Tracking mountain gorillas through the dense African forests is a magical experience. Only eight visitors are allowed per gorilla group each day, and to minimize possible transmission of human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of 7m (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. Typically, tracking can take from 3 to 8 hours and requires some agility and fitness; however, all fitness levels can be accommodated and no one should feel deterred from missing this once in a lifetime experience.
Exclusive Gorilla tracking for a group of 8 guests
This exclusive experience allows a total group of 8 guests to track a gorilla group in the forest on their own. This enables guests to have a deeper connection with these fascinating animals, accompanied by their own guide who can give them personal briefing. The cost is 15,000 USD per trek per day, for a maximum of 8 guests.
Golden Monkey Tracking
With only a small number remaining in the world, the Golden Monkey can be found in the foothills of the volcanic mountains of Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Characterized by its bright golden body, cheeks and tail, with contrasting black limbs, crown and tail end, these playful primates are a pleasure to watch. Whether you choose to do this on the Rwandan or Ugandan side, the walk will take you from the bamboo stands and forested gorge on the lower levels of the volcanoes, to the elevated heath and moorland higher up.
The group of Intore Dancers is made up of 24 dancers and two dance trainers.
The troupe perform the traditional Rwandan ballet called The Intore, also known as “The Heroes” for Volcanoes Safaris guests, which is based on the courtly victory dance of the Rwandan Mwami (kings). Being selected as an Intore in times of old was a great honour – they would receive a privileged education, intensive combat training and they held a high status within the court. Today, the dancers use traditional weapons such as spears and bows and wear brightly coloured clothes and long flowing white hairpieces.
Visit Dian Fossey’s Grave
Located in a beautiful meadow nestled between the Karisimbi and Visoke volcanoes are the graves of Dian Fossey and some of her beloved research gorillas. For anyone interested in gorilla conservation in Rwanda, or interested in Fossey’s personal story, the trek to her grave is highly recommended. This trek starts early in the morning, can take 6-8 hours and is operated by the National Park.
Rwanda offers some of the world’s best bird watching, with a vast diversity of bird species. Rwanda has over 700 bird species and is home to the second highest number of Albertine endemics in the Albertine region. Each of our lodges offers the chance to see a number of different birds, with the vast majority endemic to the Region.
Climb a Volcano
Guests of Virunga lodge have easy access to the Virunga chain of volcanoes, which offer challenging hikes and stunning panoramas. The three most popular volcanoes to climb are Mt. Gahinga, Mt. Sabyinyo, and Mt. Muhavura. These hikes are of varying difficulty and typically take a full day. The treks starts at 7:00am from the park headquarters, from where visitors will have to drive / be driven to the base of the volcano.
Lake Bulera Village Walk
On a free afternoon at Virunga Lodge we recommend taking advantage of the lodge’s unique position by meandering down the mountain slope, through local villages, and to Lake Bulera, which sits at its foot. Passing through the local communities offers a colorful peek into village life and opportunities to visit local schools and community centers.
Virunga Water Tank Project
Although it rains heavily around Virunga Lodge, there are very few facilities for water catchment and storage and in the dry season there is an acute shortage of water. The villagers in Sunzu village around the lodge, where 138 families live, do not have enough clean water for drinking or for growing crops.
Starting in 2016, Virunga Lodge has been providing plastic water tanks to the local community and with the support of our guests,
Virunga “One Sheep per Family” Community Project
In June 2014 Virunga Lodge launched the “One Sheep per Family” project, to provide one sheep to each of the 140 families in the Sunzu community. The sheep manure provides natural and effective fertiliser for growing crops. As well as providing manure, selling lambs provide income for the family.
For the project to work effectively, the community is divided up into 14 groups and each group is given nine females and one male. After all females produce an offspring, the breeding males are rotated to a different group for genetic diversity. A new family takes over caring for the male and donates one female offspring back to the previous ram caretaker.
Dian Fossey Map Room
The Dian Fossey Map Room at Virunga Lodge has been built in honor of Dr. Dian Fossey, the pioneer primatologist who set up the Karisoke Center high in the Virunga volcanoes in 1967. The exploration and conservation of the Virunga volcanoes is a very interesting and unique story and has been brought together for the first time in the amazing exhibition at the Dian Fossey Map Room at Virunga Lodge.
The Dian Fossey Map Room was opened on 2 March 2017. A permanent exhibition has been set up in the Map Room charting the ‘Conservationists and Explorers of the Virunga Volcanoes’ from 1850 to 1985 when Fossey died.