16 Day Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari

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Virunga Circuit TREKKING Safari, Mount gahinga Lodge

16 Day Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari

  • Priceenquire
  • Duration 16 Days 15 Nights
  • Dates Open
  • Safari TypeGuided, Private Safari
  • LocationUganda , Rwanda
  • Departure CityKigali
  • End CityEntebbe
  • Contact nameLydia
  • Contact phone+256 774 805580
  • Cancellation policyUp to 90 Days
  • AccommodationAs shown in itinerary
  • Group TypeTraveler’s choice
  • Restriction No Children Bellow 15 years
  • LanguagesEnglish

Safari Overview

The Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari is developed around the Virunga Mountains which are a chain of volcanoes along the northern border of Rwanda, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. The mountain range is a branch of the Albertine Rift Mountains, which borders the western branch of the East African rift. They are located between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu.

The mountain range consists of eight major volcanoes. Most of them are dormant, except Mount Nyiragongo 3,462 meters (11,358 ft) and Mount Nyamuragira 3,063 meters (10,049 ft), both in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recent eruptions occurred in 2006 and in January, 2010. Mount Karisimbi is the highest volcano at 4,507 meters (14,787 ft). The oldest mountain is Mount Sabyinyo, which rises 3,634 meters (11,923 ft.) above sea level.

After the intense rainforest and mountaineering adventure is the southwestern corner of Uganda, you get on the road trip down the valleys into the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth NP where another intense wildlife exploration will occur. And then get back onto the road to sniff the rainforest jungle floors of Kibale where the East African primates flourish including our own cousins, the chimpanzee.

Safari at a glance

Day 1: Pick You Up At Kigali International Airport B, L, D
Day 2: Kigali city tour and genocide visit – Volcanoes National Park B, L, D
Day 3: Karisoke Research Center for a Cultural Experience  B, L, D
Day 4: Gorilla tracking activity – Volcanoes National Park B, L, D
Day 5: Misanze to Gisenyi -Lake Kivu B, L, D
Day 6: Cross to DRC – Hike Mount Nyiragongo (3470m) B, L, D
Day 7: Mount Nyiragongo to Lake Mutanda B, L, D
Day 8: Proceed To Nkuringo, Bwindi Impeneratable Forest National Park B, L, D
Day 9: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park B, L, D
Day 10: Community tour, Buniga Forests (encounter with the Batwa) B, L, D
Day 11: Nkuringo to Buhoma sector – Queen Elizabeth National Park B, L, D
Day 12: Game drive in Ishasha Sector and Transfer to Kasenyi Sector B, L, D
Day 13: Full day Queen Elizabeth National Park B, L, D
Day 14: Game Drive in QENP,Later Transfer to Kibale B, L, D
Day 15: Chimpanzee Habituation in Kibale National Park B, L, D
Day 16: Kibale National Park to Entebbe B, L, D

Know before you go

  • From Kigali into Uganda and Virunga’s active Volcano, Nyiragongo, and all through this intense Africa safari, you’ll be driving in a 4×4 safari truck. The first half of this adventure is physically demanding, so make sure you prepare your body for the challenges ahead including mountaineering, trekking steep sloops of the jungle and the cold high up-to 2,600 meters above sea level.
  • The tour is limited to a maximum of 6 travelers per vehicle, and 30% deposit on confirmation.

Safari Includes

  • Local guide
  • Gorilla & Chimps Permits ($900)
  • Food and drinking water
  • Accommodation
  • Transfers in 4×4
  • Private tour
  • English guide
  • Gratuities & tips
  • All activities
  • Visa & travel insurance

General FAQs

  • You can reschedule this trip as a private tour to any date up to 12 months at no cost.
  • A 30% deposit of the total tour price will be required to secure a booking, the balance being due 45 days before the tour departure date.
  • Bookings not secured by the appropriate deposit will be released.
  • Cancellation between 90 and 45 days of tour departure will incur a 20% of tour price penalty charge. Confirmed bookings cancelled within 45 days of the tour departure date or no show will incur 100% of tour price penalty charge.
  • Availability of accommodation and activities is not guaranteed; reservations will be made after receiving confirmation of the final itinerary and the payment of the requested deposit. Should any of the quoted accommodations not be available, we reserve the right to substitute it with an alternative suitable option, which might affect the final quoted price.
  • All clients who participate in this tour must be adequately covered by medical insurance as well as travel insurance to protect them in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Rates specified for this tour are subject to change without notice, however, every effort will be made to maintain them. In the event of any change of Government taxes or operating conditions that affect the rates we reserve the right to pass on these charges.

(different and separate from the tour cancellation policy)

Gorilla and Chimpanzee Permits will be guaranteed ONLY upon receipt of the deposit (US$750 for both permits in Jan to Jun 2020 and US$900 in Jul-Dec 2020) since we need to immediately pay Uganda Wildlife Authority Offices in order to secure the permits.

