Being stuck in Goma after our evacuation from Lodja, it turned out, afforded us the opportunity to visit Africa’s oldest national park. A short but bone-jarring 40-km ride away lies Virunga National Park, best known for its flagship species, the mountain gorilla. But this massive preserve seems to encapsulate all of Africa in the same area. Check out a stunning, 14-minute video overview of the park to see what I’m talking about.
Home to mountain and lowland rain forests, wet savanna, and a spine of dormant and not-so-dormant volcanoes that straddle the equator, it’s also a haven for people displaced by conflict and various rebel groups who seek it out for the very difficulty of access that makes it so poorly known.
We spent just over 24 hours in the park – enough time to soak up some of the superb accommodations and service at Mikeno Lodge and to hike into the mountains and visit the gorillas.
I’ve included a few pictures below that struggle to capture what a surreal experience it was.