What to Do
Are you planning to visit Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo for the tourism experience? There are several tourist activities to do and you can have these unique experiences if you arrange with a very reputable tour company in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nyiragongo Volcano Hike
Located inside Virunga National Park about 20 km. North of Goma, Mount Nyiragongo is currently still active, its last deadly eruption taking 147 lives in 2002. Its activity is, for now, being confined to the crater, where the lake of lava is slowly rising once more. A trip to the top may take about 5-6 hours; most climbers spend the night at the top. This also makes it possible to see the boiling lava at night, when it becomes even brighter. The Nyiragongo volcanoes trekking permit costs $300 USD per person. Visitors that climb to the top are treated to a spectacular view of the world’s largest lava lake.
All climbs begin promptly at 9:30 am. Late arrivals will not be allowed to climb and permits are non-refundable. For security reasons, there will be no exceptions. The Kibati ranger station, which is the trailhead for Nyiragongo, is approximately 30 minutes from Goma by car. Kibati is approximately 45 minutes from Bukima Tented Camp and Mikeno Lodge by car. All climbers must check in at the Kibati station by no later than 9:00 am on the day of their climb. Climbers typically descend the volcano at between 6:30 – 7:00 am the next morning and arrive back at Kibati station by 11:30 am. If one intends to fly out of Kigali on the same day, please make sure not to schedule your departure flight before 6 pm. All climbers overnight in the summit shelters because the best viewing is after dark.
Trekkers are strongly advised to bring full rain and cold weather gear, sweater or fleece, jacket, rain resistant pants, long underwear, warm socks, hat, sleeping bag). Temperatures at the summit are routinely below freezing. Although most people arrive at the summit sweating from the steep climb, this sense of warmth quickly gives way to cold. A complete change of base layers is a must. Failure to bring proper gear will lead to hypothermia. Please do not endanger yourself and others by coming unprepared for these conditions. Porters can be hired at the base of the climb to carry loads for $24 round trip (gratuity not included). The maximum weight that porters are authorized to carry is 15 kg. Porters can be arranged by speaking with a Virunga National Park ranger at the Kibati station.
Mountain Gorilla trekking
Mountain gorillas trekking is the main tourist activity in Virunga National Park. The Mountain Gorillas are located in the Mikeno Sector, about a two and half our drive from Goma. Treks usually require 1-2 hours of hiking in each direction, depending where the mountain gorillas spent the previous night and the difficulty of the terrain. To safeguard the health of Virunga’s gorillas, visitors will be required to wear surgical masks provided when in the presence of gorillas. Time with the gorillas is strictly limited to one hour. We believe your time with Virunga’s mountain gorillas will leave you feeling changed for the better. Mountain gorilla trekking per day costs $400 USD per person.
Chimpanzee Habituation walks
Guests staying at Mikeno Lodge can join this team on their daily visits to the chimpanzees. The day begins when a group of local trackers leave their camp at 4:30 am to locate where the chimpanzees spent the previous night. Lodge guests set out at 6:00 am to find the chimpanzees. Groups are limited to 4 people and time with the chimpanzees is restricted to one hour. The group now consists of 32 individuals. Chimpanzee habituation walks per day costs $100 USD per person.
Rwenzori Mountain Trek
The Rwenzori Mountains are a snow-capped mountain range in the north of Virunga National Park on the Border with Uganda. The highest peak in the range lies on the border and can be climbed from both countries. The trek to the glacier can be made in a 4-5 or 6 day trek. In order to start the trek visitors will need to travel to Beni by airplane (either from Goma or Entebbe). Those who trek and climb in the Rwenzori will experience a stunning variety of landscapes, including bamboo forests, alpine meadows, lakes, and snow-capped peaks. The flora and fauna of the Rwenzori is equally diverse. Forest elephant, Okapi, chimpanzees, and numerous bird species make the Rwenzori their home. The best weather in the Rwenzori usually happens from January through mid-March and June to late August.
The cost of a climb or trek in Rwenzori is based on the number of days spent on the circuit. Each multi-day option includes use the park’s four rustic back country huts. At this time, the park is not able to supply gear or food for guests, so please come prepared. Trekkers wanting only to reach the summit hut will need good hiking boots, rain gear, and a warm base layers. Those wanting to climb Margherita Peak or any of the other summits will need to bring their own climbing hardware, crampons, and ice axes. Bivouac gear is also a good idea. A Virunga ranger accompanies all trekkers and climbers and independent porters are available for hire. Porters negotiate their prices on the spot, but the cost is typically less than a dollar per kilogram with a maximum of 15 kg/porter.