Virunga national park is situated in the Albertine rift valley in the east of Democratic republic of Congo and was started in 1925 by kin of Belgium known as king Albert 1. The national park is famous for the mountain gorilla trekking and boosts about 2 active volcanoes that is Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira which are habitats to wildlife species. The national park was first called Albert national park and was gazette to safeguard the endangered mountain gorillas. The national park has an area cover of 7,800 square kilometers as it stretches from the Virunga ranges to Rwenzori in the north.
The national park has bird species, mammals as well as reptiles. Other wildlife include; mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, giraffes, buffaloes, okapis, antelope, warthogs, hippopotamus as well as pelicans among others.
ATTRACTIONS IN VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK
The national park has warm weather and moderate showers. This is because of the equator that runs through the Virunga and has high temperatures. A few parts of the Virunga are on a higher altitude and thus get chilly all the time. The surrounding water bodies such as lake kivu, Edward, albert, and other small lakes have cool breezes and thus ideal for adventure activities. Therefore, the climate is favorable for the tourists while on their safari
The national park has a variety of wildlife species due to the good weather as well as soils that are fertile and rich in plant mineral content. The national park has swamps, wetlands, vegetation with waterbodies and the open savannah grassland which is suitable for the wildlife to live in. wildlife species such as lions, leopards, warthogs, elephants, okapis, mountain gorillas, hippopotamus among others.
The Virunga national park is rich in diversity such as the vegetation, land features and plant species. All these make the national park a perfect place for mammal species to live. The national park has over 218 mammal species, 22 primates, 706 bird species, 109 reptiles and 65 amphibians. Tourists can spot these animals while on their activities such the game drives, nature walks, hikes, trekking among others. The mammals in the national park include elephants, buffalos, lions, hippopotamus, leopard, okapi, bongo, warthog, waterbuck, blue duikers, bushbuck among others.
ACTIVITIES IN VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK
MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREKKING
Mountain gorilla trekking is the most done activity within the national park. Virunga national park has 6 habituated gorilla families that are ready to be trekked by tourists. The national park is among the 4 parks that gorillas are still conserved such as Mgahinga, Bwindi impenetrable national park and Rwanda volcanoes national park. Kabirizi is the largest family within Virunga national park with 32 individuals. Other gorilla families include Humba, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga and Rugendo families.
Chimpanzee habituation is also one of the major activities within Virunga national park. The chimpanzee habituation was begun by a zoologist known as Frankfurt in 1987. A lot of tourists have come on a Congo safari in the Virunga national park to carry out the habituation process. The chimpanzee habituation permit costs 100USD and it allows tourists to interact with the chimpanzees as well as learning more about them.
The national park is a tropical rain forest with a thick vegetation and the park has a number of trails that lead to various directions and sites. Tourists have an opportunity to spot animals such as buffalos, elephants as well as primates mostly monkeys, Thomas cobs and a number of hippopotamuses that live on the shores of lake Edward and other waters in the national park.
The hiking of nyiragongo an active volcano is also another exciting activity in the national park. The nyiragongo is located in the center of the national park and it has the largest lave lake in the world.
The mountain last erupted in 2002 and lava streamed to 20km into the community and up to 2002. The mountain has recorded 34 eruptions in the world history.
Virunga national park has amazing and spectacular montane landscapes in the neighboring countries. These include the snow summits and the jagged relief of the Rwenzori mountains. The Virunga conservation area together with the afro alpine vegetation of tree ferns and the dense forest. The tourists are also able to spot the eroded valley in the ishango and sinda regions.