Democratic Republic of the Congo
In 1979, UNESCO designated Virunga National Park as a World Heritage Site. In the mid-1980s, poaching depleted the park’s large mammal populations and UNESCO changed its World Heritage Site status to ‘endangered’. Over the twenty-five years that followed, the park endured an uninterrupted series of trials that included a refugee crisis from the 1994 Rwandan genocide which contributed to the severe destruction of sections of the park's forests.
A destination we recommend only for the intrepid and the jaded safari veteran during its 'quieter' periods, Virunga and general safety have improved since 2009, and despite the occasional rebel group activity in its northern and central non-tourism sections, the park is enjoying its greatest resurgence of tourism and development in its history, with international donors investing in the development of the park’s infrastructure at unprecedented levels.
In 1987, the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) developed an 80-kilometre network of trails inside the Tongo Forest and began a two-year process of habituating chimpanzees to the presence of humans. Despite a long period of unrest in the area in the 1990s and at the turn of the century, Virunga National Park rangers steadfastly protected and monitored Tongo’s chimpanzees which are once again habituated, with visitors seeing them on a regular basis.
Climbing the 3,470-metre high volcano isn’t for the faint of heart – but it is achievable for anyone at any age who is relatively fit - and the rewards at the summit are mind-blowing. Spend a night on the rim of the volcano and prepare to be mesmerised and hypnotised.
For more seasoned hikers, we also offer trekking and climbing trips to the spectacular Rwenzori Mountains in the northern section of Virunga. Known also as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’, the Rwenzoris reach a height of 5,109 metres and contain the largest glaciers left on the African continent.
End your Virunga adventure at one of the lodges or camps around Lake Kivu. This is the perfect way to relax after climbing Nyiragongo volcano. On clear nights, both Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira volcanoes add to the drama by turning the night sky red with their glowing lava. There is also an abundance of birdlife. Relax on the beach or explore other parts of the lake and its islands in a sea kayak or by paddleboard.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park (KBNP) was gazetted in 1970 to conserve the Grauer’s gorilla, the world’s largest gorilla species. It remains the only place in the world where visitors can see these gorillas in the wild. We access the park from the Rwanda-DRC border, allowing visitors to see both mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas on the same safari.
A safari in Virunga and Kahuzi Biega are some of the most enriching and life-changing adventures in our portfolio and is always a hands down favourite of all A2A Safaris travellers who are intrepid and adventurous enough to visit these magical places.
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We do not subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. Sample itineraries and cost estimates are meant purely as a guide. To find out more, please contact one of our expert travel consultants to plan a customized itinerary based on your budget and interests.