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Uganda, Rwanda D.R.Congo Gorilla Trek, Chimps Tracking, Nyiragongo Hike Safari - 10 Days

Overview
Itinerary
Accommodation
Inclusions
Overview

Uganda, Rwanda & D.R.Congo Gorilla, Kibale Chimps Trekking, Nyiragongo Hike Safari - 10 Days

10 days safari to track the mountain gorillas in Uganda's Bwindi, Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park and DRC's Virunga National Park. We also have a day for chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park which is home to 11 other primate species. You also track the golden monkeys in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park and Hike the Nyiragongo Mountain.

You will need to arrive at Entebbe International Airport and Depart from Kigali International Airport. 

We arrange the entire tour booking with DRC visa included in the price. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is necessary for this tour.

  • Day 1: Kibale National Park
  • Day 2: Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park
  • Day 3: Drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Day 4: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Day 5: Transfer to Rwanda
  • Day 6: Golden monkeys  Trekking Volcano National Park Rwanda
  • Day 7:  Transfer to Congo (DRC) - Mikeno Tented Camp
  • Day 8: Gorilla tracking in Virunga National Park 
  • Day 9: Hiking Nyiragongo Mountain
  • Day 10: Drive to Kigali Airport for departure flight back home.
Itinerary

Day 1: Kibale National Park

Briefing on the safari before we drive westwards towards Fort Portal to the Kibale Forest National Park (about 5 hours).

Traveling on both asphalt and unpaved roads, you pass through traditional Ugandan villages where you see people at work tending their traditional crops of millet, sorghum, beans and maize. The lush rolling hills of this region provide good photo opportunities.

As you approach Fort Portal in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, you enter Uganda's famous tea plantation region. A carpet of green spreads before you, as far as the eye can see, and seems an unusual contrast to the countryside through which you have just passed.

You arrive at Fort Portal, then, continue toward Kibale Forest, one of the great African rainforest research reserves. Years of study by scientists (who have cut a grid through the forest) have habituated many of its animals to human observers. This forest is famed for the variety of primates found here and it is a terrific area for birds. This rural Ugandan town (Fort Portal) is locally famous for its weaving and basketry, and we can spend some time briefly to examine some of this local art.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Kyaninga Lodge | Primate Lodge Kibale | Ndali Lodge

Moderate: Kibale Forest Camp

Low Budget: Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Day 2: Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park & Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Assemble at Kanyankyu River camp at 08:00 hours to go for the most popular activity in this park which is chimpanzee tracking.

Chimpanzees are man’s closest cousins though they are one of the most threatened primate species. More primates like black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, bush babies, pottos and many bird species like the yellow-spotted nicator, rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, green breasted pitta, the crowned eagle, black bee-eater and mammals like elephants can be seen in this walk.

Kibale National park, which averages about 3,300 feet in elevation, is an extension of the great rainforests of central Africa. It is inhabited by three large communities of chimps, each numbering more than 100 individuals. Each community has a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against incursions by male outsiders; the females usually wander in small family groups.

Typically, we locate the chimps by listening for their pant-hooting calls, then hustle to the area from which they are calling. We get to observe them as they feed in fruiting trees, lounge, and socialise with each other, or even, occasionally hunt.

In the afternoon we visit a nearby forest swamp that is excellent for viewing primates and other forest animals. At the eastern edge of Kibale Forest is Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is maintained by the local community. You will expect birds like the great blue turaco, blue monkeys, baboons, otters, mongoose, bushbucks, bush pigs and among others.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Kyaninga Lodge | Primate Lodge Kibale | Ndali Lodge

Moderate: Kibale Forest Camp

Low Budget: Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Day 3: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Depart early morning for Bwindi for your gorilla trek.

Seasons allowing, you will drive through the Ishasha sector hoping to spot wildlife along the way. It is common to spot elephants, buffalo, tree-climbing lions and many antelopes species along the way. Alternatively you can pay the park's entrance fee ($40) to enjoy a full-scale game drive.  Arrival in Bwindi is in the late afternoon.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Lodge  |  Chameleon Hill Lodge

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Silverback Lodge | Gorilla Safari Lodge | Nkuringo Gorilla Camp

Low Budget:  Buhoma Community Rest Camp | Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp

Day 4: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

After breakfast, proceed for the morning briefing before enjoying the highlight of the trip - gorilla trekking, which may last the entire day.

