11 days, 10 nights (minimum 2 persons sharing accommodation)
Day 1: Arrival.
Arrive at Kigali in Rwanda or Uganda at Entebbe International Airport where you will be welcomed by our company safari guide who will transfer you to Goma or Beni in the DRC after visiting the Genocide Memorial in Kigali. Spend the night at the Labrisse Hotel.
Day 2 – 3: Transfer to Epulu.
Drive to Epulu via Beni Road. Overnight at Hotel Beni.
Epulu is home to many okapis. Found only in the Congo, the okapi (Okapia Johnstoni) is a shy and reclusive forest dweller and is the only living relative of the giraffe. It has unusual coloration and distinctive markings, including stripes resembling a zebra’s, which provide camouflage in the dense rainforest and protect it from many predators.
Day 4: Okapi Tracking and Bambuti village.
The day starts with a breakfast visit to an okapi station to track these unusual animals. After lunch you will begin your trek through the tropical forest to a Pygmy village where you will spend the night under canvas.
The Bambuti pygmies live in villages that are categorized as bands.
The Bambuti villages are solitary and separated from other groups of people. Each hut is home to an extended family. The houses are small, circular, and temporary. The walls of the structures are poles that are placed in the ground. At the top of the poles a vine is woven to keep them together. Large leaves are also used in the construction of the huts.
At the start of the dry season, the Bambuti leave the village to enter the forest and set up a series of camps. This annual movement allows the Bambuti to cover more land area and maximise their foraging activities
Day 5: Hunt With the Bambuties.
The Bambuti are primarily hunter-gatherers, foraging for food in the forest. They have a vast knowledge of the forest and the foods it yields. The Bambuti men use large nets, traps, and bows and arrows to hunt game. Women and children sometimes help out by driving the animals into the nets. Both men and women gather and forage. Each band has its own hunting ground, although boundaries are hard to maintain.
We will be permitted to follow a hunting group into the forest and, where possible, take our tents and set up our camp near to their bands. The evening will be spent around the camp fire, listening to the Bambuti tell hunting stories whilst they smoke water pipes under a beautiful blanket of African stars.
Day 6 – 7: Return to Goma.
We make our return journey back to Goma via Beni and Butembo.
Day 8: Gorilla trekking
Today you will be trekking in the forest on the edge of the Virunga mountain chain to reach one of the last mountain gorilla families in the world. It’s a 5.30am start from your hotel so that you can be driven to the Virunga National Park station where everyone assembles at 7am to be allocated a gorilla group, meet their guide and for a briefing on how to ”behave” whilst in the company of a gorilla group.
After the briefing, you will proceed to the appropriate starting point for the trek to see the gorilla group you have been allocated. The length of the trek varies depending on where the gorillas are as well as weather conditions. Meeting these gentle giants in their natural habitat is a unique and wonderful experience but to get the most from it, it is necessary to be properly prepared. It is important to bring good hiking boots, long trousers, gloves for protection against stinging nettles, some snacks & sweets (for you, not the gorillas) as well as sufficient water as the rain forest gets hot and humid during the day. You will spend one hour with the gorillas, but it is an hour you will never forget.
After trekking back to your vehicle and then driving back to the trekking base, you will return to your hotel for the night.
Day 9: Hiking Nyiragongo Volcano
At 8am you will be met at your hotel and taken to a supermarket for supplies supplies. The drive to the village of Kibati, where the hike starts, is at 9am to make sure that everyone is ready to go at 10.30am for the five hour trek. The climb up and down from Nyiragongo is strenuous and often in hot and uncomfortable conditions, but the path is relatively easy and not excessively steep; there are also a lot of rare birds and small mammals along the trail and the view, when you reach the top, is stunning and other-worldly.
Again, it is important to have the right equipment in order to make the most of the hike. Equipments to bring: walking boots, a day back pack, light clothing, waterproof clothing, sun glasses, and clothes for the upper region of the volcano where you will spend the night and walking poles for hiking.
Lakes of hot lava are one of the most spectacular forms of volcanic activity, but they are very difficult to see since there are only a few of them in the world at any given time. So, if you want to see a really impressive lava lake, you really only have one option left:
Nyiragongo. Nyiragongo Volcano is located in the east of DRC, around 19 km from Goma, and is the most active volcano in the world. In 1997 and 2002, flows of very liquid lava broke out from cracks in the volcanic slopes. The lava covered 17 km, reaching the town of Goma in just a few minutes, killing dozens of people, and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
The eruptions temporarily drained the lava lake in the summit crater and volcanic gases suffocated the heather forests on the upper slopes. But now the forest is recovering, and the wildlife is beginning to return.
The night will be spent in tents on the rim of the giant crater, high above the active lava lake.
Day 10: Back From Nyiragongo
After breakfast at 7.00am, you will hike back down the volcano and arrive in Kibati village between 10 and 11am to meet your driver and return to Goma or Gisenyi by midday.
Day 11: Transfer at Kigali aiport in Rwanda For departure.