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Safaritalk Special Safari to Virunga National Park in the DRC with Doug Macdonald.
The trip includes:
- 3 Nights Bukima Camp
- 3 Nights Lulimbi Camp
- 1 Night Mt Nyiragongo Volcano / Tchegeera Island Optional
- 2 Nights Mikeno Lodge
- 1 Night Flame Tree Village – Kigali
- 2 Gorilla Trek Permits
Price Based on 4 confirmed Guests by 15 May 2016 – US$5850.00
Note: This price is based on an assumed transfer cost in and out of Lulimbi Camp – as this camp is so new they have not been able to confirm this price yet.
I have included a US$250.00 donation to one of the park projects that I am waiting for them to identify – this could be the gorilla orphanage or the blood hound project.
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I have just returned from a safari to Virunga National Park and I really enjoyed the quality of the Gorilla Sightings we had – There are over 100 habituated Mountain Gorilla’s in this park in 8 different family groups, along with a semi - habituated family of Chimpanzees.
In the background of all of this, is the ever present active Volcanoes. We climbed Mt Nyirerengo which has the world’s largest larva lake - an unbelievable spectacle watching it constantly changing in the dark night – not an easy climb but well worth it. Nearby there is also Mt Nyamuligira which also adds a nice glow at night to the whole scene and there is also a host of other dormant and extinct ones all within view.
This is a park that is trying to rebuild itself after many problems and is now being administered by ICCN so now there are many of the Congolese people that live in the area now being employed there and directly benefitting from the re –emergence of this, the oldest National Park in Africa.
It must be kept in mind though that these areas of Africa are politically volatile and there are elections here in November, so in my opinion I feel there is a really good window to see this park and also if there are no political problems after their elections this park will become very busy, very quickly and with that comes the associated price tags.
So let’s get there now and see this amazing area of Africa while the door is open to you.
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2 July 2016 – Arrive Kigali International Airport (Rwanda ) - Kenya Airways from Nairobi will be the most convenient arriving at 8.15am – I will meet you and a transfer vehicle will take us straight to the Goma border post for us to enter DRC. We change vehicles here into Landrovers and we go straight to Bukima Tented Camp. We will arrive in camp assuming flights all on time mid afternoon. Here we can relax after the long journey and enjoy the wonderful views over Mt Mikeno and the adjacent forest area. The camp itself is a traditional tented safari camp with large walk in safari tents that have proper beds and en suite toilet and bucket showers.
3 July 2016 – An early breakfast and we then begin our first gorilla trek, there are 4 families in the immediate area and depending on which family we are allocated the average would be about 1-2 hrs of walking to the family and then you have 1 hour with the gorilla family. So we usually return to camp around lunch – after lunch you can kick back and maybe we could do some birding for the beautiful forest birds that are in the area.
4 July 2016 – Much the same plan as the previous day but we will be allocated a different family group to visit.
5 – 8 July 2016 – Today we depart by in the vehicles after breakfast to the airstrip about an hour away where we will then fly North in a light aircraft to the new safari camp just being completed at the moment in Virunga so not yet opened making you one of the first guests to be there. This is a tented camp with large walk in safari tents in much the same style as you had at Bukima. This area is characterised by a mixed mosaic of open grasslands and some open woodland and joins into the Queen Elizabeth National Park of Uganda. This will give you the more classic safari experience with the big animals like elephant lion and of course the big cats. Here we shall be able to walks and game drives.
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8 July 2016 – An early morning start and we fly back South to the main airport at Goma where we will be collected and then transferred to the start of the volcano trek. *(Please see note below) The walk requires a reasonable level of fitness over 8km and gets progressively steeper and colder as you reach towards the top of the volcano – you will be supplied with a backpack that contains most of the sleeping kit that you will require and this will be portered up the volcano by one of the local villagers, we will also have with is a chef from the camp who will also prepare all our meals during our time on the volcano.
We take regular rest stops and when you get to the top it is an amazing spectacle with all the noise, smoke and drama of an active volcano. It is like sitting watching the camp fire but on a massive scale.
Accommodation at the summit is in fibreglass A Frame cottages that are insulated enough to make your night up here quite comfortable. The ablutions are a little trickier but available but for this there are no showers only a toilet which is a climbing challenge but a real loo with a view.
9 July 2016 – We get up early and enjoy the early light on the volcano and then we start making our way down the volcano to get back down around mid morning. We then have a transfer vehicle that will take us to Mikeno Lodge for a well deserved hot shower – and a big lunch in this beautiful luxury lodge set up on top of a hill overlooking the surrounding forest. After lunch we can relax and enjoy the surrounds and maybe go and visit the small gorilla orphanage and do some birding here.
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10 July 2016 – There is an option here of spending time with Chimpanzee Family that live around the camp area. Sometimes they move to inaccessible areas so we cant book this up front and will be an option when you are there.
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11 July 2016 – Today we leave Mikeno after breakfast and head back to the border post with Rwanda where we will clear the border and change transfer vehicles for our journey to Kigali. Assuming all goes to plan with no problems we will have time to visit the sombre yet fascinating Genocide museum in Kigali, we then will go to our lodge for our last night before transferring to the airport for our onward flights from Rwanda.
*Tchegeera Island instead of Mt Nyiragongo Volcano
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If you feel for whatever reason you would prefer not to climb the volcano you have the option of going to Tchegeera Island for the night on Lake Kivu and a 40 min boat ride from Goma. It is a tented camp on Island Caldeera in Lake Kive which has beautiful views over the Lake and Volcanoes and will not alter the price.
You will then leave there in the morning to meet us at the end of our Volcano walk.
Now, there are still details to confirm and over the following days I'll be adding more photos and confirming costs 100%, what is and isn't included etc., so this introduction post is to gauge interest
How to register your interest/book: contact me at Doug Macdonald’s Safaris to Africa via email: firstname.lastname@example.org stating SAFARITALK SPECIAL OFFER in the subject line and mentioning your Safaritalk screen name in the enquiry so I know who you are. Feel free to ask any questions via email, or, if you’d prefer to add your questions in the replies below, I’ll be happy to respond.
I look forward to personally guiding you on this adventure.