We trek through the rainforest and bamboo covered slopes, accompanied by a guide and trackers, in search of a mountain gorilla family. The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. When sighted, visitors will be guided to within 6 metres from the gorillas, sit around them for a whole hour while gazing into their big round eyes.

Gorilla trekking is unpredictable. It's difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. The gorilla excursion can take from 2 up to 8 hours. Expect to walk along distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. A good physical condition is recommended. For conservation purposes, time spent with the gorillas is limited to one hour. A ranger will brief you on how to behave with the gorillas.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Lodge  |  Chameleon Hill Lodge

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Silverback Lodge | Gorilla Safari Lodge | Nkuringo Gorilla Camp

Low Budget:  Buhoma Community Rest Camp | Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp

Day 5: Transfer to Rwanda

Take breakfast and depart for Rwanda. You will cross the border via Kisoro or Kabale then clear at the border - Rwanda is 1 hour behind Uganda.

Located in the far north-west of Rwanda, Parc des Volcans is home to the steep slopes of this wonderful mountain range – home of the rare mountain gorilla – and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which cuddles evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath.

Accommodation options available

Up-market: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

Moderate: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge | La Palme Hotel | Volcanoes Gorilla Lodge

Low Budget: Kinigi Guest House | Muhavura Lodge.

Day 6: Golden Monkey Tracking in Volcanoes national park (or optional Gorilla trekking) 

Have breakfast and go to ORTPN offices for briefing after that set off in the forest for golden monkey trekking.

A thrilling trek through the refined foothills of the Virungas provides inspiring views in all directions. Then, suddenly, the trail enters the national park, engrossing trekkers in the strange closeness of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colourful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, and besieged with fresh spoor of the mountains' elusive populations of buffalo and elephant. Through gaps in the forest canopy, the marvellous peaks are sighted, easily easy to get to and among the uppermost in Africa, indicating an ascent.

Up-market: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge

Moderate: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge | La Palme Hotel | Volcanoes Gorilla Lodge

Low Budget: Kinigi Guest House | Muhavura Lodge.

Day 7:  Transfer to Goma (DRC-Rwanda Border) 

At 8:00 am, you will be picked up from your hotel by our driver guide who transfer you to Goma Grande Barriere border crossing in the Democratic Republic of Congo at 10:30 am and ensure check-in with Virunga tourism office by 11:15 am. The tourism office is conveniently located in the Grande Barriere border post building, opposite passport control. Guests will receive gorilla and volcano trek permits at check-in which must be presented at the start of each trek. Once check-in is complete, visitors will be transported to Kibumba.

Overnight at  Kibumba Tented Camp for our overnight and Dinner.

Day 8: Gorilla Tracking in Virunga National Park

After an early breakfast at Kibumba Tented Camp, trekkers will head down the hill to meet their Ranger guides and have a briefing before the gorilla trek in Virunga National Park. Gorilla trekking in Virunga usually requires 1-2.5 hours of hiking each way, depending on the location of the gorilla group being trekked and the difficulty of the terrain. This is a day to encounter the endangered species in the wilderness as you observe more about their human-like characters and you will have the best with the gorillas. After spending the allotted hour with the gorilla group, trekkers will make their way back to camp, enjoy a late lunch and have the rest of the day at leisure, including time for nature walks and bird watching.

Overnight at  Kibumba Tented Camp for our overnight and Dinner.

Day 9: Climbing Mount Nyiragongo

Climbing Mount Nyiragongo

After breakfast in Kibumba, guests will be transported to the Kibati Ranger Post at 8:15 am, the departure point for the Nyiragongo volcano trek. On arrival to Kibati, guests will receive a briefing and will have the opportunity to hire porters. The climb up the Nyiragongo volcano will take around four to six hours and trekkers will overnight on the summit.

The party will be lead and escorted by a set of rangers/guides and a small contingent of porters.

For the first two hours of the walk, you will traverse a lush pristine forest, where towering trees offer a welcome shelter from the sun until you emerge from the forest onto a small plateau with commanding views that stretch towards the infinite horizon, with Lake Kivu, Bukavu, Rwanda and Burundi at your feet. You are now standing on the lava flow remnants of Mount Nyiragongo’s 2002 eruption.

From here on, the climbing trail becomes firmer and the forest gives way to several swathes of recovering heath with vegetation dominated by ferns, sedges, heather and everlastings.  Shortly afternoon, you will reach Mount Nyiragongo’s crater and your overnight cabins.

