Virunga National Park
The Virunga National Park is a 7,800-square-kilometre National Park that is sandwiched by the Virunga Mountains in the South and Rwenzori Mountains in the North respectively. Located in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, it borders Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
The park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first National Park and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979. It is known for its exceptional biodiversity, containing more bird, mammal and reptile species than any protected area on the African continent. The Virunga National Park is one of the two global habitats for the endangered mountain gorillas. Other animals such as forest elephants, chimpanzees and low land gorillas can still be found in Virunga, along with Okapi, giraffes, buffaloes and many endemic birds.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains namely Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo, which are covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.
The park was first gazetted in 1925, as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno, intended to protect the gorillas from poachers. In 1929, the borders of the park were extended further into Rwanda and into (now) Democratic Republic of Congo to form the Albert National Park, a huge area of 8090 km² which in 1960 was split into Virunga and Volcanoes national parks after both countries attained independence.
The park has diverse vegetation that is dominated by bamboo forests and lobelia. Secondary thicket, meadows, marshes, swamps and small lakes also occur but their total area is relatively Small.The Park is best known for the Mountain Gorillas but is also home for golden monkeys, black-fronted duiker, buffalo, Spotted Hyena and bushbuck. There are 178 recorded bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Rwenzori Mountains. The most prominent tourism activities in volcanoes national park include Gorilla trekking, mountain hiking, nature walks, visiting the Grave of Dial Fossey, Golden monkey tracking and birding.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park was established in 2004 and covers an area of approximately 970 km² of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs. It is located in southwestern Rwanda at the border with Burundi to the south: and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Nyungwe rainforest is probably the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa. From the east side of the Nyungwe forest comes also one of the branches of River Nile sources.
Nyungwe forest national park is a priority for conservation in Africa because it is situated in a region where several large-scale bio geographical zones meet and the variety of terrestrial biomes provides a great span of microhabitats for many different species of plants and animals.
The park contains 13 different primate species, 275 bird species, 1,068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species. Many of these animals are restricted-range species that are only found in the Albertine Rift montane forests eco region in Africa.
The park offers numerous tourism activities which include fascinating canopy walks, nature walks, golden monkey trekking, mountain hiking and birding.