Rwanda Primates Safari (6 Days)
This 6 day Rwanda Primates Safari gives you the opportunity to visit the Nyungwe Forest National Park to trek the chimps and see other primates along the way. It takes you to the Volcanoes National Park for gorilla trekking and to Lake Kivu for a boat cruise to see the water animals and birds.
Nyungwe Forest Chimpanzee Adventure
The Nyungwe rainforest is located in southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, to the south, and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The Nyungwe rainforest is probably the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa. It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. From the east side of the Nyungwe forest comes also one of the branches of the Nile sources.
Nyungwe is the source of Africa’s great rivers. Rain that falls on the east side feeds the Nile and on the west runs to the Congo. The Congo-Nile Divide is a mountain range that runs north to south through Rwanda. Nyungwe receives more than 2000mm a year of rain. Recently, Nyungwe opened a canopy walk, the only one of its kind in East Africa. This is a wonderful vantage point to view the incredible biodiversity of this rare forest.
The Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species, making it a priority for conservation in Africa. The forest is situated in a region in which several large-scale biogeographical zones meet and the variety of terrestrial biomes provides a great span of microhabitats for many different species of plants and animals.
The park contains 13 primate species (25% of Africa’s total), 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species. Many of these animals are restricted-range species that are only found in the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion in Africa. In fact, the number of endemic species found here is greater than in any other forest in the Albertine Rift Mountains that has been surveyed. The forest, which reaches its maximum altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, is of particular interest for the presence of colonies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Angola colobus (Colobus angolensis), the latter now extinct in Angola for the intense hunt to which they were subjected and two other threatened species of monkeys; the owl faced monkey and reported but unverified sightings of the golden monkey.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans) lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), and spans 160 sq km covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.
A Gorilla Enjoyng its meal in Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is best known for the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). Other mammals include: golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus). The bushbuck population is estimated to be between 1760-7040 animals. There are also reported to be some elephants in the park, though these are now very rare. There are 178 recorded bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
Day 1: Arrival and transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park
Upon your arrival at the Airport you will be met by our safari guide who will drive you to Nyungwe Forest National Park. This is a 240km journey that takes about 7 hours. Time allowing you will, after lunch, be taken for a nature walk after which you will be returned to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Primate trekking
You will have an early breakfast after which you will be taken to the Park headquarters for a briefing on Chimpanzee tracking. During the chimpanzee tracking you will also come across other primates such as Golden monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey, Angola colobus, Silver monkey, Hamlyn’s Monkey, Dent’s Mona Monkey, Red-tailed Monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, and Olive Baboon. You will also see various types of birds in the verdant flora of this ancient forest after which you will return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Transfer to Volcanoes National Park
You will have breakfast and then transfer to Volcanoes National Park. This is a whole day drive of 341km taking about 9 hours. You will have lunch en route and enroute view various wildlife attractions. You will have your dinner and overnight at your lodge.
Day 4: Gorilla trekking
You will have an early breakfast and transfer to the park headquarters for a briefing on gorilla tracking rules. You will be allocated a Gorilla family to track and guides to lead you to the Gorillas. The tracking experience will be a 2-5 hour exercise after which you will be returned to the lodge for lunch. You will, later in the afternoon, be taken on a nature walk after which you will retire to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Transfer to Kibuye area for boat cruise
You will have your breakfast and then head to the Kibuye area. You will have lunch after which you will go to Gisenyi for a boat cruise on Lake Kivu to see birds, crocodiles, hippos and other water animals. You will meet the fishermen who will explain to you their fishing activities and give you opportunity to participate in the fishing with them. You will have your dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Day 6: Visit the Lake Kivu Islands and transfer to Kigali
After breakfast you will visit the Islands on Lake Kivu to see birds and some primates. You will then transfer to Kigali for your international flight back home. Lunch will be en route.
When to go
The dry(ish) seasons, December to February, June to September – though note that it can rain at any time.
Where to stay
In Kigali, the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel is conveniently located (15-30 min from airport), with double b&b. It has a sister hotel at Gisenyi, on Lake Kivu; double b&b, which can be used as a base for gorilla trekking (90 min to park entrance). Volcanoes Virunga Lodge is more convenient (40 min to 1hr) and has a good reputation but you pay for the spectacular location, which includes all meals and drinks. We can also offer you a variety of other places to stay near the park.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Permits
Permits to see the Rwanda Gorillas (US$1,500 for foreign residents) are booked through the Tourism and Conservation Reservation Office of the Rwanda Development Board (Included in the price of the safari and we process them for you). Numbers are limited and permits get snapped up well in advance.
What to take
Dress carefully for the trek: trekking trousers (carry waterproof trousers), layered shirts with long sleeves, waterproof top, walking boots, gloves (gardening gloves are ideal) for grasping stinging nettles, plenty of water, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect spray, camera. Porters to carry your backpack and give you a push/pull on steep bits (worth hiring, for £6.50, even if you don’t think you need one) will provide a walking stick, or you may prefer to bring your own pole.