Covering an area of 790,000 hectares, virunga national park is comprised of the outstanding diversity of habitats, ranging from swamps and steppes to the snowfields of Rwenzori at an altitude of over 5000m from the lava plains to the savannahs on the slopes of volcanoes. Virunga National Park is unique with its active chain of volcanoes and rich diversity of habitats that surpass those of any other African park. Its range contains an amalgamation of steppes, savannas and plains, marshlands, low altitude and afro-montane forest belts to unique afro-alpine vegetation and permanent glaciers and snow on Mt Rwenzori whose peaks culminate in 5000 m height. The park was established in 1925 and is managed by the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN).
Virunga National Park is located in the Virunga conservation area that stretches across the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo. The national park is one of the four only national parks that have mountain gorillas in the whole world. The park is located alongside the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Other than mountain gorillas, Virunga National Park is a home to many wild animals among which are 20,000 hippopotamuses that live in the rivers and birds from Siberia to spend the winter there.
It is in Virunga National Park that travelers find mount Nyiragongo which hosts the largest lava lake in the whole world and travelers are always excited and blessed to have this experience alongside wildlife. The spectacular massifs of Rwenzori and Virunga Mountains containing the two most active volcanoes of Africa and a wide diversity of habitats produces exceptional biodiversity, notably endemic species and rare and globally threatened species some of which are not found somewhere else in the whole world.
While in the Virunga National Park, the activity of Nyiragongo is of world importance as a witness to volcanism of a lava lake. The bottom of its crater is in fact filled by a lake of quasi permanent lava that empties periodically with catastrophic consequences for the local communities. The northern sector of the Park includes about 20% of the massif of Mt Rwenzori – the largest glacial region of Africa and the only true alpine mountain chain of the continent. It borders the Rwenzori Mountains National Park of Uganda, inscribed as World Heritage, with which it shares the ‘Pic Marguerite’, third highest summit of Africa (5,109 m).
There are six habituated mountain gorilla families in the Virunga National Park available for gorilla trekking. It is believed that a gorilla trekking safari is the most wildlife encounter that every traveler should not miss out. Also the gorilla permits is at 450usd in the Democratic republic of Congo which is relatively cheaper as compared to 750usd in Rwanda and 6oousd in Uganda, travelers can take advantage of this and enjoy the memorable experience at the lowest costs.
Chimpanzee trekking is yet another tourism activity in the virunga national park. These species are the close relatives to human beings in the way they behave and demonstrate their roles. They are divided into families and each member is strongly attached to its family. Spending time with these species is a great experience that a traveler lives to memorize in his /her travel life time.
Inc conclusion therefore, the Virunga national park is the oldest national park in the democratic republic of Congo and is a home to mountain gorillas and Nyiragongo with the largest larva lake. It also has a lot to offer to travelers all interesting. This is a great package that every traveler should not miss out.
Resources: The Virunga National Park travel planner