7 Days Rwanda Gorilla Trek & Wildlife Safari
Rwanda Gorilla Trek & Wildlife Safari – 7 Days
Dian Fossey conducted research on the majestic mountain gorillas of Rwanda for 18 years. Thanks to her efforts to protect them, the country has secured a modest population who live in the mountains in the volcanoes national park. As Rwanda slowly recovers from its own holocaust in the 90s, there’s no better place to view these threatened but spectacular primates. Beyond gorillas, is the Big 5 wildlife in Akagera National Park.
Learn about local change makers with initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of the local people.
learn about local conservation efforts by researchers to protect mountain gorillas.
Reconnect with local people at Nyamirambo women’s centre township.
Meet local people and meet first-hand rural life in the area.
- Come face to face with Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.
- Scenic drives through Rwanda, known as the Land of a Thousand Hills with its beautiful rolling landscapes dotted with tea plantations, rugged mountains, towering volcanoes
- Kigali is one of Africa’s cleanest and most interesting capitals.
- Game viewing safari in Akagera National Park.
- Visit the Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali, where 250,000 victims have been buried.
- You simply cannot appreciate this beautiful country and its people if you haven’t visited this memorial centre.
Things to know
- The order of activities on day 2 and day 3 can change, depending on the availability of gorilla permits and Golden monkey permits.
- Mountain gorillas share 98% of our DNA and are prone to catching human illnesses. Please note that if you are unwell with anything contagious, even a common cold, you may be denied any of the treks to ensure the safety of the gorillas. This is a national park regulation, and trekking permits will not be refunded if you are denied entrance due to illness.
- Touching gorillas is not allowed (although in some cases gorillas may come closer to touching you)
- Given the high elevation (over 2000m), to ease your walking, hiring a local helper (porter) is recommended. Porters are hired at a small fee ($15) to carry your backpack along the path. All are hired from local villages and not only can carry your day pack, but assist you with a welcome hand over difficult spots. Regardless of your fitness level, we highly recommend hiring a porter as some tracks can be very muddy and elevation can affect even the fittest person.
Day 0: Arrival in Kigali
Arrival and transfer to your hotel. If you have some time explore some evening life. Kigali is known for its pleasant, friendly atmosphere.
Day1: Kigali City to Volcanoes National Park
Estimated Driving time: 2-3 hours.
After breakfast, head out for Kigali City Tour. The Kigali City tour offers you the true heartbeat of the city. The nation’s recovery is incredible and a testimony to a dark past but a bright future.
You will visit Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum at Gisozi. Learn how an estimated one million Rwandans were killed in nearly 100 days of genocide. The memorial museum is where the remains of 250, 000 victims of the 1994 Genocide are buried. It has a cemetery, a genocide exhibition section & a library. A visit to this memorial center is not only an educational experience that will offer you a thorough insight into the country’s painful past but also provides a truly moving experience.
The memorial is moving – the tour takes two to three hours – It is in memory of the multitudes murdered in Rwanda´s genocide in 1994.
You will visit Nyamirambo women’s center & reconnect with local people, situated in the largest and most vibrant township in Kigali City. The center provides women and girls the opportunity to obtain practical skills to support each other and succeed in life. Enjoy lunch prepared by women employed at the center, allowing us to try local lunch; foods, and popular dishes. You could browse through the center’s shop, which features handmade, high-quality crafts, fabrics, and clothes, made by some of the women. Proceeds from sales help to support skills training programs for this women’s Centre.
Pass by the Hotel des Mille Collines (where the 2004 movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ was filmed based on events relating to families that took shelter in this 5-star hotel during the genocide) in Kigali. Later we travel to the Volcanoes National Park driving through the stunning scenery of flourishing green hills and valleys.
Meals: Lunch, Dinner Included
Day 2: Volcanoes National Park: Mountain Gorilla trekking
Early morning departure from the lodge to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters in Kinigi for your mountain gorilla trekking encounter. Here you will meet up with excellent park rangers and guides, who will give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. After orientation on gorilla trekking rangers at the park headquarters, you will be allocated a gorilla family to visit, we take a short drive to the starting point.
Thereafter, trek into the forest. You will start tracking where the gorillas were seen the day before.
In The gorillas, you will visit live habituated families that can be viewed by tourists. Each group can be visited by a maximum of 8 people daily.
Trekking usually starts at different starting points. The trekking can take from 1 to 8 hours roundtrip and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. Coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla is one of the most memorable wildlife encounters in Africa. The mountain gorilla species (Gorilla beringei beringei) is a critically endangered species. At least 480 mountain gorillas inhabit this (Virunga) complex and live at altitudes from 2300 – 4500m ranging within the southern part of Virunga National Park (DRC) and the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Although the walk is physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten, as the experience is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world. Cameras and plenty of fast-speed films are recommended. It can rain at a few minutes’ notice; hence waterproof clothing is a good essential including zip lock bags for cameras and film. It is important to take bottled water.