Cancellations received on full payment:

  • More than 90 days before the tracking date, 25% cancellation fee
  • 89 to 46 days before the tracking date, 50% cancellation fee
  • 45 to 9 days before the tracking date, 75% cancellation fee
  • 8 to 0 days before the tracking date, 100% cancellation fee

Important: the minimum age required for gorilla tracking is 15 years whereas for the chimps the minimum age required is 12 years; in case of flu or of any other airborne disease the visitor will be not allowed to meet with the gorillas or the chimps.

Detailed Itinerary


Day 1: Pick You Up At Kigali International Airport

Arrival Kigali International Airport and transfer to your accommodation, depending on time of arrival, possible Kigali city tour.

Accommodation and meals:
Hotel Mille Collines
Bed & Breakfast


Day 2: Kigali city tour and genocide visit – Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast, start your Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari with a Kigali city excursion and visit Rwanda’s genocide memorial for the ancient history of the Tutsi and the Hutu people of Rwanda. The continue the journey to Musanze Volcanoes National park, visit coffee plantation and various side trips on a scenic drive through Rwandan countryside to Ruhengeri Township in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes.

Accommodation and meals:
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 3: Karisoke Research Center for a Cultural Experience

An exciting Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari day with a variety of activities including tracking the endangered golden monkeys, visit Mt. Visoke or visit the Karisoke Research Center. This afternoon, continue exploring the cultural highlights of this area and visit the Iby Iwachu Cultural Centre for cultural dancing and an informative experience about traditional local medicine. This cultural group was formed by pygmies and ex-poachers and we shall listen to their side of the story after abandoning the illegal practice.

Accommodation and meals:
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 4: Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

With an early breakfast, and let your Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari guide drive you to the park headquarters to meet the other trackers and get briefed on the jungle excursion rules and regulations.

When venturing into this gigantic forest, a packed lunch, comfortable clothes, shoes and a walking stick is a must before gorilla tracking. The time spent gorilla tracking is unpredictable, It varies from 2-8 hours before an encounter with the family of these gentle creatures. The location of each gorilla family depends on temperature, their feeding range and movement of the previous day.

Enjoy this 1 hour (only time allowed in the company of each gorilla family a day) watch and capture this memorable experience as they go about their day to day activities; the young ones playing around the old ones, feeding each other and eating foliage. The sight of these outstanding creatures is the climax of this entire safari. Later retire for an overnight at the lodge.

Accommodation and Meals:
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 5: Misanze to Gisenyi, Lake Kivu

After breakfast, you will transfer to Gisenyi town which is located on the shores of Lake Kivu where you’ll be taking a short Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari break with relaxing activities like swimming, sport fishing and boat cruise on Lake Kivu. The cruise will provide you with a spectacular view of the Kibuye and Gisenyi towns.

Accommodation & meals:
Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 6: Cross to DRC – Hike Mount Nyiragongo (3470m)

Day six of the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel will jolt your adrenaline when you enter the vicinity of an active volcano in DR Congo. Depart Gisenyi early morning to cross the DRC border, clearing with customs to then proceed directly to Kibati Patrol post the start post for the Nyiragongo volcano climb. Its approximately 30 minutes drive from Goma to Kibati. Today is the real adventure when you spend a day hiking the live volcano Nyiragongo. The 4-5 hour hike through lush rainforest takes you to the spot where the volcano erupted in 2002.

Accommodation & meals:
Cabanas at the top of the volcano.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 7: Mount Nyiragongo to Lake Mutanda

After breakfast start the descent of Mt. Nyriangongo to arrive at the head of the trail and meet your vehicle to proceed across the border to Uganda, meet up with your guide and transfer to the shores of Lake Mutanda and conduct a canoe excursion for 2 hrs to overnight on the shores of the Lake at Chameleon hill conducting amazing views of the Virunga Volcanoes.

Accommodation & meals:
Chameleon Hill Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 8: Proceed To Nkuringo, Bwindi Impeneratable Forest National Park

After breakfast with the Nkuringo Walking Safari guide, take on a challenging 9 km walk in the rural communities on the village path, giving you a great perspective in the lives of the local people and great photographic opportunities as long the way, the walk takes 3 hours and then you rendezvous with your vehicle and transfer to Nkuringo to relax and prepare for the Gorilla tracking the next day.

Accommodation & meals:
Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 9: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Another adrenaline jolting Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari activity into the rainforest jungles of the misty Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to meet the gentle giants. Following a briefing at the trailhead at 7:30, visitors embark on a forest trek lasting from a few hours up to a full day, depending on the location of the gorillas as they range freely in the impenetrable forest, which family ranges the Kashasha river valley below the Nteko ridge.

