Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Active Africa initially operated a variety of walking, trekking and adventure programs within Southern Africa. We all know that the quality of a trip is determined by both the itinerary design and the guide; and our team works hard to ensure we offer you the best combination possible.
Our volcano trekking expedition is designed with the real adventure enthusiast in mind. It offers the opportunity to climb the highest peak in Rwanda. While the itinerary focuses primarily on volcano trekking, it includes the obligatory gorilla tourism familiar to the region. We visit Dian Fossey‘s grave and the Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage and subsequently track mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park.
Despite the chance of encountering wild gorillas on our volcano treks, the emphasis is on making it possible to summit Africa’s 5th highest peak and to witness the earth’s raw energy in the world’s largest lava lake.
Along the shared border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda lie the Virunga Mountains. Derived from the Kinyarwanda word ibirunga meaning volcano, the chain comprises six extinct and two active volcanoes. The highest among these is Mount Karisimbi at a height of 4507m / 14 787 ft asl. The most active of these is Nyiragongo, known for the dramatic lava lake in its crater.
Though trekking to these summits may not compete with iconic objectives such as Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya or the Rwenzoris, the unusual journey into the wilds of the DRC makes the trip worthy of expedition status.
Looking for more adventure? Consider our Explore Rwanda trip.
Active Africa offers a selection of preferred hotels and lodges that are designed to fit your budget and travel style. However, often there are many places where we travel where options are very limited, or where we feel either the location or the experience offered by a particular property is quintessential to the experience, in which case we use these properties across both Premium and Classic itineraries.
Due to the nature of this expedition, only Classic hotels and lodges are available.
Often selected more for their regional character and location than as a cost-effective alternative, our Classic range of properties tick all the boxes associated with good lodgings. Expect great service, character filled comfortable rooms and delicious locally sourced meals to weave a common theme, while the stunning African landscape elevates your stay from the memorable to the sublime.
This trip is graded Challenging to Extreme. Volcano trekking involves direct and steep ascent over often slippery ground. Climbing an active volcano carries the associated risks f unexpected eruptions. Security in the DRC can be volatile and the political or safety situation can change on very short notice.
Due to the nature of this trip and limitations of accommodations and certain logistics, we recommend a maximum of 6 people travelling to get the best from the experience.
Due to the potentially volatile security situation in the Democratic Republic of Rwanda, guides reserve the right to amend the Nyiragongo portion of the itinerary and revert to a kayak and mountain bike experience on the Rwandan side of Lake Kivu.
This programme is not suitable for children under the age of 18.
We cannot control the weather – this is an outdoor, nature based itinerary and indoor alternatives are limited, if non-existent. Come prepared to be take on the elements if the weather is not playing fair.
This programme is best run between the months of June to October
We will meet you on arrival in Kigali.
Morning arrivals: visit the Genocide Memorial at Gisozi this afternoon.
Afternoon/evening arrivals: check into your Kigali hotel before meeting your guide for dinner.
Morning visit to the Genocide Memorial or the Campaign Against Genocide which showcases the RPF efforts to quell the genocide.
Transfer by road to Kinigi.
This afternoon, engage with the communities and experience rural village life on a walk in the shadow of the volcanoes.
Spend the morning on a scenic acclimatisation village trek across the hills and valleys of the lower slopes of the volcanoes.
Afternoon rest and preparation for your Karisimbi trek.
Meet your park ranger at the Volcanoes National Park Headquarters and transfer through rural farmlands to the forest wall for the start of your trek at 2600m/8530ft.
Trek through virgin forest with the chance of seeing mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, colobus monkeys and forest buffalo.
Visit the grave site of Dian Fossey.
Camp on the edge of the alpine zone at an altitude of 3700m/12140ft.
Make an early start for the summit.
Soak in dramatic views across the Virunga Mountains and the misty forests below from the 4705m/15435ft summit of Mount Karisumbi. Return to Kinigi.
Spend the night in the hotel in Kinigi.
Cross the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo at Goma, an adventure on its own!
Visit with a family of orphaned mountain gorillas before checking into your camp in the national park.
Due to the unstable nature of security and political stability in the DRC, the border and Virunga National Park can close on very short notice. In the event of this occurrence, the itinerary for the Nyiragongo portion of this itinerary will move to a biking and kayaking expedition along the Rwandan coastline of Lake Kivu between Gisenyi and Kinunu.
Track gorillas in the Virunga National Park in the DRC.
After the trek, visit the Widows’ Sewing Workshop. This is an initiative that supports the widows of fallen rangers, by offering a platform from which to sell crafts and clothing to visitors to the park.
Trek through the volcanic landscape to the summit of Nyiragongo at 3470m/11385ft.
The lower forested slopes are home to a variety of animals, including several primates, some of which you may see on your trek.
View the world’s largest active lava lake as it lights up the night.
Camp just below the crater rim.
Descending back to the base in the morning, where we cross back into Rwanda.
Return to Kigali for your onward plans.