Virunga National Park, the oldest protected and conservation area in Africa

The Virunga National park is situated in Democratic Republic of Congo and the best area with biodiversity in Africa. Virunga National Park is the oldest protected and conservation area in Africa.

The national park was established in 1925 by Belgium King Albert 1 and named after the king hence generating the name Albert national park, it was mainly gazetted to protect the endangered species of Mountain Gorillas which can also be found in Uganda and Rwanda’s few listed national parks.

By 1960 when Congo had got independence the park declined as its country was under threat due to political instabilities, so wildlife in the virunga was under pressure and over threatened until early 70’s when the president picked interest in conservation that the park was revived and renamed Virunga National Park.

The Virunga National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 because of her ecological importance though political upheavals have had negative implications on the conservancy.

Following tribal wars in Rwanda in 1990s, Virunga also forced another encroachment problem on the wildlife because of increased number of refugees putting the wildlife on pressure. In 1994, the Virunga conservancy was declared World Heritage in Danger and later became a Ramsar site of international importance in 1996. The Virunga national park is still rated a strong ecological pillar for the entire east and central African ecosystem.

Virunga’s rich diverse ecosystem is composed of Block Mountain, volcanic mountains, the Albertine rift, crater lakes, rainforests, woodlands, open grasslands, swamp and wetland vegetation amongst others extend into Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable, Queen Elizabeth, Semliki, Rwenzori and Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda in the far North of the country.

Virunga national park size is about 7800 sq. km and stretches from Virunga Mountains and conservation area in the South part up to the Rwenzori in the north part. The park is well known for a variety of birds, mammals and reptiles concentration compare to other protected areas in Africa, and it is also home to a number of notable animals like primate of the chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, Golden monkeys and mammals like giraffes, and buffaloes plus as well as reptiles and amphibians.

Mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga is the major attraction in this park given the fact that it’s among a few parks in the world with these endangered species of mountain gorillas.

Tourists prefer to track gorillas in Virunga national park because the cost is low and the park is also less congested compared to other tracking centres like Volcanoes in Rwanda plus Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda.

The park is still under exploited since tourism activities have not been so active because of closing it, until it was reopened. For some good time the area has been free for rebel activity and it is safe to travel, there is of course rumour that the place is not safe but what of the influx of tourist coming in every time.

It is the best site to host researchers because of under discoveries, this can help them come out with new ideas and thus leading to formation of other tourism activities making the Country an adventurous destination making your safari memorable.

The park is located in the Eastern Congo and can be reached by Road from Goma town which is 32km. flying clients go through Kigali international Airport connect to Gisenyi town by road which takes approximately 2 hours to drive to the briefing point or park headquarter at Bukima. The conservation area can be accessed by road from Mgahinga Gorilla national park on Uganda boarder which is roughly one hour’s drive to Bukima tourist centre.