Encounter Congo Gorilla Safaris

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Admitting the civil wars that crowded the country for long, Democratic Republic of Congo is appreciating value of security and is currently a peaceful country. Gorilla conservation is at the forehand as the country gets back to normal and although lots of efforts are required for gorilla conservation, the country is doing what they can to protect the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla safaris tours offers Congo gorilla safaris in Congo National Parks like Virunga and Kahuzi Biega National Parks which also offers other tourist activities like chimpanzee treks and the Nyiragongo Volcano hikes as well.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has a section of the Virunga Mountain called the Virunga National Park. The DRC stands out as the only in Africa where of the three of the great apes are known to be thriving forming a rich background for Gorilla Safaris Tours. Aside from trekking the critically endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, the park also hosts a population of the Eastern Chimpanzees in Tongo forest and the Eastern Lowland gorillas that thrive in Kahuzi Biega National Park.

The Congo gorilla safaris are done in Virunga National Park located in the southern part of the Park. Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park, covering 3,000 square miles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the world’s last mountain gorillas and other rare wildlife and plants. It is also home to the Eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, tree-dwelling lions, okapi and hundreds of other endangered species. It also houses the world’s only gorilla orphanage. The four that live there were orphaned as babies because of poaching and violence. They’ve been hand-raised by park rangers, who have devoted their lives to being gorilla mothers.

Congo gorilla trekking permits are affordable compared to those of the neighbouring countries Uganda and Rwanda, thus making it the cheaper amongst them. Gorilla Safaris Tours offers Congo gorilla trips with beautiful scenic drive in the “Land of a Thousand Hills” of Rwanda. You embark on the drive to Congo’s Virunga National Park north west of Rwanda as you drive through impressive landscapes marked by beautiful hills approaching Gisenyi on Lake Kivu, one of the Africa’s largest lakes.

All gorilla treks are led by park rangers and usually depart from Bukima patrol post. Treks usually take 1-3 hours of hiking in each direction, depending on where the mountain gorillas spent the previous night and the difficulty of the terrain. A visit with a mountain gorilla family is a life changing experience, although getting to see gorillas is not easy, nor are you guaranteed to see them. The trek to where the gorilla group lives takes you through dense vegetation, up steep slopes and can last up 8 hours. The dense vegetation is filled with burning and stinging nettle, so wearing gloves is a good idea. Red ants are also common, so wear long socks to tuck your trousers into. Gorillas move around so they are not all that easy to track. The gorillas you will be meeting are habituated to humans which is why you are able to get quiet close to them.

Mountain gorillas are highly intelligent, good natured, and fascinating to observe and watch. People are equally struck by the care that mothers show their young. And then, of course, there are the juveniles who spend most of every waking hour at play and never cease to make visitors smile. Time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour. In DRC a permit costs $400 per person. You can track gorillas at any time of year, although the rainy season tends to make the paths a little more difficult to navigate.

If you are planning on trekking with mountain gorillas in DRC Congo, I recommend that you also visit the Nyiragongo volcano mountain. The Nyiragongo volcano is a large basaltic stratovolcano located about 15km north of the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The volcano is famous for persistent lava lake activity in its huge summit crater. Nyiragongo is one of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains. Hiking up the 3,470 metres Nyiragongo volcano is an experience of a lifetime.  Treks to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano begin at the Kibati patrol post, which is 30 minutes by car from Goma and less than a one hour from Mikeno Lodge. Park rangers lead all treks and porters are available for hire. The time required to reach the summit depends on the average fitness of each group, but typically takes 4 – 6 hours.

In Democratic Republic of Congo, there are two parks where gorillas can be seen. The eastern lowland gorilla found in Kahuzi Biega National Park a protected area near Bukavu town in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is situated near the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. Set in both mountainous and lowland terrain, it is one of the last refuges of the rare species of Eastern lowland gorilla, an endangered category under the IUCN Red List. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1980 for its unique biodiversity of rain forest habitat and its eastern lowland gorillas.

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