This Rwanda Primates and Cultural safari will provide you with opportunity to trek chimps in the Nyungwe Forest, trek Gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park, have a game drive, enjoy a boat ride in the Kibuye area and a visit to the Genocide memorial sites in Kigali.
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
Upon arrival at the Airport our safari guide will meet you and transfer you to the city of Kigali. Time allowing you will be taken around to see the main features of the city before retiring to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Visit memorial sites in Kigali City
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 and listen to the touching narratives of how people were cruelly put to death. You will have lunch and then transfer to the Nyanza palace to see and learn about the historical regalia of the former Kingdom. Time allowing you will also pass by the Presidential Palace Museum which was the place of residence for the Rwandan president at the time of genocide, Juvenal Habyarimana before retiring to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park
You will after breakfast transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park. The journey is 225km and will take about 6½ hours to drive through. 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 4: Primate tracking
You will have an early breakfast after which you assemble at the Park headquarters for a briefing on the Chimpanzee tracking rules before setting off to search for them with the trained guides. During the chimpanzee tracking you will 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. You will retire for dinner and overnight at your lodge.
Day 5: Transfer to Volcanoes National Park
You will have breakfast and transfer to Volcanoes National Park. This is a 341km journey that takes about 9 hours. You will have lunch en route and on your way you will enjoy the beautiful scenery of lush green covered hills, the volcano mountain ranges and various tourist attractions. You will have dinner and overnight at your lodge.
Day 6: Gorilla tracking
You will have an early breakfast and assemble at the Park headquarters for briefing at 8:30am about the rules on Gorilla tracking. You will be allocated a Gorilla family to track and the 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 take a nature walk and return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Transfer to Kibuye
You will, after breakfast, transfer to the Kibuye area and proceed to Gisenyi for a boat cruise on Lake Kivu to see water animals such as crocodiles and hippos as well as birds endemic to this region. You will meet the fishermen who will explain to you how they go about their trade and allow you to participate in the fishing. You will return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Departure
You will have breakfast and transfer to the airport to catch your departure flight.
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.