WHO WE ARE
All tourism activities in the Virunga Massif and even beyond, needs to be sustainable regardless of whatever motivation- holidays, adventure, conservation education, conferences, business, ecotourism, Geo-Tourism and Voluntourism. Sustainable tourism refers to a concept of visiting a place as a tourist and ensuring to make only positive impacts on the environment, society and economy. It is committed to making a pleasant, enjoyable experiences and meaningful connections with local environment, people, host communities, tourism companies and tourists themselves. For sustainable tourism to thrive, it requires responsible planning and management, informed participation of all relevant stakeholders and strong political leadership and good will to widen participation and consensus building.
The Virunga Community programs acknowledge conservation as a prerequisite for sustainable tourism and economic development. Gorillas’ tracking is undeniably a highly treasured unique experience which attracts many tourists globally. It is has been an overwhelming conservation and economical success for Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The Greater Virunga Trans-boundary Collaboration (GVTC); an initiative set up by the three countries sharing the mountain gorilla population within the three countries- have been assisting us in safeguarding the endangered species, as well as other biodiversity contained within and outside the protected Area Network of the greater Virunga landscape, particularly their fragile habitat. The large Virunga forest area and biodiversity outside the protected national parks is the home of many unique species of flora and fauna- including Mountain gorillas of Virunga Massif, Bwindi Impenetrable forest and the lowland gorillas of the Kahuzi- Biega National park.
The major challenges facing conservation efforts are extreme poverty which compels communities to rely on forest for food and other resources, mining activities, rebel groups, hunting and deforestation. The Virunga community programs aims to encourage research on the threatened ecosystems and conservation education, and also providing assistance to local communities through education, health, training and economic development initiatives.
The Virunga community programs strive to achieve the set UN’s sustainable development goals by initiating viable programs.
Our volunteers stay at Hotels, guest houses and home stays depending on the budget. If we have a group of volunteers wishing to stay together, that is encouraged too. However, the V.C.P organizes a get-together to talk about the work to be done by volunteers. After learning more, as a volunteer, you will meet people in the local community, discover the rural way of life and visit their programs. The skilled volunteers contribute significantly in imparting desired skills to the local community members hence alleviation of poverty and improvement of livelihoods.
Our volunteers work around different sites such as Kahuzi-Biega, Virunga National Parks-DRC, Mgahinga and Bwindi impenetrable forest-Uganda and Volcanoes National Parks-Rwanda, depending on the volunteer’s request. Therefore, we would like to advise our volunteers to be specific when choosing a program. The volunteers and host communities need to share their skills, experiences and knowledge for the betterment of both parties.
In addition, Virunga Massif has various opportunities available, such as visiting the mountain gorillas in the parks, golden monkeys, and mountain hiking and biking experience, visiting the caves, organising education tours, visiting museums, bird watching, cultural villages, visiting Dian Fossey site and Community activities among others.