Virunga National Park


  3 reviews
Virunga National Park | Inspired Journeys
Virunga National Park | Inspired Journeys
About Virunga National Park
Country found in:
Parks total area:
7800 km² (3000 mi²)
Year established:
1969
Anti-malarial:
Recommended
Park wildlife:
  • Home to one-third of the world’s mountain gorillas
  • Primates galore! Over 20 species of primate found in Virunga
  • Stunning views of volcanic mountains
  • Unique, high concentrations of biodiversity, both plant and animal

Located in the northeast corner of DR Congo, Virunga National Park is part of Virunga Conservation Area along with Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park. It was established as Albert National Park in 1925 and changed to Virunga in 1969. In 1979 it became a world heritage site.

Due to its dramatic variations in altitude, from 680 m (2231 ft) to 5,109 m (16,765 ft), moisture levels and topography, Virunga National Park possesses a very wide diversity of plants and habitats, making it the top African National Park for biological diversity.
The scenery of Virunga National Park is truly stunning. It contains several volcanic mountains such as: Karisimbi, Mikeno, Visoke, Sabinyo, Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo, with the last two still very active. A wide-range of plant species abound here, with more than 2,000 identified. It also contains more than 200 mammals and 22 primate species: the mountain gorilla, the eastern plain gorilla and the eastern chimpanzee.  For those wishing to see more than just primates, some of the largest wild animal concentrations in Africa occur along the rivers of the park. Mammals in the savannah area include: elephant, hippopotamus, buffalo, antelope, warthog, pelicans and lions.

Tragedy in Virunga National Park

The civil war in the early 1990’s in Rwanda had a devastating impact on neighboring DR Congo. It is estimated that around two million refugees moved into the Kivu province. This mass influx of people had a marked impact on the fauna and flora, with massive poaching and deforestation resulting. In 1996, the World Heritage Committee recognized that major effort would be needed for at least ten years after this tragedy to rehabilitate and restore management of the park and regain local support for its conservation. Sadly, nearly all of the gorilla tourism has ground to a halt, with a small number of tour operators still operating there.
 

When to visit Virunga National Park

Virunga is a land of extremes when it comes to many things, including weather. It is home to the most and least rainfall in the DR Congo. Although rain can be experienced at any time of year, the months with the most precipitation are March to May and September to December. The raised elevation also keeps temperatures roughly around 20 and 23C (65-73F) in the lowlands.

 

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Reviewed by:

(5/5 stars) Written on: Mar 30, 2015   |   Visited: Jan 2015.
Although you certainly need to keep an eye on the volatile security situation in the days leading to your visit, the Goma and Kibati area is a fantastic destination to visit and experience the Heart of Africa. Locals are friendly and the stunning bold and bright Congolese fabrics will make a lasting impression on you.

However, the Parc National des Virunga will... read more

I saw

Mountain gorilla
Chameleon
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11 people gave this review kudus.
Reviewed by:

(3/5 stars) Written on: Oct 28, 2014   |   Visited: Jan 2012.
A visit to Virunga National Park is certainly not for the faint of heart. Africa's oldest national park has been caught in the crossfire of a decades-long civil conflict in the eastern DRC. The park itself is home to refugees, military, military police, poachers, and park rangers along with the wildlife the park is meant protect. Violence is, unfortunately, a commo... read more

I saw

Mountain gorilla
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12 people gave this review kudus.
Reviewed by:
** Safari guru **

(5/5 stars) Written on: Feb 21, 2014   |   Visited: Aug 2012.
At the back side of Queen Elizabeth National Park lies Virunga. This is where biodiversity is evident in all aspects. I had underestimated the park. After the civil, war word had it that human habitations within the park had down graded it so much. A friend of mine just wanted to prove me wrong. We accessed the park via Uganda where we had been working for couple o... read more
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12 people gave this review kudus.
Safari suitability: 6 / 10
The opportunity to see the endangered mountain gorilla and 200+ mammal species is something unique to Virunga. Its lack of tourist infrastructure and the difficult trekking conditions may not be appropriate for all levels.
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Articles about the Virunga

Nearby parks and game reserves

Animals you can find

Mountain gorilla
Mountain gorilla
Lion
Lion
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Elephant
Elephant
Giraffe
Giraffe
Warthog
Warthog
See a complete list

Getting to Virunga

Activities you can do

Bird watching
Bird watching
Bush walks
Bush walks
Cultural / Tribal visits
Cultural / Tribal visits
Photography
Photography
Shopping/markets
Shopping/markets
Trekking
Trekking

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