After several years of political instability and civil war that killed more than six million people and a long history of corruption, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is not on numerous travelers’ list.
Be that as it may, there is currently one good reason behind why they may be more interested. Virunga National Park, the Africa’s oldest national park in the eastern part of the country bordering Uganda and Rwanda, reopened this year after the year ended.
It is a mysterious destination, 3,000 square miles of snow-topped mountains, active volcanoes, glaciers, luxurious mountain forest and savannahs. Yet another fight is presently playing around here, one in the between integrity and greed.
The rangers in the park are fighting to protect the world’s endangered and rare primates – mountain gorillas who live here – from both poachers and the threat of British oil company SOCO International. Despite of the fact that Virunga National Park is protected under the Congolese and International law as a UNESCO world heritage site, The FTSE 250 Company had been planning to explore for oil inside the park.
In the newly released documentary called Virunga, which tells the story of trust in the district and the 381 rangers who work to secure this large and biodiversity habitat.
Also, it is the improvement of tourism in the national park could save the day. Regardless of the British Foreign Office still warming against travel to eastern Congo, it appears to be numerous tourists are realizing that it is safe to visit Virunga.
Since Virunga National Park reopened in January, after being closed for a year, accommodation in the park has been full to capacity, with travelers visiting the southern sector of the park to see the critically endangered mountain gorillas, a hugely diverse range of other species, and awe inspiring landscapes – including amazing views of the world’s largest lava lake.
Consider the development of tourism in the neighboring countries of Uganda and Rwanda, and its benefit to the recovery of the economy there, and the possibility of eastern DR. Congo tourism doesn’t seem unrealistic. Uganda and Rwanda estimate to receive about $15m every year from gorilla permits. Virunga National Park could generate as much revenue from its tourist attractions.
To get to Virunga National Park, most visitors fly into Kigali International Airport in Rwanda, and then take a three-hour taxi ride to the border crossing at Gisenyi. The national park offers safe transportation to its head offices in Rumangabo, where Mikeno Lodge offers 12 luxury cottages. The tour incorporates fabulous Nyiragongo volcanoes, where trekkers can likewise camp in the collection of 12 shelters on the summit of Mount Nyiragongo, next to the lava lake.
Simply outside the Virunga National Park boundary is Bukima Tented Camp, one of the major starting points for gorilla treks in Virunga, with six luxury tents and views of 4,437m Mount Mikeno. A shared tent is $325 every night B&B, while doubles at Mikeno Lodge are US$325. A permit to hike at Nyiragongo, incorporating accommodation in huts, costs $255.
It may be luxurious, yet visiting Virunga National Park will help save mountain gorillas, and is a statement of backing for the honorable rangers who have lost many of their colleagues lately, battling on the front line of conservation to protect an asset for their nation, as well as for rest of humanity.
• For further information on the park, including a list of recommended tour operators, see visitvirunga.org