GH Mega Trek Details: by Car, by Foot, by Bike

Hi again! It’s your GH Mega Trek organiser, happy to share with you the detailed program of the grand adventure we first announced in February. Your options and prices are now all included — get that backpack or suitcase out of the closet and prepare for some fun!

GH Mega Trek may well be the sweetest GH Experts membership benefit, a modular trip starting on 12 December 2021 and ending on 5 January 2022. It begins in Uganda, traverses Rwanda and ends up in Congo — and you can choose which parts of it to enjoy, and how you’d like to travel. We have options for hikers, cyclists and those who prefer the convenience of a car.

Shortcuts to Sections

Four Lakes Hiking: 12-15 Dec 2021; L. Bunyonyi (UG) – L. Burera (RW)

Under the Volcanoes Hiking: 16-19 Dec 2021; L. Burera – Rubavu (RW)

Northern Congo Nile Hiking: 20-24 Dec 2021; Rubavu – Karongi (RW)

Southern Congo Nile Hiking: 25-31 Dec 2021; Karongi – Rusizi (RW)

Cycling Module: 20-24 Dec 2021; Kigali – Karongi (RW)

Nyungwe Car/Boat Module: 28-31 Dec 2021; Kigali – Rusizi (RW)

Congo Car/Boat Module: 1-5 Jan 2022; Rusizi (RW) – Goma (DRC)

Program Adjustments

There have been three developments since we first talked about it:

  • New Covid variants have reached our region, but we believe there’s enough time left for everything to eventually proceed smoothly. We have incorporated Covid testing into our programs wherever they are required, and the modular nature of the trek allows us to stay within one country if crossing boundaries proves impossible.
  • Mt Nyiragongo has erupted and it doesn’t look like a major attraction at the moment, so we have decided to skip Virunga National Park altogether. Kahuzi-Biega National Park has always been our main Congo destination and Grauer’s gorillas the crown of the trip, so let us end with it!
  • We have added Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park to the program and made it the main highlight for those who would rather not hike or cycle.


GH Mega Trek by Car and Boat

You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to join our band. Our interest is to be accessible to anyone eager to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime adventure celebrating 10 years of the Gorilla Highlands Initiative and 20 years of Edirisa. You can design the GH Mega Trek that best suits your curiosity and vitality.

CONGO MODULE — USD 2,350 per person

dates and places: 1-5 January 2022; Rusizi (Rwanda) – Goma (DR Congo)
mode of transport:
car and boat
how to get to the starting point: Rusizi has an airport, Kamembe, and good bus connections (members can see In-Sights: The Region for an overview of airports)
what to do before the start: choose from our selection modules (below)
price includes: gorilla tracking permit and Congo visa (arranged for you by the national park), all transport, accommodation in twin/double rooms, activities and meals
price excludes: Rwandan visa (USD 50; you will need to pay for it twice — when you return from Congo as well), Covid tests (USD 50-100), transport to Rusizi and your overnight there, optional activities on 4 January (USD 500 gorilla habituation, USD 100 Kahuzi hiking, USD 35 other nature walks), return from Goma/Rubavu, drinks

As long as you are in Rusizi, Rwanda, on 31 December 2021, you can join the most special part of the GH Mega Trek — the visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo with our experts and in great company!

We will kick off 2022 together, on a boat in Lake Kivu, and then then venture into Congo’s most attractive lakeside city. Here’s the itinerary of your fresh look at Africa in the brand new year …

1 January 2022, Saturday
We will cross the border into DR Congo, into the city of Bukavu that starts right after the border post. After checking into our hotel, we will begin the day with a lavish brunch. In the afternoon, there will be a walking trip of this fascinating city organised by the Gorilla Highlands team.

2 January 2022, Sunday
Before reaching the headquarters of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, we will pay a visit to Lwiro. This is the site of a primate sanctuary, an impressive research centre, and our first Kahuzi-Biega experience, the Tshiabati Waterfalls Trail. Our lunch will be in Lwiro, and dinner will be served in the comfortable lodge close to the Kahuzi-Biega information centre.

