Chimpanzee Habituation in Virunga – The tropical rain forests, savannah woodland and grassland forests at the slopes and bottom of the Virunga volcanoes in Democratic republic of Congo are a home to 3 great apes; mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. They are among the main attractions in the wilderness of DRC. There are however other primates like red-tailed monkeys, De Brazzas monkey, golden monkey, blue monkey, baboons and more.

Chimpanzees are said to be the closest realties to humans with an estimated percentage of 98ofhuman genes. They walk on their four limb s but are capable of walking on legs alone for about a kilometer. Chimps have subspecies which are identified basing on their appearances and distribution; eastern chimps, Western chimp, central chimps and Nigeria-Cameroon chimps. They also live in groups of up to 80 members with a dominant male as the leader of the group. They can be spotted up in the trees or on the ground, though they nights are spent in nests up in the trees.

After a gestation period of 202-261 days, chimps give birth to a single though they may have twins occasionally. These primates feed on leaves, fruits, branches and some insects. They obtain their food from the forests where they live. In case of a chance to hunt for small animal spotted, they feed on meat as well.

Currently, the chimpanzees in Virunga national park are only habituated and this is an exciting and great activity for tourists that visit the park. Chimps in this park are found in Rumangabo sector in Mahura forest.

Chimpanzee habituation was started by Frankfurt Zoologist in 1987. He created a trail of 80km in Tongo forest and started on the 2 year activity to make these primates become familiar to people. In 1989, there were more than 50 chimps that had been habituated and available for tourists to visit. However, a few years later, the region suffered civil unrest and chimp habituation, Chimpanzee trekking and other tourism activities could not go on.

When the region settled from civil unrest in 2014, the team that had been trained by the mogul Frankfurt Zoologist society resumed the habituation activity. The guides of Virunga national park in Rumangabo penetrate into the forest daily at 4:30am to find where the chimps spent their nights, and at 6:00am, guests are also led to these locations. Guests who book Mikeno lodge and Bukina tented camp for accommodation have a more advantage to go for Chimp trekking at Rumangabo sector. Only 4 people are allowed to visit the gorilla family since there are few spots for habituating.  When you spot them, you’ll spend only one hour to learn about and interact with the chimps. A chimpanzee habituation permit costs US$100 for each individual.

Besides viewing chimps, guests can as well visit the Chimpanzee Resource Centre in Tongo. You’ll get to know more about the habituation project and how the local community is participating in conservation and protection of the wildlife. Hiking to Tongo River would be a good additional activity for you to explore more of the virgin destinations of Virunga.

Mikeno Mountain is one of Congo’s famous tourist attractions, the mountain has become one of the most common places tourists will love to visit during any of their Congo safari tour or visits to the country. The Mikeno Mountain lies deep within the Congo Forest, and the Virunga Mountains are the most common attractions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nonetheless, visitors interested in this event will have a wonderful rewarding experience that you don’t want to skip during any of Congo’s safari tours Mikeno Mountain is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the mountain is part of the Virunga National Park and is known for the harbouring of the worlds endangered mountain gorillas, the fact that the gorillas live in this mountain, it has attracted a number of visitors in Congo to easily visit the Mikeno mountains on many occasions. The gorillas love to stay at the edge of the mountains, the Mikeno mountain mist is easily reached when you pass through Bukima border patrol post of the Democratic republic of Congo.

Description of the Mikeno mist

Mikeno is one of the volcanoes of the Virunga Mountain of eastern Congo. Mikeno mountain is one of the extinct volcanoes of Virunga national park. The Mikeno Mountain is also the second highest mountain after the Karisimbi Mountain which measures up to an elevation of around 14557 ft above sea level, and the Peak is also one of the Virunga Mountains. The term Mikeno is derived from a local word to means poor, the name Mikeno came has a result of the rugged nature of the slopes which didn’t not support human settlement. The Mikeno mountain lies within the DR. Congo in the Virunga national park. the mountain covers a distance of about 5.5km north west of mount Karisimbi lying in the boarder of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountain is famous for tourism activities and its best known as a home to the endangered mountain gorillas that live in the democratic republic of Congo in the Virunga national park.

