Virunga Maasai Mara Safari in Africa

Virunga National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site and founded on April 1925. It is arguably the best national park to visit for those who wish to experience Africa’s true natural beauty. It is a testament to the great beauty and biodiversity in this park that even with the sometimes – volatile security situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, many tourists still desire to pay a visit.

Virunga is the oldest game park in Congo and lies on 7800 Square Kilometers of land. The game park sits along the great Albertine Rift to the East of Democratic Republic of Congo and bordering Uganda to the West.

There are 196 species of mammal, 67 of amphibians, 708 bird species and 108 of reptiles top of which are the Nile crocodiles. Regarding mammals, the park has the Aardvark, African Buffaloes, African Bush Elephants, African Leopards, Bay Duikers, the Blue Duiker, Boehm’s Bush Squirrel, Bongo, Bush buck, Checkered Elephant, Crested Porcupine, Emin’s Pouched Rat, Giant Forest Hog, Giant Pangolin, Lord Derby’s Scaly tailed Squirrel, Marsh Mongoose, Okapi, Red River Hog, Tree Pangolin, Water Chevrotain, Western Tree Hyrax, Yellow Backed Duiker. The Virunga National Park is recognized as a lion Conservation area and despite poaching from nearby communities, a sizeable number still remains.

The primate species found in the park is second to none in Africa and include Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Blue Monkeys, Central African Red Colobus, De Brazza’s Monkey, Dent’s Mona Monkeys, Golden Monkeys, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, Hamlyn’s Monkeys, Mantled Guereza and Olive Baboon among others.

A gorilla safari in the Virunga national park is incomplete without visiting the endangered mountain gorillas and Mount Nyiragongo trek. There are eight habituated Gorilla families in Virunga National Park with the most common and largest family being the Kabirizi family with 32 members.

Regardless of which gorilla group you track, gorilla trekking usually starts with briefing early in the morning. After the briefing, trekkers are led by Park Rangers to search for the gorilla family.

Finding the group takes between one to four hours. You are allowed only one hour to watch and take photos of the group members feed, groom and take care of the young. Gorilla permits in Congo cost only $450.

Visit Mount Nyiragongo one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The Mountain has erupted 34 times in recent centuries with the latest being in 2002. Thousands where rendered homeless as liquid lava and ash gushed out of the summit and spread quickly to nearby areas up to the shores of Lake Kivu. The damage was great but it hasn’t diminished the charm of the mountain.

Thousands of visitors have been visiting the volcano each year with the sole purpose of bearing witness to one of nature’s true wonders, watching boiling red lava up-close. The journey to the top of the volcano rewards hikers with breath-taking scenery of the Virunga ranges, the beautiful forests and other volcanoes in the area.

Get the Chimpanzee habituation Experience: For just USD100, you get involved in one of the best activities within the Virunga National Park. Chimpanzee habituation in Virunga National Park was started way back in 1987 by Frankfurt, a zoologist. However, it was only in 2014 that gorilla habituation was opened to visitors in the park.

This has been possible through funding from the Frankfurt Zoological Society. The chimpanzee habituation experience is activity under the guidance of researchers and rangers.  Chimpanzees are unique and interesting primates because they share about 98% of our DNA. The chimpanzee habituation experience starts as early as 5:30 am when the primates start their exciting day. Visitors follow the chimps as they move in search of food on the ground and on top of trees.

Maasai Mara National Reserve is an area of preserved Savannah wilderness in south-western Kenya, along the Tanzanian border. Its animals include lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras and hippos. Wildebeest traverse its plains during their annual migration. The landscape has grassy plains and rolling hills, and is crossed by the Mara and Talek rivers. The area nearby is dotted with villages (enkangs) of Maasai people.

The Mara River is the major water source in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, providing water year-round for the thousands of animals of the National Reserve, but it is in the months of late July to October that the river hosts the herds of the Great Migration – and the famous drama-filled river crossings. Giant Crocodiles wait all year for the herds to cross the Mara, and when they do, the Crocodiles feast.

Witness the thundering hooves of the great migration

Undoubtedly one of the most dramatic spectacles of the natural world, the Great Migration is the annual trek of two million herbivores across the Serengeti/Mara ecosystem. Although the enormous herds of grunting gnus can be seen year-round, the world-famous, nail-biting Mara River crossings (July to October) are an absolute must for every wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list.

Experience the Masai Mara on twice-daily game drives

A veritable wildlife haven blessed with a year-round, rather mind-boggling concentration of animals; the Mara certainly doesn’t disappoint. Embark on twice-daily interpretive game drives with expert rangers who will uncover the wonders of the Mara. And while we’re on the topic of reconnecting the magnificent Maasai with their ancient, most unforgettable land, it seems like the perfect time to share our Top 10 bucket list things to do in the Masai Mara.