Experience the Incomparable Virunga Region
Welcome to Virunga Guide, the complete guide for visitors looking to exploring the Virunga Massif of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is your guide to Africa’s oldest national park, the Virunga National Park of DR Congo, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park.
Let this guide help you plan your adventure to one of these amazing places on planet earth. Find out the best things to do, must see attractions, where to stay including safari lodges and exclusive tips to guide you in planning a gorilla trek in the park. Would you like to explore the park on an organized tour? We have listed the best tour operators and travel agents to book with a gorilla safari to Congo.
Plan your safari to the Virungas with extensive information on booking gorilla permits, planning gorilla tours, booking hotels and safari lodges in the Virunga Mountains. We offer extensive information on visiting the Virunga including best time to go, maps, guides, travel tips and much more. Whether you are a seasoned traveller or a first time visitor, you are in exactly the right place.
The aim of the Virunga guide is to Inform, Inspire, Excite and Equip you as you plan your next big adventure to the Virunga Region. Whether you are looking to mountain gorilla trekking, volcano hiking or any other adventure, our resourceful information will help you in planning a memorable safari!
Things to See
Virunga National Park is internationally recognized for its great attractions and biological diversity. The park is internationally recognized for its great attractions and biological diversity. The 7,800-square-kilometre park contains rare species of animals including the critically endangered mountain gorillas only found in three countries in the world.
The national park is comprised of the great diversity of habitats, ranging from swamps and steppes to the snowfields I that its range contains an amalgamation of steppes, savannas and plains, marshlands, low altitude and afro-montane forest belts to unique afro-alpine vegetation.
The 7,800-square-kilometre park contains rare species of animals including the critically endangered mountain gorillas only found in three countries in the world. the mountain gorillas in the south are the celebrity attraction that brings most visitors to the park.
Though the park is most famous for hosting the endangered mountain gorillas, it is rich in wildlife. The reclusive endangered Okapi giraffe lives in the northern section of the park, the elephants occupy the eastern areas of the park and the chimpanzees in the South. There are also other animals in the park like chimpanzee, elephants, leopard, monkeys, and many others as well as several bird species. Read More
The chain of active volcanoes together with the permanent glaciers and snow on Mount Rwenzori whose peaks culminate in 5000 m height make the national park the best of all Africa’s national parks. Virunga national park has a total of eight volcanoes two of which are so much active and eruptions do take place after some few years. These active ones include the Nyamuragira volcano and the Nyiragongo volcano, which last erupted in 2002. The two volcanic peaks are responsible for two-fifths of the historic volcanic eruptions on the African continent and which are characterized by the extreme fluidity of the alkaline lava.
Explore the Virunga Region
Straddling the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC, the Virungas are not a mountain range as such, but a chain of isolated freestanding volcanic cones strung along a fault line associated with the same geological process that formed the Rift Valley.
What Does Virunga Mean?
The name “Virunga” is an English version of the Kinyarwanda word ibirunga. Ibirunga means “volcanoes” in the native Rwandan language.
Why Visit the Virunga
Spending a holiday in the Virunga can be a magical time. For well-prepared visitors, traveling to the Virunga will get you treated to a whole new set of discoveries.
Things to See
The Virunga Region embraces one of the world’s most outstanding concentrations of mountain gorillas, mountains and valleys, wild plants and animals. The Region also harbors a rich collection of human stories – from the Batwa and Bambuti, pygmoid tribes in Africa to interesting conservation stories. Therefore, the Virunga Mountains are an extraordinary place to visit. There are lots of things to see in the Virungas and these include;
The Virunga region has a chain of eight major volcanoes. These ranges are located along the northern border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. These include the Nyiragongo Volcano, Karisimbi, Sabinyo, Muhavura, Bisoke, and more.
The Mountain Gorillas of the Virunga Volcanoes inhabit an area that is shared between three countries, the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. The mountain gorillas in these parks keep on migrating from one park to another in search of fruiting trees and leaves. Read More
Popular Things to Do in the Virunga Region
From the popular gorilla treks to rock climbing to river rafting, the Virunga is filled with outdoor adventures. But you’ve got to know where to go — and when to go. Whether you’re looking for a cold-weather adventure, a warm fireplace, or a little of both, Yosemite is a magical place in fall and winter!
Take a tour to the Virunga and enjoy a one-of-a-kind gorilla trekking experience. There are few experiences in the world more memorable than coming face to face with a wild eastern mountain gorilla. You will get to see the great apes in the wild.
