Located within the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Virunga National Park has diverse habitats and remarkable terrain, extending over 7800 square kilometres. It is bordered by both the Volcano National Park in Rwanda and the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda. From its founding in 1929 as the first national park on the continent, this exotic and intriguing expanse has drawn visitors from all over the world.
From the southern to the northern sectors of the park, the landscape is an emergence of dense alpine and riverine forest, marshland, open savannahs and lava fields. The park also boasts over 218 mammal species including savannah and forest elephants, giraffe and buffalo as well as over 700 bird species. The true wonder of the area however, rests with the hulking presence of 200 of the world’s 750 remaining mountain gorillas, hidden amidst the forests of the Virunga Mountains. The privilege of having an opportunity to glance into the eyes of these enthralling creatures is profoundly remarkable, a wildlife experience that is unsurpassed. A variety of other primates are also frequently spotted within the park, from chimpanzees to Colobus and Blue monkeys; each offering a unique insight into the complexities of our primate past.
With the high concentration of wildlife in the area and the presence of the imposing 3,470m Nyiragongo volcano, which possesses the largest active lava lake in the world, it is no wonder the park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979. Towards the far north lie the fabled ‘Mountains of the Moon’ the Ruwenzori’s, with snow-capped peaks reaching above 5000m. The frozen beauty of glaciers and exquisite ice fields make this the only true alpine mountain range in Africa. This incredible wilderness remains relatively untouched and unexplored, adding to the uniqueness of the experience.
Whether enjoyed in the company of the endangered mountain gorillas or from the edge of the Nyiragonga crater, Virunga National Park offers the hidden and exquisite beauty of all that is Africa.