Parc National des Volcans (PNV), protects the Rwandan sector of the Virunga Mountains and makes up one part of the Virunga Conservation Area, which spans the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. PNV evolved from the oldest National Park in Africa, which, prior to 1960, was known as Albert National Park.
Today PNV covers an area of about 160 sq. km (61 sq. mi.), ranging from 2 400 to 4 507 metres (7 874 to 14 786 feet) and contains five volcanoes: Karisimbi, Visoke, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhavura (two of which can be climbed).
Established in order to protect the mountain gorilla, the park caught the attention of a global audience thanks to Dian Fossey, through her research on the gorillas in this area. Although most famous for the gorillas and the endangered golden monkeys, the park is also home to black-fronted duiker, buffalo and bushbuck. Virunga also boasts about 200 bird species, with 13 species endemic to the Albertine Rift.
Transfer via helicopter to Kigali Kanombe Airport.
DAY 12 (Sunday)
Helicopter transfer from Kigali Kanombe Airport to Volcanoes Virunga Lodge for gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans.
Overnight: Volcanoes Virunga Lodge
Odzala is blessed with numerous habitats, which range from dense primary forest to forest fringe, savannah, wide, languid rivers and forest bais and salines. As a result, species diversity is high and the rivers and bais in particular allow the ‘green curtain’ of the forest to be pulled back and allow our guests an insight into this spectacular ecosystem. This vast, wild region, with its wide range of landscapes, is home to an incredible diversity of life. It holds globally significant populations of Western Lowland Gorilla and Forest Elephant as well as a plethora of other species: 430 bird species and more than 100 mammal species of which around 50 are classified as medium- or large-sized. It has the highest number (11) of diurnal primates for any forest block in central Africa, as well as central Africa’s highest density of Chimpanzees. Other species include Forest Buffalo, Leopard, Bongo, Giant Forest Hog and Hippo. Clouds of spectacular butterflies are characteristic of the region. The trees are spectacular: ancient giants well over 50 metres tall emerge from the canopy, delicate orchids cling to the branches, while the forest floor is littered with an incredible array of pods, fruits, flowers and fungi.
A delightful camp consisting of 6 rooms that rests in a glade within primary forest above the Ngaga stream and within the home ranges of several groups of western lowland gorillas, two of which are habituated groups. Dining room, lounge and bar area are all on raised decks at the crest of the glade looking into and above the primary rainforest. They are constructed from natural, traditionally used materials including locally woven raffia palm roofing panels. A star deck and fire pit are placed on a dropped deck below the main area for after dinner relaxation while a separate deck is located at anatural cooling off spot on the Ngaga stream below camp.
The vast green wilderness that is Odzala-Kokoua National Park has a multitude of habitats.
In general, the north of the Park has dense forest covering many steep-sloped hills, while in the west a major escarpment runs roughly north-south from which the altitude drops 350 metres into low swampy forest. The southern part of the Park is characterised by pockets of savannah dotted with forest islands, bisected by the rivers and their associated gallery forests.
A primary feature is the occurrence of “bais” or salines. These are swampy, grassy clearings in the otherwise dense forest that forest wildlife visit on a regular basis in order to drink, feed on sedges and grasses, and obtain minerals and salts. These bais range in size from less than a hectare to more than ten hectares and represent the best chance of seeing forest wildlife.
The bais we visit in Odzala-Kokoua are relatively small and as a result offer the opportunity for close up viewing of various wildlife species.
DAY 2 - 4 (Thursday - Saturday)
Fly to Mboko airstrip for road transfer to Ngaga Camp, Ndzehi Forest for gorilla tracking.
Overnight: Ngaga Camp
DAY 1 - (Wednesday)
Arrive Maya Maya International Airport, Republic of Congo.
Overnight Radisson Blu, Brazzaville.
Walk in the footsteps of famous female primatologists as you explore two of the oldest national parks in Africa. Track habituated western lowland gorillas in the steamy rainforests of the Republic of Congo before ascending Rwanda’s mist-shrouded volcanic peaks in search of habituated mountain gorillas on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains. This safari gives you a unique opportunity to observe two of humankind’s closest relatives in their natural habitats, and to understand how conservation and research efforts are helping save these iconic primates and the remote forest environments they depend upon for their survival.
11 Nights / 12 Days
Scheduled departures start on a Thursday and end on a Wednesday (January through December), with additional departures starting on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday (May through to October). Currently there is a Rwanda Express flight departing Brazzaville on a Wednesday at 13h05, landing in Kigali in the late afternoon. The suggested itinerary is subject to availability. Guests can do the itinerary starting on a Saturday, however an additional night would be required in Brazzaville after the Odzala departure in order to connect on a Sunday flight from Brazzaville to Kigali, therefore making it a 12-night / 13-day itinerary.
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Volcanoes Virunga Lodge
The magnificent Virunga Lodge is perched high on a ridge and has stunning views of the Virunga Volcanoes and the twin lakes Bulera and Ruhonda. The premier luxury destination for Rwanda gorilla safari tours and tracking the endangered mountain gorillas. The Virunga safari lodge in Rwanda been described as having ‘the best view in the world’ and as ‘one of the finest lodges in Africa’. The organic, ‘bush-chic’ design reflects the local building style and offers eco-luxury comforts to all guests. Each banda has its own terrace with breath-taking views of the Virunga volcanoes or twin lakes, while sensitive installations such as low-flush toilets and solar power ensure you enjoy luxurious comforts while maintaining a crucial sensitivity to the environment.
Volcanoes National Park is home to Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei); golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), buffaloes (Syncerus caffer), elephants , black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger), and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus).
The park also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to Rwenzori mountains and the Virungas.
DAY 9 - 11 (Thursday - Saturday)
Fly Mboko airstrip to Maya Maya International Airport; connect on Rwanda Express from Brazzaville to Kigali, Rwanda.
Overnight Serena Hotel, Kigali.
DAY 8 (Wednesday)
Road transfer to Lango Camp, Odzala-Kokoua National Park for rainforest, bai and river exploration.
Overnight: Lango Camp
DAY 5 - 7 (Sunday - Tuesday)
A beautiful 6-roomed camp nestled in dense gallery forest overlooking the productive lango Bai and with access to the lekoli river and the surrounding savannah. Dining room, lounge and bar area are all on raised decks overlooking the bai, and are constructed from natural materials such as locally woven raffia palm panels. Raised walkways connecting the rooms to the public areas wind through the gallery forest. A star deck and fire pit are placed on a dropped deck overlooking the bai for after dinner relaxation and star-gazing.