Enjoy spectacular views of the Virunga Volcanoes, a string of eight mountains that span the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.
Perhaps the Democratic Republic of Congo’s most magnificent single sight, The trek to the top is an absolutely unmissable experience that you will enjoy!
Unlike gorillas, chimpanzees are fast moving, love to climb high into the canopy and are more wary of humans. You will see the chimps in the Virunga National Park.
Africa’s third highest mountain, located amongst the world-renowned Mountains of the Moon whose glaciers are a source of the Nile.
Popular Places to Visit in the Virunga
The Virunga Region boasts of an extensive and comprehensive park system, with three national parks of great importance that are distributed in three African countries. These national parks protect some of the Africa’s most stunning natural areas and unique wildlife including the endangered mountain gorillas.
All these three national parks host incredible wildlife including the mountain gorillas a rare specie only endemic to three countries in the world. These parks are;
- Volcanoes National park in Rwanda,
- Virunga National park in DR Congo and
- Mgahinga National park in Uganda
These three parks are located in the Virunga ranges which cover the three countries.
Plan the Perfect Trip with our Informative Resource
The Virunga Guide is the #1 guide to visiting the Virunga National Park and the neigboring national parks; the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.
The Virunga National Park
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s biggest single draw is this superb national park – the first in Africa – which has been rejuvenated in recent years to of fer a superb range of attractions. Trips here are normally focused on visits to the multiple groups of habituated mountain gorillas within the park, as well as to do the magnificent hike to the top of the active Nyiragongo volcano, where you can stare down into a bubbling lava lake in the mas- sive crater below. However, there are many other activities on offer, including chimp treks, mountain climbing and birdwatching. This is Africa’s hauntingly beautiful, beating heart and rarely is it possible to recommend somewhere so full heatedly.
The Virunga National Park is the best tourism destination in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a great variety of unique natural, historical, cultural and heritage features which all provide travelers with great and memorable experience.
The national park covers the western shores of Lake Edward, known for its hippopotami while elsewhere, marshland, grassland plateau and plains dominate the park.
The Ruwenzori Mountains lie on the Ugandan border and rise to alpine meadows and a glacier, while Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira are both active volcanoes with substantial associated lava plains.
The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and receives vital funding from the European Union.
Planning to take a tour to the Virunga National Park? The following quick links will get you started:
Getting Here – Where is the Virunga National Park? How do I get there?
Accommodation – Where should I stay? In the park or outside?
Attractions – What is there for me to see and do?
Parking for a Safari – What should I bring? What clothing for the climate?
Touring the Park – Guided Tours, Are there maps and guides available?
Here are some important or essentials tips to save you time and money.
- Best Times to Visit the Mountain Gorillas
- Best Times to Visit the Virungas
- The Virunga’s Best Hikes Rated
Getting around the DRC can be a slog. The transport network is virtually nonexistent, there are danger areas to be avoided and even getting a visa can give you a migraine. So no surprise, then, that some travellers find it easier to just let someone else organise everything for them.
The following tour companies are highly rec- ommended and can help with everything from obtaining a visa to organising a full expedition down the Congo River.
All accommodation inside the national park is run by ICCN. Most budget travellers base themselves in Goma and travel up to the park on day trips rather than spend the big bucks on the park lodge at Mikeno. Accommodation within the park works on a full-board system; day trippers should bring a packed lunch and plenty of water.
(Tel 0991715401; www.mikenolodge.com; s/d & tw incl meals US$316/450; pW ) Easily the most luxurious and beautifully designed hotel in DRC, Mikeno Lodge is a pampering slice of bliss in the wilds of the Congo jun- gle. Each of the 12 vast bungalows is made of dark volcanic stone, rich mahogany and beautifully crafted thatched roofs. Inside they boast a cosy lounge, open fire and a bathroom with a stone-lined shower.
Bukima Camp TENTED CAMP
(Tel 0991715401; www.visitvirunga.org; Bukima; s/d inc meals US$316/450) S This magical spot is also the departure point for many of Virunga’s gorilla-tracking excursions, which means you’ll be able to sleep later by staying here. The campsite consists of eight luxuri- ous tents with their own bathrooms, a large communal dining shelter and some stun- ning views towards the mountains.
Gorilla Trekking in Congo
Currently, Virunga National park is very conducive and safe for gorilla tracking tours, with the established security in the area and conservation of the Mountain Gorillas. There are six families of the mountain gorillas habituated for tourist visits.