Virunga National Park

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Virunga National Park

Gorilla Trekking in the DRC – Virunga National Park

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mountain gorillas are found in the Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in eastern DRC this national park borders on Uganda and Rwanda.

The 7800 km² Virunga National Park is home to about 200 of gorillas (National Geographic), living mostly in the southern areas of the park. The national park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities, together with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its partner the Africa Conservation Fund. After a decline in numbers about seven years ago, due to brutal attacks in which at least 10 gorillas were killed, the gorilla population has recovered somewhat. The population is more stable now, largely thanks to the brave efforts of rangers risking their lives in Virunga National Park.

The national park is 32 km west of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. Transport from Goma to the park can easily be arranged with the Virunga National Park. The roads are in bad condition and it’s best to go with someone who knows the area or to join a guided tour, as the tourism infrastructure is not as developed as in Rwanda and Uganda. The best way to reach Goma is from neighbouring Rwanda, travelling on well-maintained roads from Kigali. It takes about three hours to reach the DRC border near Goma, from Kigali. The border crossing is unproblematic and from there it’s a short walk (10 minutes) to Goma (Lonely Planet). You can also get to Goma and Virunga from southwestern Uganda, making the relatively easy border crossing at Bunagana, where an affordable local visa can be purchased.