Welcome to Rwanda, the “land of a thousand hills”. This tour has been designed to show you the best highlights of this fascinating country from a primate’s eye view of Nyungwe Forest on a canopy walk, to close encounters with chimpanzees and the gorillas of the mist. You will even get a chance to go on a wildlife safari in Akagera National Park, a new big 5 safari destination!
Day 1: Arrival to Kigali
Welcome to the land of a thousand hills! This small but scenically stunning country is thus known for its endless rolling green hills, which you will experience on your fly-over to Kigali International Airport.
A representative from your hotel will pick you up and drive you to your hotel in a quiet leafy street in the heart of down-town Kigali.
Heaven Boutique Hotel
Day 2: Visit Genocide Memorial & Travel to Nyungwe Forest
Your guide will greet you at the hotel in the morning and drive you to Nyungwe Forest in western Rwanda. If time allows and you feel up for it, you can visit the Genocide Memorial in town before setting off. The Genocide Memorial is a place of commemoration for the 250,000 victims buried in mass graves here and an important remembrance of the unfathomable brutality of the 1994 genocide. The exhibit is an intensely emotional experience but also an educational one, where you will learn about the darkest hour in Rwanda’s recent history.
On your drive today, you will be passing through the town of Butare, about 135km from Kigali. Here you can visit Butare National Museum displaying a range of ethnographic objects that will give you an insight into the rich traditional life and culture of the country.
Top View Hill Hotel
Day 3: Chimpanzee Tracking & Visit to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
On a Chimpanzee Tracking experience in Nyungwe Forest you will have the opportunity to follow an experienced guide into the forest to observe these fascinating creatures at a close range. Watching them interact with each other and go about their daily routine of grooming, playing and foraging is an incredible experience.
While your chances of encountering chimpanzees are high during your tracking excursion, it is never 100% guaranteed. These are, after all, wild animals with wills and minds of their own!
Top View Hill Hotel
Day 4: To Lake Kivu
From the rainforests of Nyungwe you will travel north along the shores of Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes in the Albertine Rift, creating a natural border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The stunning shores of Lake Kivu contain some of the best inland beaches on the continent. You can spend the afternoon relaxing at the lodge or take a walk along the long stretch of beach just outside the property
Rushel Kivu – Master Room
Day 5: Full-day Kayaking Tour on Lake Kivu
A full-day kayaking tour is a fantastic way to explore Lake Kivu’s scenic coastline and its many beaches, coves and islands. Fishermen in traditional boats ply the blue waters as they go about their livelihoods while the active Nyiragongo Volcano in DRC can be seen rising above the lush surrounding hills.
You will be paddling your way north, stopping for a packed lunch along the way, and ending at your lodge for the night, Paradise Kivu. Your guide will already be there waiting with your luggage when you arrive.
Day 6: Volcanoes NationalPark
If you think after Nyungwe Forest and Lake Kivu, that Rwanda can’t get any more scenic, you haven’t seen Volcanoes National Park. The national park contains parts of the Virunga Mountain Range and its 5 volcanoes that form the border between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Besides being one of the most scenic sights in Africa, the park is also the gateway to face-to-face encounters with the iconic mountain gorillas.
While the main draw of visiting Volcanoes NP is to see the real gorillas in the mist, there are other fantastic activities to experience here like, tracking excursions to find the rare golden monkeys, volcano hikes and a visit to the Dian Fossey research center.
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 7: Gorilla Tracking
Encountering the rare and endangered mountain gorillas is an experience of a lifetime.
In the company of an experienced park ranger you will be tracking the whereabouts of one of the habituated family groups who live in the park and can tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day.
Your gorilla tracking experience will be an exciting, yet challenging, journey along forested (sometimes muddy and slippery) slopes, tangled vines, thick vegetation and bamboo forests before you reach the territory of these gentle giants. En-route, your ranger will point out telltale signs of previous gorilla activity like dung, nests and chewed bamboo shoots. Depending on the location of the gorillas on any given day the walk can take anything from 1 to 7 hours. Once the family of gorillas have been located, settle in to the environment and enjoy the hour you have to quietly observe these fascinating primates whose habits and mannerisms remind us so much of our own.
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 8: Golden Monkey Tracking & Canoe Trip
You will have another day to explore Volcanoes National Park today, starting with Golden Monkey Tracking in the early morning.
Golden Monkeys are endemic to the volcanic mountains of the Virunga Range and typically live in the bamboo vegetation zones near the base of the volcanoes. You will be tracking them with an experienced ranger and once you find them, will have one hour to spend watching these active creatures.
In the afternoon you will head out on a canoeing trip on the Twin Lakes – Bulera and Ruhondo, which are located at the base of the volcano Mount Muhabura. In modern canoes you will glide across the dark blue waters of these stunning lakes, which are surrounded by rolling hills and scenic views of the Virunga volcanoes.
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 9: To Akagera National Park & Game Drive
Few people know that you can actually go on a wildlife safari in Rwanda. Akagera National Park is located in north-eastern Rwanda and covers 2500 km² of savannah plains. The park has a variety of wildlife and is a habitat for over 500 different species of birds.
On a game drive in the park you may see herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, and if you are lucky, maybe even leopard, spotted hyena or lions. Over the past couple of years several black rhinos have been re-introduced to the park after having been made extinct in 2007. That officially makes Rwanda a Big 5 country again!
Day 10: Full-day game drive in Akagera NP
You will have all day to explore the park and its inhabitants today. A knowledgeable ranger will join you in your vehicle to guide you around the park and hopefully help you spot all the big 5!
Akagera Game Lodge
Day 11: Private boat safari on Lake Ihema & Drive to Kigali
Your final game excursion in Akagera National Park will be by private boat on Lake Ihema. From your boat you will see the park and its inhabitants from a different vantage point as you cruise along the shoreline. Crocodiles bask on the banks of the lake and it is home to numerous hippos and bird species. You may even see elephants and buffalo at close range as they come down to the shoreline for a drink.
Around mid-day you will head toward Kigali for your final night.
Heaven Boutique Hotel – Residence Queen Room
Day 12: Return to Kigali
If you have time before your international flight departure today you can ask your guide to take you on a city tour of Kigali before dropping you off at the airport in good time for your flight. Should you have a late departure and require a day-room for today please let us know and we will book this for you at an additional cost.
Included in the tour
- Ground transport
- Bottled water
- Full board accommodation for two nights
- Service of an English-speaking driver guide
- All mentioned activities except for the optional ones
- Bottled water in the vehicle during the safari tour
- Safari Nature walks and experiment at the Equator.
Exclusive of the tour
- International Airfares
- Health & Medical insurance
- Tips & gratuities
- Visas (currently US$ 50 per person all nationalities except US and Irish nationals are required to pay US$ 100 per person)
- Items of a personal nature such as drinks, telephone, postage etc.
- Chimpanzee tracking permits included!
- Kayaking on Lake Kivu
- Wildlife safari in Akagera NP
Duration: 12 Days
USD 3600 /per person