness at the summit of Nyiragongo, you are reminded to carry heavy clothes like coats, sweaters, rain coats and carry as many clothes as you can instead of carrying one or two clothes.

You are also emphasized to hike with enough water and snacks plus food too or hike with your personal cook whom you will have to pay on agreed price.

A visit to Lake Kivu:

Lake Kivu lies on the borders of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo though almost 57% of the Lake lies in Congo. The Lake borders Virunga national park which is situated on Lake Kivu’s shores thus offering a holiday to Virunga national park’s tourists after doing the challenging activities there.

At Lake Kivu you will enjoy the extraction of methane which is done at the Lake and also get involved in boat cruises whereby through boat cruises you will see the crocodiles, hippos and aquatic birds.

At the Lake you will find fisher men while fishing thus giving you a chance of finding some of the fish species caught from Lake Kivu.

A visit to Tchegera Island:

While in Goma, you can also visit Tchegera Island and associate with the local people who live at the Island.

These people will tell you their good things they have achieved from the Island and on the other side, they will still tell you their remedies and problems they face most while at the Island of which some of the problems they face will include low market for the fish caught and diseases like HIV/AIDS which is greatly finishing them.

They will also tell you many other problems like poor facilities such as hospitals and schools however you will also find out the most activities which support the standards of living of the local people and other activities/jobs too. The Island consists of good accommodation for its visitors such as Tchegera Island tented camp.

Visit Virunga, Gorilla Trekking Safari

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Virunga National Park is situated in Democratic republic of Congo. It shares borders with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Rwenzori Mountain and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

Though the Park is most famous for protecting the rare endangered Mountain gorillas, the highest number of wildlife in the Park are the birds, and the active mountain Nyiragongo that today pulls international and local tourist into Democratic Republic of Congo for Congo gorilla safaris and Nyiragongo Trek.

Which can start from Kigali or Goma. Here I mean that you can come with the flight from your home to Kigali International Airport and then drive to Gisenyi and then cross to Goma or come a day before to Goma with the Ethiopian Airline and stay in Goma. Therefore, you can plan your tour to Virunga national park as follows;

Your first day will be arriving in points of activities and then access in the Park’s lodges which include; Lulimbi Tented Camp, Kibumba Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge and Bukima Tented Camp where you will spend the overnight plus having supper from there.

However before going to the lodge, you will first have the short detours in Congo in any destination of your desire.

The second day of your tour is when you will access Virunga National Park and you make sure that you go to the Park before 07:00am such that you get the pre – gorilla tracking briefing.

From the briefing, you will go for the tracking which starts at 08:30am and the activity is only recommended to individuals above 15 years of age plus those who are physically and reasonably fit since the activity is challenging.

8 individuals per group per day are allowed to go for the tracking and whenever you see the Mountain gorillas, you are emphasized to spend with the primates only one hour and keep at least 8 meters while viewing them.

Flashlight cameras are not encouraged to be used while taking photos therefore move with good HD cameras.

You will also get a brilliant view to various bird species, reptiles and mammals but while in the Park, you will be given a break during lunch time to go back to your lodge for lunch.

Then you will resume back to the Park for various activities such as bird watching, game drives whereby you will be able to see a variety of wildlife such as Okapi, Buffaloes, Elephants, Giraffes and by chance you will also see chimpanzees plus many other animals and birds.

In the Park you will also interact with the Bambuti pygmies which live near the Mountain of Moyo. Gorilla permit of the Democratic Republic of Congo costs US$ 400 high season and then US$ 200 low season and this is April to May and the November to Mid – December every year.

Your third day of your tour will be the hiking of Nyiragongo Mountain which is situated within Congo and Rwanda.

Here you will stay in the Nyiragongo Volcano summit shelters where you will also be enjoying the brilliant view of the Nyiragongo Mountain.

The hiking of Nyiragongo takes you two days whereby the hiking takes 7 to 9 hours which will be difficult for anyone to reach the climax on that very day.

The hiking will require you to be mentally prepared, believe that you can reach the summit and make sure that you are physically fit.

You are always emphasized to carry enough water and food plus scarves, sweaters/coats, gloves which will help you in the coldness.

It is always advisable to start the hiking in the morning though it is always warm but it is suspected to be more frigid then in the evenings.

The hiking of Nyiragongo Mountain should be an extended tour after the gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park that any tourist should not miss because it is one of the things which will make your tour very complete and a nice one.

Since you will spend two days in hiking Nyiragongo, your fifth day should then be a visit to Lake Kivu which is one of Africa’s great Lakes due to many activities that takes place from there.

You will see how methane is extracted from the Lake and also know the types of the many fish species which are caught from the Lake including the Nile tilapia.

Lake Kivu is also among the three African Lakes which undergo limnic eruptions of which the others include Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun all from Cameroon.

A visit to Lake Kivu should also take you at least two days because you will also get to see a variety of aquatic living organisms such as aquatic birds, crocodiles, and hippos. You will also get involved in fishing if you want plus the enjoyful boat trips at the Lake.

You will learn many things from the Lake as you will also be enjoying for example; you will also know the Lake empties to River Ruzizi which also later feeds Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.

Still at Lake Kivu you will have a chance to view the tenth Island on a Lake which is known as ‘’IDJWI Island’’.

This should really be your safari holiday in Congo after the tiresome activities in Virunga National Park and the hiking of Nyiragongo therefore you should visit Lake Kivu to have fun immediately after your visit to Virunga and Nyiragongo Mountain.

Congo Gorilla Regulations in Virunga National Park

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Protecting the mountain gorillas is the first rule; this means that if the tracker is sick or has any infections shouldn’t be allowed to come in contact with the gorillas.

Manners are recommended- always turn away your face while coughing or sneezing and remember to cover the nose as well as the mouth to help reduce on the bacteria transfer to the mountain gorillas.

Don’t over stay with the gorillas – End ever to stay for the only recommended time with the gorillas; it’s usually one hour that is allowed.

Keeping distance from the primates- it’s always recommended that you stay away from mountain gorillas between 5 to 7 meters because they are wild animals and can easily catch diseases from humans.

Well behaving while trekking: the rangers always advise the trekkers to keep noise levels as low as possible, avoid pointing or using flash light when taking photos of the mountain gorillas.

Being prepared- remember to always carry water proof and warm gears for the cool conditions within the mountains since it sometimes gets wet within the forest and comfortable walking shoes are of a great advantage.

No smoking and no snacks- Visitors are not allowed to drink or eat as well as smoking during Congo gorilla tours in Virunga National Park.

Cleanliness is recommended- Always wash your hands before engaging in gorilla trekking. Keep hands intact- don’t touch the mountain gorillas at any time, always keep hands to yourself to avoid direct contact.

Avoid littering within the forest and keep the trash to yourself. Always remain calm– Avoid direct eye contact in case the gorilla charges and stay calm until it moves away. Toilet manners- A ranger will be willing to dig a hole for you and after make sure it is fully covered.

Cost of Congo Gorilla permits

Those planning to track mountain gorillas in Virunga national park, you are advised to book with one of the best tour operators. The Congo gorilla permit 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 (May/April and November & October) whereby during 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.