Virunga Tour packages & General information

Virunga Tour packages & General information

Virunga Tour packages & General information

Virunga Tour packages & General information: Virunga national park, one of Africa’s oldest national parks established in 1925, has been receiving a number of visitors since it started functionality. The Virunga national park tourism board has in the past had clients booking safaris based on choice of itinerary which was a tough one to ensure the safety of the visitors. When the Virunga national park reopened in February 2019 after being closed for a couple of months, the board saw it necessary to have standard organized packages that can ease the management of security of the visitors of the park.

The organized safari packages all start from the Goma- Gisenyi border at the Virunga tourism office situated in the Grande Barrier building. Tourism in Virunga has since changed. A few of the Virunga safari packages include the 2 day Nyiragongo hike, Mikeno Mist package where you hike Nyiragongo and visit the mountain gorillas, the Le Petit Virunga package where you get stay in Bukima tented camp and the luxurious Mikeno lodge. There are many other Congo safari packages that you can read more about on https://www.virungaparkcongo.com/virunga-safaris/ and book the more favorable one for your interests. These safari packages cannot be amended but only topped up to add an activity like the https://www.virungaparkcongo.com/virunga-safaris/5-days-congo-primates-safari/ you can add a hike up to Mount Nyiragongo.

Basic things you will need to know when planning your travel to Virunga national park.

If it is your first time visiting the Democratic republic of Congo with an aim of heading out for a safari in Virunga park, you will need to have a checklist on the requirements. Please note the requirements to enter DRCongo are not the same as the neighboring countries Rwanda and Congo. One vital requirement you will need to check will be your yellow fever vaccine. Make sure the yellow fever card shows a valid date and also ensure to have all your vaccines up to date. This card should also clearly state your full names, date of birth and sex matching with the passport. If you do not have the yellow fever vaccine card, you will be subjected to having the vaccine taken upon arrival.

You will also need a visa to cross into the DRCongo from Rwanda or even when flying in to the Goma airport. Please note you can apply for a 14 day tourist visa atleast 2 weeks to arrival as it cannot be issued on arrival. We can arrange for you this tourist visa but if you have more than 14 days in the country, you can extend the visa to a 3 months DRCongo visa at an added cost. The Virunga tourist visa goes for 105 USD per person. This tourist visa was also an initiative from the Institute Congolais pour la Conservation de la nature (ICCN), the Congolese wildlife authority to the Direction Generale de Migration (DGM) which is the authority in charge of immigration in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This was to make entry of visitors to the park much easier. You only qualify for this visa if you have a safari package booked in the country. This visa will permit you to visit the Virunga national park along with the Kahuzi Biega national park in Bukavu and please note this tourist visa fee is non-refundable. Full authority to grant you a tourist visa still lies in the hands of the DGM as the park only acts as a facilitator in the process. This is also a single entry visa so ensure to be in the country for all transfers if not then you will have to pay for another visa.

Another important thing to note is the set off time of the security convoy for your safari package from the Grande barrier border building. All the safari packages of Virunga national park have set off times for example the Nyiragongo hike sets off from the border at 7 am every day, the Mikeno mist package sets off on a daily at 10:30 am while the other packages have specific set off days during the week. Reach out to us for more detailed information on this. 

It is also important to note your entry point depending on the Congo safari package you have booked. Given that you are scheduled to visit the Kahuzi Biega national park first, you will have to note that you will be crossing from Rwanda at the Rusizi border which is indicated on your visa. If you are headed to the Virunga national park, you will be expected to cross into DRCongo from Rwanda at the Grande Barrier not the Petite Barrier. You may only cross into Virunga national park from Uganda if you are scheduled for the Jomba Community camp gorilla trek https://www.virungaparkcongo.com/virunga-safaris/2-days-jomba-community-camp-gorilla-trek/ 

Getting to Virunga national park

Virunga national park Congo is a very accessible national park as there is an airport just 20 minutes road transfer and a 5 hour road transfer. 

You can opt to fly to the Goma international airport aboard Ethiopian airlines and drive from the airport to the Grande Barrier border building for about 20 minutes to check in at the Virunga tourism office. 

The other option can be flying into the Kigali international airport and drive 5 hours to the Grande barrier border building to check in. Please note the Rwanda visa will expire once you cross into the DR Congo so you will have to apply for another on entry to Congo so that it I ready by the time of exit.

You can also use a boat transfer to access Virunga national park if you started your safari from Kahuzi Biega national park. You can take a speed boat from Bukavu port to Gisenyi boat. These speed boats have a schedule so be sure to book one in advance if interested.

Safety in Virunga national park

A number of measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of all the visitors to the park for example the standard tour packages to ensure an organized inflow of tourists to the park making it easier to track and protect them.

The Virunga national park has also put in place a dedicated team of security personnel to escort the tourists and their property right from the moment they check in at the tourism office until they exit the country.  Virunga national park has a liability insurance however every tourist is advised to have a personal one in case of unforeseen scenarios. 

Safety in Virunga national park
Safety in Virunga national park

The park rangers are internationally trained people so while on your treks, you should feel safe as they are well equipped with close protection skills along with first aid and communication skills and are also aware of the evacuation procedures where need be. 

You are however encouraged to always first check and be aware of the current security situation of your destination at your desired arrival time. The government offices of foreign affairs should be able to provide you with this information.

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