Virunga National Park should be included in anyone’s itinery when travelling to Africa. I had climbed 8 volcanoes before my trip to the DRC but Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo were heads above.
Vianney, tour organiser for the park was wonderful. As tourism popularity grows Vianney’s job becomes more and more stressful. There were times when we walked into his office and he would have 2 phones to his ears juggling bookings whilst trying to deal with clients in the office.
We had crossed the border from Rwanda and found a lovely guest house just off the main road, the Maison Lunda. It is a well kept guesthouse with a selection of rooms with a shower or tv to choose from. A recent paint job has certainly helped brighten the rooms. The ladies at Maison Lunda really look after their guests and is a great choice for any budding travellers looking for a basic, cheap accommodation.
Trekking up to Nyiragongo was tough but the reward at the top was worth every ounce of pain suffered. It began raining half way up so the rainfly’s came out. Once at the top the wind blew and it was freezing cold. Luckily there are huts at the crater rim and made for a great nights accommodation. Once the sun set the red glow came over the crater rim. Looking down into the crater rim was a highlight of my trip, some 600m below was a huge lake of lava churning away violently.
The next volcano on our list is one of the greatest things i have ever seen in my life. Trekking to Nyamulagia took 3 hours through flat volcanic scrubland. Once out of the trees the landscape opened right up and in the distance stood Nyamulagira, a red glow filled the sky above. Once camp was set up the Virunga guards took us up a dormant volcano nearby so we could get a better view. As the sun began to dip the most spectacular shades of red lit up the sky. Every minute or so lava would fly out over the crater rim and splash back down. This volcano really is something special.
Although we had plans to climb Mt Margharita or Mt Stanley, as it more commonly known from the congo side, this didn’t end up happening. We travelled to Uganda and scaled Africa’s 3rd highest mountain that straddles the border of both DRC and Uganda. It is an amazing trek and the view from the top through the Rwenzori Ranges is breathtaking.
This park certainly is a must when visiting Africa. Africa’s oldest nation park and arguably its best.
I’d like to thank Vianney for his professionalism and arranging many things for us throughout our stay in Goma. To the Virunga guards, you guys do a fantastic job and thanks for your bright personalities and making the treks that much more enjoyable. And i’d like to thank Brent Stirton, nat geo photographer for bringing awareness to the park and its issues. Hopefully tourism continues to grow in this amazing part of the world.
Ryan, Scott and Moxy