Best of Rwanda Safari – 8 Days
The Best of Rwanda Safari promises 8 Days of intense adventure into this tiny East African country that has risen like a phoenix in record time and carved a niche for itself as a fast-developing African destination. Rwanda is dubbed as a land with a thousand hills and a million smiles is indeed a revelation and a paradise for any traveler looking for some amazing adventures and unique moments to cherish for a lifetime.
The safari is bound to enthrall you with Rwanda’s enchanting landscapes which seem straight out of the imagination of a poet or a painter and set your hearts aflutter with its scintillating wildlife. You’ll be mesmerized and surprised around every bend in the road. However, before you visit Rwanda, you need to take heed of this statutory warning. Traveling to Rwanda is dangerous as you will be so captivated by its beauty, that you may never want to return.
The top-most reason to book this Best of Rwanda Safari is a tryst with the mountain gorillas. Your heart will start beating faster as you trek across fields, hills, and slushy narrow paths to reach the thick of the jungle. As you walk with bated breath, cutting a narrow path in the almost impenetrable and thick vegetation, the excitement builds to a crescendo. The climax is when you are face to face with a huge but gentle silverback Gorilla or see a female gorilla nursing a baby just an arm’s distance away. That moment is bound to be frozen in your mind for life.
- The thrill of trekking Mountain Gorillas in the challenging forest terrain and the humbling experience of coming face to face with them as they feed, play, rest, and bond with their young.
- A thrilling encounter with the delightful Chimpanzees and watching them as they make awesome acrobatic maneuvers in the tree branches.
- Having ago on the challenging canopy walk, one of the most thrilling Rwanda adventures for those with guts where your ability to withstand heights is tested.
- Listening to the horrific tales of the genocide that claimed more than 1,000,000 lives in Rwanda in the 1990s.
- Being treated to the colorful cultural gala of the Rwandese people at Iby’iwachu cultural village.
Day 1: Arrival in Rwanda & transfer to Akagera National Park.
Day 2: Full-day game drive in Akagera & transfer to Kigali.
Day 3: City tour of Kigali & transfer to Volcanoes National Park.
Day 4: Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park & Iby’iwachu cultural tour.
Day 5: Golden Monkey trekking & transfer to Kibuye town.
Day 6: Optional activities around Lake Kivu & transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Day 7: Chimpanzee trekking & Canopy walk.
Day 8: Trekking other primates & transfer to Kigali.
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Day 1: Transfer to Akagera National Park, Boat cruise and Evening game drive
We start the Best of Rwanda safari by travelling to Akagera National Park in the eastern part of Rwanda. The drive is approximately 2½ hours and on arrival you will go for a boat cruise on Lake Ihema to see aquatic animals such as Hippos, Crocodiles as well as water birds like the papyrus Gonolek, shoebill stork and African fish eagle.
In the afternoon you will go for a game drive in the park after which you will retire to the lodge of your booking for dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Full day game drives in Akagera National Park & transfer to Kigali
After an early breakfast, you will embark on a Best of Rwanda morning game drive. In a circuit you will visit different lakes where you will see buffaloes and elephants drinking from the water ponds and see various species of birds like Egyptian goose and fish eager.
You will have a picnic lunch in the park then continue with the hills game drive where you will see; impalas, zebras, bush bucks, water bucks, topis, oribis, baboons, giraffes, cape elands among others.
In the late afternoon you will set off for Kigali.
Dinner and overnight will be at the hotel of your booking.
Day 3: City tour of Kigali & transfer to Volcanoes National Park
You will have breakfast and set off for Kigali to visit the memorial sites scattered in various parts of the city. The memorial sites will include the Nyamata church and the Rwanda Hotel where people who had sought refuge as the genocide raged were butchered, the Gisozi genocide memorial where the remains of the dead are buried and you will finish with a visit the Presidential Palace Museum which was the place of residence for the Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana, at the time of genocide.
You will later transfer to Ruhengeri town just outside the Volcanoes National Park and check in at the hotel/lodge of your booking.