The remainder of the afternoon will be spent exploring the crater's edge and soaking in the surrounding views and Mount Nyiragongo's’ bewitching lava cauldron. Fortunately, your guides know exactly how to reach the best observation and photogenic spots safely.

When everyone has had enough, the party will return to camp to settle into their cabins, rest and enjoy an early supper.

At 18h00 you will return to a designated spot at the crater's edge to gaze and appreciate again Mount Nyiragongo’s molten lava lake. In the dark of night, one is able to appreciate better the dark crusty surface of lava, spliced and splitting into ever-changing plates. As the plates separate, bright orange lava fill the cracks and a fantastic spider-web pattern emerges. Every now and then fountains of lava flare-up disrupting these pretty patterns, but adding a surge of dynamism and power to this spectacular sight.  Sometimes, fountains appear throughout the crust like a collection of campfires, creating yet another fascinating show.

Day 10: Descent from Mount Nyiragongo, Transfer to Kigali departure flight back home (about 3.5 hrs drive).

After a rather early cup of tea/coffee, you will be summoned back to the crater’s rim at dawn for one last peek. Wrapped in warm clothing you greet the new day as the intense red and yellow glow of the lava below mixes with a backdrop of blue and indigo skies.   

After breakfast, the party will commence its descent from to Kibati. The descent generally takes 2-3 hours. Back at Kibati, your transport will be waiting to take you back to Goma before crossing back into Rwanda.  It will be about 3 hours of driving before we arrive Kigali International Airport from where you catch your departure flight.

Nyiragongo Volcano Treks

Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano that features the world’s largest lava lake. The volcano’s forested lower slopes are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and bushbuck. Nyiragongo’s summit rim is largely devoid of vegetation and is sometimes dusted with snow. From the rim, visitors can peer down into a churning lava lake and see and hear hot gases exploding up though a mosaic of molten lava. Although predictable and therefore safe for tourists, Nyiragongo is greatly feared during eruptions. Because of the low silica content of its lava, Nyiragongo’s lava flows are extremely fluid. During the 2002 eruption, some of Nyiragongo’s lava flows were clocked at 100 km/hr (62 mph) and reached all the way to Lake Kivu.

Treks to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano begin at the Kibati patrol post. Park rangers lead all treks and porters (unaffiliated with the park) are available for hire. The time required to reach the summit depends on the average fitness of each group, but typically takes 4 – 6 hours. Altitude sickness can be an issue for some because the climb begins at 1989m (6,525 ft) and ascends to 3470m (11,382ft) in a short time. Proper hydration is the best way to adapt to the change in altitude. People prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) should speak to their physicians about taking preventative measures before making the climb. It is possible for fitter people to climb up and descend in one day, but the vast majority choose to overnight in the basic accommodations available at the top (included in the permit fee) because the best time to view the lava lake is at night.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

1. All climbs begin promptly at 10:00 am. Late arrivals will not be allowed to climb and permits are non-refundable. For security reasons, there will be no exceptions. The Kibati ranger station, which is the trailhead for Nyiragongo, is approximately 30 minutes from Goma by car. Kibati is approximately 45 minutes from Bukima Tented Camp and Mikeno Lodge by car. All climbers must check-in at the Kibati station by no later than 9:15 am on the day of their climb. Climbers typically descend the volcano at between 6:30 – 7:00 am the next morning and arrive back at Kibati station by 11:30 am. If one intends to fly out of Kigali on the same day, please make sure not to schedule your departure flight before 6 pm.

2. Trekkers are strongly advised to bring full rain and cold weather gear (moisture-wicking base layer, sweater or fleece, jacket, rain resistant pants, long underwear, warm socks, hat, and a 0°C/32° – rated sleeping bag). Temperatures at the summit are routinely below freezing. Although most people arrive at the summit sweating from the steep climb, this sense of warmth quickly gives way to cold. A complete change of base layers is a must. Failure to bring proper gear will lead to hypothermia. Please do not endanger yourself and others by coming unprepared for these conditions.

3. All guests can arrange packed meal service and gear rental for the trip at an additional charge at checkout. Packed meal service includes snacks, lunch, and dinner on Day 1 and breakfast and snacks on Day 2. Water is also included for both days. The gear package includes a sleeping bag, jacket, fleece top, hat and rain poncho. Porters can be hired at the base of the climb to carry loads for $24 round trip (gratuity not included). The maximum weight that porters are authorized to carry is 15 kg. Porters can be arranged by speaking with a Virunga National Park ranger at the Kibati station.

