Encounter rare Mountain Gorillas, a highlight of the trip
In the morning after breakfast and check-out, drive to Kisoro, gateway to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This will be your base for three days of explorations, including your choice of gorilla trekking, volcano hiking, and searching for Golden Monkeys and other primates and the many bird species in the area. In addition to Mgahinga's gorillas, which sometimes move out of trekking reach, we have access to three reliably-located groups in nearby Bwindi Impenetrable Forest that are acclimated to visitors.
A few possibilities for hiking, depending on your fitness, goals, and ambition include:
Mount Sabyinyo volcano (12,000 ft, 8 hours, 9 miles), which offers three peaks to climb with views of breathtaking gorges in both Uganda and Rwanda and excellent birding along the way. The third peak sits physically over Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
Mount Gahinga (11,400 ft, 6 hrs), a mountain hike that goes through a bamboo forest on the way to the top, once a crater lake, but now a lush swampland.
Other exploration options include Garama Cave where the Batwa, or pygmies, who were formerly hunters and fruit gatherers, lived and fought their neighbors, the Bantu. Here we see how the Batwa lived and fought out of the cave.
You could also hike the Border Trail (5 hrs, 6 miles), which climbs up the base of Sabinyo through forest before turning toward the Congo with great gorge and peak views along the way. The return leg is great for birding, golden monkeys, and signs of elephants.
Another option is to focus on the park's amazing bird life, with about 80 bird species within the park, and 295 species overall in the broader Virunga Conservation Area. We will look for Dusky Turtle Dove, Rwenzori Turaco, Cape Robin-Chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, White-eyed Slaty, White Tailed Blue Flycatcher, Olive Wood-pecker, White-starred Robin, Mountain Yellow Warbler, White-napped Raven, Lagden's Bush-Shrike, Yellow-crowned Canary, Streaky and Thick Billed Seedeater, and the shy Shelley's Crimson-wing, among other birds.
Our base for these three days is Kisoro Travellers Rest Hotel, one of the area's oldest and most classic hotels, where Dian Fossey stayed while doing her gorilla conservation work. Small (12 rooms) and convenient to wildlife activities, this is the perfect base for our time in the area.
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Kisoro Travellers Rest Hotel (or similar)