Volcanoes National Park, which runs along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, is home to the Rwandan section of the Virungas. Comprising five volcanoes – Karisimbi (the highest at 4507m), Bisoke (Visoke), Sabinyo, Gahinga (Mgahinga) and Muhabura (Muhavura) – the Virungas are utterly spellbinding and few would argue that this is not one of the most exciting national parks in Africa.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Entebbe Airport|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please arrive by 8:15 AM for a prompt departure at 8:30 AM.|
|RETURN TIME||Approximately 6:30 PM.|
|WEAR||Comfortable athletic clothing, hiking boots, hat, jacket and sunscreen.|
Day One: Arrive at Entebbe Airport
Today you will arrive in Uganda with a beautiful landing on the edge of Africa’s largest body of water, Lake Victoria in the pretty town of Entebbe. You will be met on arrival by your private vehicle and guide and introduced to this wonderful country.
You will be transported the short distance to the Boma Entebbe, a small boutique hotel just five minutes from the Airport. The Boma sits in green gardens and is actually a very good place for birding, with most of the local guides I know in Kampala recommending a stay here for their birding clients.
You will be staying for one night on a bed and breakfast basis and I recommend walking down to the lake in the evening for dinner at one of the beach front restaurants.
Day Two: Shoebill and a flight to Kasese
You will rise early this morning where you will be driven to the launch site of the Mabamba Swamp wetland safari, which specialises in finding the magnificent Shoebill Stork. Sightings of this giant are well worth the early wakeup call and the lake itself is lovely at sunrise. After your trip, you will be transferred to Entebbe Airport in time for the 1245 Aerolink flight to Kasese. Landing at around 1320, you will be driven to the town of Fort Portal and the remarkable Crater Lakes region, where you will stay two nights at the absolutely stunning Ndali Lodge (BLD)
Day Three: A day of birding in Kibale
Today you will have a day of birding inside Kibale forest. In the morning you will head into the forest itself with the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers on a birding walk in search of some of the more elusive forest species. After this, you will head to the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, where there are further chances to look for bird and mammal species. (BLD)
Day Four : A day in the crater lakes
A day spent in the marvel of the crater lakes. Many people love to remain at Ndali lodge, spotting birds and insects around the huge gardens while reading a book. But there is fine trekking here and I recommend the half day hike to the nearby waterfalls which will let you explore more of this beautiful part of Uganda. You will pass through villages, banana plantations and open grassland before arriving in forested rivers and icy waterfalls from the high snowy peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains. (BLD)
Day Five: Chimpazee tracking
In the morning you will enter Kibale forest for a chance to track the habituated community of Chimpanzees. Tracking begins with a briefing at the Ugandan Wildlife Authority HQ where you will meet your expert park ranger, the other members of your tracking group and learn about the community of chimps you are about to spend the morning tracking. The chimps are highly mobile but you will soon be aware of their presence as you hear them screaming and calling above you in the forest canopy and with some luck you will get to come face to face as they make their way to the forest floor. The forest is also a haven for 12 other primate species and over 100 bird species, including the rare Great Blue Turaco. (BLD)
Day six: Over to the Equator
A fine drive out of the crater lakes along the edge of the Rwenzori Mountains to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park sits on a flat lake bed between the Mountains and the Albertine rift valley and makes for a stunning setting and there is no better place to see it than Kyambura Gorge Lodge, a stunning contemporary lodge overlooking the Kyambura Gorge, savannah and snow-capped mountains beyond. Kyambura gorge has just nine unique rooms overlooking stunning landscapes and is set in wonderful gardens surrounding a central swimming pool, massage room and modern atrium and lounge area. Here you will stay for two nights (BLD)
Day seven: Into the Gorge a birding treat on the Great lakes
This morning you will have another chance to track man’s closest relative, the common chimpanzee in the mesmerising Kyambura Gorge. For many the fine views of the gorge from the park headquarters (below) are enough before the trekking even begins! 23 Chimpanzees live in the gorge, cut off from the huge neighbouring forests and tracking them leads you down steep forest walls and over the river at the foot of one of the most unique forests on earth. After your trek and lunch at the lodge, you will drive to the Mweya Peninsular, through the park in time for the afternoon launch cruise along the Kazinga Channel between lakes Edward and George, where over three hundred bird species can be found, as well as Africa’s highest concentration of hippo. (BLD)
Day Eight: Fly to the Volcanoes
An amazing day, there’s no other word for it. It begins early as you head to Mweya for your 0800 Aerolink flight to Kisoro. The flight heads over the national park and along Lake George over the vast Maramagamba Forest, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and then the beautiful lakes of Bunyonyi, Mutanda and Mulehe before landing in front of the Virunga Volcanoes. Here you will be met by your vehicle and driver and driven up past the aforementioned lakes (get your cameras charged for this entire day!) and into the Albertine Rift Valley. After a couple of hours you will reach the magnificent Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, perched overlooking the entire landscape you have driven through. You will stay at Clouds for three nights (BLD).
