The Virunga National Park is a recognized United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site positioned to the east of Democratic Republic of Congo forming the territorial boundary with Uganda and Rwanda. The Virunga National Park stands as the oldest National Park in Africa and the most diverse protected area biologically in the whole of Africa.

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Virunga National Park stretches over a geographical coverage of 7800 Km2 about 3000m2  comprised of savannahs, forests, lava plains, erosion valleys, swamps, glaciated Mount Rwenzori peaks and the active Volcanoes that combine to make their encounter in Congo Safari memorable.

The Virunga National Park provides shelter to approximately a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas along with other two great species namely the eastern lowland Grauer’sgorillas and the Chimpanzees.  In fact it is amazing to note that Virunga is the only National Park in the world where the three Great Ape species thrive together. Besides the great apes, the Virunga National Park also features the endangered Okapi species that resemble a Zebra though it is greatly related to the giraffe. The park shelters considerable populations of Hippopotamus, the savanna and forest elephants, the lions along with counts of bird species.

Virunga National Park is comprised of three sectors namely;

The Rwenzori Mountains Sector which is to the north of the park on the border of Uganda. The snowcapped peaks of Mount Rwenzori rise to 5000m about 16,400 feet on the Congo side forming one of the magical scenic wonders that one on Congo Safari will always find memorable to explore. It is within the Semliki Valley in the shadows of Rwenzori that the Okapi are very common.

The middle sector features Lake Edward which is the home to over 50 species of fish along with counts of birds, the River Valley of Ishasha the home to the steady recovering Hippo counts that were once the largest in the world and the Plains of Rwindi where concentration of Buffalo, Elephants, the Warthogs, along with Topi antelope.

The third sector is the Virunga Mountain Sector famous for the mountain gorilla populations which thrive on the edges of Mikeno Volcano rising to 4380m/14,557 ft. Besides gorillas, this southern sector is famous for the dense forest cover which supports Chimpanzee populations and a range of monkey species. Nyiragongo volcano rising to 3470m/11,382 ft stands across the valley and the Congo safari undertakers that hike to the top of the mountain are treated to the magnificent of the largest lava lake in the world. In the same sector, there lies Nyamulagira Volcano noted to be the most active volcano in Africa. It is noted that from late 1800s, the Mountain has erupted 40 times with the recent ones being Jan 2010 and November 2011.

Virunga National Park was established in the year 1925 under the directive of King Albert I of Belgium and become a World Heritage site in 1979. The park main reason for gazzettion was to ensure the protection of the Mountain gorillas. Following the Independence of Congo, the park is now under the management of Congolese National Park Authorities – the Institute Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) in conjunction with the Virunga Foundation which initially was known as Africa Conservation Fund.

Regarding the biodiversity, the Virunga National Park features 218 species of mammals, 706 species of birds, the 109 species of reptile and 78 species of Amphibians. The park also supports 22 species of primates.

Fauna/Wildlife as an attraction in Virunga national park
The Virunga National Park supports a count of 218 species of mammals, 109 species of Reptiles and over 78 species of amphibians. The Park supports a range of 22 species of primate among which include the three great ape species namely the Mountain Gorilla, Eastern Low land Gorilla and the Chimpanzee. The park supports the third of the remaining populations of mountain gorillas and stands as the only park in the world where the three species of great Apes thrive. Other interesting species include the hippopotamus, elephant, buffalo, a range of antelope likedefassa waterbuck,kob, topi, warthog, lion and a range of monkeys.

Birds as attractions on Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park features a count of 706 species of birds of which 24 of these are considered endemic to the Park. Considering the Virunga’s diverse habitats, the birds of various categories can be explored. Some of the bird species in Virunga National Park include theibisis, herons, egrets, duck, bitterns, geese, cormorants, darters, skimmers, open bills, shoebills, ospreys, francolins, gulls, warblers along with weavers. The lower Rusthuru River Valley features counts of Pelicans while the far north features the papyrus yellow warbler. The Grauer’s swamp warbler thrive in the volcanic highlands, the Bamboo, heath stream and forest thicket supports Rockefeller’s sunbird while the Ruwenzori mountain forests support the Shelley’s crimson wing and Stuhlmann’s doublecollared sunbird along with the RwenzoriTuraco, the Handsome Francolin among other species.

