Overview;
Ever since Stanley emerged from the jungle on his epic trek across the continent, the Congo has held a place in western imaginations as Africa’s ‘dark heart’, a land of thick rainforest, surging rivers and isolated hostile tribes. The undisputed giant of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo is undoubtedly one of the most challenging countries to travel through, yet those that make the step will be rewarded with some of the most incredible and memorable experiences the continent can offer. Starting in the Rwandan capital Kigali, our 15 days Congo holidays concentrate on the far east of the DRC, perhaps its most beautiful region and home to an impressive wealth of wildlife, much of which is found nowhere else.In the vast Virunga National Park, we track mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, and the energetic can ascend the active volcano of Nyiragongo with its bubbling lava lake – an amazing sight to behold when illuminated against the night sky. We then spend time with pygmy communities on the idyllic island of Idjwi, and meet local fishermen on Lake Kivu.

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A second gorilla encounter takes place in the forests of Kahuzi-Biega, where we trek to meet rare eastern lowland gorillas, the largest of all primate species. Returning to Rwanda we venture into the forests of Nyungwe to look for chimpanzees and colobus, before ending the trip back in Kigali. This two-week trip shows you the best of Congo and Rwanda’s natural world, as well as giving ample opportunity to meet and interact with local people, gaining insights into their often challenging lives. The Congo is all too often portrayed as Africa’s ‘heart of darkness’, a foreboding and chaotic failed state with danger around every corner – for those prepared to look beyond the headlines and learn for themselves, our Congo holidays show you another side to this much misunderstood nation.
15 Days Congo Holidays and Tours
Itinerary In Summary
Day 1 – Kigali
Arrive in Kigali and transfer to the hotel.
Day 2 – Kigali – Goma
Spend this morning exploring Kigali, then cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo and continue to the city of Goma.
Day 3 – Goma – Bukima
Explore Goma, then continue to Bukima for visiting the mountain gorillas.
Day 4 – Virunga National Park – Gorilla tracking
Accompanied by trackers, we head out into the forests to meet a family of mountain gorillas – one of the most unforgettable wildlife experiences that Africa can offer.
Day 5 – Virunga National Park – Chimpanzee tracking
This morning we venture into the forest to search for chimpanzees, with excellent chances of spotting the family that lives here. After breakfast we visit a gorilla rehabilitation program and learn more about the work of the rangers that protect the area from poachers.
Days 6-7 – Nyiragongo
Climb up to the summit of Nyiragongo to see its breathtaking lava crater, and spend the night here for stunning views as the night falls. After descending transfer to Masisi.
Please note: The hike up Nyiragongo is strenuous and requires a good level of fitness. If you would prefer not to do this, we will arrange for you to stay in the beautiful alpine region of Masisi, with opportunities for gentle walks, visiting villages and horse riding.
Day 8 – Goma
After a relaxing morning in the tranquil setting of Masisi, return to Goma.
Days 9-10 – Idjwi Island
Travel to Idjwi, the largest island on Lake Kivu with its traditional pygmy villages and laid back atmosphere. We spend our time here visiting local settlements and sailing out on the lake with fishermen.
Day 11 – Bukavu
Travel by boat on Lake Kivu to the town of Bukavu, with impressive views along the way.
Day 12 – Kahuzi-Biega National Park – Gorilla tracking
Venture into Kahuzi Biega National Park, one of the last strongholds for the endangered eastern lowland gorilla. Trek through the rainforest to observe one of the families in their natural habitat.
Day 13 – Nyungwe
Cross the border back into Rwanda and continue to Nyungwe Forest, where we look for colobus.
Day 14 – Nyungwe – Chimpanzee tracking
Return to the forest, this time to track chimpanzees – our final primate encounter of the tour. After lunch we explore the rainforest further on its canopy walkway for a different view of this incredible region.
Day 15 – Butare – Kigali
Return to Kigali the capital city of Rwanda, stopping at Butare on the way to visit the National Museum. This afternoon visits the Genocide Memorial, then transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Detailed Itinerary
Day 1–  Arrival in Kigali City.
