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Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris & Tours In Virunga National Park 2023

A guide to gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including permit costs, when to travel, hotels, and booking information.

Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris & Tours In Virunga National Park 2024

A guide to gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including permit costs, when to travel, hotels, and booking information.

Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris & Tours In Virunga National Park 2024

Congo gorilla trekking (Virunga National Park)

A guide to gorilla trekking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including permit costs, when to travel, hotels, and booking information.

Mountain gorillas may be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. This park is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern region, bordering both Uganda and Rwanda. The park has a total size of 7800 km2 and is home to around 200 gorillas, the majority of whom live in the park’s southern section.

 

Gorilla Trekking Regulations Inside the Virunga National Park

Gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park has very severe restrictions and regulations that trackers must observe on their Congo gorilla safari adventures. They include group size, the number of groups to track every day, and the amount of time spent with the mountain gorillas. This is also done to safeguard the safety of these endangered species. This is because mountain gorillas are susceptible to several human illnesses owing to their frequent proximity to humans.

Gorilla Safari Group Size: Just a maximum of eight people per day are permitted to hike, which helps to limit illness transmission from humans to mountain gorillas.

Age Restrictions: Only those aged 15 and over are permitted to trek.

Hours of Visitation: Gorilla trekking takes place during the day, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Time restriction with gorillas: You are only permitted one hour with the mountain gorillas.

 

Laws and Regulations (The Do’s and Don’ts) for Congo Gorillas Inside the Virunga National Park

The first guideline is to protect the mountain gorillas; this implies that if the tracker is sick or infected, he or she should not be permitted to come into touch with the gorillas.

Etiquette is advised- always turn away your face while coughing or sneezing and remember to cover your nose and mouth to help limit germs transfer to mountain gorillas.

Don’t stay too long with the gorillas- Just remain for the suggested amount of time with the gorillas, which is generally one hour.

Maintaining a safe distance from the primates- It is generally advised to keep a safe distance of 5 to 7 meters from mountain gorillas since they are wild creatures that may easily contract diseases from people.

Behave well when trekking: rangers always urge hikers to maintain noise levels as low as possible and to avoid pointing or using flashlights when photographing mountain gorillas.

Be prepared: Always bring water-resistant and warm clothing for the chilly weather in the mountains, since it can become wet within the forest, and comfortable walking shoes.

No smoking and no snacks- While gorilla trekking, visitors are not permitted to drink or eat, nor are they permitted to smoke.

It is always a good idea to keep your hands clean before going gorilla trekking.

Don’t touch the mountain gorillas at any time, and keep your hands to yourselves to prevent direct contact.

Avoid littering in the forest and keep your garbage to yourself.

Be cool- If the gorilla charges, avoid direct eye contact and remain calm until it goes away.

Toilet etiquette: A ranger will gladly dig a hole for you and then cover it completely.

 

Congo Gorilla Permits Expense congo gorilla tours

Anyone hoping to track mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park should book with one of the finest local tour companies, as Congo gorilla licenses cost $400 per person.

Mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park may be viewed at any time of year, however,Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris & Tours In Virunga National Park 2024 some pathways are difficult to walk during the wet seasons of (May/April and November/October); during this season, Congo gorilla trekking permits are lowered to ($350) per person. Because it is a dry season, other months are suitable for gorilla trekking. Mountain gorillas may also be found in Uganda, where a gorilla permit costs $600 during the high season and $600 during the low season. The gorilla permit in Rwanda costs $ 1500 for both the high and low seasons.

 

4 Ideas to Help You Arrange Your Gorilla Tours in the Congo.

Permission must be bought in advance in all three nations that provide gorilla tracking. While Uganda and Rwanda have more tour firms than the DRC, it is much preferable if you can book your Gorilla tracking permit directly via Virunga National Park. A permit costs US$400, which is less than the fees charged by the other two countries. Mountain gorillas may be viewed at any time of year, however, certain pathways become difficult to walk during the wet season, which lasts from May to October.

A yellow fever vaccination is required since you will not be permitted into the country unless you have confirmation of the immunization. Injections for hepatitis A, typhoid, meningitis, and rabies, as well as anti-malarials, are all advised.

A visa application for entry into the DRC should have been submitted in advance. This costs $100 USD.

The precise equipment required while in the bush must be arranged. The journey can be tough, so bring strong trekking shoes, woolly or moisture-impermeable socks, comfortable climbing clothing, rainfall gear, a primary support kit, and a light weight backpack with plenty of capacity for food and drink. A waterproof camera is also highly recommended, as nothing ruins a high-quality camera like a strong downpour in the tropical jungle.

