Situated in the Central Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo borders the Central African Republic, and South Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east; Zambia and Angola to the south; and the Atlantic Ocean to the south-west.
Virunga National Park – a world heritage site that falls on the Virunga Conservation Area, an area that is shared by Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. The biggest part of the park is on the Congo side meaning there is a greater chance of seeing both mountain and lowland gorillas here. The park is globally known for its mountain gorilla population, but up in the north, a small group of Grauer’s gorillas (lowland gorillas) are struggling to survive. They live in a small isolated forest called Mount Tshiaberimu, just 77 square kilometers in size, northwest of Lake Edward. This gorilla population is down to just six gorillas in two groups.
Virunga National Park is among the best destinations for gorilla trekking and it’s cheaper because Congo gorilla permits only cost $400 per person. Apart from mountain gorilla trekking in Congo, you can also trek to see the eastern lowland gorillas in Bukavu’s centerpiece – Kahuzi Biega National Park. This park has over four gorilla families that can be visited daily by trekkers.
4 reasons why you should visit lowland gorillas in the DRC
- Permits are cheap. A Congo gorilla permit costs just $400 irrespective of the gorilla specie you are going to track. This is $1100 less than the $1500 permits fee for gorilla tracking in Rwanda.
- Easy to connect for a hike to Nyiragongo for just $270. This is apparently the most dangerous active volcano in the whole world.
- Shorter treks are involved during the adventure making it easy for you to watch gorillas.
Mountain and lowland gorillas trekking in Congo start from Rwanda and take a simple drive to Gisenyi, by passing through the thousand hills and down into the Rift Valley of East Africa. For a better adventure, you can choose to combine your Congo safari with a 3 days Rwanda gorilla safari.
Accommodation at Virunga National Park
Mikeno lodge: Mikeno Lodge is a hidden gem within Virunga National. The bungalow accommodation is spacious, luxurious & very private, each with fabulous tree or valley views. Each bungalow has its own fireplace which is lit every evening while you are out enjoying the scrumptious dinner.
Kibumba Tented Camp: Kibumba Camp is an excellent choice for those seeking a more affordable way to experience the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park. The camp is conveniently located near the trailhead for Nyiragongo volcano, which makes it a perfect place to stay. It is more convenient for those that want to get experiences of both gorillas and the world’s largest lava lake. Guests can also enjoy nature hikes just outside the camp or walk down to the local Kibumba marketplace for a vibrant cultural experience.
Bukima Tented Camp: At Virunga National Park boundary lays the Bukima tented camp, which is one of the main starting points for Virunga mountain gorilla trekting. The camp was originally built for researchers, but is now used primarily by trekkers. As the name suggests, overnight guests at Bukima sleep in platform tents, each tent features an adjoining bathroom with running water and a nicely appointed bed and dresser for clothes. The views from the tent sites or anywhere in camp for that matter are spectacular. To the south, the view is dominated by Mount Mikeno.