Virunga National Park - Gorilla Safaris Congo

Virunga national Park stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the south, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the north, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

Virunga National Park was formed in 1979 covering an area of 7800 square kilometer World Heritage Site that lies on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it borders Uganda as well as Rwanda. It is the oldest national park in Africa and the second oldest in the world (after Yellowstone). It is named after the Virunga Mountain (volcanoes) range that lie in the south of the park. the park however is much larger and stretches all the way north to envelop Lake Edward as well as the Rwenzori Mountains.

Virunga National Park is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 and it ranks high when it comes to congo tourism with the main tourists attractions being gorilla trekking & Nyiragongo Volcano hiking tours.

Park History

The park is known for its exceptional biodiversity, containing more bird, mammal and reptile species than any protected area on the continent of Africa. Although mountain gorillas are now extremely rare and listed as one of the most critically endangered species, successful conservation work has helped to secure the remaining populations. Their populations actually increased during the years of political upheaval in the region (1994–2004), and have continued to do so even throughout the difficult period of 2007-2008. The 2010 mountain gorilla census has indicated that the conservation efforts of Virunga have been very successful regarding the gorilla population. Both savanna and forest elephants as well as chimpanzees and low land gorillas can still be found in Virunga, along with okapi, giraffes, buffaloes and many endemic birds. The neighboring Mount Hoyo area was managed with the park and is home to a population of Bambuti pygmy people, caves and waterfalls.

Landscape

The nightly glow from the lava lake within the Nyiragongo volcano can be seen from miles away Virunga National Park is unrivalled in its diversity of landscapes and ecosystems. The parks bounderies envelop low land tropical forest in the north; high alpine forest in the Rwenzori Mountains; riverine forest around the Semliki and Rutshuru rivers; swamplands around lake Edward, savannah north and south of the lake; montane forest on the hills of the Virunga volcanoes and old (and new) lava flow landscapes

Flora and fauna

The park boasts an astounding biodiversity due to the large variety of habitats it offers. In the southern sector the Mountain Gorillas attract most attention but the montane forests are also home to other primates such as Chimpanzees, Golden monkeys, Blue monkeys and black and white colobus. Forest Elephants and Buffalo are also found in this area as is the very shy Golden Cat. The central area of the park consists mostly of savannah with species such as Lion, Leopard, Kob, Hyena, Topi, warthog etc. The lake, once containing the largest population of Hippo's (over 20.000), is now slowly regenerating after many troubled years and Hippo's and Crocodiles are once again a common sight. In the North of the park in the deep Congolese forest the most elusive of African creatures is found: the Okapi