3 January 2022, Monday
This is your highlight day — you will visit Grauer’s gorillas in their natural habitat! Every morning the group’s position is determined by local trackers, mostly of the indigenous Batwa “Pygmies” tribe; in the afternoon we will check on their village and learn more.

4 January 2022, Tuesday
The day is open to your personal preferences. Feel like climbing Mt Kahuzi (3,308 m/ 10,853 ft)? Hungry for a deeper gorilla experience, this time focused on their habituation? Wanna just do some small hikes around the area? Or are you feeling lazy and want to relax? Entirely your choice!

5 January 2022, Wednesday
We will be catching the afternoon speedboat to the city of Goma, but first we see the area’s latest tourism attraction, the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Kabare. The most powerful kingdom of the southern part of Lake Kivu, it proudly resisted Belgian forces before being eventually defeated — but the Europeans eventually learned that they needed to cooperate with the king!

In Goma/Rubavu (one city, partially in Congo, partially in Rwanda) the GH Mega Trek will officially end. From that moment on we can take you straight to Kigali Airport — or make arrangements for you to see more of Rwanda.

You are welcome to pose any questions you might have in our Park Explorers group. Joining this group will also keep you updated about any Congo module developments, including how to assure your place at the GH Mega Trek.

We began with the January 2022 module because it’s is the most unique part of the GH Mega Trek and because it offers no transport alternatives, it just has to be done in a vehicle. Our December 2021 segment, on the other hand, is full of choice!

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NYUNGWE MODULE — USD 1,650 per person

dates and places: 28-31 December 2021; Kigali (Rwanda) – Rusizi (Rwanda)
mode of transport:
car and boat
how to get to the starting point: Kigali has an international airport (members can see In-Sights: The Region for an overview of airports)
what to do before the start: depending on how early you reach Kigali we can offer you a menu of city tours
price includes: all transport, accommodation in twin/double rooms and on the houseboat, museum and tea estate entry fees, meals
price excludes: Rwandan visa (USD 50), Covid tests (USD 50-100), transport to Kigali and your overnight there, optional activities on 29 December (USD 90 chimp tracking, USD 60 canopy walk or non-chimp primate tracking, USD 50 guided birding or waterfalls walk), your accommodation upgrade in Rusizi (if you don’t fancy sleeping on a boat — one of the many options is Emeraude Kivu Resort), return from Rusizi, drinks

28 December 2021, Tuesday
We will collect you from your Kigali hotel in the morning and take a beautiful road trip on smooth roads to the southwest of Rwanda where Nyungwe National Park lies. This is a 6-hour drive, and on the way we will stop at the ethnographical museum in Huye for some historical and cultural background. Our national park base will be Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel.

29 December 2021, Wednesday
This day will be up to you, choosing from the Nyungwe activity menu: chimp tracking (they have over 500 chimpanzees), the canopy walk (160 m/525 ft long, and not for those afraid of heights), black and white colobus tracking or marsh and waterfall hiking. The overnight will be at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel again.

30 December 2021, Thursday
You will be taken to the Gisovu Tea Estate to marvel at their vast green plantations and see different stages of tea production. The day’s road trip will bring you to a tiny peninsula on Lake Kivu, the special spot occupied by Kivu Lodge. What about an evening at the swimming pool?

31 December 2021, Friday
Early in the morning a houseboat (see our previous article about it) will collect you for a 10-hour cruise on the lake, straight to Rusizi. We might give a hand to some tired hikers as we ply the waters (see hiking modules below). Your lunch will be served on board and your last night of 2021 will be spent on the boat itself!

… Will you continue your GH Mega Trek with the Congo module?

You are welcome to pose any questions you might have in our Park Explorers group. Joining this group will also keep you updated about any Nyungwe module developments, including how to assure your place at the GH Mega Trek.

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GH Mega Trek by Foot

The walking modules start in Uganda on 12 December 2021 — and we present them in a chronological order. Lace up those boots and prepare to meet the essence of our region, up close and personal. A fascinating trekking experience you’ll never forget!

