The International Airline journey
Guests to Virunga National Park more often than not soar to Kigali International landing field and catch the four hour long drive to the border crossing at Goma/Gisenyi. Intercontinental flights regularly arrive late in the afternoons and or evenings. For these arrivals, we propose you spend the night in Kigali as the border does not work 24/7. You can then head off to Goma the next morning. The majority of the guests that travel to the park are either coming from Rwanda or Uganda.
The park can be entered through different routes basing on the visitor’s interest though the most frequently used means is road means of transport that will require a 4WD fleet to make possible for you take pleasure in the gorilla tracking adventure.
Guests to the Virunga National Park that journey by air could set ground at the Goma International Airport. Goma has operated as the main airport for over ten years in the Eastern Congo, even still some people rather land in the less jam-packed Kigali airport in the land of a thousand hills. The Goma Airport also offers a number of worldwide flights.
A good number of flights to the state from Europe are via Brussels, Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam and Istanbul. Flights are frequently inexpensive sandwiched between February to April. The major airline agencies offering flights headed for and from the state include:
- Ethiopian Airlines.
- Swiss Airlines
- Air France
- Turkish Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Kenyan Airways
Virunga National Park is situated 32 km to the west of Goma, the capital of North Kivu region. Transportation from Goma into the park can with no trouble be prearranged with the National Park at Virunga. The easier way to get about is with one of Congo tour operators that currently offer the mount Gorilla Safaris in Congo. The park can be accessed via the following routes:
- Beginning from the Rwandan side, it takes close to four hours driving from Kigali city to the town of Gisenyi. It is the next town to Goma after journeying the two borders; it takes about 1 and a half hours driving to get to the Park’s Headquarters.
- For one coming from Uganda, linking to Virunga national Park is somewhat tiresome as the tourist may seek an all night stay in Kisoro and in the wee hours of the morning they then could cross to the DRC via the Bunagana border then take a 30 minute drive to Bukima where an all gorilla families trek is done.
- Then another from Bukavu within Congo close to the Virunga National Park: there is a way connecting to Kivu town, this takes over 5 hours of driving but it’s very unsafe and we do not recommend our visitors to opt using that route. The astounding scenery and the presence of the lake will give you a spectacular view.
Visitors who have been to Bukavu on a Safari and want to add up on the extension of the trip so as to cover the Virunga National Park, there are ferries that travel from Bukavu and then to Goma and through Idjwi Island on the Lake Kivu. This ride on a speed boat is about 3 hours and then that on a public boat takes around 4-5 hours. Upon your arrival at Goma, you thereafter will drive in a 4WD Safari jeep so as to gain access to the park. Unique Hires boats are obtainable at the lake shores although it is much better to get pleasure from the communal transport boats for security purposes unless it is prearranged by a recommended tour operator.
A public boat charge can go for US$ 300-400 and for slow boats it costs US$ 50. Swift boats and particular tickets are also sold though we advise that you book ahead to stay away from disappointments. Don’t miss visiting Virunga National park because of transportation ignorance.
Things to note about border crossing to Congo.
Border crossing is uncomplicated and from there it is only a short walk of just 10 minutes to Goma. However, we encourage travelers and visitors to take note of the following:
- Make certain that your paper work is done and in order so as to please the customs and immigration personnel.
- Valid Yellow Fever vaccinations.
- Always check the state’s travel counsel and handy tour information before going aboard on a trip to Congo with the visa having been applied for in advance.
- Traveling overland these paths can be bumpy but a 4WD vehicle is recommended. It is imprudent to travel these routes in the night.
- The park is managed by both the authorities of Congolese national park and the institute of Congolais pour la conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the other partner involved is the Africa Conservation Fund. Due to the recent tragedy that killed over ten mountain gorillas, the gorilla population has improved and recovered at the same time. Many thanks go to the ranger efforts who have risked their lives to save the remaining mountain gorillas.