Track chimpanzees, monkeys and baboons in Nyungwe National Park; travel deep into the forests of Parc National des Volcans in search of mountain gorillas; explore Kigali, the vibrant capital of Rwanda; then relax on the shores of Lake Kivu. This week-long adventure in Rwanda includes the highlights of this fascinating country, from once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters to lakeside relaxation, immersed in natural beauty. You’ll arrive into Kigali, then transfer to Nyungwe National Park, where you will get the chance to track chimpanzees, spot monkeys and baboons and walk across a canopy walkway. Hiking deep into the forests of Parc National des Volcans, you’ll trek to encounter families of endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. After jungle adventures, you’ll relax on the stunning, palm-fringed shores of Lake Kivu. Return to Kigali to explore colourful markets, learn about the devastating Rwandan genocide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and discover life in a modern East African city.
Safari in Details
Day – 1 Arrival, Kigali City
Arrival at Kigali International Airport, after processing your visa, you’ll be required to follow through with Covid-19 Rwanda entry guidelines, show your Covid negative test and then your private Classic Rwanda Safari driver will be waiting for you on the other side to transfer you to the hotel. Meet and greet by your private tour driver/guide and after a briefing session, drive through Kigali capital and catch city’s cultural display before you check into your hotel in Kigali.
Depending on your arrival time, enjoy a take a Kigali city tour, visit the genocide memorial site and art and craft centre or relax at your hotel and nurse that jet-lag. You’ll be heading into the jungle side the next day.
Day – 2 Road Trip to Nyungwe Forest NP (5 Hours)
Wake up the African sounds of Kigali city and have your breakfast, you private driver will be waiting to take you through Rwanda’s most beautiful countryside dotted with calming nature scenery and color.
This part of your tailor made Classic Rwanda Safari is a 5 hour lazy drive that will see you take stops at local markets, the traditional palace in Nyanza and continue to Butare, visit the Botanical Gardens and the cultural museum. Pass through stunning green fields of tea scattered across the hillsides and the small unique wooden houses surrounding Nyungwe Forest just before you arrive at the lodge and check in.
For the rest of the, make yourself comfortable with nature’s own ambiance around the lodge, chill out in the lounge and meet new people.
Day – 3 Chimpanzee Tracking in Nyungwe Forest
Have an early breakfast and transfer to the park headquarters for the chimpanzee tracking activity briefing. Escorted by a park ranger and a guide, jump onto the the jungle trails to another rainforest experience. In a short while, you’ll find your designated chimpanzee troop which you’ll follow and stick with for the next one hour.
The chimpanzee bands keep moving, making noise, grooming, stopping for snack or nap and your challenge is to keep up with them with the guidance of the park guide. After your unforgettable experience with the chimpanzees in their nature setup, you’ll take the aerial view on Nyungwe forest and beyond on the 160 meters (525 ft) high canopy walkway. The canopy walkway has been named the world’s best forest canopy walkway, according to a latest report by Lonely Planet.
Suspend your emotions and let loose, shout at the top of your voice and free yourself, spread your arms and your eyes as far as you can see and re-invent your emotional self: this is the place you want to be at.
Day – 4 Nature Walk in Nyungwe Forest Jungle
While chimps tend to garner most of the spotlight here, this part of our Classic Rwanda Safari gives you the simple pleasures of hiking along well-maintained trails over the lush, green valleys of the equatorial rainforest.; just what you need after the Covid pandemic forced vacation at home.
You’ll find that quite simply, Nyungwe Forest National Park is Rwanda’s most important area of biodiversity, with no fewer than 1000 plant species, 13 species of primates, 75 species of other African mammals, at least 275 species of birds and an astounding 120 species of butterflies. It has been rated the highest priority for forest conservation in Africa and its protected area covers one of the oldest rainforests in Africa. Despite its huge biodiversity, Nyungwe is little known outside of East Africa.
In the middle of the forest, you’ll setup a picnic lunch and take in the friendly service of this beautiful African jungle. Later return to the lodge, check out and set off northwards to Volcanoes National Park where you’ll take on your next jungle experience to find the mountain gorilla. It’ll take about 5 hours +/- to get there.
