Day 1 & 2
Upon arrival in Kigali you are met and driven to your hotel in the ambassadorial and commercial heart of Rwanda. On day 2, you are met by your guide for ‘'This is Africa,' a project set up by NDA (New Dawn Associates) who works closely with local communities to establish a diverse range of community-based tourism projects. This project gives visitors a chance to experience the real life of Rwandans and introduces them into a bustling multi-cultural commercial suburb with a typical African flair. Meet with your guide and visit a local hair saloon, a West African tailor, the Muslim quarter, the local market and also the guide’s private home where you have a cooking lesson and share a traditional Rwandan meal while having the opportunity to talk and discuss Rwanda with one of the locals.
This morning you meet your driver for your visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. This museum opened on the 10th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, in April 2004. The center is a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide and serves as a place for people to grieve those they lost. You are then driven to Kinigi (2 1/2 hours) where you check into your lodge, situated on the edge of the Parc National des Volcans in North Western Rwanda with views of its 5 volcanoes (comprising part of the Virunga Volcano range) and distant lowland agricultural areas.
Day 4 - 5
Transfer to park headquarters where you meet with excellent local guides and trackers who give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. (We highly recommend hiring a porter each day for trekking.) You then hike into the forest where the gorillas were seen the night before and track from that point. (The managers of the park determine who treks which gorilla family on the morning of trekking day. They base their decisions on the age/fitness of the clients and the location of the gorilla families).The trekking can take from 1 to 6 hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. The rainforests of the Virunga Volcanoes are the last refuge of the Mountain Gorilla. The Virungas span Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the Parc National des Volcans being the Rwandese element of this ecosystem. The lush slopes of the volcanoes provide an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is perhaps the most poignant and thrilling wildlife experience to be had anywhere – to see the mountain gorilla in its natural habitat. Roughly half of the world’s wild population of mountain gorillas are resident on the Rwandan slopes of the Virungas.After a restful night in your lodge, another day of trekking these magnificent creatures awaits!! If there is time on the way back to Kigali you stop at the Nyamata Church, another reminder of the profound tragedy of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. In 1994 during the genocide, many people from Nyamata and the surrounding areas came to gather in the church and nearby houses belonging to the priests and sisters which served as havens for the frightened people who fled there hoping to escape death. They used the church as a refuge, thinking the militia would not get in and kill them in a place usually thought of as a sanctuary.
Depart for home or onward for safari!