Virunga national park is located in the Albertine rift valley in the eastern part of the democratic republic of Congo. The national park was established in 1925 with an area cover of 8,090 square kilometers. The national park has 2 active volcanoes that is mount nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. The national park was mainly gazette to conserve the endangered mountain gorillas that are found in Uganda and rwanda only. The national park is famous because of the birds, mammals as well as reptile concentration. The recognized animals include chimpanzees, giraffes, mountain gorillas, buffaloes among others.
ATTRACTIONS IN VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK
The national park is blessed with a number of wildlife species due to the good weather, fertile soils that are rich in plant mineral content. The 2012 census recorded over 218 mammal species, 22 primates and 706 bird species among others. The tourists within the Virunga national park spot wildlife while on game drives, nature walks, hikes, boat cruise as well as trekking. Mammals include leopard, okapi, bongo, elephants, buffalos, lions, blue duikers, bay duiker, yellow-backed duiker, red river hog, giant forest hog, Topi among others. The best place to spot the primate species is the montane forest and alpine vegetation.
The national park has a very gratifying warm weather as well as moderate showers. This is so because the equator line passes through the Virunga and has high temperatures. Most of the parts in the Virunga are at a higher altitude and thus get cold all the time. The Virunga soils have nutrients for plant growth as well as favorable temperatures that ensure rapid plant growth. The national park is as well surrounded by the large water bodies such as lake kivu, Edward, albert as well as other small rivers such as river congo, Nile, semliki and other tributaries that have cool breezes.
The national park is blessed with a high diversity in terrain, land features, vegetation as well as plant species. All the above makes it an ideal place for the mammals to live. The 2012 wildlife census recorded 218 mammal species where 22 are primates, 706 bird species, 109 reptiles as well as 65 amphibian species. Tourists spot the wildlife species while on game drives, nature walks, hikes, boat cruise among others. The noticeable mammals that are observed while grazing in the open grasslands include buffalos, lions, elephant, hippopotamus, leopard, okapi, bongo, warthog, waterbuck, giant forest hog, kob and many more.
ACTIVITIES IN VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK
Due to the extension of Virunga mountains into rwanda and uganda which are the only habitat for the mountain gorillas in Africa. Gorilla trekking safari is the major activity that is carried out in the democratic republic of congo. The national park has quite a large population of the mountain gorillas and six habituated families that are ready to be trekked. Kabirizi family is the most famous gorilla family by tourists while on their trekking safari in the Virunga national park. It’s known to be the dominant polygamist silverback with the largest gorilla individuals that is close to 3 dozen.
The habituation process is the most famous activity in the Virunga which started in 1987 by Frankfurt zoological society for research and study purposes. The tourists walk and explore the rainforest as they look for the gorilla families that aren’t bothered by the eyes of adventure. The tourists are restricted to only an hour where they get to interact with the chimpanzees. The habituation process is an activity that offers tourists an entire day of interacting with the chimpanzee families.
NYIRAGONGO VOLCANO HIKE
The national park boosts with the natural beauty of the park which is in abundance. Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano but is safe for hiking. Tourists hike up to the peak of the mountain as they observe the natural geographic force as its boiling melting lava gush out of the earth crust which is an experience that is worthy. Hiking mount nyiragongo tests the tourist’s braveness and awakens their senses.
The national park is blessed with a variety of birds that are habitats to the mountains, rainforest, open grassland, swamp and wetland, waterbodies as well as rift valleys. The national park is blessed with over 706 bird species and these include the grey throated barbet, narrow-tailed starling, Rwenzori turaco, African fish eagle, Madagascar bee-eater, black bishop, Rwenzori batis, double-toothed barbet, stripe breasted tit, African goshawk among others
The nature walks are done within the tropical rain forest with the thick vegetation. But some of the parts within the national park are woodland, grassland and swamp. The nature walks are done in the morning as they explore the amazing beauty of the landscape and the entire wilderness. The nature walks are led by the park rangers who know the forest trails very well