Track Endangered Mountain Gorillas & Golden Monkeys in Volcanoes National Park
Day 1: Kigali, Rwanda
Arrive in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, and check in to your 5-star hotel in the city center.
Day 2: Kigali—City Tour / Kinigi Town
Built among lush ridges and valleys, Kigali's winding boulevards connect an attractive and cosmopolitan urban center. Start the day with a city tour introducing some of Rwanda's recent history, including the moving memorial to the victims of the 1994 genocide. Then travel by paved road with your private local driver-guide to Kinigi Town, gateway to the Virunga Mountains. Traverse green hills as you wind your way through the tapestry of forest, coffee and tea plantations, with the grand Virunga Range coming ever-nearer as its five volcanic peaks rise ahead. Your gorilla safari base in Kinigi lies at the base of the verdant mountains that comprise Volcanoes National Park.
Days 3 & 4: Volcanoes National Park—Gorilla Trekking
Make the short drive to park headquarters this morning where you'll meet your gorilla trekking guides. Following a brief talk on the procedures and etiquette of gorilla tracking, set off on foot into the dense rain forest with your guides. The trackers will be 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—as does your ultimate reward, of course! Once the gorillas are located, all fatigue fades, and the experience is often described as one of the world's most profound wildlife encounters. The lodge provides a packed lunch for 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 a final night.
Day 5: Volcanoes National Park—Golden Monkey Trekking / Kigali / Depart
On your final morning, make a guided trek to observe rare golden monkeys. These endangered monkeys are active characters that live among bamboo vegetation near the foot of the volcanoes. Currently there are just two habituated golden monkey groups, each with approximately 80 members. A golden monkey trek operates similarly 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 departing flights.