The wildlife diversity in this region is astonishing and will blow your mind because of the abundant species endemic to the Albertine region.
Some of the key interesting attractions and activities you are likely to encounter in this region include;
With more than half (480) of the world’s surviving mountain gorillas that live in the Virunga Region, it is undeniable that gorilla trekking is the most adventurous activity here. The region is the best place to enjoy a gorilla safari adventure. These interesting Giant Apes scientifically known as Gorilla beringei beriengei are protected in the Volcanic Slopes consisting of tropical rainforests at the intersection of three National parks i.e. Volcanoes National park of Rwanda, Virunga National Park of DRC and Mgahinga national park of Uganda. There are 10 habituated gorilla families hence 80 gorilla permits are sold per day for Volcanoes National Park, 8 gorilla groups with 64 gorilla permits are sold per day for Virunga National Park and one gorilla group and 8 gorilla permits are sold for Mgahinga National Park. A gorilla permit costs $1500 in Volcanoes national Park, $600 for Mgahinga National park and $400 for Virunga national park.
These endangered monkey species are only found in the Virunga region, and their number is estimated at 4000-5000 individuals that live in this region. Tourists interested in engaging in golden monkey tracking can visit Volcanoes, Virunga and Mgahinga National park. Another more interesting activity-the Golden Monkey Habituation Experience where tourists spend more time with these creatures as they undergo habituation is conducted in Mgahinga National Park. Golden monkey tracking permits cost $100 for Volcanoes National park, $75 and $100 for the golden monkey Habituation Experience for Mgahinga National Park.
Other wildlife species you are likely to see in the Virunga region include 86 mammal species including 34 large mammal species, 18 species that are endemic to the region and 16 are under the IUCN red list. Some of the wildlife species include the African Golden cat, spotted hyena, Forest Elephants, Forest Buffaloes and side-stripped jackal among others.
Bird watching is also another interesting tourist activity that takes place in the Virunga massif because the region is a home to over 300 unique bird species of which 20 species are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley and four others species are threatened.
The Dian Fossey Grave
The list of interesting attractions is incomplete without the Dian Fossey Grave, which is found in Volcanoes national park. Dian Fossey was an American Zoologist who dedicated over 18 years of her life to conserve the critically endangered mountain gorillas. She made the area between the slopes of Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi Home and established her Karisoke Research Center in order to study the behavior of these creatures. Her life was however short-lived and she met her untimely murder in 1967 –it is believed that she was murdered by poachers and up to today, no clues have been found out who her murderers were.
The Virunga Volcanoes are a chain of 8 mountains located along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As earlier mentioned, the Virunga region is blessed with 8 breathtaking Volcanoes that include Mount Nyamuragira, Nyiragongo, Mount Bisoke, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Mikeno, Mount Gahinga, Sabinyo and Muhabura. Tourists can hike these Volcanoes except for the case of the active Mount Nyamuragira, and be rewarded with spectacular view of the surrounding areas. Climbing most of these Volcanoes takes one day except for Mount Karisimbi that takes 2 days.
The Batwa trail
This is an interesting activity conducted within the dense jungles of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The Batwa were hunter-gatherers that used to call the Mgahinga Forests home before they were displaced in 1991 after it was gazzeted into a National park. During this interesting Batwa Trail, you will get to learn about their culture, history and their traditional lifestyle, but interestingly, you will experience how these people make fire by friction out of sticks, you will also visit the traditional healer who mixes different plants to heal most ailments, experience their traditional dances and visit the Ngarama Grave which was in the past used as the King’s Palace, hiding place in times of conflicts and a store room for their food supplies. The Batwa now live at the edges of Mgahinga national park.