The park is situated within the Virunga massif region of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga national park is the oldest, and the first Africa national park gazetted in 1925 . The world heritage site stretches south from the Virunga volcanoes to the northern side of the Rwenzori mountains covering over 3,050 square miles – 7800 square kilometers.
Virunga national park has the highest concentration of wildlife species protected than any other park in Africa. Wildlife in the Virunga includes the rare mountain gorillas, both savannah and forest elephants, chimpanzees, the Okapi, giraffes, antelope, warthogs, and pelicans, buffaloes and over 700 bird endemic live in Virunga as well.
The critically endangered mountain gorillas are the most popular wildlife in the Virunga which have attracted a lot of conservation efforts so as protect the world’s remaining gorilla pollution living in the jungles of this park. Today the population of mountain gorillas has steadily increased as evident from the 2010 gorilla census.
The Virunga national park also boasts a number of magnificent active volcanos, savannah, caves, lava plains, swamps, lowland forests, snow-capped mountains and a large number of locals depend on the park resources for their livelihood.
Virunga Mountains National Park is found in the Eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo just on the Ugandan and Rwandan borders. The parks moat prized inhabitants are 300 of the 880 world’s remaining mountain gorillas which inhabit the slopes of a number of extinct volcanic mountains that stretch from the south eastern edge of Virunga mountains to the north and east across borders Rwanda and Uganda. The park covers an area of about 7,800 km of spectacular montane landscapes in Africa comprised of steep valleys, low altitude marshlands, unique afro alpine vegetation of rare species of plants such as giant lobelias, moorlands and heathers and tree ferns making Virunga top Africa’s national parks for biological diversity as a result the park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
Mountain Gorilla trekking is the popular activity in the park but given the varied range of habitats, the park is also a home to other wildlife such as 128 species of mammals, Albertine rift endemic species of birds as well as other primates that live in the park. The park has of recent became a safe area to visit after the decline of civil strife led by numerous rebel groups that have been contained by the park’s management the Congolese National park Authority, consequently gorillas in the park have recovered and are steadily increasing with less threat of civil wars in the pars forested mountains.
Travelers interested to track gorillas can access Virunga national park from Kigali Rwanda by a 3 hour drive to the town of Goma on border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. From Goma the route continues for about 32 km to the park. Alternatively the park can be reached from southwestern Uganda via Bunagana border although the roads leading to the park will require a 4WD vehicle and an experienced gorilla trekking guide.