Unforgettable encounter with the endangered Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda
International Kigali Airport
Upon arrival at the International Kigali Airport, you are met by a Great Lakes Safaris representative. You will then be transferred to your Kigali Hotel where you will have a briefing on your safari. Overnight: Kigali Serena Hotel. (Bed and Breakfast)
Kigali Serena Hotel
Ideally located on one of Kigali’s most charming boulevards, the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel is built around a polished granite atrium, which showcases the very best of Rwandese cultural art. Relaxed yet elegant, the hotel features an Executive Lounge and Bar, which opens onto a wide sundeck overlooking the newly refurbished swimming pool. Also overlooking the pool, the popular Milima Restaurant offers a wide range of all-day buffet choices, while the relaxed Sokoni Café offers inside and outside poolside seating;
Have breakfast at your hotel;
Take up a city tour of Kigali including a visit to the Genocide Memorial site a grim reminder of a senseless massacre of innocent’s lives in 1994. Learn about Rwanda’s history from pre-colonial times to the 1994 genocide; learn about other genocides in the world and how this country has dealt with that past. Tour more and see the new developments in Rwanda; the recovery has been incredible, a testament to humankind’s resilience. The history of Rwanda dates back centuries, Kigali has been a part of it for 100 years. Founded in 1907 as a German settlement, Kigali did not become the capital until Rwanda’s independence in 1962 when it replaced the colonial seat of power in Butare.
You will have lunch in Kigali;
Then drive to Akagera National Park. Once arrived you will enjoy an afternoon game drive. Overnight: Ruzizi Tented Lodge. (Full Board)
Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The rolling hills of Acacia and Brachystegia Woodland coupled with scattered grassland and swamp-fringed lakes along the meandering Akagera watercourse combine to create a park of breath-taking scenic beauty.
Ruzizi Tented Lodge
The Ruzizi Tented Lodge, a 20-bed tented eco-camp linked together using boardwalks, is the first of its kind in Rwanda. Ruzizi is built on the shores of Lake Ihema, Rwanda’s second largest lake, tucked away in a tract of unique riverine forest.
Today in the morning, depart to the park for a scenic game drive.
The Akagera National Park with Game drives; Akagera is home to a variety of game, it’s an exciting reserve in which to spend a few days and an interesting contrast to the more mountainous central and western parts of Rwanda. There are plenty of animals around and the birdlife is quite exceptional. Mammals include a healthy population of Elephant and Buffalo, lions, plus 11 species of antelope including Impala, Common Duiker, Defassa Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Oribi, Tsessebe, Cape Eland and the rare Sable Antelope. Zebra and Giraffe still roam the more open acacia dotted plains. After game viewing drive back to the Camp.
In the afternoon, you will enjoy a boat trip on lake Ihema where you can catch sight of hippos and crocodiles. Overnight: Ruzizi Tented Lodge (Full Board)
Early in the morning with a packed breakfast, drive to Butare, the second largest city of Rwanda and regarded as the intellectual city of Rwanda. It hosts the National Museum, several academic (Universities) and research institutions, visit Nyanza the former Mwami’s Palace (King’s palace) and the seat of the feudal monarchy. You will also visit the Butare National Museum in Huye which is one of the well set-up if not the finest ethnographic museum of East Africa, a good source of information on the cultural history of Rwanda. You will have lunch in Butare and afterwards proceed to Nyungwe National Park. Overnight: Nyungwe Forest Lodge. (Full Board)
Nyungwe Forest Lodge
Designed to fit harmoniously within its beautiful natural surroundings, Nyungwe Forest Lodge offers guests exceptional 5-star comfort and ensures an experience rich in local culture, fluently fused with quality service and African courtesy. The lodge is situated in Gisakura, a working tea plantation, on the edge of the Nyungwe National Park. Nyungwe Forest Lodge consists of 22 luxury rooms which are situated in 6 wooden villas of four rooms each. This is a luxury lodge and as such the rooms are modern fit-outs and well decorated with traditional touches. Each room is equipped with private decks which offer views overlooking the vast forest terrain.
Nyungwe National Park
Located in the South West corner of Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is an untouched natural rainforest that is filled with exciting biodiversity. Covering over 1000 square kilometres, Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity. Home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates species (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), it’s also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammal.
Early in morning, hike into Nyungwe Forest, the natural habitats for a huge population of Chimps. Chimpanzees are great apes that are closely related to humans. Nyungwe Forest hosts these intelligent primates who are an endangered species.