Important to note: Hiking takes you to some extremely remote places with few accommodation options that include a small number of beds. That is why our primary solution is fully-equipped tents that will be transported in a support vehicle; possible upgrades are mentioned in the itineraries.

Distance accuracy: We have used our own measurements, internet sources and paper maps to reach estimates that should be quite close to reality.

FOUR LAKES MODULE — USD 290 per person

dates and places: 12-15 December 2021; Lake Bunyonyi (Uganda) – Lake Burera (Rwanda)
mode of transport:
hiking (45 kilometres/28 miles)
how to get to the starting point: Lake Bunyonyi in southwestern Uganda is a full day’s drive from Kampala/Entebbe Airport (members can see In-Sights: The Region for an overview of airports)
what to do before the start: we can organise any tour or activity in Uganda for you, as the time before the GH Mega Trek is the only practical time to see the country
price includes: tented accommodation, boat transport, support vehicle/porters, all activities and meals
price excludes: Ugandan visa (USD 50), Covid tests (USD 50-100), transport to Lake Bunyonyi, return from Lake Burera, drinks

The Ugandan part of our itinerary was previously described in great detail; the Rwandan section adds a couple of hours of trekking to the shores of Lake Burera. A boat will then transfer you to the beautiful Cyuza Island for a camping overnight that completes the module.

This module is significantly cheaper than any other because it covers three overnights that the Gorilla Highlands team developed from scratch; Uganda is also generally more affordable than Rwanda.

Accommodation upgrades are available every night: at Lake Bunyonyi (BirdNest and many other options close to Edirisa and a couple close to Tom’s Homestay), at Lake Chahafi Resort (Lake Kayumbu’s twin) and Byiza Lodge at Lake Burera.

You are welcome to pose any questions you might have in our Hikers group. Joining this group will also keep you updated about any hiking module developments, including how to assure your place at the GH Mega Trek.

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UNDER THE VOLCANOES MODULE — USD 430 per person

dates and places: 16-19 December 2021; Lake Burera (Rwanda) – Rubavu (Rwanda)
mode of transport:
hiking (105 km/65 miles)
how to get to the starting point: Lake Burera is less than an hour by car/motorcycle away from Musanze or three hours from Kigali (members can see In-Sights: The Region for an overview of airports)
what to do before the start: you could arrive a day or two earlier and enjoy kayaking and swimming on Cyuza Island or experience our Fisherman’s Fortune tour
price includes: tented accommodation, boat transport from Cyuza Island, support vehicle, all activities and meals
price excludes: Rwandan visa (USD 50), Covid tests (USD 50-100), transport to Lake Burera, return from Rubavu, drinks

16 December 2021, Thursday
It’s a rest day for those who have done the Four Lakes module, the arrival day for anybody interested in joining. Cyuza Island (we had an Online Picnic there, and the video begins with an overview of the island) is a wonderful, peaceful place with incredible volcano views and excellent cooking. When dusk arrives, it will find you in the company of the catamaran-like boats lit by petroleum lights and with nets full of tiny fish. This will be your evening with local fishermen.

17 December 2021, Friday
Lake Burera is separated from Lake Ruhondo (your fifth lake if you began at Lake Bunyonyi; by the end of this module you will touch on four from our Top 5 Prettiest Lakes) by a narrow string of hills — and that is where the hiking will commence. After passing a pretty hotsprings area we will walk into the urban world of Musanze, full of the spiky roofs so popular in Rwanda. We will get ourselves a fix of excellent locally-produced art at the Inshuti gallery and fill our stomachs nearby. After lunch, a couple of hours of walking will bring us to Kinigi, the headquarters of Volcanoes National Park. We will camp close to the park boundary; and there will be many accommodation upgrades within your reach, for example Villa Gorilla.