Arrive in Kigali and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight tourist class hotel.
Kigali City:
Spread out over hills and valleys, fringed with lush vegetation, Kigali is one of Africa’s most attractive capitals, with a lively but relaxed atmosphere that puts visitors at ease. Founded only in the early twentieth century, the population today stands at around a million, around 10% of the country’s total. Kigali suffered enormously during the genocide of 1994, but since then has rebuilt itself and is now renowned for being a safe and friendly place. It’s also incredibly clean – a result of the country having recently banned plastic bags, one of the scourges of African cities, as well as the fact that each month residents come together to embark on a number of community projects including cleaning the streets. As anyone familiar with African capitals might expect, Kigali is fairly short on actual tourist sights, but the Genocide Memorial is a poignant reminder of the country’s tragic history and an essential stop for all visitors.
Day 2–  Transfer from  Kigali  City To Goma
Spend this morning exploring Kigali city. On a walking tour organized by the Nyamirambo Women’s Centre we meet local people and learn about their everyday lives – a good opportunity to see beneath the surface of Kigali. After lunch we cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo and continue to the city of Goma. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)
Day 3 – Explore Goma – Bukima
Explore Goma, visiting the Turunga Cave for panoramic views over the city, as well as a centre for former child soldiers. After a visit to the bustling Kibumba market, continue to Bukima, our base for visiting the mountain gorillas. Overnight tented camp. (BLD)
Day 4–  Virunga National Park – Gorilla tracking
Accompanied by trackers, we head out into the forests to meet a family of mountain gorillas – one of the most unforgettable wildlife experiences that Africa can offer. After time spent observing these gentle giants, we continue to the Rumangabo area of the park. Stay tonight at a forest lodge which offers great opportunities for spotting primate species. (BLD)
Mountain Gorillas:
Mountain gorillas are found in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, Critically endangered, the population has risen over recent years to a total of somewhere near nine hundred, due largely to enhanced conservation efforts. Mountain gorillas live in family groups dominated by a large silverback, with an average of about ten gorillas per group, although larger groups can have thirty individuals. Like all gorilla subspecies they are primarily herbivores, eating leaves, shoots and stems as well as fruit and sometimes small invertebrates. They can generally be distinguished from other subspecies by their long thick fur, which enables them to keep warm in the higher altitudes that they inhabit. Mountain gorillas were only ‘discovered’ as a separate subspecies in 1902.
Day 5 – Virunga National Park – Chimpanzee tracking
This morning we venture into the forest to search for chimpanzees, with excellent chances of spotting the family that lives here. After breakfast we visit a gorilla rehabilitation program and learn more about the work of the rangers that protect the area from poachers. Return to Goma in the afternoon. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)
Chimpanzee tracking:
Rumangabo has a small resident population of chimpanzees, of around 12 individuals. The chimpanzees were originally part of the main Tongo group across the valley, but were cut off from them by a lava flow during the last major eruption of Nyamulagira volcano. Humans’ closest living relatives, chimpanzees are spread among 22 African countries, from Senegal in the west to Tanzania in the east, and have become extinct in four countries where they once lived. they are among the largest-brained, and most intelligent of primates; they use a variety of sophisticated tools and construct elaborate sleeping nests each night from branches and foliage. They live in large social groups of several males, females, juveniles and infants, dominated by an alpha male usually between 20 and 25 years old.
Days 6-7 – Transfer To Nyiragongo
Transfer to the base of the active Nyiragongo volcano. Climb up to the summit to see its breathtaking lava crater, and spend the night here for stunning views as the night falls. In the morning of Day7, watch the sun rise between the Karisimbi and Visoke volcanoes, then return to the base. From here transfer to Goma and continue to the beautiful alpine region of Masisi. Overnight simple chalets and guesthouse. (BLD)
Please note: The hike up Nyiragongo is strenuous and requires a good level of fitness. If you would prefer not to do this, we will arrange for you to stay in Masisi, with opportunities for gentle walks, visiting villages and horse riding.