Flora / Vegatation in Virunga national park
The Virunga National Park is positioned in the interception of various geographical zones enabling it shelter a range of vegetation species with immense diversity. The flora diversity in Virunga National Park include the equatorial forest along the Semiliki; bamboo and Hagenia forest on the mountains; wooded savannah of the Rwindi; steppes; various low savannahs; swamps and transitional habitats; dry thick forest; Neoboutoniamacrocalyx forest on the lava plains; wet thick forest; alpine forests; and sparse vegetation above 4,300 m comprising mainly lichens and spermatophyta, although Graminae have been found growing at over 5,000 m.

Mountain gorillas as an attraction in Virunga National Park
A total of 880 mountain gorillas are apparently known to be thriving in the world and the 480 of these gorillas live in the greater Virunga Massif where the Virunga National Park is found. The Eastern lowland gorillas – the Gorilla gorillagraueri thrive on Mount Tshiaberimu. The Mountain gorillas thrive in Mikeno sector which is close to 2 ½ hours’ drive from Goma. The gorillas can also be accessed from the Uganda’s border post at Bunagana. The Congo Gorilla Permit is given at $400 which is cheaper than Uganda’s $600 and Rwanda’s $750. The permits are booked through the Congolese Wildlife Authority Goma Sales Office.

Mountain Gorillas Trekking as a tourist activity in Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park features counts of mountain gorillas in her Mikeno sector which is 2 ½ hours’ drive from Goma. The travellers from Uganda can also undertake gorilla trekking passing via the Bunagana border post. The gorilla permit in Virunga National Park is $400 and these permits can be secured from the Sales office of Congolese Wildlife Authority in Goma or buying direct from ICCN.
The gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park starts from Bukima Patrol Post and the trek invove 1 -2 hours of hiking putting in consideration movement of the mountain gorillas, where they spent the previous night and the terrain. The direct encounter with the gorillas takes one (1) full hour just like in Uganda and Rwanda.
Virunga National Park feature a range of habituated gorilla families and these include;

1. Kabirizi Family
The Kabirizi gorilla family is comprised of 34 gorillas which include 2 Silverbacks. The gorilla family is located in the Bukima sector close to Goma led by the Kabirizi Silverback. This gorilla group derives its naming from the former Director of the ICCN who perished in a motor accident in the 1990s. Initially Kabirizi was a wild gorilla until 1998 when he was habituated and became the head of the gorilla family. The Kabirizi gorilla family was known as Ndugutse gorilla group as it was led by Ndugutse Silverback before he was killed in the year 1997 amidst a cross fire between the Congo Army and the Rwanda Rebels close to patrol post at Bukima.

2. Humba Family
The Humba Gorilla family is led by the Humba Silverback and also thrives in Bukima sector near Goma. The Humba Gorilla group comprises of 16 gorillas along with 2 silverbacks. The Humba Gorilla group is notably the most calm habituated gorilla family which has made it a preference for Congo gorilla safari undertakers and the rangers in terms of tracking. Humba is noted to be the Silverback Sekwenkwe’s brother who was killed on July 22nd 2007 by unknown gun men. Humba separated from his father Rugendo in the year 1998 and has since maintained the group dominance up to now.

3. Rugendo Family
The Rugendo Gorilla family features 6 gorilla members with 3 silverbacks. This gorilla group is led by Rugendo the father of Humba. The group was habituated in the year 1989 and the group had increased to 18 members with 2 silverbacks namely Rugendo and Humba his son. Following the separation of Humba in the year 1998, the family remained with only 8 members but fortunately there was consecutive birth and the number increased in the next few years. There were two births in 1999 by Safi producing Katembo while another female Neza also gave birth. Unfortunately, the Rugendo gorilla family was caught in the crossfire between the Interahamwe Militia and the Military on July 15th 2001 and the Silverback was shot dead only 40m from the park border. The group was further attacked in 2007 and a count of 4 gorillas were shot including 3 adult females namely Neza, Safari and Mburanumwe along with Sekwenkwe the lead Silverback as the successor of Rugendo.