Day 4: Gorilla trekking & visit to Iby’iwachu cultural centre
The first of the Best of Rwanda Safari adrenaline demanding day is here: you’ll track one of the habituated Gorilla groups. You will begin with a briefing on the rules of Gorilla trekking before setting out with the guides to search for the Mountain Gorillas in the forest. The time taken to track the Gorillas can take as little as half an hour to as much as 5 hours!
Your Rwanda gorilla trek will be an exciting journey along forested slopes, entwined vines, bushes and bamboo before you eventually reach the Gorillas. As you trek your guide will point out signs of previous Gorilla activity, including dung, nests and chewed bamboo shoots. Once the Gorillas have been located, you will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them.
You will return to the hotel for lunch and in afternoon be taken to the Iby’wachu cultural village where you will learn about the fascinating culture of the Rwandese people depicted through folk songs, storytelling, music, dance, and drama.
You will retire to the lodge of your booking for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Golden Monkey trekking & transfer to Kibuye town
You will have breakfast and move to the Park head quarters for a briefing on the Golden monkey tracking rules before going out to track them in the forest. The trek takes 1– 4 hours and you have one hour to stay with the Golden monkeys once sighted.
You will return to your lodge for lunch and some rest and later transfer to Lake Kivu.
Dinner and overnight will be at the hotel of your booking in Kibuye town near the Lake.
Day 6: Optional activities on and around Lake Kivu & transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park
You will have your early best of Rwanda safari breakfast and head for Lake Kivu. Lake Kivu is the perfect place to chill out after the tiring Gorilla and Golden monkey trekking and hiking of the volcanoes. For most people, it is simply a place to relax and rebuild energy.
You can take a nature walk, go birding on a boat ride, explore some islands, visit the nearby hot springs, go fishing, or visit the Congo boarder. You can also visit the Ndaba Falls or take a walk around Kibuye town to acquaint yourself with the lifestyles of the inhabitants.
You will later transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Dinner and overnight will be at your lodge.
Day 7: Chimpanzee trekking & Canopy walk
You will have an early breakfast and report to the Park headquarters for a briefing on Chimpanzee tracking rules. You will then start the trek for the Chimpanzees and spend one hour with them once sighted. After the chimpanzee trek you will go for the 2 hour famous Nyungwe Forest Canopy walk.
The canopy walkway is suspended 50 meters in the air between big trees and stretches over a steep and deep valley across a massive forest cover offering breathtaking views across the misty forest. You will have sightings at eye-level of a number of unique wildlife inhabiting the canopies including birds, butterflies, and several monkey species.
For those who lack the guts for the canopy walk you can choose to go for a nature walk around the park, visit homesteads to learn about their traditional settings and activities or relax at your lodge.
Dinner and overnight will be at your lodge.
Day 8: Trekking other primates, visit to Tea factory & transfer to Kigali
You will have breakfast and make another visit to the forest to trek other primates such as 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. In the afternoon you will take a tour to the adjacent tea factory to see how the locally grown tea is processed to become one of the finest products Rwanda has for export and later transfer to Kigali for dinner and overnight at the Hotel of your booking or to the Airport for your departure flight.
End of the Best of Rwanda Safari
Requirements for this Safari
- A Visa for Rwanda which you can get at the airport
- Gorilla trekking permit paid for in advance
- Travel & Health insurance arranged by you in your home country before you travel.
- Yellow fever vaccination (certificate for proof)
- Physical fitness
The Safari package includes:
- Accommodation as per the itinerary
- 4WD safari vehicle
- Bottled drinking water
- Gorilla trekking permit
- Chimpanzee trekking permit
- Canopy walk fee
- Services of an English speaking driver/guide.
- Return airport transfers.
The Safari package excludes expenses of a personal nature such as:
- Other drinks apart from bottled water
- Tips to local guides
- Telephone expenses
- Porter fees while trekking Gorillas
- Personal insurance
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What to Expect on a Rwanda Gorilla Safari
For a great gorilla trekking experience, you need to be fairly fit, equipped for the humid, muddy conditions of a rainforest hike, and in good health – gorillas are susceptible to human illnesses but don’t have our immunity, which means a common cold can be deadly to a whole family of gorillas and you won’t be permitted to trek if you are unwell. Even in the dry season, the rainforest is a challenging environment: it’s humid, wet and muddy with some steep slopes, plenty of insects and thick vegetation. It is absolutely worth the effort to spend time with gorillas in the wild, but be prepared to exert yourself on the trek.
