Gazetted in 1925, Virunga National Park has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979, and Africa’s oldest national park. It is situated in eastern Congo and borders other major national parks in the region, like the Uganda tour destinations of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Mt. Rwenzori Park and the Volcanoes national Park in Rwanda –the main destination for Rwanda gorilla safaris.
Previously known as Albert National Park, it was established purposefully to protect the Mountain Gorillas which were threatened to extinction. The park has unparalleled landscapes of lush tropical forests, lava flows, savanna, and glaciers, and renowned for being one of the remaining natural habitats for the world’s critically endangered Mountain Gorillas which makes it a prime site for Congo gorilla safaris. Virunga currently is home to 6 habituated gorilla families and together with other Mountain Gorillas in the park, account to a quarter of the world’s Mountain Gorilla population.
Virunga National Park is also home to other wildlife including Okapis, Giraffes, forest elephants, Chimpanzees among others. This range of fauna makes wildlife safaris in Congo diverse and rewarding. With 706 bird species of which 24 are endemic to the park, Virunga National Park presents a rich ground for birding tours in Congo.
Currently, Virunga is the best spot where one can admire the thrilling views of various mountains including Mikeno, Nyamulagira, Sabyinyo, Nyiragongo and Rwenzori Mountains. Nyiragongo Volcano is the home to world’s largest and most violent lava lake and world travelers take up Nyiragongo volcano climbing tours to look into the red lava pans at night while at the summit.