Gentle Giants of the Forest

Mountain Gorilla Extension

August 21 - 26, 2019
Cost: $8,900
Leader: Tom Murphy
Group Size: 7
Days: 6

Safari Overview

Trek the forests of the Virunga Mountains to encounter Rwanda’s "gentle giant," the mountain gorilla. Their enormous size, extraordinary strength, and the deep, lush mountainous environment have contributed to their mystique. Only about 900 mountain gorillas remain in the wild today, giving you a special opportunity for this rare experience. These social apes and their large appetites may have you observing youngsters playing, the silverback eating by stripping leaves from huge branches, friendly grooming between pals, or tiny babies nursing from their mother. Bringing mountain gorillas to light, Dr. Dian Fossey dedicated her life to their future and was immortalized in the book-to-film adaptation “Gorillas in the Mist.” You will walk away with unforgettable memories and amazing photographs.

This is a post-trip extension for our Botswana and Zambia safari on August 4 - 23, 2019.

• Come face-to-face with individual mountain gorillas as they interact within their family group.
• Trek through lush forest along the slopes of inactive volcanoes in Africa’s oldest national park.
• Improve your photography skills with leader and professional photographer Tom Murphy.

Itinerary updated: October 2018

Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Aug 21 Fly from Lusaka to Kigali, Rwanda for an overnight stay. Kigali Serena Hotel, Kigali B*
Aug 22 Drive to the Virunga Mountains. Mountain Gorilla View Lodge B, L, D
Aug 23 Gorilla trek. Mountain Gorilla View Lodge B, L, D
Aug 24 Gorilla trek and then return to Kigali. Kigali Serena Hotel, Kigali B, L, D
Aug 25 Kigali city tour and Genocide Memorial Centre visit before flying home. B, L
Aug 26 Arrive home
* Meal included in Botswana and Zambia safari.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Fly to Kigali, Rwanda

Aug 21

Board your flight from Lusaka, Zambia (LUN) to Kigali, Rwanda (KGL), where you’ll meet one of the primate safari guides who will transfer you to the hotel for an overnight stay.

Drive to the Virunga Mountains

Aug 22

Rwandan street scene
© Debbie Thompson

Meet your local guide at the hotel and set off on a 2.5-hr drive to the Virunga Mountains in a spacious Land Cruiser. Arrive at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, located at the base of Volcanoes National Park.

Gorilla trekking

Aug 23

Mountain gorilla silverback
© Debbie Thompson

After breakfast, drive to the Volcanoes National Park Headquarters where you’ll meet your two park guides before driving to a trailhead and trekking to your gorilla group. You may hire an agile porter to help you carry your photo equipment and water. The trek to your gorilla group can take one to three hours of hiking each way with your time limited to one hour with the group. Your park guides will go over safety rules and body language required when visiting gorilla groups, but you’ll soon realize that this is one of the most exhilarating and moving wildlife experiences you will ever have.

The trackers already know where each group is located. To reach the group, you may climb through several vegetation zones – farms, bamboo, luxuriant hagenia, and hypericum forest with twisted gnarled trees covered in soft emerald mosses, lichens, and epiphytes. Watch out for stinging nettles!

As you approach the group, the lead guide will grunt as he edges forward to announce your arrival so as not to startle the gorillas. The silverback is usually lazily lying in thick vegetation and watching while one or more females are often close by and unperturbed by your presence. We hope you’ll have the wonderful opportunity to watch the young gorillas play fighting, climbing trees, and wrestling, making the hour pass by very quickly.

After gorilla trekking, depending on the time of day, you may be taken sightseeing before returning to the lodge.

Gorilla trekking

Aug 24

Mountain gorilla
© Scott Davis

Your grand gorilla finale will dawn today. You’ll drive to the park headquarters to meet your park guides and trek to your gorilla group. After you spend your hour immersed with the gorillas, watching their behavior, you will return to Kigali.

Explore Kigali and flights homeward

Aug 25

Take a city tour in Kigali and visit the Genocide Memorial Centre that explains Rwanda’s promise for the future: “Such atrocities will never happen again.” After your visit and depending on your flight schedule, either go back to the hotel for a dayroom (not included) or transfer to the Kigali airport for your flight home.

Fly home

Aug 26

Arrive home depending on flights.

Mountain Gorilla Extension

Travel from Botswana to Rwanda to trek the forests of the Virunga Mountains to encounter Rwanda’s “gentle giant,” the mountain…

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Extension cost, double occupancy $8,900
Single supplement $550

Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except one-way flight from Lusaka to Kigali), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

All reservations require a deposit of $1,500 per person to pre-purchase the gorilla trekking permit deposits. The remaining balance will be added to your main safari balance. The payment schedule and cancellation policy is the same as the main safari.

Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $1,500
Final Due with main safari Remaining Deposit


* Important Note: The pre-purchased gorilla trekking permit deposit is non-refundable and non-transferrable. A limited number of permits are issued per day for the different gorilla families. You will be in a group of eight people along with two guides and gorilla trackers. Your permit will allow you one hour with the habituated gorilla family you visit each day.


  • All leaders, transport, and park and museum entry fees for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Gorilla trekking permits of $1,500 per person per trek (total $3,000); $1500 permit deposit is non-refundable.
  • One-way flight from Lusaka (LUN) to Kigali (KGL) on August 21.
  • Accommodations for the nights of August 21 through August 24.
  • Meals from breakfast on August 22 through lunch on August 25. Breakfast on August 21 is included in the cost of the Botswana and Zambia safari.
  • Airport transfers on August 21 and 25.
  • Bottled water in the vehicles and during treks.
  • Walking sticks.
  • English-speaking guides, park rangers, and trackers.
  • Trip Materials –information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
  • Short Term AMREF Flying Doctor medical emergency evacuation insurance. This does not include hospital or treatment costs. For more information see www.cheesemans.com/travel-insurance.

Not Included

  • All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • Lunch and dinner on August 21.
  • We can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Gratuities for guides and porters –tipping is, of course, discretionary, and we will provide detailed information with your Trip Materials.
  • Additional emergency medical and evacuation insurance – however it is required for the Botswana and Zambia safari. For more information see the Botswana and Zambia itinerary and www.cheesemans.com/travel-insurance.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. For more information see www.cheesemans.com/travel-insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.


It is the dry season with less daily rainfall, but showers are possible. The temperatures range around 70°F (21°C) during the day and 60°F (16°C) at night. The altitudinal range creates climatic variations, so expect rain and mist in the upland forests while the sun shines at the base of Volcano National Park.

Fitness Level

Gorilla tracking can be arduous, so be prepared and equipped accordingly. Expect a one to three hour hike each way to see gorillas in dry or muddy conditions over coarse terrain. Walking sticks are provided and porters are available for hire. The high elevation may also affect hikers. The base of the park sits at 7,500ft (2,500m) above sea level and rises to 13,500ft (4,500m).


Airfare, except flights listed as included, is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive at Maun Airport (MUB) in Maun, Botswana around midday on August 6. Depart Kigali (KGL) for home on the evening of August 25.

Flights we book for you: One-way flight from Lusaka (LUN) to Kigali (KGL) on August 21. The cost of this booking is included in the extension costs.