 

What to Expect on a Congo Gorilla Trek

Every tourist should plan their Congo safari with an idea of what they want to see. The lengthy and unpleasant travel by airline, 4x4s, and pirogues makes this a valuable and unforgettable experience. Congo is a world-stabilizing state that is projected to become more accessible and attractive to travelers seeking real African authenticity. As a result, the time to go is now.

 

Why Visit Virunga National Park? To Track Mountain Gorillas.

Congolese gorillas

The Virunga National Park is located in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on the southern beaches of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. It is home to mountain gorillas since it is part of the Virunga Massif, which also includes Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park.

All gorilla tracking excursions take place in the Virunga Massif national park and the Bwindi Impenetrable forest, both of which are located in Uganda’s southwestern region and are home to half of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas. Democratic Republic is a new tourist location that has yet to be explored by other people. Congo gorilla tracking takes place at Virunga National Park and needs you to have a legal gorilla tracking permit since Virunga has been the ideal target for gorilla tracking since the park’s re-opening in 2015.

 

Mountain Gorilla Tracking and Congo’s Climate.

The DRC has two rainy seasons. The short seasons last from October to November, whereas the long seasons last from mid-March to the end of May. This rain originates from tropical rainforests.

With the ideal months to visit the DRC being June to September and February to February, many visitors choose to travel when the rain is less and the sun is shining in most of the sites.

December is also one of the busiest months in Virunga National Park, therefore it is best to book gorilla and Nyiragongo climbing permits early to avoid disappointment since they are given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Also, Congo has an elevated topography, which explains the chilly climate. However, if you are considering coming for a gorilla tracking safari, it is ideally important to observe and note that, aside from the lower rates in the low season, the best time to do gorilla tracking is in the two waterless seasons of January to February and June to September, which is also much easier because the gorillas feed in the lowlands.

While the rainy season in Congo may delay people’s plans, it does not necessarily imply that they are completely prevented from traveling. Even during the rainy season, the sun emerges after a rainstorm, allowing safari activities to continue uninterrupted.

Costs at lodges are dropped, particularly during the low seasons of March to May and October to November, in an effort to persuade travelers to book with them. This is especially helpful when gorilla permits can be purchased for half the price of US$200. This attracts more visitors to the Congo.

Tracking gorillas is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity made possible by the presence of the primates in Virunga National Park. These apes are adorable, personable, and intelligent. They are split into various groups and have distinct characteristics, such as silver backs who function as leaders, fully formed female gorillas who act as caregivers, and the young who are simply mischievous and are always within the trees.

Tracking these endangered gorillas is believed to take 1-2 hours, depending on where they were left the previous day. These apes are legally protected in the DRC’s Virunga National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The other population may be found in Uganda’s 331 km2 South Western Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Virunga National Park is home to around 200 gorillas, the majority of which dwell on the park’s southern edge. The Congolese National Park Authority operates the park in collaboration with the Institution Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its partner, the Africa Virunga National Park Conservation Fund. The gorilla population has rebounded significantly after a drop caused by horrific assaults in which at least ten animals were killed about seven years ago. The population is now more steady, thanks to the brave efforts of the park guards who risk their lives in the park.

Keep your eyes peeled on the many excursions you will take from and around the park, you will be able to see a variety of monkeys as well as avian friends who have made Virunga National Park their home. Additionally, to maximize your enjoyment of your Congo safari vacation, we recommend renting a car rather than driving yourself due to the heightened unpredictability of insurgencies and wars in Congo.

 

The Actual Reality of Tracking Gorillas in the Congo

The park guide will lead you through a brief prologue before entering into the forest for the long-awaited trip. He will discuss the geography, history, and some of the facts about the gorilla family that you will observe. The tour leader will also advise you on how to behave when you are with the gorillas in the jungle.

Masks must be used, as previously stated, to prevent these gorillas from contracting human diseases. The location of the gorillas determines the length of this expedition. On some days, the trip into the jungle might take 20-40 minutes, while on others, it can take more than an hour since the Mountain gorillas are always on the move in quest of food.

Be sure to meet the massive gentleman with the silver back who will greet you after it has been determined that you are not a threat. If you’ve been admitted, enjoy an exciting time viewing the gorillas, which is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. Remember, you only have an hour with these Mountain Gorillas in the wild.

 

What to Expect on a Gorilla Tracking Expedition.

The amount of time spent on the gorilla track varies depending on the assemblage being tracked, the common location of the gorilla family, geography, and weather, to name a few factors. Tracking might take as little as an hour or as long as five hours. It is essential that you follow the leadership of your tour guide during the whole journey into the forest. As you ascend the volcanoes’ steep slopes and into the jungle, you will need to haul yourself up the jagged trails by grasping onto branches, plant roots, shrubs, and other natural objects. An on-foot stick is also useful. You are likely to become dehydrated, so bring plenty of water with you. The journey into the jungle might be tiring, but the encounter with these apes is well worth the effort.

