This is the best way to explore the three major National Parks in Rwanda.
With Rwanda being such a small country most attractions are within 3-4 hours of the capital. In 9 days you will be able to rotate around the country experiencing the different, diverse and remarkable beauty of Rwanda’s nature and cultures.
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DAY 1 - Arrival and transfer to Akagera National Park
Upon arrival at Kanombe International Airport, you will be transferred to Akagera National Park. Set at a relatively low altitude on the border of Rwanda and Tanzania, Akagera National Park could scarcely be more different in mood to the breezy cultivated hills that characterize much of Rwanda.
Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile, this is archetypal African savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grassland. Akagera is, above all, famed for its hosting of big game!
Herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, while lucky visitors might stumble across a leopard, a spotted hyena or even a stray lion. Giraffe and zebra haunt the savannah, and more than a dozen types of antelope inhabit the park, most commonly the handsome chestnut-coated impala, but also the diminutive oribi and secretive bushbuck, as well as the ungainly tsessebe and the world’s largest antelope, the statuesque Cape eland.
In the Lakes of Akagera, pods of 50 hippopotami grunt and splutter throughout the day, while outsized crocodiles soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape. Magically, the air is torn apart by the unforgettable high dueting of a pair of fish eagles, asserting their status as the avian monarchs of Africa’s waterways. Lining the lakes are some of the continent’s densest concentrations of waterbirds, while the connecting marshes are the haunt of the endangered and exquisite papyrus gonolek, and the bizarre and rather iconic shoebill stork.
Overnight at your lodge.
DAY 2 - Game viewing Safari in the park
Before breakfast, you will have an early morning game drive and have a chance to see animals like Butchell’s Zebra, lions, elephants, topi etc and over 425 species of birds including the Shoebill, African Jacana, Sacred Ibis, Goliath Heron and many more amazing species.
Later in the afternoon you will have a boat trip on Lake Ihema where you have chances of viewing hippopotamuses, huge Nile crocodiles, and many water birds. Overnight at your Kigali hotel.
DAY 3 - Transfer to Volcanoes National Park
The journey north goes through the beautiful terraced hillsides that show much of Rwanda’s landscape, gradually climbing to the base of the awesome volcanoes, sometimes with as many as five peaks visible. This national park is home to 360 Mountain Gorillas and covers an area of 160sq km.
It protects Rwanda’s sector of the Virunga Volcanic Mountain range of 6 extinct and 3 active volcanoes that straddle the borders with Uganda and Congo. The Volcanoes National Park is part of a contiguous 433sq km Trans frontier conservation unit that also includes the Virunga National Park and Mgahinga National Park, which protects the DRC and Ugandan sectors of the Virunga respectively.
The tallest mountain in this chain is Kalisimbi, found on the border with the DRC. Moving eastward, the other main peaks within the national park are Visoke on the DRC border; Sabinyo at the juncture of Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC, and Gahinga and Muhabura on the Uganda border. The Volcanoes National Park is best known to the outside world as the place where almost for 20yrs the American primatologist Dianne Fossey under took her pioneering studies of mountain gorilla behaviour.
Overnight at your lodge.
DAY 4 - Gorilla tracking in the park
After an early breakfast, we drive to the park headquarters where you are to begin your adventure with the gorillas. Mountain gorilla tracking remains the most popular in this park, with over a total of 40 permits issued daily, eight for each of the five habituated troops. Tracking the gorillas through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virungas is a wonderful experience.
You are allowed an hour with them. Admire them as they feed, groom and play, swinging from vine to vine. Some gorilla families however are more mysterious, and tracking can take a full day, especially when it is wet and muddy.
But Volcanoes National Park is not only good for gorilla tracking but other activities like trekking, hiking which are now well organized, from a two-day ascent of Karisimbi to a non-strenuous nature walk to a cluster of crater lake, but the most exciting achievement is that you can also visit habituated troops of the near-endemic Golden Monkey.
Overnight at your lodge.
