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.