The Virunga volcanoes in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park were first made internationally famous by pioneering primatologist Dian Fossey and her work with families of mountain gorillas, including her favourite whom she called ‘Digit’. Today, guests are able to experience the…
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The Virunga volcanoes in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park were first made internationally famous by pioneering primatologist Dian Fossey and her work with families of mountain gorillas, including her favourite whom she called ‘Digit’.
Today, guests are able to experience the same awe as Fossey did in a 4-day flying safari that kicks off in Kigali and see you spending three nights at the Virunga Lodge, which has sensational vistas of not only the surrounding volcanoes but also of Lakes Ruhonda and Bulera.
Trekking gorillas through dense forest is thrilling: experienced guides and trackers will find clues to the families’ overnight movements in the verdant vegetation. Once you encounter a family, you will be able to spend an hour observing them before returning to the lodge for a hot shower, delicious meal and a personal meditation on how it feels to come face to face with our closest living relatives. Volcanoes Safaris is, to date, the only safari company to have signed the United Nations’ Kinshasa Declaration on Safeguarding the Great Apes.
Other activities at Virunga Lodge include visiting Fossey and Digit’s graves, seeking out rare golden monkeys, discovering the untouched inland beaches of Lake Kivu, and learning more about Rwandan life at nearby schools, villages and orphanages.
- Spend time with mountain gorilla families
- Visit Dian Fossey’s resting place & the gorilla cemetery
- Discover the beauty of Lake Kivu’s beaches
- Immerse yourself in local Rwandan life
- Guided walks in search of rare golden monkeys
- Convenience of helicopter transfers
Welcome to Rwanda | 3 NightsAfter landing at Kigali’s Kanombe Airport, you will be transferred to a waiting helicopter for the flight to Virunga Lodge in Volcanoes National Park. Perched atop a high ridge that affords you lovely views of Lakes Bulera and Ruhonda, as well of the famous volcanoes and the unusual cloud formations that frequently surround them, the lodge is comfortable and contemporary. Once you are settled into your room, spend the late afternoon enjoying a complimentary massage or take a short walk to visit Lake Bulera or Mwiko School.
In Search of GorillasToday is the day you have been waiting for: if all goes well, you will spend an hour observing a mountain gorilla family in their natural habitat, marvelling at how the youngsters play and the adults communicate through meaningful grunts and almost-human expressions. You will trek through light mountain forest in Volcanoes National Park under the watchful eye of your guide and trackers who will help you through dense vegetation. Depending on how far the gorillas have moved overnight and the weather – trekking is slower when it is wet and muddy – you could spend all day away from the lodge. Regulations stipulate that you will be able to observe them from a safe distance for the maximum of an hour to ensure as little impact on these incredible great apes as possible. Many trekkers remark how the hike back to camp is often silent, as each guest ponders the unique and often life-changing experience of being face to face with mountain gorillas.
Explore Village LifeIf extra permits are available, you may be able to go gorilla trekking again (there are a limited number of permits made available every day), once again experiencing the rush that comes with watching a group at rest as they eat, sleep, play and groom each other. If an extra day of gorilla trekking is not on the cards, there are plenty of other interesting activities to undertake. After breakfast, go in search of Rwanda’s other endangered primates – the golden monkeys. They have thick bronze coats, adorable blue faces and are still quite a mystery to scientists as not a lot is known about their diet or social structure. Generally they are thought to live in groups of up to 30 individuals in a habitat with abundant fruit and bamboo. One of the most moving outings is a visit to pioneering primatologist Dian Fossey’s grave and the gorilla cemetery she founded as the resting place to poached gorillas, including her favourite, Digit. You could also immerse yourself in the life of a typical Rwandan village near Lake Bulera to tour the Imbabazi Orphanage and local flower plantation, having lunch with the staff and leaning more about the area. If you want pure relaxation, venture to the pristine beaches on Lake Kivu to soak up a day of African sunshine.
With New PerspectiveAlthough you have had a short time in Rwanda, you will no doubt have fresh perspectives on gorilla conservation and local life in a country that was once very fractured. After bidding farewell to the cheerful and friendly staff at Virunga Lodge, you will be driven a short distance to the helipad for your helicopter transfer back to the capital. As you depart Kigali en route home, you will remember feeling a shared understanding as you gazed into the eyes of a gentle silverback…
- Activities as specified in the itinerary
- An expert driver/guide and vehicle
- One complimentary massage
- One golden monkey and One gorilla permit
- Park fees, nature and community walk fees
- International flights
- Airport taxes
- All meals and drinks not specified
- Tips and gratuities
- Items of a personal nature
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