On completion of this once in a lifetime opportunity you will return to Nkuringo to relax and reflect back on the day’s experience

Overnight at Nkuringo Gorilla lodge

Accommodation & meals:
No Accommodation
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 10: Community tour, Buniga Forests (encounter with the Batwa)

This morning after a hearty breakfast, take on a birding excursion in Nombe Pocket Forest – it was part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it is still quite impenetrable, however it was cut off from it as people needed more land to live on and cultivate. It can be reached on foot (approx. 1 hour to go and 2 hours to come back) or by vehicle and the visit lasts approx. 2 hours, depending on the interest of guests.

Lunch at the lodge at 2.00 pm and the Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari driver will take you towards Buniga Forest Trail for yet another exciting nature walk, an informative project run by USAID and the local Batwa community.

The Batwa tribe was forced to leave their home in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in 1991 when it was declared a UNESCO Heritage site for gorillas only. They had been living in the forest as nomadic hunter-gatherers for millennia, in perfect balance with the flora and fauna around. Moving out and suddenly living in communities with a completely different way of life has proven to be a huge challenge. They now survive as best as they can and earn a living explaining their previous life in the forest and their rich heritage.

Continuation of the walk through the community to visit the traditional herbalist and the black smith

Accommodation & meals:
Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 11: Cross Bwindi to Buhoma then Queen Elizabeth National Park

Through the impenetrable forest yet again, this time crossing over from Nkuringo (nothern) to the south side in Buhoma, the Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari takes another exciting turn pointing you towards the savanna plains of Queen Elizabeth NP.

After an early breakfast, proceed to the park headquarters for a nature walk from Nkuringo to Buhoma. A 15km walk from Nkuringo following the Kashasha River and Ivy River trails. This is a full day walk where there would be an opportunity of visiting the Munyaga River falls in the forest. The emphasis of this activity is for your walking guide to share his knowledge of the forest that you come into contact with and not simply an A to B.

On reaching Buhoma with your vehicle, and guide transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, lying 1978 sq. km west of Uganda. It harbours a diverse eco-system with a lovely savannah, fertile wetlands making it home for the big game, 10 primate species and a large number of bird species. Enjoy game drive in the Ishasha sector in search of the tree climbing lions and overnight by the River Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Accommodation & meals:
Ishasha Wilderness Camp
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 12:Game drive in Ishasha Sector and Transfer to Kasenyi Sector

Taking you into the savanna plains for the first time on the Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari, the Africa safari cools down and lets you enjoy most of the African game in the comfort of the 4×4 safari truck.

Early Morning game drive in the Ishasha Sector in search of tree climbing lions and return to the Lodge for breakfast, after checking out of the camp, continue on game drive as you drive into the Kasenyi sector.

In the afternoon conduct game drive in the Queen Elizabeth National Park the tracks through Kasenyi, the North Kazinga Plains offer virtually guaranteed buffalo, antelope and elephant sightings, along with warthogs and baboons. Taking an experienced guide in the early morning or at dusk is the most successful way to track down a pride of lions, and maybe even the odd leopard.

Accommodation & meals:
Kasenyi Safari Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 13: Full day Queen Elizabeth National Park

With an early breakfast, proceed to a spectacular game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park in the morning and after lunch; we will drive down to the Kazinga Channel and take a boat ride along the river. The launch trip along the Kazinga Channel is one of the most popular activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It provides an amazing chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the fresh river breeze whilst observing a large selection of animals. Those species commonly seen along the riverbank are elephants, buffalo, waterbuck and Ugandan Kob. Large breeding pods of hippos are also seen on a daily basis. On occasion visitors will also see giant forest hog, leopard and lion. The water birds in the area are plentiful; in particular, water thick knee, yellow‐billed stork, various plovers, white pink‐backed Pelicans and white‐bellied cormorants.

Accommodation & meals:
Kasenyi Safari Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 14: Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park,Later Transfer to Kibale

Have an early breakfast, enjoy another game drive. View more game as you catch them from their hunt expeditions before driving to Kibale. Enjoy the countryside landscape as you your Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari travels west into rainforest jungles of Kibale National Park found in Fort Portal, a town at the south-western side of Uganda. The park bares homage to a very large number of primates.

Accommodation & meals:
Primate Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 15: Chimpanzee Habituation in Kibale National Park

Full day chimpanzee tracking activity at Kanyanchu, clients to report at 6:30am for full day chimpanzee habituation experience where the clients will spend time with the Chimpanzees from nest to nest. Kanyanchu’s chimps have been tracked since 1993 and the chances of locating them are excellent

Accommodation & meals:
Primate Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Day 16: Kibale National Park to Entebbe

Morning visit of the Bigodi swamp walk, then proceed with your driver for 6hour drive to Entebbe, various stops en route for photographic opportunities and visiting local markets along the road. Transfer to Papyrus Guesthouse to freshen up and then transfer to Entebbe International Airport – outbound flight.

End of the 16 Day Virunga Circuit Trekking Safari

Accommodation & meals:
No Accommodation
Breakfast, Lunch