Gorilla trekking is an exceptional once-in-a-lifetime experience. In order to minimize animal stress and exposure to possible human disease, daily visits are limited to “only one-hour” viewing. This rule still allows you adequate time for photography and viewing these great primates in their natural habitat.
Today afternoon, you can choose to relax at the lodge or get on optional activities; a) visit the nearby Gorilla Guardians Cultural Village or b) visit the local market. A guided walk through this village will reward you with an unusual and unforgettable experience as you go to different sites in this community. You will be visiting the king’s house, hearing all the interesting stories, and getting some insight into all the items in his house. Enjoy Rwandan traditional dances like Intore dance, performed by community members, using local and traditional musical instruments.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Included
Day 3: Volcanoes National Park: Golden Monkey trekking
Today you’ll head back on a trek in Volcanoes National Park to view a unique and endangered species—the golden monkey – even more endangered than the mountain gorilla. Besides Volcanoes National park Rwanda, Golden Monkeys have been successfully habituated in Mgahinga National Park on the Ugandan side of the Volcanoes. They are often only seen high up in the trees, but, with luck, trekkers may have a close encounter. Golden monkeys mainly live in the lower parts of the bamboo forests; they are not as socially “tight” as gorillas, and the number in the habituated troupe can vary on any given day between 20 and 70. Observe these lively and curious monkeys.
It is important you wear proper trekking attire – you will be trekking in a rainforest with lots of vegetation, undergrowth, nettles, and normally a rather muddy terrain. Gardening Gloves can be very helpful. On sighting these monkeys and to ensure minimal disturbance to their conservation, only 1 hour is permitted to be with the Golden Monkeys. After transfer back to your lodge. Today afternoon you can opt to visit a local market. Feel the sounds and noises of the Rwandan people.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Included
Day 4: Volcanoes National Park – Akagera National Park
Today we transfer to Akagera National park, stopping in Kigali for lunch, then continue east. Armed conflict once devastated this part of Rwanda, and many years of neglect and misuse followed. Yet dedicated work by the local communities resulted in the return of wildlife to the park’s savannas, forested hills, and wetlands. Learn more about this fascinating conservation success story in a behind-the-scenes visit to the African Parks – the managers of this park. Later, check into our comfortable lodge overlooking stunning Lake Ihema.
Akagera National Park offers a remarkable conservation story and is the only park with lions, leopards, Rhinos, Buffalos, zebras, giraffes, elephants, and hundreds of bird species in the country. Running directly along the border with Tanzania, the park covers 1,122 km2 (433 sq mi) and offers a variety of landscapes including highlands, savannah plains, swamps, wetlands, and lakes.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Included
Day 5: Akagera National Park
This morning, wake early and head out into the park for sunrise and try and spot the early risers. Look out for lions, elephants, buffalo, hyenas, and others who graze freely in the park. Giraffes are a popular site as well as others in the growing park such as; warthog, waterbuck, zebras, roan antelope, eland, topis, and impala. Return to the lodge for lunch and some free time to relax or take a dip in the pool.
In the afternoon, enjoy a safari by boat on Lake Ihema. The cruise will give you a chance to spot more wildlife, such as elephants and buffalos who tend to gather at the banks to have a drink of water. Search out Nile crocodiles and observe birds; there are over 500 species around the lake and its surrounding wetlands. Keep an eye out for shoebill and papyrus Ganolex as well as endemic species such as; herons, ibis, jacanas, plovers, malachite Kingfisher, and eagles.
Day 6: Akagera National Park to Kigali City – Departure
This morning, wake early and head out into the park for sunrise and try and spot the early risers. Look out for lions, elephants, buffalo, hyenas, and others who graze freely in the park. Giraffes are a popular site as well as others in the growing park such as; warthog, waterbuck, zebras, roan antelope, eland, tops, and impala. Later we transfer back to Kigali City.
Proceed to the airport for your outbound flight.
Day 7: Departure TIP
You could opt to stay a night in Kigali at an extra cost.
- Return transfers to Kigali Airport
- Accommodation on safari on a full board basis
- Private 4×4 Land Cruiser safari vehicle
- Reference Books & Maps, Bottled water in vehicles
- Professional English-speaking driver/guide in Rwanda
- x1 Gorilla trekking permit at Volcanoes NP (US$1500 per permit)
- x1 Golden Monkey trekking permit Volcanoes NP (US$100 per permit)
- All other activities as stipulated in the itinerary,
- All National Park entrance fees & ranger fees
- Travel information pack
- Entry visa for Rwanda
- International flights.
- Yellow fever inoculation certificate or an exemption letter from your doctor
- Travel insurance (highly recommended)
- Optional activities (Cultural village, market visit
- Meals and drinks not specified
- Laundry services
- Gratuities to the driver/guide, trackers, hotel staff, and porters
- All expenses of personal nature
- Activities not specified
- Five Volcanoes lodge, Volcanoes NP
- Akagera Game lodge/ Ruzizi Tented lodge, Akagera NP