18 December 2021, Saturday
We may not be entering Volcanoes National Park but we will be trekking on its edge the whole (very long) day. Our guides will follow a wide dirt road that connects numerous trading centres, and take you to a colourful traditional healer in a valley beneath it. We will also see several settlements for people who have been relocated from remote areas to be better served by the government. In the evening we will branch away from the road, onto paths that lead to the Imbabazi Center of Hope. This lush farm compound used to be the home of Roz Carr, the author of “Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda”, and there is a cool library of books and videos if you care to relax. While we will be camping here, for those who want a real treat, an upgrade to a room previously used by Roz or Dian Fossey is a possibility! (USD 500 to hire the whole house).

19 December 2021, Sunday
The morning will find us in tents pitched next to Carr’s extraordinary house, in a proper English garden with great volcano views. We still have half a day of walking in front of us, but this will be almost exclusively downhill and through one of Rwanda’s few tobacco growing areas. On the outskirts of the town of Rubavu (also known as Gisenyi), we will meet a very interesting man. Mr Neza operates a shop with many kinds of honey and other healthy foods — and he is full of practical advice.

If you are planning to continue hiking with us, we wholeheartedly recommend that you upgrade your Rubavu accommodation. There is no lack of hotels to choose from, for instance Discover Rwanda Gisenyi Beach.

You are welcome to pose any questions you might have in our Hikers group. Joining this group will also keep you updated about any hiking module developments, including how to assure your place at the GH Mega Trek.

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NORTHERN CONGO NILE MODULE — USD 610 per person

dates and places: 20-24 December 2021; Rubavu/Gisenyi (Rwanda) – Karongi/Kibuye (Rwanda)
mode of transport:
hiking (80 kilometres/50 miles)
how to get to the starting point: Rubavu (also known as Gisenyi) is a major town, 3-4 hours in a car/bus (members can see In-Sights: The Region for an overview of airports)
what to do before the start: Rubavu has white sand beaches, with a real seaside feel; nice motorboat trips are available
price includes: tented accommodation in Rubavu and on the trail, double/twin room at Home St Jean in Karongi, boat transport (trail shortcut), support vehicle, all activities and meals
price excludes: Rwandan visa (USD 50), Covid tests (USD 50-100), transport to Rubavu, return from Karongi, drinks

20 December 2021, Monday
A rest day for those who have done the Under the Volcanoes module, the arrival day for anybody interested in joining at this point.

21 December 2021, Tuesday
To embark onto the world-famous Congo Nile Trail, we’ll leave Gisenyi on the amply signposted Kinunu main trail, past Rwanda’s biggest brewery and a methane plant being built to convert Lake Kivu’s gas into energy. We will hike on the lakeshore the whole day, running into many fishing boats parked lakeside awaiting their night duties. You will be treated to some entertainment at the first Congo Nile Trail base camp, a church-built guesthouse on a sand beach. A local cultural group will demonstrate their herbalist knowledge together with dances and songs. You may want to massage your tired feet with the special grass they have in store?

22 December 2021, Wednesday
With a series of islands on our right we will continue hiking on the shores of Lake Kivu. In the fishing village of Nkora, boats are being repaired using scrap materials, but more importantly for us, Mama Nelly is refreshing travellers with her tasty local cooking — and she’ll serve us breakfast. We’ll pass a small fishing market, Maziba, and continue through some coffee on the path to Kinunu and the second base camp. This is where one can see the whole process of coffee growing, from seedlings to processing. You can, of course, also taste the product and buy yourselves some packaged coffee. Rushel Kivu Resort offers itself as your accommodation upgrade here.

23 December 2021, Thursday
A long, long day … and our last lakeshore hiking! We will cross River Koko where big boats from Rusizi collect sand for the cement factories in Rusizi. There’s a guesthouse in Musasa but we are too strong to end our walk so soon — instead we will climb the big hill to Bumba, our third base camp (a possible accommodation upgrade you could be the peculiar-looking and named Diana Fossey Rutsiro hotel. If we are lucky, we will observe youngsters playing football on an idyllic pitch under the mountain.

