Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Join us on an exhilarating 9-day Rwanda Gorilla and Wildlife Safari Holiday that will take you deep into the heart of Africa’s natural wonders. This captivating journey encompasses Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Lake Kivu, and Volcanoes National Park, promising an unforgettable exploration of Rwanda’s pristine landscapes and incredible wildlife.
Rwanda, a small but vibrant landlocked country, proudly boasts the highest number of primates in Central Africa. If you’re eager to encounter mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and golden monkeys in their natural habitat, Rwanda is your ultimate destination. Primates hold a special place in the hearts of travelers from around the world, thanks to their remarkable resemblance to humans and their unique personalities. A visit to Rwanda’s primate-rich sanctuaries is an absolute must for any wildlife enthusiast. Moreover, some of these primate species are highly endangered and can scarcely be found elsewhere on the planet.
Rwanda’s primate trekking hotspots are waiting to be explored:
Nestled in northwestern Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the premier destination for primate trekking. Home to a population of ten habituated mountain gorilla families, this park offers you an unparalleled opportunity to interact with these majestic creatures. Volcanoes is one of only four national parks worldwide that shelter mountain gorillas, with the others being Virunga National Park in Congo and Mgahinga and Bwindi Forest National Parks in Uganda. Rwanda, in particular, offers luxurious gorilla tours, albeit at a higher cost of $1500 per permit compared to Uganda and Congo. Each gorilla family welcomes just eight visitors daily, ensuring an intimate and immersive experience. Besides gorillas, Volcanoes National Park is home to the endangered golden monkeys. Encounter these lively primates and witness their playful antics for as low as $100 per permit. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike to the final resting place of Dian Fossey, an American primatologist who dedicated her life to saving mountain gorillas from extinction in the Virunga Massif. Volcanoes National Park also features attractions like the picturesque Bulera and Ruhondo twin lakes and the captivating Musanze caves. If you’re physically fit and seeking adventure, challenge yourself with hikes to the summits of Mount Karisimbi or Mount Bisoke, whose slopes are home to endangered gorillas.
As the home to the largest population of chimpanzees in Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest is an essential stop on your primate safari. Unlike gorillas, chimpanzees are vibrant and agile creatures, leaping through the forest canopy at high speeds and communicating with each other through raucous calls. Nyungwe Forest is estimated to house over 500 chimpanzees, making it a core attraction for primate enthusiasts. What’s more, chimpanzee trekking permits are more affordable at $100, a significant contrast to the $1500 price tag for mountain gorilla permits. The forest offers two areas for chimpanzee trekking: Cyamudongo Forest and the main forest. Multiple chimpanzee communities have been habituated for trekking, ensuring diverse and captivating encounters. Begin your chimpanzee trek from one of the three reception centers at Gisakura, Kitabi, or Uwinka, depending on your overnight location. The resonant screams, hoots, and cracking branches of trees will guide you to the chimpanzees’ location. Nyungwe Forest also treats visitors to an exhilarating canopy walk, providing an aerial perspective of the forest and the Virunga volcanoes. Explore the forest further with a hike to Kamiranzovu Waterfall and other scenic spots, all while serenaded by the melodic calls of the numerous bird species that inhabit the treetops.
Akagera National Park has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past two decades. Once teetering on the brink of extinction, the park’s fortunes have been resurrected, offering hope and prosperity. In the 1990s, as Rwanda sought to heal from the devastating 1994 genocide, Akagera faced severe threats. Returning refugees, struggling for their own survival, turned to the park’s resources, leading to deforestation, poaching, and the displacement of wildlife by their livestock. The park’s biodiversity dwindled, and its value plummeted, impacting employment and tourism.
In 2010, African Parks assumed the management of Akagera in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). This partnership marked the beginning of a remarkable revival for the park. Through effective law enforcement and dedicated management, Akagera witnessed the historic return of 18 Eastern black rhinoceros in 2017, after a decade-long absence, thanks to support from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. In June 2019, an additional five captive-bred black rhinos were translocated from Europe with the aid of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), augmenting the park’s genetic diversity. Two new male lions were introduced in 2017, contributing to the growth of the lion population, which has tripled since their initial reintroduction in 2015. With poaching brought to a virtual halt, key wildlife populations in the park have surged. Akagera now generates over $2.5 million in annual revenue, achieving 90% self-financing. Tens of thousands of visitors, half of whom are nationals, are drawn to witness the park’s remarkable rebirth.
Rwanda’s newest national park, Gishwati Mukura National Park, awaits your exploration. Located in western Rwanda, straddling Ngororero and Rutsiro districts, this park is a sanctuary for various white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, blue monkeys, and even wild chimpanzees.
Your journey begins as you arrive in Kigali early in the morning. You’ll embark on a scenic drive from Kigali to Akagera National Park, a journey of approximately two to three hours. Most of the route comprises well-maintained tarmac roads, offering a comfortable and picturesque drive. Akagera National Park, covering an impressive 100,000 hectares, is situated in eastern Rwanda, bordering Tanzania. The park has been under the management of African Parks in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board since 2010. It encompasses some of East Africa’s most stunning savannah landscapes, including open plains, woodlands, lakes, swamps, and grassy low mountains. In the last eight years, Akagera has witnessed a remarkable transformation, with poaching virtually eliminated and wildlife thriving. Lions, absent for two decades, were reintroduced in 2015, followed by the return of black rhinoceros in 2017.
