Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park – Congo Gorilla Safaris
Gorilla trekking in Congo’s Virunga National Park is the cheapest among the three gorilla destinations of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. Congo is the only country where visitors can track both mountain gorillas and their lowland cousins in the wild.
Congo, formerly the Belgian Congo and more recently Zaire, has suffered a series of wars that have led to civil wars. However, being the second largest country in Africa with a population of 78 million. The country has vast untapped human and natural resources. The potential to create enormous wealth in the future comes from large reserves of oil, gold, diamonds, and others.
Additionally, Congo is endowed with great tourism resources, including vast pristine rainforests such as the Virunga National Park. Several Volcanic mountains, volcanic lakes, lakes, and rare species of birds and animals such as okapi and pygmy chimpanzees (bonobos).
While some neighbors may boast that they have families with the most surviving mountain gorillas. DR Congo is the only country in the world where you can find both mountain and lowland gorillas. They silently lead the golden monkeys to extinction.
The Democratic Republic of Congo may be the last country in the world to experience what was once Africa pristine. With a framework of peace and good governance, DR. Congo could easily become a major tourist destination in Africa.
Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park
Congo is the only country where both mountain and lowland gorillas can be found in the wild. It’s the perfect country to see eastern lowland gorillas in the wild. Lowland gorillas can be found in zoos around the world, but mountain gorillas can only breed in the wild. Lowland gorillas can be found in Kahuzi Beige National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While mountain gorillas can be found in Virunga National Park.
Mountain gorillas tend to be larger than lowland gorillas and have darker, thicker coats designed to survive in colder highlands. Both subspecies feed on leaves, shoots, and fruits. Both subspecies live in families/groups led by a dominant silverback male who is responsible for the safety of group members. Mountain gorilla groups are usually large, sometimes 30 or more. Males of both gorilla subspecies stay in the group longer. But females usually leave to join other silver groups or groups when they mature.
Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park
Mountain Gorilla Tours are only available in 3 countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Gorilla trekking is currently one of the most popular and attractive activities among tourists visiting Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo. This is mainly because mountain gorillas are closely related to humans, extremely rare, and endangered. For these reasons, seeing a mountain gorilla family is a very special wildlife event.
The gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park starts early in the morning of the trek. Trekkers need to get up early to follow the gorillas, have breakfast, and take whatever they need with them. These include long-sleeved shirts, raincoats, hiking boots, long warm socks, gloves, cameras, water, passports, visas, and gorilla permits. After everything is settled, visitors head to the park headquarters or the park rangers and rangers briefing.
Why Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park?
This overview covers several topics, including the history of each gorilla group, gorilla habitats, and the rules of gorilla trekking. A passport is required for cross-checks. Passport checks help rangers adapt groups of gorillas to the walker’s tongue. Other criteria such as fitness level and personal preference are also considered when assigning Congo gorilla families to visitors.
Enjoy local traditional dances as you wait to be assigned to a specific group of gorillas. After completing a briefing and assigning gorilla groups. You will be followed in groups of 8 per gorilla group under the supervision of park guides and armed rangers. The chances of seeing gorillas in Congo are high as rangers always know the latest gorilla location.
However, some challenges can extend the time it takes to find a set. These challenges include adverse weather conditions, terrain, and distance from the starting point to the location of a group of gorillas.
What to do When you find a Gorilla Family?
Once you find a herd of gorillas, you can expect close supervision from the dominant Silverman. After fully scanning for possible threats, Silverback usually allows the scan. You have 1 hour to spend with the gorilla family. This includes a dominant silverback male and the other members of the group caring for each other. A nursing mother, a toy, a stubborn teenager climbing and descending short trees, and the other silverback male.
It’s time to look and take pictures. If applicable. Some members may build nests for naps and nighttime preparations. You will see amazing things that will remind you of how we humans behave and take lots of photos. A 2-day gorilla tour from Congo Package might be interesting.
Tips for Planning a Gorilla Trekking in Congo’s Virunga National Park
Seeing gorillas in Virunga is a very exciting experience, but remember that monitoring can leave you exhausted, sweaty, and hungry. Enjoy the full experience from the moment you step into the jungle. There are some simple tips and things to keep in mind.
What to Do Before Booking Gorilla Safaris Tour to Congo?
- Be mentally prepared and reasonably fit before tracking a gorilla.
- Keep warm with gardening gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and pants. Long, thick synthetic socks can also help you stay warm at high altitudes.
- Gorilla trekking takes place all year round, but the best time for gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park is during the dry season.
- Use the services of a well-organized tour operator who will prepare everything for your booking.
- A well-planned gorilla trek is a well-equipped trek with a good-quality camera, plenty of water, snacks, a waterproof backpack, and insect repellent.
- Hire an overweight luggage porter who might tire you out of chasing gorillas.
- Gorilla Passes must be booked at least 3-6 months before the travel date.
- Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required before entering many African countries. Without this vaccination, it will be difficult to enter Congo.
- Always apply for a Congo visa before entering Congo. The cost of a Congo visa is $ 100.
- If possible, arrange travel insurance. It’s hard to find companies that serve visitors on safaris overseas, but some do.
- Reservation of accommodation near the departure point of the trip.
How to get to Virunga National Park?
