With about 1004 Mountain gorillas left in the wild, there is no doubt that Africa’s gorilla safaris are the most trending Africa safari activity done by travellers on Africa safaris. Mountain gorillas were only destined to live in three destinations in Africa; Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. Being the most sought primates on earth, mountain gorilla trekking is the sought after Africa safari tour activity that in most cases doesn’t miss in tourist’s itineraries especially those interested in visiting Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo where these precious primates reside.
Despite their recent population growth, the mountain gorillas remain threatened and they are dependent on conservation efforts to survive. As of 2018, mountain gorillas were reclassified as Endangered and scrapped off from the critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. These mountain gorillas live in high steep mountain tropical forests of up to 4,500m above sea level hence acquiring their name.
Will Virunga National Park Open Mountain Gorilla Safaris Soon?
Following the rapidly unfolding situation regarding the global spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, Virunga National Park Congo on Wednesday 18th March 2020, decided to temporarily close mountain gorilla safaris in Congo starting Monday 23rd March 2020. Virunga National Park’s temporary closure of Congo mountain gorilla tours is being undertaken as a protective measure that is in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendation to restrict movement and limit social contact.
Virunga Park, in particular, reached this decision following advice from scientific experts indicating that all wild animals closely tracked by tourists, including mountain gorillas, are vulnerable to complications arising from the COVID-19 Virus and they may end up losing them. And because of that, the park management is dedicated to safeguarding the reaming of our population of these endangered species in the Virunga National Park.
In accordance, no new bookings for mountain gorilla tours in Congo will be accepted before Monday 1st June. However, opening the park may not be possible because of the rise of coronavirus victims in Congo. As of today 26th May 2020, the Democratic Republic of Congo has over 2403 cases and 68 deaths. Only 340 have recovered from the virus. All Congo tour companies and tourists holding bookings with the park in the next months may be subjected to postponement up to June 2021.
However, the park is committed to reopening mountain gorilla safaris as soon as the situation allows. Its tourism team will be in touch with those individuals who have booked a Congo trip during the period indicated above (23rd March- 1st June).
Updates will be provided about the situation and when they have any information regarding the situation.
Attack Of Civilians, Virunga employees and Virunga Park Rangers just after the CLosure of Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Virunga NP
It is with great sadness that Virunga National Park on 24 April 2020 confirmed that there had been a significant attack by armed groups near Rumangabo village that has resulted in substantial loss of life. Reporting to us, the attack included civilians, Virunga employees and Virunga Park Rangers. All the available information given to us indicates that the attack was done on the local civilian population.
Virunga Park Rangers were not the target of the assault but lost their lives responding to the attack in defence of the local population. This is a devastating day for Virunga National Park and the surrounding communities. This remains a developing situation and until the facts of the incident are verified, Virunga respectfully requests that speculation and misinformation are avoided. Further information regarding the identities of those that have sadly lost their lives will not be released until their families have been informed and as well as confirmed the specific details regarding the attack. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all the victims as well as the injured, some of whom are fighting for their survival.
A Brief about Virunga National Park
How Big is Virunga National Park?
Virunga National Park is about 3,000sq.mi. Virunga National Park is a UNESCO heritage site and Africa’s oldest park. This park alone is home to 25% of the world’s estimated 1004 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world alongside other unique ape species that can be sighted here, including the Chimpanzees.
Where is Virunga National Park?
Looking for where is Virunga National Park located? Virunga National park is situated in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province bordering southwestern Rwanda and southwestern Uganda. Uganda and Rwanda share with Congo the Virunga massif (chain of volcanoes). Rwanda’s part is called Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s share is called Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These parks are all home to Mountain Gorillas.
Attractions in Virunga National Park
Mountain gorillas are the key attraction within Virunga National Park. The park though believed to have the highest number of mountain gorillas in the Virunga massif has a total of 8 habituated gorilla families tracked by tourists while the rest are still wild mountain gorillas. The park has always been open to travellers interested in gorilla trekking safaris in Congo. A total of 8 tourists allowed to trek a single gorilla family at USD 400 per person per day. A single hour is spent in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
Gorillas just like human beings live a social life, they have families and family hierarchy is followed. Each family group is led by an older male gorilla known as the silverback. This is because of the silver fur that develops on their backs as they grow older. The silverback is responsible for family protection against all forms of danger and feeding. You will enjoy this interaction on your safari.
Mount Nyiragongo Volcano
Mount Nyiragongo is one of Africa’s most active volcano with recent volcanic eruption activities in the 20th century. The mountain is about 3,470m high with two distinct lava benches one about 3,175m (10,417ft) and the other at 2,975m (9,760ft). Congo`s volcanic mountains-mount Nyiragongo and mount Nyamuragira, take approximately 40% of the volcanic eruptions in the history of Africa. Mount Nyiragongo in Congo houses the world’s largest lava lake. Mount Nyiragongo hike is the most popular activity aside from a Congo gorilla tour.
The chimpanzees are another primate species that reside in Virunga national park. Chimpanzees live in the forest of Virunga more so in the areas of Rumangabo. A total of four tourists are allowed to spend a maximum of one hour with the chimpanzees every single day. The chimpanzees have highly been threatened by instability and that’s why their protection is very vital. Bookings for a chimpanzee habituation experience and safaris is done at Mikeno lodge only. In case of any illness, a tourist has requested a volunteer to stay behind since chimpanzees are highly susceptible to human diseases.
The Batwa Pygmies
The Batwa pygmies are former inhabitants of the Ituri forest who lived a hunter-gatherer life in harmony with the gorillas in the forest. Because of conservation purposes and need to boost Congo Gorilla Trekking Tours, the Batwa were forced to live in the foothills of the mountains. The Batwa pygmies are known to be in the foothills of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
In conclusion, Virunga National Park is a great Congo safaris destination and a good place to visit if you’re looking forward to having an African safari. Each activity in Virunga National Park can be done as standalone activity and can also be tailored with other safari activities or with trips like Uganda safaris and Rwanda safaris. With eased chartered flights in the neighbouring Uganda & Rwanda, safaris in Congo can also be tailored to Kenya safaris or Tanzania tours thanks to great wildebeest migration that crosses through the two countries.
Visit the first national park of the continent! Virunga National Park is “untouched” and offers rewarding safaris.
Congo Gorilla Packages