Day Nine: Gorilla tracking
Today you will get the opportunity to track Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest. Tracking starts at around 7 am when you will be taken to either the Nkuringo or Rushaga HQ to meet your Park Rangers and other members of your tracking group before being taken to the trekking trailhead where your adventure into the forest begins. Tracking can take anywhere between three and seven hours and your park ranger will give you a full insight into the forest and its other life before you find your gorilla family and spend a magical hour in their company. (BLD)
Day Ten: A day of birding in the Forest
A really unique birding experience. In the morning you will head back to Bwindi Impenetrable national park and take a morning birding walk inside the forest with a guide from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Heading into the park gives you access to many forest species deep in their natural home. In the afternoon you will head out with a guide from Clouds lodge for a birding tour of areas outside of the national park where good sightings can usually be observed in less dense forest cover, enabling excellent visibility to give you a really well-rounded birding experience in and around Southern Bwindi.
Day Eleven: Into the Volcanoes
An amazing drive this morning down from Bwindi and around Lake Mutanda. You reach the frontier town of Kisoro on the Congolese Border before driving up toward the Virunga Mountains and Make the bumpy ride right up into the Volcanoes themselves, and to the remarkable Mt Gahinga Lodge. The afternoon will be yours to explore the gardens, local hills, rivers and maybe even get a visit from the Batwa Pygmies. Mgahinga Lodge (BLD)
Day Twelve: Mgahinga NP
Today you will enter Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for a wonderful experience in the forest. You can choose to hike along the Gorges of Mt Sabinyo, out to the Congolese Border, track the endangered Golden Monkeys or even summit one of the peaks for the ultimate time in the forest. After your trek you can relax around the lodge grounds and explore the local area which is a haven for bird life. Mgahinga Lodge (BLD)
Day Thirteen: To Rwanda-Musanze
This day you cross the border to Rwanda and stay at Virunga Lodge or Sabinyo Silver back Lodge or Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, where you will stay for two night with a day to either do track gorillas or other optional activities like golden monkey tracking, Diana Fossey- in Volcanoes National Park (BLD)
Day Fourteen: Parc National des des Volcans, Rwanda
The magnificent Virunga Mountains consist of six spectacular volcanoes,
situated on the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Parc National Des Volcans is a perfect destination for wildlife and adventure – it is home to the famous Mountain Gorillas, as well as being an excellent location for birding. Caving, hiking and cycling areamongst the other activities available.
Cross off one of life’s ultimate bucket list experiences as you head into the misty Virunga Mountains in search of the majestic Mountain Gorilla. Trekking can take a full day through the volcanic forests, but the hour with the gorillas is worth every step
Day Fifteen: To Kigali
A scenic 3 hour drive back to Kigali. If you want, you can visit the Genocide Memorial.-Overnight Kigali Serena (BB)