Tailored from £4,750 per person excl. flights
10 days Parc National des Volcans, Dar es Salaam, Mafia Island
10 days Parc National des Volcans, Dar es Salaam, Mafia Island
This itinerary begins with several trekking adventures to visit the mountain gorillas and the endemic golden monkeys of the Virunga Mountains. After your treks you will fly south to Tanzania and connect out on a light aircraft to stay on the remote island of Mafia.
On Mafia Island you can enjoy the fantastic scuba diving and snorkelling around Chole Bay: the finest Marine Park in East Africa. Depending on the season you can also swim with whale sharks from Mafia: a truly magnificent wildlife encounter with these gentle, ocean-dwelling giants.
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On arrival into Kigali's Airport you will be met by your local guide.
If you have the energy this morning you do have time to have a local tour of Kigali. The tour includes a visit to the Genocide Memorial centre at Gisozi, which is well worth a visit and an important reminder to Rwanda’s recent history.
After your city tour you are driven through the pretty Rwandan countryside to Kinigi at the foothills of the Virungas in Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans). The drive typically takes about 2.5 hours and you then check-in to your lodge where you stay for the next 3 nights on a full board basis. Relax and rest up this evening ahead of tomorrow’s gorilla trekking adventure.
After breakfast, you will depart for the headquarters of the park, where your guide will accomplish the necessary formalities for you. You will then meet your ranger guides for a briefing about the trek and experience in front of you. We then drive you to the trailhead from where you will begin your trek.
You can chose from a number of treks to different gorilla families based on your own preferrences and fitness levels. Your trek can last anywhere from 2 to 8 hours depending on your choice. Your guide will then lead you along generally clear paths up into the forest, in radio communication with the trackers that stay with the group so that they can be located. The altitude is over 2,500m, so although the pace is unhurried, the hike is tiring and can be steep in parts.
Only one group of tourists can visit each family of mountain gorillas each day and once you’ve found them, you’ll have just one precious hour in their company. If you’re a keen photographer, taking your own pictures of mountain gorillas is one of the most magical photo sessions you’ll ever experience. Do bear in mind that the light can be poor in the rainforest and that use of flash is not permitted. You should also prepare to protect your camera against the possibility of heavy rain.
After your hour with the gorillas you head back to your lodge for the remainder of the day at leisure.
This morning after breakfast, you will report to the headquarters for a visit of the golden monkeys (cercopithecus mitis kandti). A visit to the golden monkeys is a very different experience from the gorillas. The monkeys react and interact differently: they will keep on playing hide-and-seek and are much more active than their gorilla cousins.
The golden monkeys are an endemic primate species who only live in the Virunga Conseravtion Area. They have been well habituated and there are 2 troups. The Kabatwa troop is located not so far from the Park headquarters and the Musanga troop lives near Karisimbi and has a much longer walking distance. Another incredible wildlife experience with excellent photo opportunities are in store.
After your trek you can visit of the Iby’Iwacu traditional village, which is a community based tourism project where the local community displays the traditional ways of living. Return to the lodge for your final night in the Virungas.
This morning after breakfast you are driven back to Kigali Airport in time for your direct flight to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. After you’ve cleared customs and immigration you are met at international arrivals and are driven to your hotel in Dar where you stay for 1 night. The rest of the evening is free at your leisure.
This morning after breakfast you are driven to Dar’s domestic terminal for your scheduled light aircraft flight to Mafia Island. You are met on arrival in Kilindoni and are driven to your lodge near Chole Bay where you spend the following 5 nights on a half board basis. The Chole Bay area provides some absolutely stunning diving and snorkelling opportunities and, with relatively low volumes of tourism, Mafia Island remains a hidden underwater paradise.
You have a full day at your leisure to enjoy the largest and finest marine reserve in East Africa: Chole Bay. Enjoy scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing, fishing and more during your stay.
The whale shark season runs broadly from October through to March, when these gentle open giants migrate to Mafia Island. You can enjoy a trip to swim with these magnificent creatures during the season. The trip is usually done as a half day, the whale shark area is on the west coast of the island so some driving is involved from most of the lodges which are located own the Chole Bay area. Time with the whale sharks is usually limited to around 30 minutes in an effort to minimise disturbance to the animals.
Enjoy a full day to explore Mafia Island at your leisure.
Enjoy your final night on Mafia Island. Explore at your leisure and we recommend getting involved with some of the cultural visits which are possible, such as guided walks around the local villages or penned time in the capital of Kilondoni, which has an interesting central market and a lively waterfront.
Today you check-out of your lodge and are driven to Kilondoni Airport. You fly on your scheduled light aircraft flight to Dar es Salaam where you are met on arrival. You are driven to the international airport in Dar where you check-in for your inbound international flight.
Virunga Lodge has stunning views over the Musanze Valley, Lake Bulera and the magnificent volcanic skyline.
Warm, homely, and inviting, Oyster Bay Hotel offers eight luxurious, ocean facing guest suites, located in the charming Oyster Bay area.
Located on laid-back Mafia Island, Pole Pole Lodge is welcoming, unpretentious, and one of the best eco-resorts in this exquisite marine park region.