Congo gorilla trekking
Congo gorilla trekking is the major activity enjoyed by different travelers most especially those who love spending time with Mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. In Congo, these mountain gorillas are encountered in the eastern part in Virunga National park which is also part of Great Virunga Massif which consists of three national parks including Mgahinga gorilla national park in south western Uganda and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. Above with an inclusion of bwindi impenetrable national park in Uganda are the only locations within Africa and entire world where one can enjoy a gorilla trekking tour with at least 1014 mountain gorillas still surviving in the wild. Virunga national park is considered to be a world heritage site due to the fact that it is the oldest national park in Africa to be opened up for gorillas trekking. As of now Virunga national park has 8 habituated mountain gorilla families which include; Mapuwa Gorilla family, Kabirizi gorilla family, Humba gorilla family, Rugendo, Namakwa, Munyaga, Lulengo, and Bageni all available for daily trekking at any given period of time making it the country with the least number of gorillas in Africa after Bwindi which harbors more than a half of the mountain gorillas plus one family in Mgahinga gorilla national park, followed by volcanoes national park that harbors about 30% of the mountain gorillas and finally Virunga.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park like any other gorilla trekking safari is starts early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters and later on trekkers hire the porters and trail deep into the forest as they search for habituated mountain gorillas amidst armed rangers and the local Congo tour guides. The trek lasts between 30 minutes to full day and once a particular gorilla family is spotted, trekkers are allowed to spend a maximum time of one hour standing at a minimum distance of at least 7 meters away from the gorillas as they learn all the possible manners of the mountain gorilla including feeding habits, mating, breastfeeding among others as the gorillas roam within the forest in search of food. I know you won’t miss to take those photographs for memorial reference but ensure that your camera is in silent mode and turn off the flash light.
Other things to do during Congo gorilla trekking in Virunga National park
During gorilla trekking in Virunga national park, travelers are in position to encounter other different wildlife species that call this park their home. Lots of wildlife encountered in the forest include; Primates species such as Chimpanzee, Dent’s Mona monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, golden monkey, De Brazza’s monkey , Central African red colobus , mantled guereza , and olive baboon, Mammal species such as African buffalo, Waterbuck, marsh mongoose, Duiker, African bush elephant, Forest hog, Ugandan kob, Topi, warthog, Lions, Ugandan kob, Bird species including Rwenzori turaco, Kivu ground thrush, dusky crimson-wing, red-faced woodland warbler, blue-headed sunbird, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, handsome Spurfowl, Rwenzori batis, grey-crowned crane, black-and-white-casqued hornbill, yellow-rumped tinker bird, African thrush, grey-chested IIladopsis, black bishop, mountain IIladopsis, black-headed waxbill, pin-tailed whydah, thick-billed seedeater and reptiles such as Nile crocodiles and the green topography.
Requirements for gorilla trekking in Virunga national park
A Congo Gorilla trekking permit: Congo gorilla trekking permit is a MUST possess document. Before thinking of trekking mountain gorillas in Virunga National park, you need to have booked a Congo Gorilla trekking permit which is picked at the park head office prior to the trekking date. This gorilla permit costs $400 per person during high / peak season and it goes low by a half to $200 in low seasons. It is only n Virunga national park that one can enjoy a discounted gorilla trekking permit during the low seasons. Even during high seasons , the gorilla trekking permit in Virunga still remains cheaper than any other destination as a Ugandan permit costs $600 which has been trained to $700 with effective from July 1st 2020, and a Rwanda gorilla trekking permit costs $1500 per person all allowing the maximum of one hour in presence of mountain gorillas in the wild.
Good gorilla trekking attire: this consists of good waterproof hiking boats, long sleeved shirt, a trouser, sunglasses, a cap, a rain jacket, and garden gloves.
On trekking day, remember to hire a porter at the park headquarters that will be helpful in carrying the backpack and even offer a hand during hard trails.
Pack enough drinking water and snacks to assist you and keep you hydrated during the trek.
And finally always follow all the gorilla trekking rules and regulations and listen to your guide at all the times.
Getting to Virunga national park for gorilla trekking safari
Getting to Virunga national park can either be by road or by air
By road: To get to Virunga national park, one has to take a flight into Kigali International airport and then have a road drive to Gisenyi boarder at the immigration office for clearances before crossing over to Goma city in DRCongo. All you require at this point is a form showing that you were vaccinated and then pick your Congo Visa and proceed to the park headquarters for a gorilla trekking permit before heading to the lodge.
Getting to Virunga national park by air: Travelers on another hand can decide to take a flight into Goma and then connect to Virunga national park
Conclusion: Other than gorilla trekking, Virunga national park offers a lot of other activities that are worth participation and these include, Chimpanzee trekking in Mahura forest, volcano hiking such as Nyiragongo hike, Mikeno Hike, among others. Also Virunga gorilla trekking can be combined with lowland gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega National park to maximumly explore different primate species in DRC.
Below are a some of Congo’s Popular gorilla trekking packages