Day – 5 Lake Bunyonyi
With a morning breakfast proceeds via Kibuye. Enjoy the stunningly beautiful views from Lake Kivu up to Gisenyi; beautiful countryside with valleys dotted with agricultural farms. Kibuye is the most beautiful of all the three resort town on Lake Kivu. After relax at the shores of Lake Kivu. Take a boat out on the lake to see the various islands. Swim in the refreshing waters or stroll to the nearby villages rambling across a number of hills, you next Classic Rwanda Safari adventure reboots the next day!
Day – 6 QLake Bunyonyi – Kampala
After breakfast, you can choose to stay in or take a discovery boat ride on Lake Kivu. You will encounter local fishermen, fishing villages and also the residents of Idjwi Island (Congo) who are rowing long distances in their dugout canoes to visit the Rwanda markets.
You will be picked up in Gisenyi for lunch before retiring to the lodge. Or if time allows you will make arrangements to cross the border to Goma (Optional). Goma was devastated by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. The visit shows the fantastic capabilities of the local population to overcome this natural catastrophe.
The Nyiragongo volcano (3470 m) recently erupted after 2002 eruption and destroyed part of Goma town. Most of Goma’s inhabitants escaped the advancing lava flows crossing the border into neighbouring Rwanda. Later retire to the lodge for an overnight.
Day – 7 Departure
After breakfast visit the Ross Carr’sImbabazi Orphanage. Imbabazi Orphanage was founded by Mrs Rosamond Halsey Carr in late 1994 at Mugongo to care for the genocide orphans. She witnessed all Rwanda’s historical events, including the gluesome genocide of 1994. She is the author of “Land of a Thousand Hills: my life in Rwanda.” Later take a stroll on the lake and also visit other local villages.
After your Serena sumptuous lunch, join your Classic Rwanda Safari driver and head towards to gorilla sanctuary where you’ll hail to track the elusive mountain gorilla and spend the next two nights.
Day – 8 Gorilla Tracking Experience in Volcanoes NP
With an early breakfast, drive to the park headquarters for gorilla briefing (45 minutes). This is the Classic Rwanda Safari’s major highlight that brought you to these jungles, so take a breath, collect all your intrinsic emotions and excitement and get ready to be wowed. Make sure your expectations are floating, we don’t wanna drown in too much of less or more than we bargained for.
When venturing into this gigantic forest, a packed lunch, comfortable clothes, shoes and a walking stick is a must before. The time spent gorilla tracking is unpredictable, It varies from 2-8 hours before an encounter with the family of these gentle creatures. The location of each gorilla family depends on temperature, their feeding range and movement of the previous day with the trackers ahead of your tracking group. Strict guidelines will be issued at the trailhead briefing point, make sure you remember the most important ones.
Enjoy the one hour allotted, (only time allowed in the company of each gorilla family a day) watch and capture this memorable experience as they go about their day to day activities; the young ones playing around the old ones, feeding each other and eating foliage. The sight of these outstanding creatures is the climax of this entire safari. Later retire for an overnight at the lodge.
Day – 9 Open Day, Optional Activities
After an early breakfast, you get to choose which activity you want for this day; either track the golden monkeys or climb the breath-taking Visoke volcano, or trek to Karisoke Research Centre; a place which was set up by the famous primatologist Dian Fossey, a brave lady who protected and saved a lot of these gentle creatures from inhuman savages. Or visit the local communities around the park. You can also chose to stay at the lodge and enjoy activities organised within.
After the activity of your choice, check out of the lodge, have lunch in Ruhengeri and the drive back to Kigali. On your way to Kigali make some stops for scenic viewing, the drive to Kigali takes about 3 hours as Rwanda is a small country.
Day – 10 Departure
With careful consideration of your flight time, take a stroll around the city and experience the Kigali mixed cultures, peoples, cuisine and sounds. Your private classic Rwanda safari driver will be there in time to wisk you off to the airport in time for your flight back home.
What’s Not Included