Track and Sit With Endangered Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park
Day 1: Kigali, Rwanda—City Tour
Arrive in Rwanda's capital and main city, Kigali. A city tour introduces some of Rwanda's recent history, including the evocative genocide museum. Built among lush ridges and valleys, Kigali’s winding boulevards create a beautiful and cosmopolitan urban center.
Day 2: Kigali / Kinigi Town
Travel by paved road with your private, local driver-guide to Kinigi Town, the gateway to the Virungas. You’ll traverse green hills and valleys as you wind your way through the tapestry of forest, coffee and tea plantations. The grand Virunga Range comes into ever-nearer perspective as its five towering volcanic peaks rise before us. Our base in Kinigi lies at at the foot of Sabyinyo Mountain, named for one of the area’s large male silverback gorillas.
Days 3 & 4: Volcanoes National Park—Gorilla Trekking
After breakfast, you make a short drive to park headquarters where you'll meet your gorilla trekking guides. Following a brief talk on the procedures and etiquette of gorilla tracking, you will set off on foot into the dense rain forest with your gorilla trekking guides and porters. The trackers will be out on the mountain ahead of your departure, identifying where the gorillas were seen the night before and pursuing them to a point where you will be able to connect. The trek to their current location can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as several hours, depending on how far the gorilla family has traveled. The trek may also involve climbing to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. Vegetation is dense, and the terrain is rough and sometimes muddy, making for slow going at times. Although the hike can be physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery makes the effort worthwhile—not to mention your ultimate reward! Once the gorillas are located, all fatigue fades, and the experience is often described as one of the most profound wildlife encounters on the planet. The lodge provides a packed lunch to take on your trek, and it is important to take plenty of water. It can rain at a moment’s notice, hence waterproof clothing is essential, as are Zip-Loc bags for cameras. After your second trek concludes on Day 4, you'll return to your lodge for one last night.
Day 5: Volcanoes National Park—Golden Monkey Trekking / Kigali / Depart
On your final morning, make a trek to visit with rare golden monkeys. These endangered monkeys are active characters that live among bamboo vegetation near the foot of the volcanoes. Currently just two habituated golden monkey groups exist, each with approximately 80 members. A golden monkey trek operates similar to the early morning gorilla treks. Groups are limited to eight travelers, and once you meet up with the golden monkeys you will have one hour to spend with them. Transfer to the airport this afternoon for flights onward.