Bespoke Gorilla trekking in Congo and the hiking of Nyiragongo volcano are one of the most enjoyable activities in Congo and travelers who get engaged in the activities of course get memorable escapades. The only place in Congo to enjoy all these two activities from is Virunga National Park. Out of the only approximately-1000 mountain gorillas existing on earth, over 200 mountain gorillas are found in the eastern parts of Democratic Republic of Congo, in its majestic Virunga national park.
Gorilla tracking in Congo;
A gorilla permit in Congo costs US$ 400 which can be booked for you by the local tour agencies, depending on which one you will have choose to deal with. However, trekkers are much advised to only deal with reliable, immediate, and best tour agencies in order to avoid inconveniences during your gorilla safari. Some recommendable agencies to deal with during your gorilla safari in Congo include; Congo parks, Eco Tours Congo among others. The tracking of mountain gorillas can only be done in three countries and besides Congo, the other two are; Uganda and Rwanda.
The trekking of mountain gorillas in Virunga national park has some strict rules and regulations that are supposed to be followed by the trekkers and some of them include; each trekking group should only comprise of eight individuals, trekkers should spend with the primates with only one (though the experience achieved from that one hour is of a lifetime), only individuals above 15 years are allowed to go for the activity, stay calm while tracking the gorillas, do not use flashlight cameras while taking photographs of the gorillas, keep at least a distance of 7 to 8 meters away from the gorillas, you should lower your voices during the tracking activity, no smoking and eating from the park, do not litter in the park, and do not look straight into the gorillas’ eyes because you may look scary to them.
This is also done to ensure the well being of these endangered animals. This is because the gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases due to the great closeness between the humans and the mountain gorilla. It is to be noted that gorillas share almost the same DNA with human beings.
The mountain gorillas in Virunga national park can be visited anytime during the year, however some paths are hard to navigate during the wet seasons of (April & May, and October & November), but for the rest of other months are very okay for gorilla trekking since it’s a dry season. There are various accommodations within and near the Park offering shelter to the trekkers and these include; the Mikeno lodge and many others.
Nyiragongo is an active volcano with an elevation of 3,470 meters in the Virunga Mountains associated with the Albertine Rift. Well, the fact that it is an active volcano should not limit you from seeing the fantastic scenery that this mountain will offer to you. It is located inside Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 20 kilometers north of the town of Goma and Lake Kivu and just west of the border with Rwanda. The main crater is about two kilometers wide and usually contains a bubbling lava lake.
Nyiragongo in particular can be hiked throughout the year but keeping in mind the unpredictable weather. The dry season (June to October, and December) is the perfect period to go for the hiking of Nyiragongo. During dry season, the skies are always clear thus offering a huge opportunity for photography. Here you are able to capture the stunning views.
March to May and then November is the rainy season and by this time hiking may become so challenging. However, hiking Nyiragongo can be an all year-round thing and it is up to you to choose which is the suitable time to do because even in the dry months it is most likely to rain and therefore the rains should be a small factor while choosing when to hike.
Hikers are emphasized not to forget the following equipment’s; walking boots, waterproof clothing, a day backpack, light dressing, sunglasses and warm clothes for the upper region of the volcano where hikers spend the night. Do not also forget to have walking poles for hiking which are sold at the hiking starting point at only US$ 5.
For you to hike Mountain Nyiragongo, you need to owe a Mountain Nyiragongo hiking permit which costs US$ 300 and this will also be purchased for you by your tour agency that you will have booked with. Hikers will enjoy stunning views of the mountain’s main crater which is about 2 kilometers wide, and it contains the world’s most spectacular lava lake.
The hike up to and down Mt Nyiragongo can be described as fantastic but strenuous. It normally takes between four and five hours, often in hot conditions. But the path is quite relatively easy and not excessively steep. You are going to have the opportunity to see rare birds plus small mammals along the trails. As you are going for the hiking of Nyiragongo, you are going to make stopover at the supermarket where hikers may shop for packed food for lunch and dinner.
Before hiking, hikers are first briefed by the guides before going in for the activity. At 11 AM, the climb starts from Kibati and hikers reach the summit of the mountain late in the afternoon, between 3 PM and 4 PM. You may admire the lava lake all evening and even overnight if you wish. There are tent accommodations on the rim of the giant crater, high above the violently active lava lake. After breakfast at 7AM the following day, hikers will descend back and arrives in Kibati village between 10 AM and 11 AM. The hikers will meet their driver and transfer to Gisenyi or Goma at midday.