Lake Kivu is one of the might lakes of Africa that is situated on the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the western arm of the east African Albertine rift valley.  Lake Kivu flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika and located 40 kilometers from Bukavu town of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Geography of Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is ranked among the eighth largest lakes in Africa and covers an approximate total surface area of about 2700 square kilometers; it has length of about 90 kilometers and width of about 50 kilometers covering altitude of about 1460 meters above sea level. Lake Kivu has an esteemed average depth of about 475 meters and minimum depth of 220 meters. The Democratic republic of Congo takes up the largest percent of Lake Kivu portion that lies with the borders of the country and the lake bottom lies within the rift valley however due to the forces of tension and comprehension forces, they have given chance to the volcanic activities that take place within the area.

Lake Kivu harbors the world’s tenth island known as Idjwi which is an archipelago with Lake Kivu. Idjwi Island is a geography property within the Lake Kivu that belongs to the Democratic Republic of Congo and it has been counted among the kivu province. It covers an area of about 340 square kilometer, it is about 70 kilometers long and the island has been ranked as Africa’s second largest inland island.

Lake Kivu also borders Virunga national park that is famous for the mountain gorilla experience and the lake is surround by areas such as Bukavu town, Goma, Kabare, Sake, Kalehe, Cyangugu in Rwanda, and Gisenyi among others.

Bukavu town is one of the gorgeous cities in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that lies on the western edges of Lake Kivu and borders west Cyangugu of Rwanda. Historically the town was occupied by Bushi kingdom which is the ethnic group of southern kivu province later the town was named Bukavu which is a local name to meaning farm of cows.

Bukavu town experiences a sub-tropical climate and it is strategically located near to river Rusizi which attracted the colonial population in consideration to the scenic location of Lake Kivu. Bukavu has been established on five peninsulas or fingers and the city was the previous administrative town for kivu province although the city lost its popularity due to the growth of Goma town. The five peninsulas stretch towards Lake Kivu and Bukavu city is separated by river Rusizi from Rwanda.

Why visit Bukavu town.

Bukavu town is 40 kilometer to Kahuzi Biega national park thus it can act hub to travelers who would like to enjoy trekking eastern lowland gorillas due the fact that it is close to the park. Bukavu town is home to the a wide range of accommodation safari lodges which travelers visiting Kahuzi Biega national park for the gorilla trekking experiences can use on a safari such the Coco lodge, lakeside hotel Bukavu, exodus Bukavu lodge among other lodges.

Travelers can base in kivu town to explorer the Lake Kivu which is second largest lake in DR Congo and it is home to Inland Islands known as Idjwi Island which offers scenic beauties to all travelers that visit Bukavu town. Travelers staying in Bukavu town can as well enjoy kayaking adventure experiences on the five peninsulas stretching to Lake Kivu.

In synopsis, there are three top attractions in Bukavu town such as Kahuzi Biega national park which famous home to the eastern lowland gorillas in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the gorgeous and exciting lake kivu that harbors Idjwi inland island in DR-Congo as well as Vacation rental/accommodation facilities in Auckland although the town also a lot offer on a safari to DR-Congo.

Congo Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit

Virunga gorilla permit is that document that allows travelers to participate in the gorilla trekking adventure in Virunga national park.  The gorilla permit is purchased by the tourists who have interest to participate in the once life time gorilla trekking experience in the true African jungle of Virunga national park which is the oldest national park in Africa that  has been protected and conserved to protect the remaining cricitally endangered mountain gorillas in the world. Virunga national park is situated in the southern region of the democratic Republic of Congo in the heart of Goma town and it borders East African countries like Rwanda, Uganda among others.

Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park is one of the best great alternative for budget travelers that would like to enjoy trekking the rare endangered mountain gorillas in Africa but they don’t have enough dollars. One of the facts and uniqueness about gorilla trekking in Virunga national park is that it has one of the cheapest and affordable gorilla permit compared to other countries in Africa that harbors the remaining mountain gorillas in the world.

Virunga gorilla permit costs $400 USD per person and it is one of the national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo that offers discounted gorilla permits in the low season. This has given a chance to budget travelers all over the world to be part of the once lifetime dream of the mountain gorilla trekking adventure experience in the African wilderness. The gorilla trekking permit for Uganda costs 600 USD per person to all foreign nonresidents and by July 2020 the gorilla trekking permit for Uganda will increase to 700 USD while in Rwanda the gorilla trekking permit is at 1500 USD per person for all foreign nonresidents thus it is one of the best alternative option for luxury gorilla safaris and the best place for gorilla excursion safaris due to the fact volcano national park in Rwanda is so closed to the international airport.

