Rwanda Gorillas, Chimps and Cultural Tour – 7 Day Tour
This 7 day Rwanda safari will take you to the Volcanoes National Park for a gorilla tracking experience and to Nyungwe Forest National Park for chimpanzee tracking. You will visit the Musanze cave renowned for its huge population of bats, visit the Karisoke Primate Research Centre established by Dian Fossey and finish with a visit to a genocide memorial site and a tour of Nyanze palace.
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.
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.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial
The Kigali Genocide Memorial, in Kigali, Rwanda, commemorates the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The remains of over 250,000 people are interred there. There is a visitor center for students and those wishing to understand the events leading up to the events of 1994. The Center is a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide and serves as a place in which the bereaved could bury their family and friends. The Center is managed and run by the Aegis Trust and the Kigali City Council.
Day 1: Arrival in Rwanda and transfer to Volcanoes National Park
On arrival at the airport your will be met by our safari guide who will drive you via the city of Kigali to the Volcanoes National Park. Time allowing you will go for a nature walk around your lodge before retiring for dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Gorilla tracking
You will have an early breakfast and transfer to the Park headquarters for a briefing at 8:30am on the rules regarding Gorilla tracking. 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 return 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 3: Visit to Musanze cave, Dian Fossey
You will after breakfast transfer to the Musanze cave where you will have a unique experience of seeing different types of bats and to enjoy views of the twin lakes and wildlife attractions. You will have lunch and take a hike to Karisoke Research Centre established by Dian Fossey, an American primatologist who dedicated all her life conserving the primates. You will after being taken around this remarkable centre return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 4: Visit Genocide Memorial Site, Nyanze Palace
You will, after breakfast, visit a Genocide Memorial Site where thousands of innocent people in Rwanda lost their lives during the genocide of the mid 1990s. You will hear touching narratives of how people were cruelly put to death on ethnic grounds. You will have lunch and then transfer to the Nyanza palace to see and learn about the historical regalia of the former Kingdom. You will there after retire to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park
You will, after breakfast, transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park. The journey is 225km and takes about 6½ hours. You will have lunch en route and then check in at your lodge for relaxation until dinner time and overnight.
Day 6: Primate tracking
You will have an early breakfast and transfer 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 among others. You will also see various types of birds in the verdant flora of this ancient forest after which you will retire for dinner and overnight at your lodge.
Day 7: Departure
You will have breakfast and later transfer to Kigali to catch your departure flight. Lunch will be en route.
END OF SAFARI
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.