In the afternoon, you will go for the canopy walk which offers a splendid view over the lush forest with its magnificent biodiversity. Hard wood trees dominate the upper canopy while the lower part is beautified with a large selection of orchids, flora and fauna that flourish better in the higher altitudes. Overnight: Nyungwe Forest Lodge. (Full Board)
Today after breakfast, you will drive to Gisenyi in western Rwanda on the shores of Lake Kivu. You will have lunch en route in Kibuye. Overnight: Lake Kivu Serena Hotel. (Full Board)
Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
Serenely sited on the white sandy shores of Lake Kivu, the sixth largest lake in Africa, and surrounded by extensive tropical gardens, the tastefully open-plan Lake Kivu Serena Hotel offers the ideal extended holiday destination in Rwanda. it overlooks its own private beach and offers; 66 luxury hotel rooms, executive suites and family accommodation, a panoramic restaurant, indoor and beachside bars, a luxury swimming pool, and the ‘Maisha’ Health Centre (offering an extensive range of health and beauty regimes, boating, swimming, volley ball, tennis, fishing, hiking and trekking). Lake Kivu Serena hotel also boasts a world-class fully-integrated Conference Centre, a distinguishing service offering in Rwanda.
Rwanda’s western side is bounded by Lake Kivu, one of a string of huge freshwater lakes which lie along Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Dominating the border between Rwanda and the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo); Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake, and the sixth largest lake in Africa
Today you will have a town tour of Gisenyi including a visit to the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, BRALIRWA (the local brewery) and the hot spring. Water activities available (to be paid directly).
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to to Ruhengeri the base for Gorilla trekking at the Parc National des Volcans. The town itself, located only 25km from Uganda border, is relatively a small city. The constant flow of humanity is quite remarkable. The Town has great views of the surrounding volcanoes. People are very friendly here and although a former Belgian colony (and thus French-speaking), many people speak English here. Overnight: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. (Full Board) (Inclusive of local beverages and laundry service)
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
The lodge situated in the foothills of the mighty virungas, the chain of 15,000 ft volcanoes stretching through Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, affords wonderful views of the volcanoes and the surrounding countryside. Guest cottages and the main building have been beautifully constructed and appointed.
Parc National des Volcans
In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest – the Virungas”. Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Volcanoes National Park protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range – home of the rare mountain gorilla – and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath. The mysterious rainforest is alive with the calls of colourful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, and littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive populations of buffalo and elephant. Through gaps in the forest canopy, the magnificent peaks are glimpsed, easily accessible and among the highest in Africa, beckoning an ascent.
Early breakfast at your lodge;
0630 hrs: transfer to the Volcanoes National Park HQs
0700 hrs: Registration, where the park staff determines which group of gorillas you will visit. The park staff discusses your fitness level and advises you of the trekking times and conditions to the various groups based upon their location in the park the previous evening. There are a total of 80 gorilla permits available each day with a maximum of eight trekkers visiting any one group. Once the trekkers are put into groups, each group’s Lead Guide briefs the trekkers of the trekking procedures as well as the “do’s and don’ts” while in the presence of gorillas.
After the briefing, trekkers return to their respective vehicles for the drive up the mountain to the starting point.
Porters may be hired for the trek to carry your backpack and gear. The cost, US$10 per person/per day. We advise that you utilize this service.
Please remember to bring your passport for registration, appropriate, water proof hiking boots and a light rain coat. To protect from stinging nettles, we recommend long pants and long sleeved tops. A pair of old gardening gloves can help grabbing onto the vegetation while most hotels/lodges provide a walking stick that come in very handy especially when hiking downhill. A small waterproof backpack is an excellent idea to carry a light snack, bottled water as well as protection for your camera.
After the trek, join your driver guide for a transfer back to your lodge. In the afternoon, you will enjoy a visit to iby’I wacu cultural village where ex-poachers were turned into eco-warriors. Overnight: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. (Full Board) (Inclusive of local beverages and laundry service)
Have an early breakfast at your lodge;
0630 hrs; Transfer to the Volcanoes National Park’s Office to undergo the now familiar gorilla trekking formalities. Then enter the forest for the second trek, visiting a different family from yesterdays. After the trek, rejoin your driver Guide for a transfer back to your Lodge.
Later in the afternoon, you will visit the little known but compellingly beautiful twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo and have a cup of Rwandan coffee while admiring the scenic view.
Overnight: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. (Full Board) (Inclusive of local beverages and laundry service)
Today you will enjoy the scenic drive back to Kigali and proceed to the airport for your departure flight.