A guide to gorilla trekking in Virunga national park; Virunga national park is one of the oldest national parks located on the eastern edge of the Congo basin. The national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 due to its ecological importance and its one of the destinations that offers the interesting gorilla trekking activity which involves visitors moving into the tropical rainforest in search of the mountain gorillas and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Apart from Virunga national park, gorilla trekking is also done in Kahuzi Biega national park in Congo, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda.
Virunga national park is a home of about 8 habituated gorilla families namely Kabirizi family, Bageni family, Mapuwa family, Rugendo family, Munyaga family, Lulengo family, Humba family and Nyakamwe family which is available for trekking daily. Gorilla trekking is the major activity in Virunga national park and it starts very early in the morning with a briefing about the rules and regulations to follow during trekking. After the briefing, you will be sub-divided into groups of 8 people where each group will be allocated a habituated gorilla family to trek and a park guide who is well conversant with gorilla trekking trails in the jungle.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park takes about 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on where the gorillas are located because they like to move from one place to another in search of food. During trekking you will be able to view other wildlife species, primates, different bird species, plants among others and once the mountain gorillas are found, you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat, learn about their behaviors, habits, watch them carry out their daily activities, take photos and record videos to show people back home after the safari.
Cost of gorilla trekking permits in Virunga national park
Gorilla trekking permits are legal cards that are issued to visitors above the age of 15 years allowing them to visit any habituated gorilla family and spend one hour with the mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking permits in Virunga national park cost 400 USD per person for foreign non residents and foreign residents and 200 USD per person for Congolese citizens. Virunga national park is also the only destination that offers discounted gorilla permits during the low or rainy season which favors budget travelers. Congo offers the cheapest gorilla trekking permit compared to other gorilla destinations like Rwanda where the permit costs 1,500 USD per person for all nationalities and Uganda where the permit costs 700 USD per person for foreign non residents.
How to book gorilla trekking permits in Virunga national park
Gorilla trekking permits in Virunga national park can either be booked directly through Virunga tourism office by contacting the park offices via email or telephone calls inquiring about permit availability. Gorilla trekking permits in Virunga national park can also be booked through a rusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris where you will contact us with the date, month and year when you wish to visit the mountain gorillas. After contacting us we will check for permit availability and if there are permits available on your preferred dates, you will be asked to make a deposit for the permit. Once we receive the money, we will purchase the permit on your behalf.
Booking gorilla trekking permits through Achieve Global Safaris is the best option to use in that we will not only book your permit but also organize your entire safari including transportation to the national park, accommodation and other activities to engage in after gorilla trekking.
Best time to go for gorilla trekking safari in Virunga national park
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park can be done anytime throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February because during this period there is less rainfall in the national park therefore gorilla trekking trails will be dry and passable which make gorilla trekking easy.
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park can also be done in the low or rainy season during the months of March to May and October to November because during this period the national park offers discounted gorilla trekking permits at 200 USD per person and the discount runs from 15th October to 15th December.
How to get to Virunga national park
Virunga national park is located in northeastern part of Congo and can be accessed by air and road transport means whereby you will fly to Kigali international airport in Rwanda and then drive to Gisenyi town through Le Grande Barrier border. Visitors can also fly to Goma international airport and then connect to Virunga national park.
Virunga national park can also be accessed from Bukavu in Congo to the park headquarters which takes about 5 to 6 hours’ drive, A guide to gorilla trekking in Virunga national park
Where to stay in Virunga national park
There are a number of accommodation facilities in Virunga national park ranging from budget, midrange and luxury where you can stay during your gorilla trekking safari including Lulimbi Tented Camp, Tchegera Island Camp, Kibumba Tented Camp, Bukima Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge among others.
What to pack for your gorilla trekking safari in Virunga national park
There are a number of items that travelers should carry or pack for the gorilla trekking safari in Virunga national park including long sleeved shirt and trouser, hiking boots, waterproof rain jacket/ poncho, camera and extra batteries, energy snacks and drinking eater, walking stick, a pair of binoculars, backpack, warm sweater, garden gloves, hat and sunglasses among others.