Day 1 Welcome to the Land of a Thousand Hills!
Your holiday begins when you arrive at the Kigali International Airport. Our guide/driver will be on hand to transfer you to your hotel where you’ll spend the night.
Time allowing, you’ll take a tour of the city. The Nyamirambo neighbourhood, awash with lots of craft markets and art galleries, will introduce you to the country’s contemporary urban culture, while the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre will acquaint you with the barbarities of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which decimated the country and left an estimated one million people dead.
On the brighter side, however, a tour of Kigali will show you how Rwandans have put those dark days behind them and literally rebuilt their country – one picturesque building at a time
Distance from airport to hotel:15 minutes
Hotel options:Kigali Serena Hotel | Hotel des Mille Collins
Day 2 Transfer to Virunga National Park
A three-hour drive northwest of the country will lead you to Goma, the famous city of DR Congo’s Eastern Province. After clearing with Immigration, you’ll be driven to your hotel.
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 Kigali to Goma:3 hours
Hotel options:Goma Serena Hotel
Day 3 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 the 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.
You’ll later return to your hotel for relaxation, dinner and overnight ahead of tomorrow’s captivating Mount Nyiragongo hike.
Distance from Goma Virunga National Park:30minutes
Hotel options:Goma Serena Hotel
Day 4 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 your personal 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 a monkeys and bushbucks that reside on its forested lower slopes.
You will reach the summit in late afternoon, but your tiredness will be made up for by the spectacular views of the crater lake that’s filled with 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 5 Visit Tchegera Island
Today you will be at the base camp of Mount Nyiragongo by mid-day, just in time for a relaxing and rejuvenating excursion to Tchegera Island, where you can savour in the abundance of birdlife and also explore other parts of the island in a kayak or paddle board.
During the day Tchegera Island will offer you spectacular views of Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s Great Lakes, as well as four volcanoes. Nightfall will come with extra drama when the Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira volcanoes turn the night sky red with their glowing lava!
Day 6 Transfer to Kigali & departure
After breakfast, you will take a boat ride to Goma, from where you will be driven back to Kigali to catch your flight back home.