Gorillas in the Virungas and Bwindi

Short safari in Uganda and Rwanda with up to four gorilla visits and varied exploration
Overview

overview

This shorter safari allows you to focuses intensely on Mountain Gorillas. Immediately upon arrival in Kigali, Rwanda,you'll journey up through the lush, terraced hillsides to the forests of the Virungas. Depending on the number of permits you acquire  --  one is included in the cost of the trip, and others are available at additional cost (also subject to availability) -- you will spend one or two days tracking gorillas through the majestic cloud forests of Parc National des Volcans (PNV). If you do not elect to embark on a second gorilla search, you can visit the golden monkeys, climb the Visoke volcano, or trek to the remains of Old Karisoke. You may also visit local communities or simply relax around the lodge. Continue on to Nkuringo, Uganda, where you can choose to visit gorillas with the purchase of a supplemental permit (additional cost, subject to availability), to explore the scenery on the northern side of the Virungas. Similar options await you in the beautiful Bwindi region, where you can enjoy the gorillas or the scenery one last time.  Read JOURNEYS' FAQ about Mountain Gorillas for very detailed information about the animals and the logistics for tracking them.

On this trip, you'll have several opportunities for additional activities beyond gorilla trekking (up to four opportunities in Bwindi and Nkuringo), including a nature walk (Bwindi); climbing (Muhavura or Gahinga volcanoes/nature walk); golden monkeys (Mgahinga); Dian Fossey's grave; and Ros Carr's orphanage.

 

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Kigali, Rwanda

    Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to Kigali, where you will be welcomed by your expert guide who will provide knowledge and assistance throughout your safari. Your journey takes you through the beautiful terraced hills that characterize much of Rwanda's landscape. Climbing gradually to the base of the spectacular volcanoes of the Virunga range, the five nearest peaks rising high above the verdant countryside, you arrive at the magnificent Volcanoes Virunga Lodge.

    Meals
    Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Parc National des Volcans

    Gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans, through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virunga range, is a magical experience. Once you reach the gorillas, you can spend an hour with them and be back at base in time for a late lunch! Some gorilla families can be more elusive, and tracking can take a full day, especially if it is wet and muddy.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Parc National des Volcans

    Today, you will have a number of different options. Either go gorilla tracking again in PNV (additional permit required at additional cost, subject to availability), or choose from one of many options. There is much to explore here, including tracking the endangered golden monkey, or trekking to Dian Fossey’s grave and the gorilla cemetery, the final resting place of her favorite gorilla, Digit. Other popular excursions include visiting the local school and community projects supported by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust, or visiting the Roz Carr Imbabazi orphanage and meeting some of the hundreds of children helped by this uplifting project. Alternatively, relax on the shores of Lake Kivu, home to some of the finest inland beaches in Africa, or take a guided walk to Lake Bulera and experience local village life.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Nkuringo, Uganda

    Enjoy a more relaxing morning during which you can do one of the activities mentioned above under day 3 (excluding gorilla tracking and visiting Dian Fossey’s grave). After lunch, set off for the Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge. The lodge is located at the foot of the Virunga volcanoes and near the entrance to the national park. Enjoy pre-dinner drinks on the terrace with stunning views of the volcanoes, or warm yourself inside by the roaring fire.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Nkuringo

    Experience the lives of the Batwa Pygmies, and walk the Batwa Trail. Accompanied by Batwa Elders, you'll find this an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the unique cultural heritage of the forest’s indigenous people. While you walk through the forest, the Batwa will demonstrate their traditional hunting techniques and extensive knowledge of medicinal plants. You will also visit the sacred Ngarama cave and enjoy the traditional music and dance of this rich and fading culture. Alternatively, there are other exciting activities for those interested in the culture and natural history of Mgahinga:

