Day 1 Airport pick-up and transfer to Goma
When you arrive at Kigali International Airport, you will be picked up by our guide/driver who will take you to your hotel in Goma, DRC, for dinner and overnight.
Time allowing, you will go on a short tour of Goma City. You will see the old cathedral that was ruined by the 2002 volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo and also enjoy cultural encounters with the people of Goma.
You’ll later return to your hotel for dinner and overnight ahead of tomorrow’s gorilla trekking adventure in Africa’s oldest national park.
Distance from airport to hotel: 3 hours
Hotel options:Goma Serena Hotel
Day 2 Mountain gorilla trekking
Today you will track the Virunga Massif’s iconic, critically endangered mountain gorillas from a less touristy destination that has for long slipped under the radar due to perpetual civil wars in eastern DRC.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park, having been created in 1925. It’s also arguably the continent’s most beautiful and ecologically diverse, playing host to the legendary Rwenzori Mountains, erosion valleys, active volcanoes, forests a savanna and a variety of flora and fauna.
Your trek will start at the park headquarters in Rumangabo, a captivating journey through forested slopes, entwined vines, bushes and bamboo.
It can take between two to seven hours to locate the gorillas, depending on how lucky you are. But once they are found, you will only be allowed to be with them for a maximum of one hour to avoid stressing them. Still, coming face-to-face with mankind’s closest relatives is a spellbinding, humbling and memorable experience – especially if it’s in an off-the-beaten-track destination like the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After gorilla trekking, you’ll go for an encore at the Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage, home to four mountain gorillas that lost their family members to poachers or animal traffickers and were most likely traumatised by the sight of their family members being killed. Here you’ll not be allowed to interact with them – you just watch them from a distance as they play in their forested enclosure.
Day 3 Mount Nyiragongo hike
In the morning after breakfast, our driver/guide will pick you up and take you to Kibati, a patrol post at the foot of Mount Nyiragongo, from where you will begin your expedition at 10:00 am.
Hiking Mount Nyiragongo requires you to have your own porter to carry your backpack (whose contents should include a sleeping bag, food, water, hiking boots and a warm fleece shirt) and a cook to prepare you a meal once you reach the summit of the crater rim.
In case you’re clueless, Mount Nyiragongo is the only active volcano in the region and one of the most active in the world, with the last eruption recorded as recently as 2002. But that’s no reason to fret; the volcano is predictable and therefore safe to climb.
Among other features, Mount Nyiragongo also boasts the world’s largest lava lake and a variety of animal species such as monkeys and bushbucks that reside on its forested lower slopes.
You will reach the summit in the late afternoon, but your tiredness will be made up for by the spectacular views of the crater lake that’s filled with a sea of lava – a spectacle to behold!
Later at night, you will see the sea of lava in the crater, which makes for spectacular photo opportunities. Tonight you’ll sleep in one of the basic huts on the crater rim so your fleece shirt and sleeping bag will be your best friends.
Day 4 Transfer to Kigali & departure
After breakfast, you will descend to the base camp of Mount Nyiragongo, from where you will be driven back to Kigali to catch your flight back home.