4. Mapuwa Family
The Mapuwa gorilla family is comprised of fifteen (15) members along with 1 Silverback and is located in the Jomba close to Bunagana – the border with Uganda. This gorilla group is led by the dominant Silverback Mapuwaand is noted to have protected his family in the thick and thin. Mapuwa is also a son of Rugendo who separated to form his own family in the year 1998. He left with 2 adult females called Mafaze and Jicho. He is noted to have fought zealously to acquire more females for example in 2002; he encountered Pili-Pili and managed to secure 3 members leaving him alone. The group experienced rapid birth and the family now features 15 members.

5. Lulengo Family
The Lulengo family features six (6) gorillas and one (1) Silverback. The family is led by Lulengo and it dwells in Jomba close to Bunagana. Lulengo is an offspring of Rugabo family which is noted to be the first gorilla family in Mikeno sector to have been habituated. Initially, the gorilla family was called Masekura but the rangers changed the name to Lulengo to commemorate the Technical Director of Virunga National Park who lost his life to a landmine. Rugabo his father lost his life to poachers during the 1994 Great Lakes Refugee Crisis and following his demise, the family remained with Lulengo, Pili-Pili, Nvuyekure and Mareru.

6. Munyaga Family
The Munyaga gorilla family is positioned in Bukima close to Goma and it features 7 gorilla groups with 2 Silverbacks and is noted to be last gorilla group to be found by the rangers in the year 2008. This gorilla family was led by Munyaga and the Bilali the dominant female. The Bilali joined the group from Rugendo in the year 2004 with her two babies but their unfortunately passed away. The Silverback Munyagaalso got lost and apparently the group is under the dominancy of Mawazo Silverback that used to live with Buhanga until 1997, joining Karatega and then Buhanga in 1998 before joining the Munyaga gorilla group a month later.

Nyiragongo Volcano Hike as a tourist activity in Virunga National Park
Nyiragongo is a re-known magnificent stratovolcano featuring the largest lava lake in the world. The forested lower slopes of the Volcano provide a shelter to a range of wild animals such as Chimpanzees, Bush buck and the Monkeys. The summit of Nyiragongo is free of vegetation and is always dusted by snow. From the panoramic top, the Congo Safari undertakers can view the Lava Lake feeling the sights and sounds of the hot gasses exploding up via the mosaic of molten lava. Despite the fact that Nyiragongo eruption is always predictable and thus considered safe for the Congo Safari undertakers, the Nyiragongo Volcano is mostly feared in the times of eruption. The Nyiragongo Volcano Lava feature high silica content and as a result its lava flows are greatly fluid. During the volcanic eruption of 2002, the Nyiragongo lava flow was timed at 100 km/hr (62 mph) and stretched all the way to Kivu Lake.
The Nyiragongo hike starts at Kibati patrol post about 30min by car from Goma. The Kibati Patrol post is about 1 hour drive from Mikeno Lodge in Rumangabo. The Park rangers coordinate the treks along with the local porters who can be hired on ground. The time taken to summit Nyiragongo would depend on the individual fitness but it normally takes 4 – 6 hours. The climb commences at 1989m (6,525 ft) and rises to 3470m (11,382ft) in short time period. This drastic change in altitude can be neutralized by proper hydration and people prone to the Acute Mountain Sickness can seek the preventative measures form their respective physicians.
The hike to Nyiragongo summit and back can be conducted by the physically fit individual though most prefer to spend a night on the mountain. The mountain accommodation is included in the permit fee.

The Nyiragongo Volcano trekkers are required to carry along the full rain and cold weather gear like the moisture-wicking base layer, jacket, sweater or fleece, rain resistant pants, warm socks, hat,long underwear and a 0°C/32° – rated sleeping bag. The summit temperatures are always below the freezing point and though the trekkers approach the summit the sweating as a result of steep climb, this immediately paves way for coldness. The complete base layer change is a must and failure to carry along the proper gear leads to hypothermia. This therefore requires keen preparation.
The trekkers commencing from theMikeno Lodge can carry packed Meal service but others coming on their own or under tour operators have to arrange for their own. Mikeno lodge guests can also add the gear for overnight like snacks, hot dinner, sleeping bag, breakfast, kitchen porter along with the cook. It can be noted that there is no food service at Nyiragongoand porters can be hired on ground at $12 per day which is $24 round trip. Each porter takes 15kg. The climb commences latest 9am from Kibati Patrol post.

