DAY 1: Arrival at Kigali
Arrive Kigali. Met by our smiling guide. Greet and transfer to hotel. [Approximate driving time: 30 minutes] Diner (D) is included in the package. O/N: Hotel des Mille Collines/Hotel Chez Lando or similar (D).
Day 2: Kigali - Butare - Nyungwe Forest NP.
After breakfast you will depart for Butare the second largest city of Rwanda and is regarded as the intellectual city of Rwanda. It hosts the National Museum, several academic (University) and research institutions. On your way to Butare you will visit Nyanza (currently Nyabisindu) the former Mwami's palace (King's palace) and the seat of the feudal monarchy.
The palace has been reconstructed to its 19th century state and shows a traditional dome that can be compared with the Kabaka's palace of Buganda. You will visit the National Museum which is one the well set-up if not the finest ethnographic museum of East Africa. It's a good source of information on the cultural history of Rwanda and the region.
Lunch at Butare and later we will drive to Nyungwe Forest NP. Your driver-guide will stop at the Uwinka offices to have the last update on the presence of the semi-habituated groups of chimps and colobus monkeys. This will help you to prepare your activities of the next day. Overnight at the Gisakura Guest House (B-L-D)
Day 3: Nyungwe Forest NP
Either a chimp tracking experience in Nyungwe or you may choose to have another guided primate walk or have one of the hikes in the well-maintained trails. There are a large host of primates and blue monkeys present and often observed around Uwinka, requiring less strenuous hiking.
There is also an orchid garden at Uwinka and for those who would like a challenging hike we recommend the trail "the Bigugu Mountain", the highest peak in Nyungwe Forest at nearly 3000m. Bird watchers will certainly be interested to know that Nyungwe has also some Albertine rift endemic species that can only be seen here! Birding is very rewarding on one of the special designed trails! (B-L-D)
Overnight: Guest House of Gisakura (*) on Full Board basis.
Day 4: Nyungwe Forest NP
In Nyungwe Forest NP: guided nature walk or primate treks. Of a particular interest are the large social groups of Angolan Colobus (Colobus angolensis), which may be over 300 individuals. These are the largest troops of this species known in the world! Nyungwe forest counts 25% of the African Primates!
Overnight: Guest House of Gisakura (*) on Full Board basis.
Day 5: Nyungwe Forest NP - Kibuye
After breakfast you will leave for Kibuye, passing through the green fields of tea plantations before explorating the shores of Lake Kivu. Kibuye which is one of the three resort towns on Lake Kivu is the most beautiul. Arrival at Kibuye is foreseen at lunch time. After Nyungwe, most participants will welcome that relaxing moments on the shores of Lake Kivu, which is Bilharzia free. Rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight Molia Hill Resort on Full Board basis.
Day 6: Kibuye - Gisenyi - Kinigi
You will be picked up, detour to Gisenyi, lunch while there and we drive to Ruhengeri and Kinigi for an overnight at your hotel. O/N: Hotel La Palme/Virunga Hotel/Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 7: Gorilla Trekking
After breakfast you will report at the ORTPN headquarters where your driver-guide will accomplish the necessary formalities for you. You will meet your ranger guide(s) for a briefing about the greatest animal experience ever. Then we will drive you to the slopes of one of the Virunga volcanoes for your trekking.
After the trekking, lunch at your hotel or at Ruhengeri and in the afternoon, if time allows, an excursion to explore the beautiful lakes in the region: Lake Bulera & Ruhondo. An excellent view of the Virunga chain of Volcanoes can be seen while there depending on weather conditions. Overnight at your hotel. O/N: Hotel La Palme/Virunga Hotel/Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (FB)
Day 8: Second gorilla trekking or another activity - Transfer to Kigali
Second gorilla tracking (subject to availability and payment of $500 gorilla permit supplement)
- An excursion to the top of the Bisoke volcano (3.711 m) of which the distinctive feature is a beautiful crater lake! Fantastic views in all directions, lushly forested slopes, shady bamboo forest and an exhilarating climb!
- An excursion to the grave of Dian Fossey and the former Karisoke Research Centre. The excursion will provide excellent background information and this is a wonderful site to see!
- A visit to the Golden Monkeys: the little-known Golden Monkey (cercopithecus mitis kandti) is listed as “endangered”, the newly habituated groups of about 40 individuals are the only ones in Africa. The Kabatwa troop is located not so far from the Park Headquarters and the Musanga troop lives near the Karisimbi volcano and has a much longer walking distance.
Transfer to Kigali for overnight at your hotel. O/N: Chez Lando Hotel or Mille Collines (B-L)
Day 9: Kigali - Kayonza - Akagera NP
You will drive for 3 hours to Akagera NP, via Kayonza to the Eastern part of Rwanda. We will arrive before lunch at the beautiful Akagera Game Lodge which has a swimming pool. Take a swim before lunch. After lunch you will start your exploration with a game drive by visiting the giraffe valley.
The giraffes of Akagera NP were translocated from Kenya in Januaray 1986. The 2 males and 4 female Masai giraffes were got near Lake Magadi (Kenya) and given to the Rwandan government under an agreement to restock the latter’s wildlife habitats that were depleted by many years of poaching.
The giraffes were first put in an enclosure on the Rurama peninsula. One night on Christmas 1987 they escaped because the barrier was broken down by elephants. (A ranger died of his wounds when he tried to prevent the elephants). The giraffes crossed the Kiyonza ridges and settled on the Nyamwashama plains, since then also named as the giraffe valley. The animals have grown tremendously since then, with first baby giraffe born in 1988 and the second a year later.
O/N: Akagera Game Lodge (****) on a Full Board basis.
Day 10: Akagera NP
Enjoy the Lodge and its astonishing views over Lake Ihema.
After an Early breakfast your exploration starts with a boat trip on Lake Ihema which is a very rewarding experience for seeing the large number of hippos, the huge Nile crocodiles and many birds. After the boat trip you will continue your exploration along the lakes Kivumba, Hago; Mihindi and Rwanyakizinga. They are the most interesting part of the park especially for birders. You will return for your lunch and enjoy a fresh swim at the Lodge. In the late afternoon you will return to the giraffe valley which is usually full of surprises. Overnight at the Akagera Game Lodge.
Day 11: Akagera NP - Kayonza - Kigali
You will wake up early in the morning and leave after breakfast for another day of exploration. This time you will start with a visit to the height of Mutumba, the highest point of the park. You will have a view of all the Akagera lakes and the Karangwe mountains in Tanzania, with Lake Tanganyika visible at a distance. Descend to the Lake area where you will have a picnic lunch on edge of one of the beautiful lakes. In the afternoon you will drive back to the lodge before returning to Kigali where we will drop you at the hotel.
O/N: Hotel Chez Lando or Milles Collines on Full Board basis.
Day 12: Kigali visit and departure
The half day Kigali City trip (optional) includes a visit to the Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi, which takes a few hours. It’s a touching visit! And visit the local general goods market and the craft centre.
In Rwanda you will find all over the country Memorials to remember the genocide of 1994. The most important Genocide Memorials are those of Kigali (Gisozi) and Murambi (Gikongoro) where the history of the genocide is explained. A visit to the genocide memorial is for most visitors an emotional event.
Transfer to Airport for departure. (B-L)