If you've ever wanted to see and photograph gorillas in the wild, this trip is for you! Seek out silverbacks, harvest coffee with the locals, and hike into a volcanic crater as you travel through three African countries. Immerse yourself in several distinctive local cultures for the trip of a lifetime.

Highlights

  • Spend a day trekking to and observing gorillas in their natural habitat
  • Take a coffee tour on a Ugandan farm
  • Visit an authentic village for canoeing and crafts demonstrations
  • Hike to the world's largest lava lake and camp on the rim of a volcanic crater
  • Set foot in three African countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Congo

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Uganda Lake Victoria
Day 2 Queen Elizabeth National Park & coffee tour Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 3 Kasoga Community Experience Queen Elizabeth National Park
Day 4 Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Day 5 Gorilla trekking Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Day 6 The Rwanda border Gishenyi
Day 7 The Congo - Goma & Nyiragongo hike Nyiragongo
Day 8 Descend the volcano  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Uganda

Curious chimpanzee 

Welcome to Uganda — home of the snow-dusted Rwenzori Mountains, voluminous Lake Victoria, and an incredible diversity of wildlife! When you arrive at Entebbe International Airport, follow your guide to your first guesthouse — with its excellent lake views — and settle in for a much-needed, post-flight rest. 

Day 2: Queen Elizabeth National Park & Coffee Tour

Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast, board your transport and make your way deeper into the wild — to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Leave your things at the lodge and spend your day exploring one of the region's tastiest products: coffee. Start with a walk past heavy coffee branches dotted with green, yellow, and red berries and, sometimes, blooming white flowers. Pick only the red berries — the green ones aren't ready — and leave a few behind for seed stock for next year's harvest. 

Once you've had your fill of the fields, follow the farmer to where coffee is laid out on sacks to dry in the sun, turning from red to cream as it dries. Peel a few husks off the seeds and then move on to the next step in the process: roasting. Here you'll roast the beans with a clay stove and aluminum plate, watching as the beans turn from gray to golden brown, filling the air with their distinctive aroma. Finally, make your way into the homestead to grind and taste the coffee whose evolution you've just witnessed. After the coffee tour, stop at the dazzling crater lakes the region is known for, take a spooky detour into a local cave system, and then head back to the lodge for a good night's rest.

Day 3: Kasoga Community Experience

Queen Elizabeth National Park

On your third day in Uganda, take some time to experience life as a local would, via the Kasoga Community Experience. The KCE is a community initiative on Lake George Ramsar in Hamukungu Fishing Village on the edge of the park, where you'll find authentic, never-staged experiences of community lives and work. The goal of the program is to strengthen the local economy (mostly fishing-based) while also enhancing the knowledge and experiences of visitors.

The day's authentic local activities include canoeing on Lake George Ramsar, learning about the local hippo population, taking a pretty walk across Irangara Island, and watching a traditional canoe-making demonstration. You'll also see a traditional fish preservation stove, visit the vacation palace of the former king of Tooro, hike through historical swamplands, escort cattle through the bush, and make local yogurt and ghee.

Day 4: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Wave farewell to Queen Elizabeth National Park as you board your transport and make your way to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park — a UNESCO-recognized, biodiverse slice of the country famous for its tree-climbing lions and its 400 mountain gorillas. Visit a community project called Change a Life, where local women make baskets and honey. Stop at a local orphanage for a presentation put on by the children. And keep your camera at the ready as you wind through a park teeming with wildlife. 

Day 5: Gorilla Trekking

Baby gorilla

Rise early on day five and get ready for some gorilla trekking through the forest. After registering at the Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger station, head into the park in search of gorillas. These primate families are "habituated," meaning that while they live in their natural habitat, they are visited by rangers for several hours each day and are used to being near humans.

Once you've located a family, leave your things behind you and approach the gentle giants with only your camera. A well-trained guide will talk you through the family's behavior as they feed, play, interact, or simply sleep. Spend an hour with the gorillas and then head back to base. Treks typically last anywhere from four to six hours, depending on how well your gorilla family is hiding that day.

Day 6: The Rwandan Border

Rwandan landscape

Board your transport vehicle and choose a window seat for a day spent driving to the Rwanda Cyanika border and onward to Gisenyi — a town of beach resorts surrounded by hills covered in tea and coffee plantations. Spend the rest of your evening enjoying a much-deserved rest.

Day 7: Goma, Congo & Nyiragongo Hike

Nyiragongo

The third country of your trip awaits! Grab your things and hit the road, making your way into the Congo to your next stop at Goma. Here, you'll join an experienced guide for a hike to Nyiragongo — one of the most active and violent volcanoes on the continent and home of the world's largest and most fluid lava lake. The 4- to 5-hour hike will take you through lush rainforest and climax with an ominous, fascinating view of the lava lake from the crater rim. Overnight in a tent at the top of the volcano.

Day 8: Descend the Volcano and Transfer to Kigali, Rwanda

After breakfast, start your descent through the rainforest and grab a transfer back over the border to Gisenyi, where you will head to Kigali and then home.