After booking your gorilla permit, accommodation, and visa. You may be wondering how to get to a country the size of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Or more precisely Virunga National Park. The first step is to land at Kigali International Airport in Rwanda or Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
Rwanda-Congo Route to Virunga National Park:
Flights to Kigali usually arrive in the late afternoon or early evening. This means that the border office is not open 24/7. So, you may need to sleep in a hotel in Kigali before starting your journey to the Congo border. The journey to the border should start early the next morning. It takes about 4 hours by car from Kigali to Gisenyi. A private car costs $100, but public transportation costs a lot less. Local taxis cost less than $1 from Gisenyi to the Congo and Rwanda border.
landing at Entebbe airport takes less than an hour to reach Kampala via the new highway. The journey from Kampala to Kisoro, the city closest to the Congo border, takes about 8 hours. This long journey to the Bunagana border is exhausting for public resources. Either way, be prepared to pay $ 15- $ 20 depending on the season for public transport. Public transport prices increase during holidays such as Easter and Christmas. Many bus companies such as Bismarkan, Post Bus, Jaguar, and Horizon use the Kampala-Kesoro route. The P.O. box is more convenient for travelers.
Water Transportation to Virunga National Park:
For adventurous travelers, there is another way to get to Goma, Congo. Take a boat trip on Lake Kivu to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The boat trip costs between $ 300 and $ 400 and takes approximately 5 hours. The most expensive speedboat takes 3 hours in Goma. Speedboats are in high demand, so reservations are recommended. Due to the security situation in the area, it is recommended to use public rather than private boats.
Note: It usually takes less than 10 minutes to cross the border from Rwanda or Uganda to Congo if you have all the required documents. Before booking your flight, make sure you have a visa and a yellow fever vaccination card.
Cost of Gorilla Trekking in Congo.
A mountain gorilla permit in Congo costs $400, less than in Rwanda ($400) or Uganda ($700). In the low season, you can also have it at a discounted price. Gorilla passes can be booked through tour operators or directly from the Virunga National Park headquarters. A gorilla permit is a fraction of the total cost of a gorilla trek in Congo. You have to take into account the costs of transport, accommodation, and visa.
Acacia Safari’s gorilla tours fall into three categories: luxury, mid-range, and budget. Your final cost will depend on the category you choose. The estimated cost for a 3-day gorilla tour is $1,500 for the budget and $2,000 for the luxury. If you are planning a gorilla tour on a budget, there is no need to book the most expensive accommodation in Goma. There are cheaper accommodations in town that still offer good service.
Accommodation during the Gorilla Tour in Virunga National Park
A gorilla safari in Virunga National Park requires you to choose one of several accommodation options depending on your budget. The various accommodations are divided into luxury, mid-range, budget, or basic accommodations.
These are fairly inexpensive accommodations that offer basic amenities such as modest beds and restaurants with well-prepared meals. However, some services such as bar, TV, and hot shower are missing. But this was just a generalization. Most budget accommodations will surprise you with personalized, quality service that has absolutely nothing to do with your budget.
Mid-range accommodation in Virunga National Park:
These are so-called 2 or 3-star properties, priced between $ 100 and $ 290 per night and slightly more expensive. These offer a wider range of services than budget accommodation. They usually have separate rooms, better beds, TVs in the rooms, restaurants, restaurants, and bars.
These accommodations are classified as 5-star hotels and most of them are strategically placed. So, that visitors can enjoy the spectacular view of Virunga National Park. Prices range from $ 250 to $ 500. These establishments offer quality service with excellent rooms, restaurants, and bars.
Check out some of the other houses in Virunga National Park
Kibumba Tented Camp and Lodge:
Kibumba Lodge is one of the recently opened lodges in Virunga National Park. Located at the foot of Mount Nyiragongo, along a bumpy road in the park. Kibumba Lodge offers tented camps and permanently furnished rooms for budget, mid-range, and luxury travelers. Budget rooms cost $ 200 a night. Independent bathrooms, 24-hour hot showers, bedding, dining, and lounge facilities.
This luxurious lodge was built near Goma and has 12 beautiful rooms with thatched roofs, built-in mahogany wood, and decorated with lava stone. The strategic location of Mikeno Lodge near Virunga National Park allows visitors to experience an incredible wildlife experience. Including the sighting of chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, and many other bird species near their rooms. The lodge has a large private bathroom with a stone shower and curved tub. Furthermore, there is a dining room, a bar, and a relaxation room with a fireplace.
Lake Kivu Inn:
Located in Goma, on the shores of Lake Kivu, one of the most beautiful lakes in Africa. Decorated in an African style, the hotel has 20 rooms that overlook the manicured gardens and Lake Kivu. In addition to the panoramic view, they have a Nespresso coffee machine and a private bathroom with an Italian shower. It has a large swimming pool, meeting rooms, wifi, a fitness/beauty center, and constant power.
Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris Tour Packages to Virunga National Park
4 Days Mount Nyiragongo Trekking and Gorilla safaris Tour in Congo is designed for visitors interested in Nyiragongo trekking and gorilla trekking safaris in Congo. The safari includes a visit to the Virunga National Park in Congo and a tour of the city of Kigali.
The Gorilla trekking tour in Rwanda and Mount Nyiragongo 5 Day Rwanda Hiking Package is designed for those who want to hike Mount Nyiragongo but want to follow the firsts in Rwanda. During the tour, we will visit Lake Kivu and the Kazuko Ebi Cultural Village.
These 15 Days Congo Uganda Rwanda Safari includes visits to some of Africa’s best national parks. The safari starts in Uganda and ends in Rwanda. The 15 Days Congo Uganda Rwanda Safaris tour begins with a trip in Uganda’s safari destinations such as Murchison Falls National Park.