    • Track gorillas in Nkuringo (two hours drive away). Tracking is possible at Nkuringo, located at the southern sector of Bwindi National Park, but can be challenging due to steep and muddy paths.
    • Hike the Muhavura or Gahinga volcanoes. Gahinga offers a gentler hike through the bamboo forest on the lower slopes and marshy craters at the peak. The lower slopes are rich with forest birds, while the marshes near the summit are home to bushbuck and elusive duiker. Muhavura is the most challenging peak in the park. The hike will take most of the day, but the adventurous will be rewarded with great sense of accomplishment and -- on a good day -- spectacular views.
    • Take a guided nature walk through the park to track the golden monkeys. The path takes you from the bamboo stands and a forested gorge on the lower levels to the elevated heath and moorland higher up. The forest is not only home to the rare golden monkey, but also host to a great diversity of bird and animal life.
    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Bwindi

    The breathtaking drive to Bwindi, sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Africa, is along winding mountain roads and through thick forests. The long journey through the rapidly-changing landscape takes you to Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, which has great views across to the towering trees of the forest. Depending on when you arrive, there may be time before dinner to explore the lodge grounds with its clear mountain stream or visit the local village.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Bwidi Lodge (or similar)n
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Bwindi

    After enjoying an early breakfast, you set off for gorilla tracking in Bwindi. Trekking through the steep, densely-forested hills and then finally coming across the gorillas camouflaged in the vegetation is an inspiring and privileged moment. Tracking in the Bwindi forest requires stamina and can often take most of the day. Alternatively, there are other activities and excursions available in and around the national park:

    • Take a guided walk in the rainforest, home to several endemic bird species, clouds of butterflies, and rare plant life. This walk offers excellent photographic opportunities, and your knowledgeable guide will provide great insights into this globally-important habitat.
    • Walk through the local village and learn about community projects, such as the Amagara project that assists local farmers and their communities, and Bwindi Community Hospital which started as a health clinic under a tree and now provides vital medical and educational services to over 60,000 people. The Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust supports both projects.
    • Discover the traditions of the Batwa Pygmies, and learn about the native tribal inhabitants of the forest. The indigenous people of Bwindi forest, although no longer resident in the forest, still practice many of their traditional hunter-gatherer skills.
    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Kigali, Rwanda

    Leave for Kigali in Rwanda via Kabale and Katuna (note: clocks go back one hour). Your safari ends with your journey to Kigali. Before transferring to the airport, there may be time to tour the city and visit the genocide memorial, a moving testimony to this country’s past, one it has it has worked hard and courageously to overcome. Return to your hotel or transfer to the airport in time for your return flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Dec 23-30, 2014
Jan 6-13, 2015
Feb 3-10, 2015
Jun 9-16, 2015
Jul 7-14, 2015
Aug 4-11, 2015
Sep 1-8, 2015
Oct 6-13, 2015
Dec 1-8, 2015
Jan 12-19, 2016
Feb 16-23, 2016
Jun 14-21, 2016
Jul 26-Aug 2, 2016
Aug 9-16, 2016
Sep 27-Oct 4, 2016
Oct 25-Nov 1, 2016
Nov 27-Dec 4, 2016
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$5,144
- $5,715
2014 Low Season - $5,144 2013 High Season - $5,715 2014 rates honored until 2015 rates published Extra Gorilla Permits: Rwanda $750 / Uganda $600 High Season: 12/16-2/28 & 6/1-10/14 Low Season: 10/15-12/15 & 3/1-5/31
Single Supplement:
$553-614
2014 Low Season - $553 2014 High Season - $614
Need to Know

Need to Know

This trip is operated by Volcanoes Safaris, gorilla safari specialists and ecotourism practitioners.

Duration:
8 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
2
comfortable and delightful hotels
Group Size:
2-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
4
challenging hiking

Terms & Conditions: 

Volcanoes Safaris

Please note that this trip operates under different payment and cancellation policies than those described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Included in costs: Meals as noted in (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation & check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: A non-refundable twenty percent (20%) deposit per person per trip or the total cost of the permits, whichever is the higher of the two, plus $500 or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure. Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Exotic Zanzibar

Duration: 5 days

Escape to Zanzibar, the “Spice Island”. This tiny African island offers great contrast to the mainland: beaches ideal for snorkeling, rich history and Muslim culture. Experience town and village life, the reefs and the inner natural forest.

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