Tourist attractions in the Virunga National Park
The Virunga National Park (henceforth Virunga) in eastern DR Congo is among the earliest protected areas in Africa. Created in 1925 and located in the Congo-Nile divide, Virunga comprises three sectors: the northern sector, which covers part of the Semliki River basin and the Albertine Rift montane forests. The central sector, which encompasses much of Lake Edward up to the border with Uganda in the east. And the southern sector, which stretches to the shores of Lake Kivu and includes Nyamulagira, Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes. Since 1979 Virunga has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its exceptionally rich biodiversity: it is the exclusive habitat for endangered mountain gorillas and home to more bird, mammal and reptile species than any protected area on the African continent. It has also been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage in Danger since 1994 because of ongoing armed conflict in the region.
Despite the conflict, touristic activities continued in Virunga over the decades thanks to the dedication of park rangers. And the most favored destination in the park was the southern sector, where the most exciting activities were gorilla trekking and volcano hiking. But Virunga has been closed to tourism since November 2021, following a violent attack and looting by the M23 rebels – a movement currently controlling swathes of territory in DR Congo’s North Kivu province. It is still unknown when touristic activities will resume in Virunga.
A lesser known destination takes over: Kahuzi-Biega National Park
The closure of Virunga has brought the Kahuzi-Biega National Park into prominence. But what makes Kahuzi-Biega a worthy alternative for tourists? Many things! First, it was made a World Heritage Site in 1980 on the basis of its unique biodiversity of rainforest habitat and its eastern lowland gorillas. Second, it is located in a safer part of eastern DR Congo, the South Kivu province. Third, it is easier to visit and its undiscovered lowland gorilla trek can easily be combined with tours in Rwanda. Fourth, the visa process for Kahuzi-Biega is very simple and cheap. Fifth, from Kahuzi-Biega you can easily visit the legendary Idjwi Islands and the volcanic city of Goma.
Ubuntu Voyages offers you a stress-free travel to Kahuzi-Biega by taking in charge your bookings (permit, accommodation, transportation) and by assisting you throughout the visa process.