24 December 2021, Friday
We will wake up to stupendous views of the bay and the town of Karongi (Kibuye), our place for a full-day rest. First, however, we need to make it down to the lake and cross, using a local motorboat that will take us straight to Home St Jean. This spacious Catholic hostel is built on a peninsula not far from the centre of the town. The church next to it is one of the genocide memorials, a tragic hideout decades ago, for people being chased by the machete-wielding mob.

You are welcome to pose any questions you might have in our Hikers group. Joining this group will also keep you updated about any hiking module developments, including how to assure your place at the GH Mega Trek.

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SOUTHERN CONGO NILE MODULE — USD 990 per person

dates and places: 25-31 December 2021; Karongi (Rwanda) – Rusizi (Rwanda)
mode of transport:
hiking (120 kilometres/75 miles)
how to get to the starting point: Karongi (also known as Kibuye) is a major town, 2-3 hours by car/bus from Kigali (members can see In-Sights: The Region for an overview of airports)
what to do before the start: have a stroll on paved and well lit roads on the lake shore
price includes: double/twin room at Home St Jean in Karongi, tented accommodation on the trail, support vehicle, all activities and meals
price excludes: Rwandan visa (USD 50), Covid tests (USD 50-100), transport to Karongi, return from Rusizi, drinks

25 December 2021, Saturday
Christmas Day in a pretty lake town, with a big lunch as the local customs demand, followed by an afternoon boat trip to the many islands dotting the bay. This is the rest day for hikers who have done the Northern Congo Nile module and for our cyclists, while anybody interested can come and celebrate with the Gorilla Highlands gang. Overnight at Home St Jean or more upmarket hotels.

26 December 2021, Sunday
When the Congo Nile Trail was inaugurated in 2009, there was no tarmac between Rubavu and Rusizi. A highway now connects the two extreme ends of Lake Kivu, and while it didn’t affect the Rubavu – Karongi leg much, it radically changed the Karongi – Rusizi segment we will be covering after Christmas. Our goal will certainly be to avoid the road, but we also want to take you to the prettiest places in the area, and the Gisovu Tea Estate tops our list. To reach it, we will have to get to the other side of Mt Karongi, passing by the Kiziba Refugee Camp, a huge settlement built for the Congolese two decades ago. At Gisovu we will camp, but the estate includes a pretty guesthouse if you wish to upgrade.

27 December 2021, Monday
Tea, tea, tea all around the estate guesthouse… Almost 60 years after tea growing was introduced to Rwanda, Gisovu’s green cultivated hills are a sight to behold. It’s also fascinating to see the complicated machinery involved in the factory that lies at the centre, and that will make for an interesting morning visit. The trek will then continue to the outer edges of Nyungwe National Park, through forests that could offer some primate viewing! Just don’t expect the park’s famous chimpanzees — in this part of Nyungwe they are a rare sight.

28 December 2021, Tuesday
We will leave our camp on a football pitch near the forest, and begin our descent back to the Lake Kivu shore. A long day of walking is ahead of us, but predominantly downhill. We will spice it up with a traditional meal hosted by a local family, an experience we developed for a Dutch TV crew in 2020. Late in the afternoon we will hit the tarmac but only twice — and for the last time on our way. The rest of the way will be a hiking trail taking us down to the lake, to Kumbya Bay, where wooden bungalows, a small forest with monkeys and swimming opportunities await.

29 December 2021, Wednesday
Many rivers flow into Lake Kivu (remember Koko from the Northern Congo Nile Trail module?) but River Karundura is one of the biggest; it will escort us to the lake. We’ll hike by a local market at Tyezo village with fresh fruits and see a bit of the Kamiranzovu Swamp before we reach Ishara Beach Motel, our overnight stay in Nyamasheke, the centre of the district we have been exploring since leaving Karongi. A local cooperative will invite us to see their pottery making in action.

30 December 2021, Thursday
We will be trekking through plantations and on the shores of the lake, towards the peninsula of significant historical importance — the Kivu home of Richard Kandt, a German physician and explorer who is most known for founding the city of Kigali. Our accommodation will be at the place itself, hosted by Kandt’s descendant Mr Manfred Sett.

