The Challenge

Our trek takes place in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Mountains, a chain of jungle-covered volcanoes towering over 4000m. It is well-known as the base of anthropologist Dian Fossey, of Gorillas in the Mist fame, and an acclimatisation trek to her grave provides wonderful inspiration before we tackle the volcanoes.

We trek through tropical flora and misty jungle to summit three volcanoes, returning after each to our central base lodge. The culmination of our trip is an opportunity to track and observe the incredible, critically endangered mountain gorillas in their remote habitat.


Itinerary

Day 1: Depart London

Depart London

Day 2: Arrive Kigali

Upon arrival in Rwanda’s capital, we transfer to our base in Volcanoes National Park, in the northwest of the country. The beautiful rolling hills and coffee, tea and banana plantations form a spectacular backdrop as we drive, and a wonderful impression of Rwanda’s natural beauty. Night lodge (lying at approx. 2000m altitude).

Drive approx. 3 hours

Day 3: Acclimatisation Trek - Dian Fossey Grave

After an early breakfast we head out on this well-trodden trail, which acts as a wonderful acclimatisation trek for us, giving us a taster of the jungle terrain as well as the altitude. It also allows us to better appreciate Dian Fossey’s incredible efforts to save the mountain gorillas. Our largely uphill trek takes us through beautiful rainforest to the ruins of the Karisoke scientific base (3010m), in the saddle between Bisoke and Karisimbi. We also take in the peaceful gorilla cemetery where, after her murder in 1985, the anthropologist was buried next to her favourite gorilla, Digit. Then it’s back downhill to base. Night lodge.

Trek 4-5 hours

Day 4: Mount Muhabura

Muhabura is an extinct volcano on the border with Uganda, the most easterly peak in Volcanoes National Park and, at 4102m, the second-highest peak in the National Park. A long, tough climb lies before us, with some very steep sections, but we take it steady and should feel good after yesterday’s acclimatisation. The terrain here is relatively dry compared to other trails, and we walk through stands of giant heather as we ascend. As we approach the top we come to a crater lake, and finally arrive at the summit, where we are greeted by amazing vistas over five other volcanic peaks, and twin lakes far below. After time to soak up the views, we descend back down the mountain. Night lodge.

Trek approx. 7-8 hours (5 hours ascent) Day 5

Day 5: Mount Bisoke

The fourth-highest of the Virunga volcanoes, Bisoke (3511m) last erupted in 1957. We set off through the lushly forested slopes, steep at times, passing through equatorial rainforest and alpine meadows. The forests are alive with birdcalls and chirruping insects, making for very atmospheric trekking. We are likely to hear the chatter of golden monkeys, and may even see signs of one of the families of mountain gorilla that inhabit these slopes. At the summit we enjoy views over the Virunga range and the beautiful crater lake – the largest in the Virunga range – before descending back to our lodge. Night lodge.

Trek approx. 5-6 hours (3 hours ascent)

Day 6: Start Mount Karisimbi Ascent

Karisimbi is the culmination of our adventure; at 4507m it is the highest mountain in Rwanda, and one of the highest on the African continent. Its name comes from a local word referring to its often snow-capped summit. Our trek takes us through different vegetation zones, from dense equatorial rainforest to afro-montane forests of conifers and bamboo, and less fertile moorland. We camp part-way up the summit, at 3700m. Night camp.

Trek approx. 5-7 hours

Day 7: Mount Karisimbi Summit & Descent

We continue hiking up to the summit; at this elevation it feels quite cold, and chilly breezes from the mountain slopes add to this. If there is snow on the summit, this will also add to the challenge, though trekking through snow in Africa is a fairly memorable experience! At the summit we savour our last 360° view over this incredible National Park, before starting back down. We enjoy a well-earned rest back at camp before continuing our descent, which can be very tough on our tired bodies! Our vehicles await us in the foothills, and we drive back to the lodge, elated at our achievements. After time to freshen up we head out to Iby’Iwacu cultural village, a positive conservation experience; instead of the poaching which used to take place here, it now teaches its heritage. Traditional dances and medicine doctors await! Night lodge.

Trek approx. 6-7 hours (two hours ascent)

Day 8: Free Time / Optional Gorilla - Tracking Hire; Drive to Kigali

Today is free to spend as you wish; relax at the lodge, or head out to explore. Those who wish can take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat (at extra cost). You will head out early, accompanied by experienced ranger guides, in the hope of finding one of the habituated groups of mountain gorilla living in the region. Their territory can range up to 40km, so it can take up to six hours to locate them; you’ll then be able to spend an hour watching them as they feed, rest and play – one of the most amazing wildlife experiences on the planet. After the time is up, you’ll trek out of the forest and back to base. We’ll then all head to Kigali together, where we have an evening to celebrate! Night hotel.

(Lunch and Dinner not included) Drive approx. 3 hours

Day 9: Depart Kigali

If there’s time we can pay a brief visit to the genocide memorial site, which is a grim reminder of the massacre in 1994, but also demonstrates Rwanda’s recovery and resilience. We then head to the airport for our overnight flight home.

(Lunch not included)

Day 10: Arrive UK

Arrive back in the UK.


What's Included

  • All transport from London to Kigali return
  • All meals except where specified, accommodation and camping equipment 
  • Discover Adventure leaders; doctor with a group of 15 or more participants; local guides, porters, cooks and drivers
  • Local support and back-up equipment 
  • Entry to National Park and any other sites included in itinerary

What's Not Included

  • Three meals as specified in itinerary 
  • Travel insurance 
  • Personal spending money, souvenirs and drinks 
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping mat 
  • Tips for the local guides and support crew 
  • Inbound airport departure tax 
  • Gorilla-tracking trek on free day (approx. USD1500) 
  • Fees for any other optional sites, attractions or activities 
  • Entry visa 
  • Airline taxes: we cap these so that £250.00 is the maximum you will pay 
  • Any applicable surcharges as per Terms and Conditions

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