Congo Mountain and Lowland Gorilla Trek

LOCATION: DR Congo
TRIP LEADER: Karim Iliya
DIFFICULTY: moderate
DATES: January 6-13, 2018 (8 days)
PRICE: $4,900 USD

 
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TRIP DETAILS

Lead by wildlife and drone photographer Karim Iliya, this journey brings participants to the magical rainforests of Eastern Congo, and with an emphasis on wildlife, this trip is like no other. Peace in Eastern Congo has resulted in visitors once again being able to access two Congolese national treasures in their natural habitat: Mountain Gorillas and Lowland Gorillas. This trek brings participants to two of Congo's treasured National Parks to find them: Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega. 

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tracking and spending time with Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park.
  • Climbing to the top of Nyirangongo Volcano and sleeping above its glowing lava pool.
  • Searching for chimpanzees in Tongo. 
  • Tracking and spending time with Lowland Gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. 
  • Visiting the Gorilla Rehabilitation Centre in Virunga. 
  • Taking a ferry across Lake Kivu from Goma to Bukavu. 
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ITINERARY

DAY 1 :: SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 2018 :: ARRIVE IN GOMA

The group will arrive in Goma today, either from the Rwandan border or at Goma Airport on Ethiopian Airlines. We will have a trip introduction session and briefing in Goma and will spend the night at a local hotel on the shores of Lake Kivu. 


DAY 2 :: SUNDAY, JANUARY 7, 2018 :: GOMA / RUMANGABO (GORILLA SECTOR) / MIKENO

We will depart very early in the morning for Rumangabo, the Virunga Park Station in the Gorilla Sector. Accessible by 4x4 from Goma, the drive into Rumangabo is on a rough dirt road into the Park. Once we arrive, we will gather at the park station for a safety and information briefing on mountain gorillas. We will then set out to track the gorillas. Each morning at 4:30am the park rangers locate where the gorillas had spent the previous night, and it may take several hours to relocate them, hiking through dense jungle. Each visitor will need to cary water, he prepared with sturdy hiking boots and be prepared to tape their pants into their socks to prevent ant attacks. We will also be carrying surgical masks as to not pass any human illnesses to the gorillas. Once we find a gorilla family, we will spend one hour following them before hiking back to Rumangabo Station. In the late afternoon we will drive to nearby Mikeno Lodge within the Park to spend the night. 


DAY 3 :: MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2018 :: MIKENO / KIBUMBA (VOLCANO SECTOR)

We will wake up before dawn this morning to head over to Tongo, a newly reestablished sector in Virunga. Here, we will go on a forest walk to look for chimpanzees with several park rangers. While it is by no means guaranteed that we will be able to locate them, we will have a good chance at doing so. After we return back from our chimp tracking, we will have a huge breakfast at the Mikeno lodge and some time to relax. In the afternoon, we will drive to Kibumba camp, located besides the trail head to the Nyirangongo hike. Overnight at the Kibumba Camp. 

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DAY 4 :: TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2018 :: KIMBUMA / NYIRANGOGO

After breakfast, we will depart from the Kimbumba Camp at around 8am to nearby Kibati Post. From Kibati, a group of park rangers will lead us on a steep five-hour trek through the jungle to the summit of Mount Nyirangongo, a highly active volcano in Virunga National Park. Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano that features the world’s largest lava lake. The volcano’s forested lower slopes are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and bushbuck. Nyiragongo’s summit rim is largely devoid of vegetation and is sometimes dusted with snow. From the rim, visitors can peer down into a churning lava lake and see and hear hot gases exploding up though a mosaic of molten lava. Although predictable and therefore safe for tourists, Nyiragongo is greatly feared during eruptions. We will spend the night camping out in cabins that hug the rim of the volcano, watching the mesmerizing red lava glow throughout the night. Everyone is responsible for carrying their own gear, including your clothing, sleeping bags and food; porters may be hired in advance at your own expense. Temperatures may dip below freezing at the summit, be prepared!


DAY 5 :: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018 :: NYIRANGOGO / GOMA / BUKAVU

Today we will wake up early and descend the mountain starting at around 6:30am, returning to Kibati Post just after 11am. We will transfer by car from Kibati back to Goma for lunch before we take a ferry down Lake Kivu to the city of Bukavu in South Kivu Province. We will spend the night relaxing and preparing in Bukavu. 

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DAY 6 :: THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2018 :: BUKAVU / KAHUZI BIEGA / BUKAVU

After an early breakfast we will drive to nearby Kahuzi Biega National Park (1 hr) where we will meet with the park rangers for another safety briefing before heading out into the jungle with them to track Eastern Lowland Gorillas. Eastern Lowland Gorillas are the largest primates in the world and until recently have been very difficult to reach. We will spend hours in the jungles looking for a gorilla family and once we locate them with the rangers we will be given one hour with them before letting them continue on with their day. In the late afternoon, we will return to Bukavu town for a nice shower and dinner. 


DAY 7 :: FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 2018 :: BUKAVU / GOMA

Congratulations, this morning you can sleep in well past dawn! After a leisurely morning and brunch, we will take the slow ferry back to Goma, stopping along several spots on Lake Kivu on the way. We will arrive in Goma in the early evening and will spend the night on the shores of Lake Kivu while enjoying a farewell dinner. 


DAY 8 :: SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2018 :: DEPART FROM GOMA

The program ends today in Goma. For those crossing into Rwanda, we will help make arrangements to bring you to the border and can also help arrange transportation to Kigali. For those flying out of Goma to Addis, we will arrange transportation to Goma International Airport. 

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READY TO JOIN?

LOCATION: DR Congo
TRIP LEADER: Karim Iliya
DIFFICULTY: moderate

DATES: January 6-13, 2018 (8 days)
STARTING IN: Goma, DR Congo
ENDING IN: Goma, DR Congo

PRICE: $4,900 USD.
INCLUDING: all ground costs, transportation, accommodation, guides, food, visa invitation and national park permit fees.
NOT INCLUDING: airfare, insurance, visa fees. 

 

ESSENTIALS

LOCATION: DR Congo
TRIP LEADER: Karim Iliya
DIFFICULTY: moderate

DATES: January 6-13, 2018 (8 days)
STARTING IN: Goma, DR Congo
ENDING IN: Goma, DR Congo

PRICE: $4,900 USD.
INCLUDING: all ground costs, transportation, accommodation, guides, food, visa invitation and national park permit fees.
NOT INCLUDING: airfare, insurance, visa fees. 


TRIP LEADER

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KARIM ILIYA
Karim Iliya Studio

Pursuing a variety of types of photography, Karim lives a nomadic lifestyle and travels the globe with a focus on photographing and filming wildlife and marine environments using free diving and quadcopter drones. Karim’s passion is in documenting threatened animals in an effort to create appreciation in order to help protect our delicate ecosystems. His work has been featured in publications all over the world, including National Geographic, among others.