The price cost of Virunga gorilla permit was partially influenced by the political instability that affected the park and due to the fact it is still a virgin destination for gorilla tourism, thus the price of 400 USD being used as a strategy to attract a lot of travelers in demand for gorilla trekking plus the ideology of surviving in the market of gorilla tourism in Africa due to fact that it is one of the major key tourism activity that has helped the country economy to recover from the wounds of the political wars that affected the Democratic republic of Congo.

Tchegera Island – One of the places you need to include on your tour to DRC is Tchegera Island. It is a good site for relaxation after the adventurous activities of the national parks. Tchegera Island is situated in DRC on a ridge of a collapsed caldera in the waters of Lake Kivu. In the North of Lake Kivu, it is well located for viewing Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira volcanoes in the night when the red glow from the lava lakes turn the sky red. It also gives spectacular views of the surrounding environment. It is also a home to a variety of bird species and therefore bird lovers will still be catered for.

You can organize for a 2 days tour can be organized to Tchegera island or combine it with a safari to Virunga national park.

How to access Tchegera Island

The island can be accessed by hiring a virunga boat, a private boat or a kayak. The main ports to get a boat to the island are Goma port and Kituku port. It takes about 20 minutes from Goma to Tchegera Island. From Tchegera Island back to Goma, the boat sets off at 7:30am.

Accommodation at the island – Tchegera Island tented Camp

There are 10 tents at the camp that accommodate guests to the Island, well contained with bathrooms and flushing toilets and running water. It is powered with solar and a generator. The views of the red sky due to Nyiragongo volcano molten fire is featured by the camp fire made in the evening at the camp. There is a full restaurant with where you’ll enjoy some of the best dishes and a bar with all lots of drinks alogside Wi-Fi connection to keep you connected to your people.

Accommodation rates for Tchegera Island tents

Single           US$168

Double         US$226

Twin             US$226

Accommodation reservations include breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Activities at Tchegera tented camp

  • Bird watching
  • Paddle boarding and kayaking
  • Nature walk/Guided bush walk
  • Snorkeling
  • Scenic and Sunset viewing

Wildlife at the island

Wildlife at Tchegera is blue monkey and birds including cormorants, African fish eagle and many others.


Visiting Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage  center

Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center – Virunga national park boasts for hosting the only gorilla orphanage center in the whole world. Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center was started to take care of the orphaned gorillas that were rescued from poachers who had killed others.

In 2007, 4 members including a silverback named Senkwekwe from Rugendo gorilla group were killed leaving 2 orphans Ndakasi and Ndeze who led to establbishment of the center. The orphanage was named after Senkwekwe because he was the leader of the gorilla group. The center is located in Rumangabo at the Virunga national park headquarters a few metres from Mikeno lodge. It wasset up in 2010 after an online campaign had been handled about how to help these gorillas and US$211,000 was collected from different people and organizations for purposes to push the cause.

At the orphanage centre, there are well trained caretakers, veterinary doctors and other staff that make up a great team which fully takes care of the orphans. Each orphan has their care takers who feed them and offer all other help. They will lead you to have an awesome time with these gorillas, interacting with them, learning their behaviors, taking photos, viewing them. This is a perfect time worth travelling to the wild.

Since the opening of Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center, 6 orphaned gorillas have lived there; Ndakasi, Ndeze,Maisha, Yalala, Koboko and Matabishi. The center also has some lowland gorillas that were rescued from Kahuzi Biega and Bukavu.

A visit to Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage centre gives a chance to closely have an exceptional interaction with these mountain gorillas whose behaviors are quite different from those in the wild. Booking for your visit to Senkwekwe are made at Mikeno lodge.

Accommodation close to Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center

Mikeno lodge

Bukima camp

Hotels in Goma: Ihusi hotel

Visit the Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center in Virunga National Park in Congo

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.

A Virunga visa is a legal travel document that travelers who are foreign nonresidents must pose so as to be allowed to explore Virunga national park. A Virunga visa is categorized among the tourist visa that will give travelers permission to go through or explore Virunga national park. Before authorities issue out the Virunga visa they have the mandate to know exactly what you are going to do in Virunga national park and which accommodation safety for period you will spend in Virunga national park, this is for security reasons due to fact that country has been unstable for quite some time thus they have improved on the safety and security that is why the immigration offices will always ask travelers such questions.

Travelers can apply the Virunga visa via the Democratic Republic of Congo embassy offices in your country. Travelers ought to apply for the Virunga visa 2 weeks before travel due to the fact that processing time is between 7 to 5 days from the time the traveler has applied for the visa.