DAY 5 - Golden Monkey Tracking
This morning, after a quick breakfast, you will participate in another adventure tracking the “Little Primates” of the Virungas, the Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus Kandti).
The Golden Monkeys are now listed by the IUCN as endangered because of their small numbers. You will be part of a select group 1 and plus. The trek always takes few hours in the morning which allows you for any other activity.
Overnight at you lodge.
DAY 6 - Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National park
We have an early start for Nyungwe today. If time allows, we may visit the old palace in Nyanza. As we drive past green hillsides and tea plantations, you will enjoy beautiful views of Rwanda. This forest is the largest swathe of montane forest left in East or Central Africa. It harbours about 275 different birds, hundreds of butterflies and orchids, and over 75 different species of mammals – including 13 primates (about a quarter of all Africa’s primates).
The forest walks here are excellent, lasting from one to six or seven hours. Nyungwe forest is home to chimpanzees, Ruwenzori Colobus monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkey and the Grey-cheeked Mangabey, etc. The birds here are spectacular, though, as in most tropical forests, we’ll have to look hard for them. Giant hornbills, Great Blue Turaccos and Red-breasted Sparrowhawks are some of the species which grace this verdant forest, of which 24 are endemic to this section of the Rift Valley.
Tall old mahoganies, ebonies and giant tree ferns tower above you, whilst orchids and other epiphytes cling to every branch. Brightly colored birds flit around, butterflies are everywhere, and walking quietly we may encounter larger forest residents.
DAY 7 - Nature/Forest Walk and Birding. Overnight at your lodge choice
This day, we go on a guided forest walk in search of the large groups of Colobus monkeys and birds including the Rwenzori Turaco. Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the most important bird watching National Parks in Rwanda with over 280 bird species recorded. The majority of these birds are forest specialties and 26 are regional endemics whose range is restricted to a few forests along the Albertine Rift.
Bird watching in Nyungwe can be rather tiring, since the vegetation is thick and many birds tend to stick to the canopy. However you don’t have to be an ardent birdwatcher to appreciate some of Nyungwe’s birds. There is an extensive network of well- maintained walking trails to lead you through the forest to various waterfalls and viewing points.
DAY 8 - Chimpanzee tracking in the forest. Overnight at your lodge choice
Early morning before breakfast, we enter Nyungwe forest where our aim today is to track chimpanzees. You will have a chance to see some of these close relatives to man, see how they feed and play with each other. The population of chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest ranges between 400-500 individuals. In the high rain season, a troop of chimpanzees often moves into Uwinka and the colored trail as well.
We may be able to hear the chimpanzees before we see them. Unlike other primates, chimpanzees don’t live in troops, but instead form extended communities of up to a hundred individuals, which move around the forest in small mobile sub groups that often revolve around a few close family members like brothers, mothers and daughters. Male chimps normally spend their entire life within the community in which they were born, where as females are likely to migrate into a neighboring community at some point after reaching adolescence. Other primates that we may meet include L’Hoest’s Monkey, Silver Monkey, Golden Monkey, Owl-faced Monkey, Dent’s Mona Monkey, Crowned Monkey, Vervet Monkey and Olive Baboon.
Later we return to the lodge for breakfast. Later on, after lunch, you will spend the afternoon with a community walk as you interact with the locals and get to know more about their community projects.
DAY 9 - Depart for Kigali – Kanombe
Leave for Kigali. Depending on arrival in Kigali, we may have a tour of the city including a visit to the market, a pottery project, handicraft shops, the Franco-Rwandan cultural centre and a genocide memorial. Thereafter we transfer to the Airport in good time for your flight back home.
We are strong advocates and facilitators of educational and experiential visits to Africa. This tour will help you to understand our country, learn about its history, people, culture, daily problems, personal actions and interactions.
This 2 days gorilla safari takes you to Volcanoes National park, home to endangered mountain gorillas. This is one of the best trips for travelers with lesser time in Rwanda yet would like to see the endangered mountain gorillas.