Highlights of the Tour:
Day 1: Arrival in Rwanda & Transfer to Musanze
Day 2: Gorilla Trekking
Day 3: Golden Monkeys tracking
Day 4: Mukungwa river canoe trip & Gorilla guardians’ entertainment
Day 5: Return to Kigali & Departure
Trekking through the Rwandan jungle can be a strenuous experience; however, the reward of coming face to face with a family of gorillas is a memory that will stay with you forever. After a night spent in a beautiful hotel, nestled in the scenic view of volcanoes, you will hike through thick bamboo forest, alpine moorland, and dense jungle to the habitat of one of ten mountain gorilla families.
Sit quietly and wait for these magnificent creatures to emerge from the wilderness – a truly breathtaking moment. This experience is for 1-8 travelers per one family of gorillas per day. If you have more than 8 people in your group, you understand that you will visit separate groups of gorillas in your visit.
Day 1: Kigali- Musanze
Welcome to Rwanda. Your journey starts at Kigali Airport where you will be met by our driver guide who will spend time with you throughout your visit to Rwanda. Please arrange to arrive in Kigali before 1pm – if your flight does not arrive before that time then you need to arrive one day earlier and book one night’s pre-tour accommodation as well as an arrival transfer (these will be at an additional cost). Please read the visa information for Rwanda on your pre-departure information before you depart, as you’re required to apply for your visa before arrival.
Upon your arrival, you will have a welcome toast. Depending on your arrival time, we may organize a short “Kigali city tour” which will give you background information about the resilience of the people of Rwanda which made them rebuild their nation that was once almost destroyed by the genocide and make it desirable today.
Then you travel towards the gorillas with a drive through the verdant rolling hills of Rwanda. You’ll be staying in Musanze district (formerly Ruhengeri), northern province. Hotel facilities include a pool, restaurant, bar & lounge with fireplace and incredible views of the Volcanoes. The Volcanoes National Park is the oldest national park in Africa, and it was specifically created to protect the habitat of the gorillas.
Day 2: Gorilla Trekking
After a very early start, drive to the park headquarters (approximately 30 minutes) where you’ll be briefed on the gorilla trek by the guides of “Parc National des Volcans”. Ten different gorilla families live here, in bamboo forest interspersed with alpine moorland, grassland, and marshland. You will visit only one group of gorillas; the family name and location will be indicated on your permit.
Gorilla trekking is highly controlled, with only 80 gorilla trekking permits available each day. Once a trekking group encounters one of the gorilla families, only one hour is granted in the presence of those magnificent creatures before trekkers must leave. Be aware that the trek can be strenuous and may reach altitudes of almost 3,000 meters above sea level.
Depending on weather conditions, some of the paths can be slippery and these paths themselves can change depending on the location of the gorillas. Therefore it is very
hard to predict how long you will need to walk, but a very good level of fitness is recommended for this trek. It may take anything between 40 minutes and five hours to reach your designated gorilla family, but it’s more than worth it. The trackers will have already set out and located the gorilla family by the time you begin your trek, so your actual walking time can usually be predicted when you set off. You can usually get very close to the mountain gorillas, and watching their movements is like seeing a mirror image of yourself. You will be more excited as you watch them eat, sleep, groom, and play – the giant silverback surveying the scene as the smaller ones laze in the trees or play like children.
As lunch can only be taken upon return to the hotel, it is recommended that you bring a few snacks to keep you going throughout the morning. At the end of the day the comforts of the hotel beckon, along with a chance to reflect on what is sure to be a truly memorable day.
Note: Your gorilla trek will be a shared activity. You will be accompanied by other travelers, with a maximum of 8 people per gorilla group, plus your guides.
Day 3: Golden Monkeys Trekking
You will have a number of optional activities today. It is possible to partake in an additional gorilla trek. However, this is subject to permit availability and must be pre-purchased in advance. For a more leisurely but equally memorable experience, trekking in search of golden monkeys is highly recommended. In June 2003 the National Parks Department first allowed permits to walk the trails in search of these rare and engaging primates. This walk will take you to the edge of the forest, where watching these unique monkeys play and interact is a mesmerizing experience.
For fans of the book and/or movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’, the Dian Fossey Trek is another good option. You’ll follow in Dian Fossey’s footsteps on your way to her grave, as well as the graves belonging to many poached gorillas. You will be guided around the incredible setting where Old Karisoke Research Station was set up and, although very little of the station remains, imagine the life that Dian Fossey led in these isolated mountains.
Day 4: Mukungwa river canoe trip & Gorilla guardians entertainment
This day after your breakfast, your driver-guide will take you to another breathtaking experience. You will be briefed about canoeing, how to operate the canoe, and be given a safety jacket and helmet. You will be accompanied by our local guides who will be explaining to you the history of the river, communities, and lifestyle around the river, birds, and crops along the river. Depending on your availability and physical fitness today, you may either choose to take this activity half-day or full-day. Your time and energy spent on this journey will be rewarded.
In the evening, your driver-guide will take you to Musanze, where you will be entertained by traditional dancers and drums in beautiful lyrics, as you get to learn about the history of ex-poachers who joined hands for the conservation of endangered gorilla mountains. You will get a chance to learn more about the pre-colonial Rwandan lifestyle, traditional healing, prayers, and more before you return to your hotel.
Day 5: Kigali City Tour & Departure
This morning you will be taken on a city tour of Kigali before being transferred to Kigali International Airport, arriving there before midday (approximately 1.5-hour drive). During the city tour, you will learn about the development of Kigali from the colonial period to date.
You will get to know about Rwanda’s economic growth and Kigali city’s recent growth, population, lifestyle, culture, craft shops, art centers, coffee shops, public markets, shopping malls, administrative offices and embassies, and more. When it is time to go back home, your driver-guide will accompany you to the airport and bid you farewells.
If you require a Sleep Apnea Machine to sleep please ensure that it is battery operated. Lodges and Permanent Tented Camps are often powered by generators that are turned off during the night.
Hotel (4 nights):
This is an ‘independent trip. You will have an assigned local driver-guide who is knowledgeable and versatile in handling long period tours. He will be in charge of your tour from day one until your departure. You will have 24/7 support from your guide and our local office.
Private vehicle, 4WD with air conditioner.
- Visa fees
- Flight tickets
- Alcoholic drinks
- Insurance & Medical expenses
- Extra cost not mentioned in the package