The application procedure will require travelers to present two colored passport sized photos in black and white background and the photos should be of recent appearance. When applying for the Virunga visa travelers should have a valid passport which is 6 months old before applying for the visa

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is a must requirement while applying for Virunga visa regardless whether the person has a yellow fever or not. The cost of a Virunga visa is about 100 USD and it can easily be issued if the travelers have booked activity or accommodation in Virunga national park. For travelers who are American citizens the visa lasts for 6 months which is equivalent to 180 days.

Where is Virunga national park? – Virunga national park which is the oldest national park in Africa is situated in north eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and lies within the Albertine rift valley arm of East Africa. The park is the world heritage site that is located in the northern shores of Lake Kivu a few distances from Goma town.

Visiting Virunga national park is an extremely interesting trip as travelers will get an opportunity to enjoy a wide range of holiday safari activities such as the great mountain gorilla trekking experiences, the chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey trekking, and mountain hiking among other activities.

Travelers can access Virunga national park through road transport or air transport depending on traveler’s budget. On road transport, from Goma town it is about 45 minutes covering a distance of about 35 kilometers before you the park. From Rwanda to Virunga national park, travelers will have to go through Gisenyi town then proceed to Goma town then later proceed to Virunga national park.

On air transport, there are many airlines that operate domestic flights in the democratic republic of Congo such as Ethiopia airlines that has scheduled flights to Goma town which is the nearest town to Virunga national park.

Facts about Virunga Mountains – Virunga mountains also known as Virunga mountain ranges are situated three countries of east Africa and they been protected under one world heritage site to form the Virunga conservation massif. The Virunga Mountains stretches its boundaries in the countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountains bases lies with the Albertine rift valley, lake albert as well as lake kivu.

Some of the impacts about Virunga Mountains include;

 Virunga Mountains are 8 volcano chains that is only found in east Africa along the branch of the Albertine rift valley. Most of Virunga Mountains are dormant volcanoes exception of mount Nyiragongo, mount Nyamuragira which all situated in Virunga national park in eastern republic of Congo., other Virunga mount mountains include mount. Gahinga and mount Mahabura in Mgahinga national park of Uganda, mount Mikeno in Virunga national park, mount Sabinyo in volcano national park of Rwanda, mount Karisimbi and mount Bisoke.

Among the 8 Virunga mountains, mount Karisimbi is the highest volcano and stands at an elevation of 4507 meters, mount Sabinyo is the oldest mountain and mount Nyamuragira is the most active with last eruption in 2010 followed by mount Nyiragongo with its last eruption in 2006 and it is most trekked among the 8 mountains.

The Virunga mountains harbors the remaining rare and endangered mountain gorillas in the world which is one of the great attraction and great wonders of the world that attracts a lot of travelers who come to Africa. Thus the Virunga Mountains are famous destinations for not only mountain hiking but as well as the lifetime gorilla trekking adventure experience which is extremely exciting to all travelers that engage in the activity.

Booking Virunga Gorilla Trekking Permits

The Virunga gorilla permits can be acquired from Virunga conservation authorities that are in charge of the Virunga national park together with the institute of Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature abbreviated as ICCN. These are responsible for the price of gorilla permit that funds collected from gorilla tourism is used to fund and rehabilitate conservation projects, other funds are injected back in the park to ensure the safety and security of travelers and endangered mountain gorillas.

Alternatively travelers can book their gorilla safari with a genuine tour safari expert such as Adventure in the wild safari who will assist to book for you the gorilla trekking permit without any hassles as well as organize your safari accommodation, meals, arrange the transportation among other extras that might be needed to attend the success of your gorilla trekking lifetime experience. The safari experts will as well advise and offer you other alternative activities to enjoy while on gorilla safari in Virunga national park which can be combined together to offer unforgettable experiences in the  African wilderness. Contact Adventure in the wild Safari one of the leading safari experts who will assist to organize your gorilla safari in Virunga national park and you won’t regret the treat.

The Virunga gorilla permit allows travelers only one hour to meet with a gorilla family from the time they spot a gorilla family and on each family a maximum of 8 people are allowed to meet with the habituated gorilla family. During the period of one hour, travelers are free to take photos and video with a gorilla family, enjoy watching the juvenile young gorillas play, enjoy the feeding lifestyle of the gorillas as well as other behavioral  patterns of life in the jungle in their natural habitat.

The Virunga gorilla permit is not given travelers who are below fifteen years of age as they are considered children and if some of 14 years and they about to celebrate their 15th birthday a gorilla permit can be issued to them that the authority has confirmed this. And in the peak season travelers are advance to make advance booking of their gorilla trekking permit in Virunga national park due to fact that permits are on a very high demand and they tend to be competitive, thus to avoid embracement’s and proper planning for other activities, please make advance booking at least 5 months prior to the dates of travel.

Booking Virunga Gorilla Permit, Book Virunga Gorilla Trekking Permit