4. Packed meal plan includes snacks, lunch, and dinner on Day 1 and breakfast and snacks on Day 2. Water is also included for both days.

The gear package includes a sleeping bag, jacket, fleece top, hat and rain poncho. Porters can be hired at the base of the climb to carry loads for $24 round trip (gratuity not included). The maximum weight that porters are authorized to carry is 15 kg. Porters can be arranged by speaking with a Virunga National Park ranger at the Kibati station.

Accommodation

Mikeno Lodge

The Mikeno Lodge is a 90 minute drive from Goma and offers large bungalows and a good restaurant. The lodge and restaurant are located within a forest and offer beautiful views of the rift valley and Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes. Nature walks and visits to local places of interest can be arranged. There is an abundance of bird life, as well as resident blue monkeys, colobus monkeys, and baboons. Chimpanzees are also frequent visitors to the area.

Bukima Tented Camp

Just outside the Virunga National Park boundary lays the Bukima tented camp, which is one of the main starting points Virunga mountain gorilla treks. The camp was originally built for researchers, but is now used primarily by trekkers. As the name suggests, overnight guests at Bukima sleep in platform tents, but by camping standards they are quite plush. Each tent features an adjoining bathroom with running water and a nicely appointed bed and dresser for clothes. The views from the tent sites – or anywhere in camp for that matter – are spectacular. To the south, the view is dominated by Mt. Mikeno, whose 4437m (14,560’) summit towers over the gorilla sector. Across the valley is Nyiragongo volcano, whose lava lake colors the night sky with a red glow. Every few years, Nyamulagira volcano erupts and steals the nighttime show by spewing hot lava hundreds of feet into the air. Occasionally, the mountain gorillas themselves wander into the Bukima tented camp. Although this is highly frowned upon by park staff, it never ceases to impress the guests.

Prices for the camp include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Alcoholic beverages are available for an additional charge. Of the six tents, four feature double beds and two are outfitted with twin beds.

Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters

Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano that features the world’s largest lava lake. The volcano’s forested lower slopes are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and bushbuck. Nyiragongo’s summit rim is largely devoid of vegetation and is frequently dusted with snow. From the rim, visitors can peer down into a churning lava lake and see and hear hot gases exploding up though a mosaic of molten lava. Although predictable and therefore safe for tourists, Nyiragongo is greatly feared during eruptions. Because of the high silica content of its lava, Nyiragongo’s lava flows are extremely fluid. During the 2002 eruption, some of Nyiragongo’s lava flows were clocked at 100 km/hr (62 mph) and reached all the way to Lake Kivu.

Treks to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano begin at the Kibati patrol post, which is approximately 30 minutes by car from Goma. The patrol post is less than a one hour drive from the Mikeno Lodge in Rumangabo. Park rangers lead all treks and porters (unaffiliated with the park) are available for hire. The time required to reach the summit depends on the average fitness of each group, but typically takes 4 – 6 hours. Altitude sickness can be an issue for some because the climb begins at 1989m (6,525 ft) and ascends to 3470m (11,382ft) in a short time. Proper hydration is the best way to adapt to the change in altitude. People prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) should speak to their physicians about taking preventative measures before making the climb. It is possible for fitter people to climb up and descend in one day, but most groups choose to overnight in basic accommodation available at the top (included in the permit fee). Trekkers are advised to bring raincoats and cold weather gear. Rain showers are a common occurrence on the climb up during the rainy season and temperatures at the summit can dip below 0°C/32°F.

Guests staying at the Mikeno lodge can arrange packed meal service for the trip, while those coming with tour groups must supply their own. There is no food service on Nyiragongo. Porters can be hired at the base of the climb to carry loads for $12/day ($24 for the overnight trip). The maximum weight that porters are authorized to carry is 15kg.

Each of the twelve summit shelters contains two single beds on which visitors can put their sleeping bags. Although these shelters aren’t plush, they offer a welcome escape from the elements. The cost of staying in a summit shelter is included in the permit fee.

 

Inclusions
  • 2 gorilla trek permits (one in Uganda and DRC)
  • Kibale Chimps/ primate trek permit
  • Nyiragongo Hike Permit
  • Meals indicated on programme
  • Drinking water
  • Services of an experienced English-speaking safari guide
  • Accommodation as per safari programme
  • Park fees for the various parks
  • Private transport using a 4x4 safari vehicle
  • DRC Tourist Visa

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