Rwenzori Mountain Trek as a tourist activity in Virunga National Park
Rwenzori Mountains lie on the border of Uganda in the north of Virunga National Park with the magnificent snowcapped peaks standing as the third highest in Africa. The trek to the Rwenzori on theCongo side takes about 4 – 6 days. The trek to the Rwenzori offers you stunning scenery and an encounter with its various vegetation zones like Bamboo and Apline meadows along with the glacial peaks.
The best time to trek Rwenzori Mountain is from January through the Middle of March and from June to late August. The Mount Rwenzori hiking cost is $200and at a supplement of $116, the Congo Safari undertakers on Mount Rwenzori climb stand an opportunity to sleep in the huts along the set trail.
The Virunga National Park does not have the mountaineering gear thus the Congo Safari undertakers interested in hiking Rwenzori Mountain need to carry own equipment like hiking boots, warm base layers and rain gear. The porters are available for hire on ground and the price is negotiable. The trekkers interested in reaching Margarita or other summit will also have to carry climbing hardware, ice axes and crampons.

Visit the Tongo Chimps
Virunga National Park features a habituated gorilla family in the magnificent Tongo Hills that are positioned in the southern section of the park and west of Rumangabo park headquarters presenting a memorable chimpanzee trekking experience for a traveller on Congo Safaris. Tongo is a distinctive forest Island and the home to the minimal Chimpanzee population. The Chimpanzee forest stretches on one of the lava flows arising from the Nyamulagira Volcano and is noted to be over 300 years old. The Tongo forest like some of other protected areas in this region of Congo faced closure to the travellers.

Mikeno Lodge
Mikeno Lodge is positioned at 90minutes drive from the town of Goma standing as an upmarket / Luxury lodge in Virunga National Park. The lodge features an expanse bungalows and impressive restaurant. Every Bungalow features a private fire place.
The Mikeno Lodge is surrounded by a forest with the views of the Albertine rift valley along with Mikeno and Nyiragongo Volcanoes.
Accommodation rates at Mikeno Lodge
Single FB $316
Double FB $450

Bukima Tented Camp
Bukima Tented Camp is located at the edge of Virunga National Park and is a notable starting point for mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park. The Bukima Tented Camp initially was set up for research groups before being taken over travellers on gorilla safaris in Congo. Accommodation at Bukima is presented in platform tents which are quite plush considering the camping standards. Every tent at Bukima features an adjoining bathroom with flowing water, good bed and dresser for the clothes.
The camp offers spectacular views of the Mikeno Volcano, Nyiragongo with red glow of the lava at night and Nyamulagira and its eruption wonders. Accommodation is presented in 6 tents of which 4 feature double beds while the two feature twin beds.

Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters
The Nyiragongo Summit Shelters are twelve in number (12) in number and each feature 2 single beds where trekkers on Congo Safari can put up their sleeping bags. It is a basic accommodation on the mountain allowing you to neutralize the mountain environment. The cost of staying at these facilities is included in the Nyiragongo Hiking permit and its prices are given as follows;
Adult International $250
Adult Congolese $90
Child International $125
Child Congolese $25

Tchegera Island Tented Camp
Tchegera Island Camp presents a perfect hideout from Goma town or a relaxation environment following the Nyiragongo hike. Located off the north shore of Lake Kivu, the Tchegera camp presents spectacular views of the Volcano and the Lake. On clear days, the Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira turn the night sky red with their glowing lava. The Island on which the camp is situated feature a range of bird life like African Eagles, Herons, Cormorants and gulls. The guests can choose to explore the lake by the paddle boat or Kayak and the Tchegera Island camp provides a perfect ground.
Round boat trip $100
Single $160
Double $260

Accommodation in Goma

Lac Kivu Lodge
The Lake Kivu Lodge is positioned on Plot 162 Avenue Alindi – Quartier Himbi, Goma in the North of Lake Kivu. It is impressively located in a lush tropical garden close to the shores of Lake Kivu.
The Lake Kivu Lodge features a range of rooms that range from Economic to Budget, Standard, Standard Plus, Classic and Deluxe Room. The Espresso Coffee Machine is presented in rooms ranging from Budget to Deluxe along with locally crafted rocking chair on every balcony and IPAD available on request from the reception.
The Lodge features the best restaurant in Goma town and features two (2) conference rooms where workshops and seminars can be conducted.

