Violence Shuts Virunga Gorilla Park Till 2019
Have you known it yet? All gates to Virunga national park have been closed till 2019. We therefore inform all travelers, tour operators and lovers of mountain gorillas that all gorilla safaris, Nyiragongo volcan hikes and all visits to Virunga national park have been shut till 2019. Much as it was a profound decision, closing the park was necessary to enable accurate and extensive security reviews. Its believed that numerous militia and armed gangs wander north Kivu province, within Virunga national park and in Rwanda Uganda borders fighting to gain control of natural resources in the area. Initially, the national park was closed till 4th June following the abduction of two Briton travelers and the killing of the national park ranger the late Rachel Makissa Baraka. On 11th May 2-018, a group of unknown rebels attacked the travel vehicle in Virunga national park kidnapping two Briton travelers and shooting dead a park ranger whose body was dumped and left in the jungle. Fortunately, travelers were rescued in good health after two days by the team from the Institute Congolais Pour la Conservation de la Nature, tourism police and the Congo government. A few days after the kidnap of travelers in the park, two other soldiers and civilian were killed by armed men who attacked a convoy driving through the park. This has led to the closure of the park till 2019 to avoid any other incidences. Congo has for long been known for insecurity but the latest kidnap raised much concerns.
Similarly several other incidences have taken place since the start of the year, which include the killing of five park rangers on 4th April 2018. Altogether, over 180 people especially park rangers have been killed in Virunga national park in the last 20 years, which continue to make the place unsafe for travelers. Having predicted that Virunga national park will continue to be affected by insecurity for some time, the park management decided to close it till 2019. We recognize the efforts of the governments to restore peace but the country remains unsafe for travelers and other tourism activities. Insecurity, poaching, smuggling, charcoal productions and other human activities are the key threats to the increase of mountain gorillas in Virunga national park. Its been realized that much more robust measures are needed before Virunga park is claimed safe for travelers and ensure smooth running of all tourism activities.
Virunga National Park was established in 1925 hence the oldest national park in Africa. Also, the heart of Virunga national park is a home to Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira mountains, the only active volcanoes in the world. The summit of mount Nyiragongo hosts the world’s lava lake, which is one of the world’s natural wonders. Also, Virunga national park is one of the four parks that shelter the critically endangered mountain gorillas in the world. The other parks are volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. For years, gorilla tourism in Virunga national park has been plagued by the wave of violence and civil conflicts wracking the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo. Other animals that live in Virunga national park include chimpanzees, okapis, forest elephants, hippos, white and black colubuses, red tailed monkeys and a variety of bird species which all reward travelers with a memorable experience.
Safe places to visit in Congo
Excluding Virunga national park, all other tourism, destinations in Congo are open for travelers. Kahuzi Biega national park offer travelers with exceptional encounter with the eastern lowland gorillas the national park is a home to over 5,000 lowland gorillas available for trekking. Eastern lowland gorillas are the larger specie of gorillas distinguished from other gorilla species by a bigger, longer face and nose prints. Just like mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas live in groups of 5-20 members and a dominant silverback heads each family.
Cultural tours in Congo
Visit Boboto cultural center for intensive knowledge about Rwanda’s culture and traditions. This cultural center is a Congolese cultural heritage within a wide display of common craft men, woodcraft, sculptures and paintings. Also, endeavor to visit any one of the local communities and interact with local people. A cultural tour rewards you with extensive knowledge about the Congo’s traditions and culture. Explore the Boko tribe, take part in local activities such as preparing local food, traditional dances and songs which make you part of the community.
Where to go for gorilla trekking
For potential gorilla trekkers, there are alternative customized gorilla safaris in Uganda & Rwanda at affordable prices. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done in volcanoes national park while in Uganda its done in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park. However, gorilla treks to Rwanda are quite expensive due to high gorilla permit costs at 1500usd paid by all people. The closeness of volcanoes national park to Kigali international airport make it a suitable gorilla destination especially for travelers with limited time. Uganda on the other hand is good and affordable. The permit costs 600usd for foreign non-residents, 500 for foreign residents and 250000ush for east Africans. This makes it a best place to see these critically endangered species at affordable prices.
In conclusion, gorilla tours to Congo are now on halt for further investigations regarding security. Visit other tourism destinations in Democratic Republic of Congo. Alternatively, visit Uganda and Rwanda, trek mountain gorillas and other attractions in east and central Africa.