Your professional gorilla guide and tracker leads you into the forest’s secret paths, looking for a habituated gorilla family. Once found, you’ll approach the gorillas quietly and settle down to observe them from between 7 and 10m (22 to 32 ft) away. You’ll spend between 40 minutes and an hour with the gorillas, watching the adults forage and groom each other while the babies tumble and play. You’ll be under the watchful gaze of the great silverback patriarch, whose soft brown eyes constantly sweep over his family protectively. Witnessing gorillas express typically human gestures and emotions is a truly profound experience and one of the reasons that gorilla trekking is such a life changing encounter.
You’ll be asked to leave any personal items or bottled water you’re carrying with your porters and approach the gorillas with only your camera. You are not allowed to use a flash and it’s best to use a camera that doesn’t make loud clicks, whirring or other mechanical noises.
Quick links to gorilla trekking tips
- Habituated Uganda Gorilla Groups
- Gorilla Habituation Experience
- Gorilla Tracking – Uganda or Rwanda
- Uganda Wildlife Authority – Gorilla Trekking
- Experiential Gorilla Safari in Uganda
When To Go – Best time to go on a Gorilla Safari in Rwanda
Although a Rwanda Gorilla Safari can be conducted all year round in the Virunga Mountains, due to the somewhat damp seasons experienced by Volcanoes National Park jungle in which these gorillas stay, the majority of tourists prefer visiting in the dry seasons where traversing the jungles is somewhat doable – and that is the months of June to September as well as from December up to February. You can visit at any time of the year, the low season calls for cheaper gorilla permit price.
Temperature & Weather
Up the mountain Forest could be very cold especially in the morning & night. The annual mean temperatures range is 7°C to 20°C with the coldest months being June & July. Hence warm clothing are required, plus wet weather gear because Virunga receives up to 2390mm of rain every year. This is centered on during 2 wet seasons, short rains in March- May & heavy rainfall in the months of September-November. In Virunga, rain often falls as long hours of soft drizzle, instead of short tropical deluge. Our Tour Experts will help you prepare depending on the season.
Volcanoes National Park is located in north-western corner of Rwanda approximately 3 hours drive from the Kigali International airport.
The gorilla permit
The gorilla permit is the second most important document next to your Visa and passport. The Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500, a hefty sum but very much worth it. You should know that some of this money is used to take care of these creatures, help them repopulate and protect them from the rampant poaching.
Acquiring a gorilla permit can be strenuous especially in peak season. We would recommend buying them months in advance to avoid the long cues. The permit per person in most cases is included in the package price, so you’ll not need to hustle acquiring the document.
Once you have the gorilla permit and you’re guided into the jungle, prepare your emotions because seeing the mountain gorillas is guaranteed.
What To Wear on the Gorilla Safari.
Rwanda Gorilla Safari gear guide: Good quality walking boots if trying any hikes or even climbs, warm layers of cloth for the cold evenings and clothing for wet weather remember it becomes cold and wet at this high altitude.
However during the day, the sun is strong even when cloudy therefore always remember to carry and wear sunscreen as well as a sun hat. In addition, you may have to carry along waterproof bags to safeguard cameras plus additional equipment for the hike. Water plus snacks are additional recommended items plus a packed lunch for people doing full-day expeditions.
What else after the gorilla safari?
While in Rwanda, besides visiting the mountain gorillas, you can take a game drive safari across the boarder into Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo National Park or within Rwanda you can visit Kigali City, Akagera National Park and several other Rwanda attractions worth checking out. Most tourists on African trip combine Tanzania safari adventures with gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda in addition to a safari in Kenya or Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking in Tanzania.
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Quick Safari Details
Number of people: Tailored
Leaves When: Any Day
Start/End: Kigali, Rwanda
Activities: Road Drive, Gorilla Trekking, Jungle Trek, Game Drive, Culture & History
Destinations: Volcanoes N.P, Akagera N.P, Nyungwe N.P, Kigali and Lake Kivu
Price: Request a Quote
Best time to go: June to September and December up to February.Start Planning Today