31 December 2021, Friday
The last day of hiking, the last day of the year, the last day of the Rwandan section of the GH Mega Trek! As we walk towards the town of Rusizi, we will soon be admiring the views of Bukavu on the other side of the border …

… Will you continue your GH Mega Trek with the Congo module?


You are welcome to pose any questions you might have in our Hikers group. Joining this group will also keep you updated about any hiking module developments, including how to assure your place at the GH Mega Trek.

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GH Mega Trek on a Mountain Bike

The cycling option features a little more support (a car tour included) than the hiking modules, but the accommodation picture is similar: remote rural areas call for fully-equipped tents transported in our support vehicle. The route is the same as the one hikers use, with your two wheels initially allowing you speedier progress. However, the last three nights you will share your base camps with our hiking group (the terrain is such that you are not much faster than somebody walking). At the end of your biking you are set to experience the last part of the Congo Nile Trail on foot (Southern Congo Nile module).

CYCLING MODULE — USD 980 per person

dates and places: 20-24 December 2021; Kigali (Rwanda) – Karongi (Rwanda)
mode of transport:
car and bicycle (cycling part: 190 kilometres/118 miles)
how to get to the starting point: Kigali has an international airport (members can see In-Sights: The Region for an overview of airports)
what to do before the start: depending on how early you reach Kigali we can offer you a menu of city tours
price includes: tented accommodation on the trail, double/twin room at Home St Jean in Karongi, support vehicle, boat cruse on Lake Burera, all other activities and meals
price excludes: Rwandan visa (USD 50), Covid tests (USD 50-100), transport to Kigali and your accommodation there, return from Karongi, drinks

20 December 2021, Monday
We will pick you up from your Kigali accommodation and drive you to Kinigi under the Virunga Volcanoes. There will be a side trip to Lake Burera involved, allowing you to take a delightful boat cruise.

21 December 2021, Tuesday
Your four days on the mountain bike begin, with the big rural road taking you parallel to the volcanoes. There’s one big climb involved, but our support vehicle will be there for you if you need it. You will meet a traditional healer, see villages built to ease government’s provision of education and other services, and dine at the Imbabazi Center of Hope, the beautiful home of the writer of “Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda”. On the way to the beaches of Lake Kivu you will check out tobacco plantations and get advice from an herbal medicine expert. If you wish to upgrade from camping in Rubavu, Discover Rwanda Gisenyi Beach is a nice solution.

22 December 2021, Wednesday
We will cycle past Rwanda’s biggest brewery and a methane plant being built to help convert Lake Kivu’s gas into energy. The route will keep us close to the water throughout the day. In the fishing village of Nkora, Mama Nelly will refresh us with her tasty local cooking. We will finally bike towards Kinunu where, at the second base camp, one can see the whole process of coffee growing, from seedlings to processing. Rushel Kivu Resort offers itself as your accommodation upgrade here.

23 December 2021, Thursday
We will cross River Koko where big boats from Rusizi collect sand for the cement factories in Rusizi. There’s a guesthouse in Musasa, but with our strong legs and cycling spirit we will press on, climbing the big hill to Bumba, our third base camp. If we are lucky, we will observe youngsters playing football on an idyllic pitch under the mountain. A possible accommodation upgrade: the peculiar-looking and named Diana Fossey Rutsiro hotel.

24 December 2021, Friday
We will wake up to stupendous views of the bay in which Kibuye lies. To get there, we will have to join the highway for some high-speed downhill, straight into the centre of the town. A few biking minutes later we will be at Home St Jean, a spacious Catholic hostel built on a prominent peninsula.

… Will you continue the GH Mega Trek with hikers doing the Southern Congo Nile module, or re-join us later for the Congo module?

You are welcome to pose any questions you might have in our Cyclists group. Joining this group will also keep you updated about any Cycling module developments, including how to assure your place at the GH Mega Trek.

photo by Marcus Westberg, Miha Logar and Francis Mweze

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