Lac Kivu Lodge has recently extended and now 13 more rooms are available with access through the actual LKL 1. There, the typical architecture of three houses turned into bedrooms willenchante the visitor. At LKL 2 guest will enjoy the access to the swiming pool.
Because of the electricit,y poorly provided by the city, at LKL 2 we have a generator on at certains moments of the day. When no electricity in town, the hours from the generator go from : 6am to 8am. 12pm to 2pm and in the evening from 6pm until 11pm. Internet is accessable from 6am until midnight.

It’s the beauty of nature and the calmness of the place that affect’s the traveler upon arrival at the lodge. While in Goma, this lodge with it’s family athmosphere will delight you.
The lodge has beautiful rooms that are distributed as Economic, Budget Room, Standard Room, Standard Plus, Classic Room, and Deluxe Room. From Budget to Deluxe category, espresso coffee machine, locally made rocking chair on each balcony are offered in each room. Lac Kivu Lodge has recently extended and now 13 more rooms which are available with access through the actual Lac Kivu Lodge 1. There, the typical architecture of three houses turned into bedrooms are very fascinating to each and every visitor staying in the rooms.

The restaurant in the lodge is reputated for being the best table in Goma and it serves both local and international dishes.

In regard to events and conference, the lodge has two conference rooms are which are at visitor’s disposition, for seminaries or meetings.

Hotel Amenities and Facilities

Breakfast in the Room
Hair Dryer
Honeymoon Suite
Snack Bar
Ironing Service
Laundry
Restaurant
Water Sports (Non-Motorized)
Airport Transfer
Taxi Service
Internet -Free WiFi in selected areas in the hotel
Free Wifi inside the room
Wi-Fi in Public Areas
Free Private Parking Area
Food and Beverages ie Breakfast, European Food and Light Snacks

Lodge Rates:

Room category Rates in USD
LKL 2 Budget USD 70
Economic USD 80
Budget Room USD 70
Standard Room USD 130
LKL 2 Standard USD 130
Standard Plus USD150
Classic Room USD 150
Deluxe King USD 200

Ihusi Hotel Goma
The Ihusi hotel is a luxury establishment positioned in Goma town with the views of Lake Kivu one of the expanse lakes of Africa. The Hotel features impressive Greco-Roman Architecture, Restaurant with the views of the Lake
Hotel Ihusi Amenities
• 24hr reception
• Business Centre
• Cocktail bar
• Conference & meeting facilities
• Currency exchange
• Laundry, valet & dry cleaning
• Adequate Parking
• Swimming Pool
• Restaurant
• Satellite cable TV
• Secretarial services
• Smoking allowed
• Tennis court
• Air conditioning
• Nonsmoking rooms
• Room service

Hotel Linda
Hotel Linda is a midrange hotel positioned to the East of Democratic Republic of Congo presented in modern architecture. The Hotel is 4km from the Goma Airport and presents a perfect ground for hiking Nyiragongo Volcano or tracking the critically endangered mountain gorillas.
The Hotel rooms overlook Lake Kivu and feature fridges, Internet and Television. The Hotel features gourmet restaurant serving fresh food along with a well-stocked bar.
The Hotel Linda features 3 meeting rooms where one features a seating capacity of 600 people, another has capacity of 75 people and another takes up to 50 people.
Single $60
Double $70
Semi Apartment $80

Caritas Hotel
Positioned in Goma town, the Caritas Hotel also overlooks Lake Kivu. The Hotel has a count of 37 rooms offering Budget accommodation to the Congo Safari undertakers. The Hotel features a restaurant and bar open every day between 7 am – 10:30pm. The Hotel also features two conference rooms taking 100 and 50 people respectively.
Single BB $40
Double $50
Triple $60
NGOS $50
100 seat conference room $100
50 Seat Conference $50