In the evening, you’ll enjoy a boat ride across Lake Ihema, where you can spot hippos and a plethora of bird species. Your overnight stay will be at a hotel within the park.
Rise early to make the most of your full day of safari adventure in Akagera National Park. You’ll embark on a game drive and a boat tour, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who will lead you through the park’s incredible landscapes. The park’s diverse terrain is reflected in the variety of wildlife you’ll encounter. During expertly-guided game drives, walks, and boating trips, you may observe buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, spotted hyena, zebra, and many more species. Akagera National Park is also a haven for bird enthusiasts, boasting nearly 500 bird species, including the spectacular shoebill with its incredibly large bill and the near-endemic red-faced barbet. After an exhilarating day, you’ll return to the same hotel for a restful night.
Your journey continues as you depart from Akagera National Park and head to the enchanting Nyungwe Forest. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Cultural Heritage Corridor of Rwanda, where you can visit the King’s Palace and The Ethnographic Museum. Nyungwe Forest, spanning over 1,000 square kilometers, ranks among the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. This ancient forest has weathered millennia, remaining lush and green even during the Ice Age, a testament to its incredible diversity.
Nyungwe is home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primate species, including a massive troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus monkeys, numbering around 400 individuals. Birdwatchers will find paradise here, with over 300 species to discover, including 16 endemics. The forest is also a habitat for 75 distinct mammal species. Your stay in Nyungwe offers a wealth of experiences, from hiking and biking across stunning terrain to tracking renowned chimpanzee communities, embarking on a thrilling canopy walk, observing beautiful birdlife, and visiting captivating waterfalls. The forest’s sounds and vistas create an unforgettable wildlife encounter. Your overnight stay will be at a hotel near Nyungwe Forest.
Awaken early for a captivating chimpanzee tracking adventure in Nyungwe Forest. After a brief briefing by your expert guide, you’ll traverse breathtaking tea plantations before entering the lush forest. Nyungwe boasts a staggering diversity of primates, with over 13 monkey species calling it home. Additionally, the forest offers exceptional opportunities for birdwatching, with over 100 butterfly species and the occasional sighting of chameleons. Your chimpanzee tracking experience may last anywhere from one to four hours, and you’re likely to hear the chimpanzees long before you see them. Once you locate them, you’ll spend an hour observing their playful antics, interactions, and feeding habits in the forest’s atmospheric setting.
Return to your hotel to relax and refresh, savoring the memories of this incredible primate encounter.
Your journey continues as you follow the scenic coastal road to Lake Kivu, specifically to the Serena Hotel. The drive, which takes approximately three hours, treats you to some of Rwanda’s most breathtaking scenery. Marvel at Lake Kivu’s numerous islands and picturesque shores. In the evening, you’ll embark on a boat safari on Lake Kivu, immersing yourself in the serene waters of Rwanda.
The Serena Hotel, located on Lake Kivu’s northern shore, offers stunning views of the lake and the Congo region. Here, you can relax by kayaking and swimming in the lake. For those seeking additional adventures, Kingfisher Journeys organizes kayaking, canoeing, and mountain biking experiences around Lake Kivu and its surroundings.
Spend your morning leisurely, enjoying the beauty of Lake Kivu. In the afternoon, you’ll transfer to Volcanoes National Park. You’ll check into your hotel near Volcanoes National Park, where you can unwind and prepare for the exciting days ahead.
Your day begins at sunrise as you drive to the park headquarters. There, you’ll receive a briefing, and porters will be available to assist you. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee to start your day. Local porters can be arranged to enhance your gorilla tracking experience. The duration of tracking can range from 90 minutes to the entire morning, depending on the family group assigned to you. You’ll have the privilege of spending one hour with the gorillas, observing their behavior, interactions, and the captivating beauty of the forest environment. Your guide will ensure you’re in the ideal positions for capturing stunning photographs and fully immersing yourself in this breathtaking experience.
Return to your hotel in the evening for relaxation and refreshments.
Embark on a captivating trek to observe the smaller, more nimble golden monkeys, named for their vibrant orange bodies. These monkeys are indigenous to the region and, although smaller, are just as enchanting as their gorilla counterparts. These agile creatures will keep you on your toes as you follow them through the forest. Depending on your onward flight arrangements, a Kigali city tour and overnight accommodations can be arranged.
Return to your hotel for a refreshing break and a light meal before your afternoon return to Kigali.
Spend the night at a Kigali hotel, indulging in the delicious cuisine and amenities offered.
Your memorable journey concludes with your flight departing from Kigali.
Contact Trek Africa Expeditions to book and savor the Rwanda Gorilla and Wildlife Safari Holiday in the “Land of a Thousand Hills.”