Nyiragongo:
Located within the Virunga National Park, Nyiragongo (3,740 meters) is an active volcano and one of the few places in the world where you can see a lava lake. It is in fact the most active volcano in Africa, and most recently erupted in 2002, its lava flow destroying much of the neighboring town of Goma; since 1882 it has erupted 34 separate times.
Day 8 – Transfer To Goma
After a relaxing morning in the tranquil setting of Masisi, return to Goma. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)
Days 9-10 – Exploring Idjwi Island
Travel to Idjwi, the largest island on Lake Kivu with its traditional pygmy villages and laid back atmosphere. We spend our time here visiting local settlements and sailing out on the lake with fishermen. Overnight local guesthouse. (BLD)
Pygmies:
‘Pygmy’ is a term used to describe a number of different ethnic groups living throughout central Africa, from the Batwa of the Great Lakes to the Ba’Aka and Badgeli of the western forests. Most Pygmy communities are partially hunter-gatherers, living on the wild products of their environment, but many also trade with neighboring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items. It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 600,000 Pygmies living in the Congo rainforest. The pygmies are masters of the forest, traditionally relying on it for most of their daily needs, although in modern times many have become more settled and are adopting the customs of the larger populations around them. They have been much discriminated against in recent times, with African governments attempting to ‘modernise’ them and seeing them as something of a throwback. However, we feel that spending time among these groups of people, with their encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world and unique customs is one of the more special experiences the continent can offer.
Day 11 –Travel To  Bukavu
Travel by boat on Lake Kivu to the town of Bukavu, with impressive views along the way. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)
Day 12 – Tour Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Venture into Kahuzi Biega National Park, one of the last strongholds for the endangered eastern lowland gorilla. Trek through the rainforest to observe one of the families in their natural habitat. Return to Bukavu in the afternoon. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)
Eastern lowland gorillas:
The eastern lowland gorilla – also known as Grauer’s gorilla – is the largest of the four gorilla species and only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Like all of the gorillas, it is under huge threat from habitat loss and poaching, with current population estimated around 4,000, compared to around 100,000 for the western lowland gorilla. However, they tend to form larger family groups than their western counterparts and occupy a greater range of habitats, from mountains to lowland forests. One of the main threats to their survival is the encroachment of small scale mining operations – this part of the DRC is rich in minerals, and not only does this lead to habitat loss but the killing of gorillas by miners for food.
Day 13 – Transfer To Nyungwe
Cross the border back into Rwanda and continue to Nyungwe, an area of primary rainforest rich in primate species. In the afternoon we walk into the forest to look for colobus, one of the most striking primates in this region, with groups up to 50 strong residing here. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)
Day 14 – Nyungwe
Return to the forest, this time to track chimpanzees – our final primate encounter of the tour. After lunch we explore the rainforest further on its canopy walkway for a different view of this incredible region. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)
Day 15 –Drive To Butare – Kigali
Return to the capital, stopping at Butare on the way to visit the National Museum. This afternoon visits the Genocide Memorial; a harrowing reminder of the troubles Rwanda has faced. Later transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (BL)
TOUR AND SAFARI TRANSPORT
STANDARD: 4X4 SAFARI VAN
Our standard mode of transport is by road and we use 4×4 Safari Vans customized for game viewing and photography. Each safari van comes with a professionally trained driver guide and fuel for the whole safari. Our Safari vans have viewing hatches and each client is entitled to a window seat. Our Vans can take up to eight people. We also have 4×4 Super Customs very comfortable and stable on the road. These carry up to 5 people with their luggage. We also have 4×4 RAV 4 for a group of two people
UPGRADE: 4X4 LUXURY SAFARI LANDCRUISER
We have luxury latest Land cruisers each driven by professionally trained driver guides and fuel. They have pop up roofs for proper game viewing and photography. They come with a small fridge for cooling your drinking water while on safari (which is always included while IN THE VEHICLE). They have inverters for charging small gadgets such as your smart phones and cameras. They can seat five to a maximum of seven people and each client is guaranteed of a window seat.
KEY INFORMATION

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