Safaris to Virunga National park put on Halt
Following the kidnap of two Briton travelers and the killing of park ranger in Virunga national park on 11th May 2018, safaris to the national park have been put on halt. All travelers and travel operators are therefore informed that Virunga national park will be closed till Monday 21st May 2018 for security reasons. During this time, tour operators have been required to reschedule all the trips to the national park till further notice. Travelers and tour operators who have made direct bookings with the national park are to postpone their trips to a further date or get a full refund for the total money they had paid. The good news is that the two travelers were rescued from the kidnappers and they are all in good health. Special thanks go to the Congolese institute for nature conservation for their tireless efforts in rescuing these travelers from the rebels. The rescuing team started in on 11th may just after the incident. Unfortunately, the innocent young Rachel Masika Baraka who was guarding the travelers was killed and we regret the loss .Rachel died shortly after admission at one of the hospitals in the park.
The major reason for the national park closing is to create room for accurate investigations so as to ensure safety of the upcoming travelers and their property. Of now, Congolese authorities and senior park staff are working closely with the United Kingdom foreign and commonwealth office for the repatriation of the British national. The management of Virunga national park calls upon all people to keep the privacy of the kidnap victims for accurate investigations.
The closing of Virunga national park is a great blow for travelers. The site is the best destination for budget gorilla safaris selling the cheapest gorilla permit at a cost of 400usd compared to 1500usd in Rwanda and 600usd in Uganda. Virunga national park is one of the three national parks that make up the Virunga conservation area together with Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. The other gorilla par outside Virunga massif is Bwindi impenetrable forest national; park a home to roughly 480 mountain gorillas which is half of the world population of gorillas. Together with the sister kahuzi Biega national park, Virunga national park is managed by the institute Congalais pour la conservation de la nature (ICCN) with the support of the Virunga foundation. The two national parks are both under the UNESCO world heritage sites. Virunga national park is a home to a quarter of the world’s mountain gorillas habituated in 8 gorilla families. These are kairizi, Rugendo, Humba, Lulengo, Mapuwa, Nyakamwe, Munyaga and Bageni all available for trekking.
Not only are gorilla tours to Congo affected but also the life changing hikes to Mount Nyiragongo volcano whose summit is a home to the world’s largest lava lake. Hikes to the summit of Mt Nyiragongo reward travelers with spectacular views of Virunga national park, other Virunga volcanoes in Rwanda and Uganda together with neighboring communities and community activities. Insecurity is one of the key threats to gorilla tourism in democratic republic of Congo. Some parts of the national park are hiding places for rebel groups who are against gorilla tourism in the park. Some of them people are former poachers who were stopped from hunting gorillas and other animals in the park. As reported by the management of Virunga national park, local people adjacent to the park has failed to support gorilla tourism which has continued to threaten travelers and other tourism activities in the national park.
In general, Virunga national park remains a unique gorilla safari destination. The national park offers memorable face-to-face encounters with the endangered mountain gorillas in the jungle, mountain climbing experiences and other tourism experiences to travelers.