Virunga National Park is in the Albertine Rift valley in the eastern part of Democratic Republican of the Congo. Virunga national park is also part of the target national parks one would opt for after Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It falls under the best places to visit once some one comes to Uganda as its just a neighbouring country.
The altitude ranges from 680m in the Semliki River valley around the Rwenzori Mountainous areas. To the south the Virunga park extends about 300 km, covering an area of 8090km2. The park is also listed on the World Heritage in Danger and was one of the first protected areas in Africa.
Virunga National park has two active volcanoes that is; mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. The volcanos inhabit more than 2000 faunal and floral species and some are endemics of the Albertine Rift such as the eastern Gorilla, golden monkey and many more.
Virunga National park was first established as a nature reserve with the aim of studying and preserving the wildlife and primities.
The volcanoes of Mount Karisimbi and Mount Mikeno are also part of the Virunga park.
The laws guiding the Virunga National park were reformed in the 1960s when the country of Congo had come independence. The Virunga land was later on declared as a property of state even though it was a disadvantage of the local people.
The illegal hunting inside the protected areas increased in the 1969 when the park was named Virunga and it was listed as a UNESCO world Heritage site in 1979.
Virunga National park is a narrow corridor width which is along the Lake Edward up to the international border with Uganda in the east. There is a corridor width which is along the lake’s western bank which connects the northern and southern sector of the Virunga National park.
The southern sector stretches to the shores of lake Kivu, Nyamuragira, Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes with Montane forests on their slopes. There are other parks on the sector of the Virunga park and these include Mount Rwenzori National park, Semuliki national park, Queen Elizabeth National park and many others.
Virunga National park is found in the wetlands and grasslands with papyrus, common reed, sacton grasses, ambatch, thorns, paperbark thorn, kowal fruit and many other plant species.
Primates and Mammals
Virunga park has a number of mammals to see including elephants, buffaloes, giant forest hog, waterbuck, Ugandan kob, yellow backed duiker, blue duiker, bay duikers, hippos and many more totally to 196 mammals, 800 bird species, 200 reptiles and 70 amphibians. There primates in the park especially the common one called the mountain Gorillas, chimpanzees, red tailed monkey, Mona Monkey, Blue Monkey, Hamlyn monkey ,olive baboons, African red colobus monkey, mantled guereza, grey cheeked mangabey and many others.
Virunga park is adjacent to Queen Elizabeth National park where the tree climbing lions inhabit the Isasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National park.
The Semliki River which is near the Virunga is a habitat for the Nile crocodiles several have been observed at the northern shore of Lake Edward. And as a forested area, Virunga inhabits quite a number of snakes and other reptile species.
There many birds in the area including the Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori turaco ,Archers ground robin, Kivu ground thrush, red throated alethe ,collared apalis, mountain masked apalis, dusky crimsonwing ,strange weaver, regal sunbird, Rwenzori double collared sunbird, handsome francolin.