Highlights of nature in Rwanda: Mountain Gorillas, Lake Kivu and the birds of Nyungwe

January - March & June - October 2018

12 days / 11 nights – from £ 7,590 per person

Tailor made safari

Discover the region of the Great Lakes, the fascinating Volcanoes National Park and enjoy the unique experience of visiting several families of mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.

Continue your stay off the beaten tracks of the classic safaris and rest and relax on the white sandy beaches of Lake Kivu before exploring Nyungwe Forest National Park and admiring its stunning and multicoloured birds and its primates.

The highlights of this trip are:

– Encounter several mountain gorilla families in the most favourable environment for their observation and their photography

– Alternate treks and relaxing activities and learn the rich history and culture of the region

– Immerse yourself in a reserve with an extraordinary variety of birds

– Enjoy comfortable accommodation perfectly located in the Volcanoes and the Nyungwe Forest National Parks, as well as on the shores of Lake Kivu

An exceptional immersion in Rwanda and discovery of its iconic wildlife and birdlife!

Day 1: Arrival at Kigali

Departure from the United Kingdom in the morning for a flight to Kigali.

Arrival at Kigali – Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport in the evening. Meet and greet your drive/guide and your personal tour leader and transfer to the Kigali Serena Hotel for the night. Half board.

Day 2: Day of visit of Kigali

After a restful night and breakfast, proceed on a short City Tour of Kigali including the Presidential Palace Museum, the Genocide Memorial – a particularly interesting place of memory and evidence of how the country was reunified and rebuilt in 1994 – and the Old Town as well as the freedom to visit other places in town as you wish.

Lunch at one of the local restaurants and return to the hotel at the time of your choice in the afternoon.

Accommodation at the Kigali Serena Hotel. Half board.

Day 3: From Kigali to Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast, departure by road to Ruhengeri and the Musanze District where the Virunga National Park is located.

This 3 hour trip to northern Rwanda goes through beautiful terraced hillsides that characterize much of the country’s landscape. The road rises gradually until reaching Ruhengeri, which is 1860 metres above sea level and forms the base of the impressive volcanoes of Volcanoes National Park (or Virunga).

Arrival at Mountain Gorillas View Lodge in time for lunch. Afternoon of rest and relaxation.

Accommodation at the Mountain Gorillas View Lodge. Full board.

Day 4: Morning of trekking to visit the golden monkeys

After an early breakfast, you will be driven to the rangers’ and guides’ headquarters to join one of the few small groups who devote their morning to a hike to visit a family of golden monkeys. After a briefing by your trackers you will go to the beginning point of your trail where you can rent the services of a porter.

Trekking usually takes from 2 to 3 hours.  Some families may be found close to the entry points of the park, which allows you to visit them without having to go for a long walk.

Once you reach the families, you will spend one hour with them as they go about their daily life; adult monkeys frolic in plain view, feeding on bamboo leaves and leaping from perch to perch while females carry their young, completely oblivious of on-lookers.

Afterwards, you will trek back to base where your driver will be waiting to take you back to the lodge for lunch.

You may spend the afternoon relaxing at your lodge or taking an optional visit to Buhanga Eco Park (cost: £35 per person)

Accommodation at the Mountain Gorillas View Lodge. Full board.

Day 5: First day of trekking to visit the mountain gorillas

After an early breakfast, you will be driven to the rangers’ and guides’ headquarters to join one of the few small groups who will trek the park to visit a family of mountain gorillas. After a briefing by your trackers you will go to the beginning point of your trail where you can rent the services of a porter.

Accommodation at the Mountain Gorillas View Lodge. Full board.

Day 6: Day of activities and visit of the Virunga region

This day allows you to rest after the first “mountain gorilla trek” while visiting some of the highlights of the region.

For instance, in the morning:

  • Visit of the Caves of the Musanze district. Formed over centuries of volcanic activity from the Virunga volcanoes, these 1.25 mile long caves give visitors a rare look into Rwandan earth and history. The guided tours explain the history of the caves from their formation to their various uses in history for example, during times of war they were used as a shelter.
  • or Discovery of the twin lakes Burera and Ruhondo, two shimmering volcanic crater lakes located high in the Virungas and separated by a narrow stretch of earth – their deep blue waters ringed by steep hills and tall waterfalls in a most spectacular backdrop, the Virunga Volcanoes. Optionally walking with your guide in the hills bordering on the lakes to observe the broad variety of birds.

After lunch at your lodge, you can choose take part in a guided tour of the Kinigi community to discover the Rwandan traditional arts and crafts, including:

  • Traditional Mat Weaving
  • Local Carpenter, crafting local style chairs, doors, etc
  • Banana Beer Brewing
  • Local Blacksmith, who uses only hand and wind power to produce his tools
  • Tree Nursery, where you learn how local tree seeds are harvested
  • Cobbler – he fixes shoes, buckets and other such items in a very creative local style
  • Traditional Food, where you can sample local meals
  • Sorghum Beer brewing
  • Batwa Cultural Dance
  • Kinigi traditional market, bursting with traditional fruits, vegetables and household items
  • Traditional Healer; his outdoor medicine “Lab” sits directly under the crown of the Sabyinyo Volcano

Accommodation at the Mountain Gorillas View Lodge. Full board.

