Virunga National Park is set to re-open on February 15th 2019-Congo safari news
Eight months after the profoundly difficult decision to close Africa’s oldest national Park-Virunga National Park is set to re-open on February 15th 2019. Founded in 1925, the 3,000 sq. mi Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park renowned as the Congo gorilla trekking safari destination for Mountain Gorilla trekking. Bordering Rwanda to the south and Uganda to the East which are host to Mountain Gorillas, Virunga National Park is the only national park in West Africa where you can trek Mountain Gorillas.
On Saturday 2nd June 2018, the chief warden of Virunga National Park, Emanuel De Merode, released an official statement in which he announced that the park would not be re-opened before the end of that year.
“However, it is abundantly clear that the Virunga region is deeply affected by insecurity and that this will remain the case for some time. For Virunga to be safely visited, much more robust measures are needed than in the past. This will require a very significant investment, and makes it impossible for us to re-open tourism this year.” Stated Mr. Emanuel De Merode
This statement came following several killings and kidnaps within the country that made Congo safaris unsafe in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province till now when its confirmed to be opening for tourists. By June 2018, at least 12 rangers had been killed in clashes with militia and smugglers in Virunga in the last 10 months making it one of the bloodiest periods in the park’s history.
Safety as Virunga National Park is set to re-open on February 15th 2019
As the park opens up for Congo safari tours either gorilla trekking or hiking Mount Nyiragongo (one of Africa’s most active stratovolcanoes), many ask of the security within the park area. During the closure of the park in 2018, the chief warden of Virunga National Park, Emanuel De Merode also stated that;
“We are investigating the incident and assessing all the additional measures that need to be taken to provide the strongest possible assurance that every reasonable step has been taken to keep our guests safe. To this end, we have hired an internationally respected specialist security firm to audit our security measures so that we can make a balanced and rigorous assessment of visitor security. We are also hiring additional security staff, both locally and internationally, to strengthen our team and our security protocols.”
As the park is set to re-open this 2019, the management of Virunga National Park is dedicated to ensuring the highest safety and security of all its visitors. Virunga Rangers are trained at international standards for visitor protection, including close protection, communication, first aid and evacuation procedures. In addition, Park management oversees the security environment by maintaining close ties with local authorities, community leaders, embassies, UN agencies and NGOs. The park management also cautions all tourists on Congo tours to adopt the appropriate level of sensitivity to the local cultural and political environment as an essential element of your personal security and of those accompanying you throughout your visit.
New Congo safari packages as Virunga National Park is set to re-open on February 15th 2019
Definitely something has been cooking and with the re-opening of Virunga National Park set for 15th February 2019, there are several new packages that have been organized making safaris to Congo even more interesting. All the packages are not yet available for booking at this time but just for your information on how the face of Virunga tourism will look like when it fully opens up, here is a highlight;
The Nyiragongo volcano trek is a stand-alone Nyiragongo trek which take two days with a night spent on the Volcano summit. As for now the Nyiragongo Volcano trek will be available for booking by 15th Feb 2019 when Virunga National Park re-opens.
The Mikeno Mist package inclusive of a gorilla trek, three-night stay in Virunga, two nights in Kibumba Tented Camp and one-night stay on Nyiragongo volcano will also be available for booking by 15th Feb 2019 when Virunga National Park re-opens.
The other packages that have been organized though not going to be available by the time of re-opening are;
Le Petit Virunga package which includes three nights’ stay in Virunga National Park, two nights’ accommodation at Mikeno Lodge, mountain gorilla trek, volcano trek and one night on Nyiragongo volcano.
The Virunga Classic is a five-day trip into Virunga: one-night initial accommodation at Mikeno Lodge, one-night accommodation at Bukima Tented Camp, two gorilla treks, two additional nights’ accommodation at Mikeno Lodge and one-night stay on Nyiragongo volcano.
The Great Ape package that offers the opportunity to see two great ape taxa in Virunga National Park. It consists of one initial night accommodation at Mikeno Lodge, one-night accommodation at Bukima Tented Camp, two gorilla treks with an additional two nights’ accommodation at Mikeno Lodge.
The Virunga Expedition package which offers the very best of Virunga National Park. It includes one initial night stay at the beautiful Mikeno Lodge, nestled in the heart of the Mahura Forest at the Park’s HQ in Rumangabo. Then on to a one-night stay in the gorilla sector at Bukima Tented Camp where guests will come face-to-face with endangered mountain gorillas. Guests will head back to Mikeno Lodge for two additional nights’ stay before setting off for the savannas of the Ishasha Valley for a three-night stay at Lulimbi Tented Camp. The package finishes off with a one-night stay on Nyiragongo volcano followed by two nights’ stay on Tchegera Island Retreat.
The Rutshuru Expedition package that offers the best of Virunga National Park minus the Nyiragongo volcano trek. It includes one initial night stay at the beautiful Mikeno Lodge, nestled in the heart of the Mahura Forest at the Park’s HQ in Rumangabo. Then on to a one-night stay in the gorilla sector at Bukima Tented Camp where guests will come face-to-face with endangered mountain gorillas. Guests will head back to Mikeno Lodge for two additional nights’ stay before setting off for the savannas of the Ishasha Valley for a three night stay at Lulimbi Tented Camp. The package finishes off with two nights’ stay on Tchegera Island Retreat.
If you have been wishing to tailor your Uganda gorilla trekking safari or gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda with a Congo safari, then now you can start to plan ahead. Check through the packages and contact a trusted Congo safari tour operator for details for good preparations a head with this good news as Virunga National Park is set to re-open on February 15th 2019
Written by Amagoro Sharon