 

The Gorilla Adventure

The park is administered by both the Congolese national park authority and the Congolais pour la conservation de la Nature (ICCN), with the Africa Conservation Fund as a partner. The gorilla population has improved and recovered as a result of the recent tragedy that killed over ten mountain gorillas. Much gratitude to the rangers who have put their lives in danger to safeguard the endangered mountain gorillas. The guides will clear the bush so you can have a clear view of these magnificent monkeys and capture beautiful photographs of these uncommon animals. Another vital point to remember is that if you look a gorilla in the eyes and he starts swooping at you, do not flee; instead, remain motionless and lower your head to show cooperation and respect. Additionally, never, ever pound your chest when among mountain gorillas.

Congo Gorilla Trekking Safaris & Tours In Virunga National Park 2024

Accessibility Of Virunga National Park In Congo, Getting There

The International Airline journey.

Visitors visiting Virunga National Park frequently fly into Kigali International Airport and then take a four-hour drive to the border crossing at Goma/Gisenyi. Intercontinental planes come late in the afternoons and evenings on a regular basis. Because the border is not open 24 hours a day, we recommend that you spend the night in Kigali. The next morning, you can depart for Goma. The bulk of visitors to the park originates in either Rwanda or Uganda.

The park may be approached by several ways depending on the visitor’s interests, but the most commonly used means of transportation is this road means of transport, which will require a 4WD fleet to allow you to enjoy the gorilla tracking trip.

Visitors flying into the Virunga National Park can land at the Goma International Airport. Although though Goma has been the major airport in Eastern Congo for over 10 years, some people choose to arrive at the less congested Kigali airport in the country of a thousand hills. Goma Airport also has a handful of international flights.

There are several flights from Europe to the state through Brussels, Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam, and Istanbul. Flights are often affordable from February through April. The following are the major airlines that operate flights to and from the state:

  • Turkish Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Kenyan Airways
  • Ethiopian Airlines.
  • Swiss Airlines
  • Air France

 

By Road

Virunga National Park is 32 kilometers west of Goma, the seat of the North Kivu district. Transportation from Goma to the park may be easily arranged through the Virunga National Park. The most convenient method to travel is with one of the Congo tour operators that now offer Mount Gorilla Safaris in Congo. The park is accessible through the following roads:

Starting from the Rwandan side, it takes around four hours to drive from Kigali to Gisenyi. It is the next town after crossing the border; it takes roughly an hour and a half to get to the Park’s Headquarters.

Linking to Virunga National Park from Uganda is rather tiring, as tourists may seek an all-night stay in Kisoro and then transfer to the DRC via the Bunagana border, then take a 30-minute drive to Bukima, where an all-gorilla families hike is done.

Finally, from Bukavu in Congo, near the Virunga National Park, there is a path connecting to Kivu town, but it takes about 5 hours of driving and we do not encourage our clients to take that route. The breathtaking environment and the presence of the lake will provide you with a breathtaking perspective.

 

Transport via water.

Tourists who have traveled to Bukavu on a safari and wish to extend their vacation to include the Virunga National Park can take ferries from Bukavu to Goma and then through Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu. This trip takes around 3 hours on a speed boat and roughly 4-5 hours on a public boat. After arriving in Goma, you will drive in a 4WD Safari jeep to get admission to the park.

A public boat’s price can range between $300 and $400, whereas sluggish boats pay $50. Fast boats and specific tickets are also available, however, we recommend that you reserve ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Don’t lose out on visiting Virunga National Park due to a lack of transportation.

 

Factors to Consider While Entering the Congo Border.

The border crossing is simple, and it is only a 10-minute walk to Goma from there. Nonetheless, we recommend that tourists and visitors remember the following:

 

Make sure your paperwork is completed in order to please customs and immigration officials.

Yellow Fever vaccines are valid.

Before embarking on a journey to Congo with a visa that has been applied for in advance, always review the state’s travel advice and useful tour information.

Overland, these tracks can be rough, thus a 4WD vehicle is suggested. It is not advisable to travel these roads at night.

The park is administered by both the Congolese national park authority and the Congolais pour la conservation de la Nature (ICCN), with the Africa Conservation Fund as a partner. The gorilla population has improved and recovered as a result of the recent tragedy that killed over ten mountain gorillas. Many gratitude to the rangers who have put their lives in danger to safeguard the endangered mountain gorillas.

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