© Steven Cresswell

Mount Nyiragongo & Virunga Gorillas Tour

6 Day D.R. Congo Tour - Mid-range Option

Discover the highland rainforests of Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest national park. Track the rare mountain gorillas on the rainforest slopes of Mount Mikeno one of the regions last refuges for these iconic creatures. Then hike to the summit of Mount Nyiragongo and camp in a shelter on the crater rim of the world’s largest lava lake.

From $2,320 PP

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- Visit Virunga National Park, the oldest national park in Africa.
- Summit Africa's most active volcano.
- Watch the world's largest lava lake in action.
- Meet a rare family of mountains gorillas.

N.B This tour start and ends from Kigali, Rwanda.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 - Drive from Kigali to Virunga National Park.
Day 2 - Track mountain gorillas on Mount Mikeno.
Day 3 - Second gorilla tracking or choose additional activities.
Day 4 - Hike to the summit of Mount Nyiragongo.
Day 5 - Descend Mount Nyiragongo and relax at Lake Kivu.
Day 6 - Make the return journey to Kigali.

N.B Itineraries and quotes available to start and end this tour from Kampala, Uganda on request.
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Day 1 - Virunga National Park

You will be collected from your accommodation in Kigali and drive along the winding roads through the ‘land of a thousand hills’ to reach the border crossing into the Democratic Republic of Congo. On completing the border crossing you will be guided through Virunga NP. The park is amazingly diverse with over half of the biodiversity found in sub Saharan African recorded here. You’ll reach your tented camp by mid afternoon, with time to prepare for your trek tomorrow. The camp was first built as a base for researchers studying the gorillas but has now been converted to an accommodation for groups to track the mountain gorillas. As the sunsets unwind with a superb view of Mount Mikeno and the red glow of the lava lake of Mount Nyiragongo under the star laden skies.

Bukima Camp will be your base to track the mountain gorillas. Image © Lu Ann Cadd.
Trek through the rainforest to meet a mountain gorilla family. Image © Morgan Trimble

Day 2 - Gorillas on Volcano Slopes

Experience a natural wonder with an intimate meeting with a gorilla family living on the slopes of Mount Mikeno. Your day starts early with an orientation from Virunga NP rangers on tracking the gorillas, before they guide you through the rainforest. Your guides will be able to identify and explain the about local plants, birds and wildlife as well the general ecosystem. The length of the trek to find the gorillas can vary depending on where they have spent the night before and can range from one to two hours. Once you find these incredible creatures you will spend one hour with them. We think you’ll agree it’s one of the most magical experiences you can have with nature to see this unique family feed, socialise, nurse their young, patrol and display their prowess. Make the return out of the rainforest where you’ll meet your driver guide who will take you to your lodge nestled in the rainforest with resident colobus and blue monkeys scampering though the trees. As the sunsets unwind with a superb view of Mount Mikeno and the red glow of the lava lake of Mount Nyiragongo. Then after dinner retire to your private cottage for the night to find a roaring fire awaiting you.

Day 3 - Mikeno Surrounds

The day is in your hands. Rise early to trek back onto the rainforest slopes of Mount Mikeno to seek out a different gorilla family or alternately take a slower start to the day and visit some of the projects supporting the wildlife and people of Virunga NP (*for an additional cost). You can visit the Senkwekwe Centre which is the only facility to care for orphaned mountain gorillas in the world, tour the coffee farm to learn about growing and processing the coffee, or the widows wives project which is providing support for the families of the rangers that have fallen in the line of duty protecting Virunga NP. Of course you can also spend the day relaxing at your lodge before preparing to start hike to the summit of Mount Nyiragongo tomorrow.

Mount Mikeno and the glow of Mount Nyiragongo on the skyline. Image © Orlando Von Einsiedel.
The skyline on the summit of Mount Nyiragongo at the sunset. Image © Cai Tjeenk Willink

Day 4 - The Worlds Largest Lava Lake

This morning you’ll be driven to the Kibati border post at the base of Mount Nyiragongo to receive your safety briefing from the rangers. The hike covers a steep ascent starting at 1989m above sea level, to the crater rim at 3470m. The path winds up the volcano for a distance of 8km taking between 4 and 6 hours to summit with 4 break points along the way to allow you to adjust to the altitude (ask your guides if you need any additional breaks). On summiting the volcano the billowing smoke and roaring of the lava filled crater is a phenomenal sight. But the real spectacle will be when the sun has set and the glow and full scale of the lava lake comes into view. Watch the mosaic cooling lava plates migrate across the scorching surface, until they are dragged down, sending up splashes of molten rock. You’ll have several hours to watch the spectacle before retiring to your huts containing thermal tents for the night.

Day 5 - Volcano Descent

This morning descend down the side of Mount Nyiragongo. This part of the trek can be as challenging as your ascent, as you clamber down the loose volcanic rock. The hike will take about the same amount of time as you took to reach the summit, with breaks along the way. The hike will be completed in the early afternoon when you reach the Kibati border post where your vehicle will be waiting to drive you back south, passing Goma to reach the border. Once you have cleared the border crossing back in Rwanda you will drive a short distance to your accommodation for the night on the shores of Lake Kivu where you can relax for the evening.

The lava lake on Mount Nyiragongo. Image © Virunga National Park.
If you choose to leave for Kigali in the morning, spend your afternoon on a city tour. Image © William Boase

Day 6 - Heading Home

Take a slower start to the day after volcano hiking the previous days, your lodge on the lakeshore is the perfect place to relax. This morning you, drive back to Kigali for a city tour, or opt to stay a Lake Kivu hire boats to explore the lake (*for an additional cost) or unwind with views over the lake, relax and read a good book. After lunch your driver will take back through ‘land of a thousand hills’ to Kigali International Airport in time for your flight home.

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This Tour Includes

All overland transfers as specified in your itinerary in a private vehicles.
All Meals (as specified in the ‘Meal Plan’ above)
Accommodation (please view TripAdvisor links in itinerary for impartial ratings)
- 1 night at Bukima Tented Camp (single / double or safari tent, NSC)
- 2 nights at Mikeno Lodge (single / double or twin cottage, SC)
- 1 night at Nyiragongo Summit Shelters (single/ twin cabin, NSC)
- 1 night at Paradis Malahide (single / double or twin room, SC)
Bottled Drinking Water (3 liters per person, per day)
All Activities
- Gorilla tracking (VNP)
- Mount Nyiragongo hiking package (VNP)
Wildlife & Tracking Permits
- Gorilla tracking permit x 1 per person (VNP)
Park & Vehicle Fees
- Virunga NP x 4 days (Park Entry, Driver Entry, Vehicle Entry)
Specialist Guides and Rangers
- Gorilla tracking rangers / guides (VNP)
- Mount Nyiragongo rangers / guides x 2 per group (VNP)
- Porters to carry equipment on Mount Nyiragongo x1 per person (VNP)
A $10 per person donation to the Virunga Alliance (see CSR Program)
Collection from and drop-off at your desired location in Kigali, Rwanda.
A dedicated Tours Manager in daily contact with your Driver/Guide and on call, 24/7 in case of an emergency.

This Tour Excludes

Items marked ‘(*for an additional cost)’
Alcohol (unless provided as complimentary by the accommodation)
Laundry (unless provided as complimentary by the accommodation)
Souvenirs & items of a personal nature
Personal Insurance
International or Domestic Flights
Visa for the Democratic Republic of Congo (can be arrange for an additional cost)
Other Visas (please refer to your embassy)
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