Friday, May 13, 2016
Climbing Mount Nyiragongo, mountain gorilla tracking and Lake Kivu combination of Rwanda and DR Congo
5 days Climbing Mount Nyiragongo, mountain gorilla tracking and Lake Kivu combination of Rwanda and DR Congo In 2014 Virungas National Park authorities announced that the route to climb Mount Nyiragongo has been re-opened for tourism. Mount Nyiragongo is a spectacular stratovolcano that hosts one of the worlds largest and rarest lava lakes, making it one of Africa’s most exciting and rewarding hiking experiences. Lava lakes are without a doubt one of the most impressive forms of volcanic activity that any outdoors enthusiast could hope to witness. Once you have reached the summit on your Mount Nyiragongo climb, you will be able to observe its bubbling lava cauldron (from a safe distance) and feel this volcano’s energy, as it heaves and breathes. An overnight stay at Mount Nyiragongo’s crater edge will allow you to enjoy this spectacle in the dark, but also at dawn and dusk when its alluring beauty is enhanced. Mount Nyiragongo, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo rises majestically to an altitude of 3470m overlooking the Virungas National Park and associated Albertine Rift valley. The climb up Mount Nyiragongo is not technically difficult and reaching the top should not take longer than 5 hours. To further ensure an unforgettable experience this tour includes a mountain gorilla trekking experience in the neighbouring Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Coming face to face with mountain gorillas is a hugely primal and humbling experience, if not life-changing. Between these two walking adventures you will also enjoy a short and relaxing visit to the idyllic shores of Lake Kivu. Detailed Itinerary Day 1: Arrival in Kigali and transfer to Volcanoes National Park On arrival at Kigali International Airport, met our representative and whisked off to enjoy some of Kigali’s main attractions. Depending on your arrival time the following sites may be incorporated into your visit: The Caplaki Handicrafts Market (the perfect place to browse for Rwandan souvenirs), the Kimironko City Market where all types of colourful and tasty food is sold, or the Gisozi Genocide Memorial & Education Centre, the site that houses over 250 000 victims of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide and stands as a vivid testimony to the courage and reconciliatory efforts of the Rwandan people. After a light lunch in Kigali restaurant you will drive north towards Ruhengeri and on arrival at Volcanoes National Park you will settle in at Hotel Muhabura. Here you will have the chance to freshen up, explore your surroundings and later indulge in a delicious home-cooked dinner at the lodge’s restaurant before your gorilla trekking experience the following day. Overnight at Hotel Muhabura Day 2: Mountain gorilla trekking at Volcanoes National Park After breakfast we take a short drive to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters and meet with the local rangers that shall lead your mountain gorilla trekking experience. An informative talk on etiquette required for gorilla trekking will precede the actual walk, Once the gorilla trekking groups/family are formed you will start your climb towards the different territories and areas in the mountains where your allocated mountain gorilla family/group resides. Gorilla trekking can take between 2 and 7 hours and you could climb to altitudes in excess of 2 350m (7 500 feet). Although the climb can be physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery always makes the trekking a worthwhile experience. Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten. Looking deep into the expressive brown eyes of mountain gorillas is surely the most exciting and poignant wildlife encounter that Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo and Africa has on offer – and arguably one of the most profound natural history experiences in the world. When the group returns from the hills a transfer will take you to the mellow lakeside town of Gisenyi where you will check into the Paradis Malahide Hotel for a delicious lunch, well-earned shower and rest. No activities have been planned for this afternoon, in order to allow all participants to decide whether they want to rest before tomorrow’s assault on Mount Nyiragongo, or enjoy a leisurely swim in Lake Kivu. Dinner and overnight at Paradis Malahide Hotel Day 3: Climbing Mount Nyiragongo After an early wake-up call, breakfast and a swift transfer to the Rwanda/Congo border post, you will cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo and drive on towards the Kibati patrol post at the base of Mount Nyiragongo, a mere 50km outside Goma. After a safety debrief and final check of everyone’s packs and equipment you begin the climb towards Mount Nyiragongo’s summit. The party will be lead and escorted by a set of rangers/guides and a small contingent of porters. For the first two hours of the walk you will traverse a lush pristine forest, where towering trees offer a welcome shelter from the sun until you emerge from the forest onto a small plateau with commanding views that stretch towards the infinite horizon, with Lake Kivu, Bukavu, Rwanda and Burundi at your feet. You are now standing on the lava flow remnants of Mount Nyiragongo’s 2002 eruption.