Day 7: Second day of trekking to visit the mountain gorillas

This day follows the same organisation as day 5 and offers you the opportunity to discover another area of Volcanoes National Park and a second gorilla family.

(And you will realize how, just like us, families can vary and exhibit different behaviours!)

At the return from your trek, drive to Ruhengeri for your lunch and, in the afternoon, drive to the shores of Lake Kivu and the town of Gisenyi where your hotel is located.

Accommodation at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel. Full board.

Day 8: Day of rest and relaxation on the shores of Lake Kivu

This day is dedicated to resting and relaxing on the shares of Lake Kivu, enjoying the swimming pool and the sandy beach of the lake.

If you wish, you can also choose to visit Gisenyi town in the morning, and go from the lake to the ‘grande barrière’ (big border) with DR Congo and then across town by car to the ‘petite barrière’ (small border) where local merchants from Rwanda and DR Congo are ‘alive’ with all manner of trading from food, clothing, etc.

Accommodation at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel. Full Board.

Day 9: From Lake Kivu to Nyungwe Forest National Park

After breakfast, start a drive of 5 ½ hours to Nyungwe Forest National Park with a stop for lunch in Kibuye. Arrival at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel in the afternoon, in time for dinner and overnight.

Accommodation at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel. Full Board.

Day 10 and day 11: Nyungwe Forest National Park

These days will be dedicated to treks of fair to moderate length in the Nyungwe Forest National Park. They can last up to 6 hours and will be adapted to the guests fitness.

Accommodation at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel. Full Board.During this drive of 140 miles, stop at a number of places of particular interest, including:

  • the University town of Butare where you can visit the National Museum, which houses perhaps the greatest ethnographic collection in East and Central Africa. The exhibitions of turn-of-the-century photographs as well as the very absorbing displays of traditional artefacts provide invaluable insights into Rwanda’s pre-colonial history and allows a ‘close up’ look at Rwandan Cultural heritage.
  • Nyanza, the historical seat of the Rwanda kingdom where you can visit the Royal Palace, which has been restored, entirely of traditional materials, to its 19th century grandeur.
  • The dome-shaped Royal Museum, steeped in history and tradition running back over three centuries.
  • Time allowing, the adjacent Rwesero Art Museum where modern Rwandan artists express their view of the world and of Rwanda, in particular, through aspects of culture, gests and behaviour of the Rwandan people inspired by everyday life especially following the 1994 tragedies.

Lunch “en route” and early farewell dinner at one of the best restaurants of Kigali before your transfer to the airport for your return flight to Europe.

End of our services.

Indicative price: from £ 7,590 per person on the basis of 2 participants sharing one double or twin room.

GBP/USD exchange rate used for this quote: 1.30.

Subject to availability at the time of booking. The final budget will be communicated after establishing a personalised quotation that will depend on the exchange rates at the time.

Notes

1. Trekking

This itinerary includes a number of walks in the forests of Volcanoes National Park. As gorillas move freely in the Park that extends at an altitude of 2,000 to 4,500 metres (for the highest peaks) and the terrain can be wet and muddy, the hiking can sometimes last several hours. We recommend that participants in this trip have a good physical condition and that they use the services of local carriers ($ 10 per day) for easy carrying of their backpack or camera bag. This amount is not included in the price.

2. Umuganda

Every last Saturday of the month, from 08:00 to 12:00 (noon) is Umuganda (mandatory Community Service Day). Most tourism sites, especially in Kigali, remain closed and transport is not allowed on the streets. The afternoon is free to revert to personal engagements. We regret any inconvenience caused.

– The airport transfers and transfers between Kigali, your lodge in Ruhengeri, your lodge on the shores of Lake Kivu, your lodge in Nyungwe Forest NP  and return, as well as all the transports to the activities mentioned in this programme in Kigali, the region of the Volcanoes NP, Lake Kivu and Nyungwe Forest NP

– 2 « mountain gorillas » treks accompanied by specialist rangers-guides

– 1 « golden monkeys » trek accompanied by specialist rangers-guides

– 2 days of trekking and bird observation in the Nyungwe Forest NP accompanied by a guide specialised in bird life

– 1 day dedicated to a tour of the city of Kigali

– 1 day dedicated to a visit of the Lakes Burera and Ruhondo or the Musanze Caves in the morning, and of the Kinigi community in the afternoon

– The Park Fees and « Gorillas » and « Golden Monkeys » permits, as well as the « Birding » and the « Canopy Walk Permits » (subject to possible changes)

– 2 nights in Kigali at the Kigali Serena Hotel (4****), half board.

– 4 nights at the Mountain Gorillas View Lodge (3***) in the heart of the Virunga National Park, full board

– 2 nights in Giseny at the at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel (4****), full board.

– 3 nights at the Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel (3***), full board.

– International flights to Rwanda and return

– Travel or Insurances (cancellation, repatriation, luggage, other risks and any additional insurance)

– Visas

– Meals not mentioned or mentioned as “free” in the itinerary

– Any extras of personal nature, tips, laundry and drinks not mentioned in the program, etc.

– Any options, extra activities or private services.

Please consult us.

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