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Virunga National Park reviews

3 reviews

“Virunga is one of few places in the world to see an active lava lake and is a great gorilla trekking destination for the adventurous.” - Morgan

Visiting Virunga

Views: 474 Visited: Jan 2012 Reviewed: Oct 28, 2014

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 common occurrence. Driving through the occupied areas of the park over very bumpy roads gives a distinct feeling of unease. However, the park also houses incredible biodiversity as well as sights and experiences you can't have anywhere else on the continent! The team managing the park is extremely professional and doing their best under the circumstances. Trips are surprisingly easy to organize through the very up-to-date official Virunga website.

Climbing Mount Nyiragongo to view the world's largest lava lake is a once in a lifetime experience and is a must for visitors to the park. It has recently reopened after being closed for a few years over security concerns. Spending time with mountain gorillas is also a huge draw card for the park, and you are likely to be trekking with few, if any, other tourists. We had the Rugendo family to ourselves when we visited. By contrast, in neighboring Uganda and Rwanda there is often a waiting list for permits to visit the gorillas. Accommodation for Nyiragongo and gorilla trekking is very rustic but fits nicely with the adventurous nature of the activities. A new luxury lodge has opened since our trip, and chimp trekking options are in the works.
Virunga really has it all. Besides gorillas and volcanoes in the southern end, the central section features savanna and typical safari animals, while the north abuts the famed Rwenzori Mountains. Travel to these sections is not very feasible currently due to security concerns and lack of infrastructure.

A visit to Virunga is a real adventure, with genuine thrills, threats, hardships and pleasures. It’s not glossy, sanitized, prepackaged tourism on a platter. It’s the real deal for travelers looking of an immersive experience.

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