Tourist activities in the mikeno mountain

The Mikeno mountain is a famous region for gorilla trekking, the mountain harbours the gorilla population that live in the democratic republic of Congo. Mountain Mikeno is one of the best regions to visit during any of your African safaris and purposely to the democratic republic of Congo. During any of your safari visits, to the Virunga national park, the fast-magnificent feature you will view is the Mikeno mountains which can only be seen in the democratic republic of Congo. do not miss to visit these magical mountains during your safari in Congo since it offers you a lot of attractions and much more to learn and enjoy in this great mountain.

There many activities you can do while in the Mikeno mountains in the democratic republic of Congo. These activities include among others;

Mountain gorilla trekking;

gorilla trekking is one of the popular tourist activities that has attracted many tourists in the region, and mainly to the Virunga national park Mountain gorillas have become the world’s largest primates, and the Democratic Republic of Congo gives you a great opportunity to see these animals without trouble than any other East African destination renowned for gorilla trekking. Dian Fossey, a famous protagonist / zoologist, brought the Mikeno mountains accessible to the outside world because of her various works while She was still employed in the Virunga National Park. She managed to save the mountain gorillas as they were on the verge of extinction and also wrote numerous books on the life of the mountain gorillas in the national park of Virunga.

Hiking in Mikeno mountain;

travellers visiting the Mikeno mountains, can also do hiking activities, the mountain is known to be challenging and one of the hardest mountains to climb, the mountain has a poor terrain as the name goes Mikeno, which makes it difficult to hike to the top and its also tiresome but it comes with much fun and excitement once you make it to the top. From the top of Mikeno, you have amazing views of the East African rift valley with a dense forest of verdant and the scarred lakes.

A visit to the Mikeno mountains, offers also a chance to spot some of the primate species living in Virunga national park, during the visit, you will spot interesting animals like the baboons, Monkeys, if lucky enough, you may spot the golden monkeys, bird species can also be spotted, a lot of butterflies, magnificent vegetation full of ferns, shrubs and trees.

Proper equipment required for Mikeno visit in Congo

The most important thing is to make sure that you have booked your safari to democratic republic of Congo through any of the tour companies offering tour packages to Mikeno mountain, before your actual dates of your visit in east Africa. Also make sure you have packed the right hiking equipment that will help smoothen and make the hike even easier. During the hike, in case the luggage is heavy and you will need some assistance, you can opt to hire a porter to help with the luggage but an extra little cost.

 You’ll need to wear proper jungle wardrobe colours such as green coloured shoes, khaki safari clothes, and hiking boots to keep you comfortable during the Mikeno hike. Since the gorillas are not skilled at shouting colours.

Also remember to carry your documents for the boarder check point as this is so important and its required of any one in case your crossing the boarder to the democratic republic of Congo. The passport should be valid for at least a period of six months also remember to get a yellow fever vaccine since you will be required to show a yellow fever card indicating that you where vaccinated and other documents explained to you by your travel consultant.

A camera is also good as it will help capture photos of interest and record videos which can be used for your memories during your visit in Africa, binoculars would also help in viewing distant features like the birds, and other animals that live up on the trees which may be hard to view with the physical eye, animals such as the black and white colobus monkeys, okapi, olive baboons, chimpanzee and many others.

Where to stay in during the Mikeno Mountain visit

During your visit to Mikeno mountains, you book accommodation in Kirumba tented camp as it’s the one stop centre for all the visitors to Mikeno mountain in democratic Republic of Congo. The kirumba tented camp is situated in southwestern part of the Virunga mountains on the slopes on Mikeno mountains famously known for gorilla trekking. The other accommodation in the park is mikeno lodge situated inside the Virunga national park. mikeno mountain is one of the perfect places to visit therefore, any traveller in democratic republic of Congo should take time and visit the Mikeno mountain you will absolutely love it.

