Travel Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Suspends Tourism

10:12  15 may  2018
10:12  15 may  2018 Source:   cntraveler.com

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As director of the 7,800-square-kilometer [3,000-square-mile, a little smaller than Delaware] Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo We don’t take undue risks, which means that sometimes we have suspended tourism , and that’s always happened before any material threat

Virunga National Park stretches along the Albertine Rift in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and includes parts of Lake Edward’s shore. Almost two-thirds of the lake and about half of the park are within Block 5, an oil and gas exploration area accessible to Soco International.

a black bear sitting on a branch © Getty

Virunga National Park, a reserve in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, has suspended tourism, the park announced this morning, according to the BBC. The indefinite closure to visitors comes the day after the release of two British tourists, who were kidnapped along with their driver on Friday in the Nyiragongo territory, north of Goma. A 25-year-old female park ranger was killed in the ambush. There's no word yet on when the park will be reopened to travelers. The DRC is currently listed at Level 3 on the U.S State Department's four-level travel advisory list, urging Americans to "reconsider travel" to the country due to "crime and civil unrest."

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A search is continuing for two British tourists who were kidnapped in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). DRC army spokesman Major Guillaume Kaiko Ndjike told Reuters that soldiers had joined rangers in the search operation at the Virunga National Park .

Image caption The Virunga National Park director said the tourist ’s vehicle was ambushed by gunmen. A search is continuing for two British tourists who were kidnapped in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

People who are currently booked to visit Virunga National Park should get in touch with their booking agent to discuss alternative travel. Operators like Deeper Africa, one of our recommended specialists in the region, are offering refunds to clients heading to the DRC who may now want to cancel their trips, and offering alternative itineraries into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

Virunga is the DRC's largest national park and Africa's oldest, covering 3,000 square miles on the border with Uganda and Rwanda. It is home to about one quarter of the world's mountain gorilla population as well as lowland gorillas, elephants, and lions. Long hampered by unrest and civil war, tourism in the park picked up four years ago and had been steadily growing. Last week's kidnappings were the first reported incident of hostility against travelers. Last month, six park rangers were killed in an ambush by MaiMai militia in an area of the park where travelers don't generally visit.

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Kidnapping and killings of both foreigners and game park workers are common in the Democratic Republic of Congo . Unidentified armed men ambushed a group on Friday morning inside the Virunga National Park .

VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK , Democratic Republic of Congo . Aline Masika Kisamya Kisamya, one of 14 pioneering women rangers in Virunga National Park , pauses to check on the guests she’s leading on a trek to see a family of mountain gorillas.

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