Virunga National Park (covering an area of 790,000 ha) comprises an outstanding diversity of habitats, ranging from swamps and steppes to the snowfields of Rwenzori at an altitude of over 5,000 m, and from lava plains to the savannahs on the slopes of volcanoes. Mountain gorillas are found in the park, some 20,000 hippopotamuses live in the rivers and birds from Siberia spend the winter there. It extends along the eastern rim of the Great Rift Valley and separates the basins of the Nile and Congo rivers. It is also called the Mfumbiro range.
In the mists of the Virunga Volcanoes the last remaining mountain gorillas face extinction. The rarest and largest of the great apes, they are among our closest relatives yet one of the most endangered mammals on earth. They are threatened by poaching, loss of habitat, disease and war. Mountain gorillas are an important resource for the people of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda across whose borders their tiny forest habitat stretches. Deep in the forests, the primates live in family groups that are very protective of their home ranges. Each group usually consists of a dominant male, with several females and their young, and some non-adult males. To watch them in their natural habitat is certainly one of the most inspiring experiences available to the serious safari-goer.