Sectors of Virunga National Park
Sectors of Virunga National Park are the different divisions in the park that are marked to enable ease of access to different attractions. Virunga national park is one of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s oldest national park created in 1925 and is located in the heart of the country. It is situated 15 minutes away from the Goma town. The Virunga national park is famously known for its rare presence of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world along with three other national parks that is Mgahinga Gorilla National park and Bwindi Impenetrable National park of Uganda and the Volcanoes National park of Rwanda. This park is also the starting point for the hike up the world’s largest crater lake on top of the active Mount Nyiragongo. You can access this park from Rwanda by flying into the country from Kigali International Airport and drive to the Gisenyi- Goma border where all the tours headed to Virunga National Park start from.
You may also opt to fly into the country directly at the Goma Airport flying Ethiopian Airlines and drive about 10 to 15 minutes to the Grande Barrier border building to check in with the park and receive permits for the activities to be done. You may also connect from the southside from Bukavu after visiting Kahuzi Biega by taking on a 3 to 4-hour speed boat ride that docks at Goma and drive a few minutes to the Grande Barrier.
The Virunga national park sits on an area of 8,090 square kilometers bordering Rwanda and south Uganda and that is how it shares some of the attractions with the other countries. There are 4 sectors in the Virunga national park that is the central sector commonly known as the Lulimbi sector that majorly covers up to the international eastern border of Uganda and also a third of Lake Edward. This is the sector of Virunga national park where you are able to see the wildlife like the tree climbing lions in the savannah vegetation of the Ishasha plains. The Ishasha plains stretch further into Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can also see the Lulimbi hippos wallowing at the southeastern shores or in the waters of River Ishasha. Some of the activities done in this sector are the safari walks in the afternoons and evenings. This region has a great number of birds for bird watchers with a large diversity of flora and fauna. You can also have a relaxing evening at the riverbank of River Ishasha enjoying the up-close view of the Lulimbi resident hippos. On a lucky day, you may also encounter the savannah elephants of Virunga National park as they tend to visit the river to drink water. You can opt for an evening or morning game drive around the Ishasha plains so as to exhaust the beauty of the region and all it has to offer. Evening bonfires and barbeque dinners are also an activity you may engage in while in this part of the park. The Lulimbi tented camp is the accommodation used by visitors to this sector.
The southern sector is the one that stretches downward up to Lake Kivu and encompasses the Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Nyamulagira and the Mount Mikeno with the surrounding montane forests along the mountain slopes. This is also known as the Kibumba sector that is one of the points where the endangered mountain gorillas can be trekked. The Kibumba sector has most of the activity in the park is considered the most visited and protected. There is a great number of bird life in this sector, for example, the Rwenzori Turaco, blue headed sun bird, red faced woodland, red throated thrush, collared appalis, mountain masked appalis to mention but a few. The majority of the visitors to Virunga National park stay in this sector and there are a few well designed and prepared accommodations for the visitors that is the Kibumba Tented Camp. The tourism activities done in this region include the Mountain gorilla trekking, the Mount Nyiragongo hike. Simpler activities in the region include birdwatching, nature forest walks, or visit the Virunga’s Congohounds.
The northern sector of Virunga National Park covers the Semiliki river region and the Rwenzori mountain ranges of the Rwenzori national park shared by DRCongo and Uganda. It is not as popular as the other regions because of the underdevelopment in the region.
The eastern sector also known as the Bukima sector is that that borders the Virunga national park and also has a presence of mountain gorillas. This sector is also available for visiting the mountain gorillas of Virunga National park. The accommodations in this sector include the Bukima Tented camp and the luxurious Mikeno lodge. It is also where most of the treks of the park start from in every morning with a brief at Bukima ranger post and where lunch after the gorilla treks in the sector is had before connecting to the other accommodations if you are booked in a different accommodation for the night. While in the eastern sector, you can take time besides the mountain gorillas trek and visit the Senkwekwe Gorilla orphanage found in the compound of the Mikeno lodge. There is also a chimpanzee family currently being habituated for visits in the Mahura forest found in the eastern sector of Virunga National park. The Virunga park headquarters are found in this sector next to the prestigious Mikeno lodge and can also be visited if you have an interest in them.