Top Things to do in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. There are several activities you can do in Mgahinga such as gorilla trekking, Golden monkey trekking, Mountain Hiking / Climbing, Birding, Batwa cultural encounters. Here are the things to do in Mgahinga in detail:

Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The park is gifted with one family of gorillas which used to roaming around the forest in three countries but finally decided to settle in Uganda at Nyakagezi. The group is habituated and if you are interested in doing gorilla tracking, you are advised to do prior booking and have a permit secured which costs US$700, US$600 and UGX250,000 for foreign nonresidents, foreign residents and East African citizens respectively. Activity charges here are the same as those of Bwindi impenetrable national park. Tracking commences at Ntebeko entrance main gate at 8:00 daily through the forest until they are found. It may last for 2-4 hours depending on where they are spotted because they are always expected to move in search of food. Visitors are accompanied with a ranger guide to easily take them through the forest and are advised to usefully utilize their time because they are given only one hour to spend with these giants of the forest.

There is easy access to the amazing places of the park mainly during the two dry seasons of the destination that is from mid December to February and from June to October

Birding in Mgahinga 

Mgahinga harbors 180 species of birds not forgetting the endemic striking Albertine rift valley species. Bird watching permits cost US$30 for foreign residents, US$30 for foreign residents and UGX10,000 for East African citizens. This allows the visitors to have an expert birder to lead to some of the well known areas for birding such as the gorge trail between Gahinga and Sabinyo which has some of the most beautiful bird species like the cape robin-chat, Kivu-ground thrush, dusky turtle dove, brown crowned tchagra, blue-headed sun bird among others. Additional perfect areas for birding are the bamboo forest which is about 25,00m above sea level and the montane forest which is about 2,660m above sea level and this is where the Rwenzori Turaco is highly expected to be sighted.  The chubb’s cisticola, red-faced woodland warbler, banded prinia and dohert’s bush-shrike  produce sweet vocals at the Uanda-Congo border though they are not easily seen.

Mountain climbing

The strategic location of Mgahinga national park calls for need to hike on any or all the three volcanoes in a day at a fee of US$80 for non foreign, US$70 for foreign residents and UGX50,000 for East African citizens. These volcanoes include;

Mt. Sabinyo.  It derived its name from the word Iryinyo which locally means “a tooth”. The top of the volcano has rugged surfaces like an old man’s teeth hence its name Sabinyo.  The extinct volcano lies across the border of Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. The activity starts at the tourist centre of the park with a ranger guide and walking sticks. It takes eight hours to climb and move down to the bottom and visitors to come across different landscapes: grassland where you may spot the endemic beautiful Rwenzori Turaco, bamboo forest the habitat for golden monkeys and rain forest etc. It also harbors other mammals like elephants, buffalos among others though they are rarely seen. Once you are at the pinnacle of Mt. Sabinyo, you are able to view Uganda, Rwanda and Congo at the same point.

Mt. Gahinga. This one is said to be the smallest of the three and lies at the border of Uganda and Rwanda. From the language spoken in the southwestern Uganda- rufumbira/Kinyarwanda, gahinga means “a pile of stones” and the volcano was named so because its appearance was related to a pile of stones. It is also dormant and lies 3,474m above sea level with a 180m wide swampy caldera that was preciously a crater lake. The hike is a 6 hour trip and it gives a great view of the green farmlands around the fertile place.

Mt. Muhavura. Visitors are driven from the park headquarters at Kinigi at 7:00 to the point where moving on foot starts. It is the 3rd tallest mountain in Uganda lying at 4,127m ASL. It takes about eight hours to cover 12km trip and hikers are required to carry water, food, a tent and sleeping gear. Its peak is a good viewing point for various areas including the Virunga volcanoes, Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth national park, Bwindi and Mt. Rwenzori.

Golden monkey tracking

Mgahinga national park is the only place in Uganda where one can do this activity. The Virunga conservation area has an estimate of 3,000-4,000 golden monkeys, out of which 40-65 0f them are habituated in Uganda’s Mgahinga national park. Tracking these endangered beautiful primates may involve moving longer distances since they tend to move a lot around their habitat and therefore you should be physically fit for this activity.




Cultural experience of the Batwa trail

Anyone with interest of experiencing an ancient life of the world’s ancestors needs to participate in this activity to know how the indigenous Batwa lived in the forest as hunters, gatherers and keepers without damage. The visitors are entertained by these pygmies with their cultural dances, weaving skills, and other life style. A foreign nonresident and foreign resident pays US$80 and an East African citizen UGX50,000 to do the cultural experience.

Top Things to Do in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda