Rwanda

Rwanda is home to the mountain gorilla made famous by the American primatologist Dian Fossey, author of "Gorillas in the Mist." While there has been an increase in their population in recent years, gorillas are still one of world's most endangered species and in desperate need of conservation. There are only an estimated 880 remaining mountain gorillas in the world today.  A number of families can be visited in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans (PNV) where Fossey conducted her research.

Tracking the magnificent mountain gorillas through the lush slopes of the Virungas is one of the most thrilling and moving wildlife experiences to be had. This is Rwanda's main tourist attraction and permits are required. Groups are limited to eight persons and there is a one hour time limit to spend with these gentle giants.  Permit fees are currently $1,500 and help fund programs to protect the mountain gorilla and their habitat. Conservation projects and education programs in local communities adjacent to the parks are also supported with a portion of these fees.

Plan to spend a minimum of three days to see the gorillas.  You can easily combine this with safari plans in Tanzania or Kenya. 

Rwanda is a small country of great diversity, beauty and the towering Virunga volcanoes. The country has taken great strides to recover from the 1994 genocide when more than 800,000 people were murdered and two million fled into exile.   Today, Rwanda has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, and there are more women in its Parliament than any other country in the world.  In addition to the indigenous language of Kinyarwanda, you will hear much French and English in Kigali and the tourist areas.

Rwanda Uganda AkageraNational Park Nyungwe ForestNational Park ● Gitarama ● Butare ● Gisenyi ● Kibuye ● Gisakura ● Byumba Democratic Republicof the Congo Tanzania Burundi Kigali Lake Kivu Lake Muhazi Lake Ihema Lake Rweru Lake Cyohoha Sud Parc Des VirungaNational Park Parc Des VolcansNational Park MgahingaNational Park Bwindi National Park The Virungas ● Kisoro ● Kinigi Karisimbi Mikeno Muhabura Visoke Gahinga Sabinyo ● Ruhengeri Lake Edward Lake Mutanda Lake Bunyoni Lake Bulera Lake Ruhondo Cyangugu Bukavu
Rwanda Highlights

Itineraries

Gorilla trekking is the cornerstone of Rwanda itineraries. Touring Kigali, seeing the golden monkeys and school visits are also popular. Combining Rwanda with a Kenya or Tanzania safari is highly recommended.

Gentle Giants

Itinerary

Day 1
You will be met on arrival at Kigali International Airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you may choose to do some city touring and visit the local market. Spend tonight at one of the downtown Kigali hotels. 
1 Night in Kigali

Day 2
This morning you can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. After lunch you will be transferred to Ruhengeri, the headquarters for gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans (PNV). Check in at one of our preferred lodges. 
4 Nights near Parc National des Volcans 

Day 3
This morning you will rise early for your first gorilla tracking adventure. You will be transferred to the park headquarters where you will meet with the local guides and trackers for trekking formalities and a talk on the etiquette of gorilla tracking. The trekking can take from one to five hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery along with the anticipation of our quest seem to lessen the trekking effort. Once you locate your assigned gorilla group, you will have one hour to spend with them before making your way back down. This afternoon you may want to relax or get a massage!

Day 4
After breakfast and the now familiar trekking formalities, you will re-enter the forest to visit another gorilla family. You will likely find this to be a very different experience than you had the day before!

Day 5
Today you can choose to visit the golden monkeys. Other activities can be arranged including a visit to Imbabazi, the place where Rosamond Carr started an orphanage on her flower plantation in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. Today it is a historical plantation, cultural landmark and non-profit organization with many projects. You can have lunch or tea in the garden and enjoy dance performances. Or hikers may want to trek to Dian Fossey's grave. You may choose to enjoy these "optional activities” on day 4, and do a second gorilla trek today.

Day 6
Today you will bid farewell to the beautiful Virunga Volcanoes and be transferred by road back to Kigali International Airport for your onward flight.

Private Departures:
Contact us to custom-tailor this itinerary for you.

Reservations:
Please plan in advance for any itinerary which includes gorilla tracking. Only a limited number of permits are available in each gorilla park. Permits need to be paid for at the time of the initial safari booking so that they can be purchased immediately.

Fitness Required:
Gorilla tracking is only suitable for travelers who are in good physical condition. You will not be trekking at a fast pace, however you must be able to keep going (with rest breaks) uphill for at least a few hours. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. 

Age Limits:
The minimum age for gorilla tracking is 15 years old. 

 

Silverbacks & Batwa Elders

Itinerary

Day 1
You will be met on arrival at Kigali International Airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you may choose to do some city touring and visit the local market. Spend tonight at one of the downtown Kigali hotels. 
1 Night in Kigali

Day 2
This morning you can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center.  After lunch you will be transferred to Ruhengeri, the headquarters for gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans (PNV).  Check in at one of our preferred lodges.
3 Nights near Parc National des Volcans 

Day 3
This morning you will rise early for your first gorilla tracking adventure. You will be transferred to the park headquarters where you will meet with the local guides and trackers for trekking formalities and a talk on the etiquette of gorilla tracking. The trekking can take from one to five hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery along with the anticipation of our quest seem to lessen the trekking effort. Once you locate your assigned gorilla group, you will have one hour to spend with them before making your way back down. This afternoon you may want to relax or get a massage!

Day 4
Today you will head back to the park to track the endangered golden monkeys.  Later we can arrange for you to visit the local school or one of the many community projects. 

Day 5
Sleep in and enjoy a later breakfast this morning.  You will have time to relax or have a morning activity.  After lunch you depart for Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is part of the spectacular Virunga Range and sits high in the clouds.
2 Nights near Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Day 6 
Today you will walk the Batwa Trail and experience the lives of the Batwa Pygmies.  Accompanied by Batwa Elders, this is an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the unique cultural heritage of the forest’s indigenous people.  As you walk through the forest, the Batwa will demonstrate their traditional hunting techniques and knowledge of medicinal plants. You will also visit the sacred Ngarama cave and enjoy the traditional music and dance of this rich and fading culture.

Day 7
Depart for Bwindi Forest which sits on the edge of the Albertine rift valley. There are four different areas where you can track the mountain gorillas here. 
2 Night near Bwindi Forest

Day 8
You will set off early this morning for gorilla tracking, which can be through steep, densely forested hills.  Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest requires stamina and can often take much of the day.

Day 9
Begin your onward journey today.

Private Departures -  Contact us to custom-tailor this itinerary for you.

Reservations -  Please plan in advance for any itinerary which includes gorilla tracking.  Only a limited number of permits are available in each gorilla park. Permits need to be paid for at the time of the initial safari booking so that they can be purchased immediately.

Fitness Required – Gorilla tracking is only suitable for travelers who are in good physical condition.   You will not be trekking at a fast pace, however you must be able to keep going (with rest breaks) uphill for at least a few hours.  The terrain is rough and at times muddy. 

Age Limits – The minimum age for gorilla tracking is 15 years old.  

Rwanda & Uganda Safari

Itinerary

Day 1
You will be met on arrival at Kigali International Airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you may choose to do some city touring and visit the local market. Spend tonight at one of the downtown Kigali hotels.
1 Night in Kigali

Day 2
This morning you can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. After lunch you will be transferred to Ruhengeri, the headquarters for gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans (PNV). Check in at one of our preferred lodges. 
3 Nights near Parc National des Volcans 

Day 3
This morning you will rise early for your first gorilla tracking adventure. You will be transferred to the park headquarters where you will meet with the local guides and trackers for trekking formalities and a talk on the etiquette of gorilla tracking. The trekking can take from one to five hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery along with the anticipation of our quest seem to lessen the trekking effort. Once you locate your assigned gorilla group, you will have one hour to spend with them before making your way back down. This afternoon you may want to relax or get a massage!

Day 4
Today you can choose to visit the golden monkeys or visit another gorilla family.  Other activities can be arranged including a visit to Imbabazi, the place where Rosamond Carr started an orphanage on her flower plantation in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. Today it is a historical plantation, cultural landmark and non-profit organization with many projects. You can have lunch or tea in the garden and enjoy dance performances. Or hikers may want to trek to Dian Fossey's grave.

Day 5
You will leave early this morning for Uganda. After you cross the border, you will be taken to the Kisoro Airstrip to board your flight to Kasese. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your lodge. 
3 Nights near Kyambura Gorge

Day 6
You will take an early morning game drive looking for lions and herds of Uganda kob. The Mweya peninsula is one of the best places to look for leopard. Later you will be taken to visit some community projects such as a coffee co-op, bee-keeping program, and a reclaimed wetland tour.

Day 7
The Kyambura Gorge is an extraordinary natural environment and forms a stark contrast to the surrounding grasslands. Here you can track one of our closest animal relatives: the chimpanzee. The chimp population is quite mobile and viewing can be unpredictable but the walk is enchanting.

In the afternoon take a cruise on the Kazinga Channel, which flows between Lakes Edward and George. Kazinga is home to one of the greatest concentration of hippo in Africa and herds of elephant, buffalo and other animals come to drink at the waters edge. The channel is a magnet for water birds, with great flocks of pelicans and others on the shore. This is a great spot to see African fish eagle.

Day 8
Today you will be transferred to the Kasese Airstrip to catch your flight to Entebbe and connect to your onward flight.

Private Departures:
Contact us to custom-tailor this itinerary for you.

Reservations:
Please plan in advance for any itinerary which includes gorilla tracking. Only a limited number of permits are available in each gorilla park. Permits need to be paid for at the time of the initial safari booking so that they can be purchased immediately.

Fitness Required:
Gorilla tracking is only suitable for travelers who are in good physical condition. You will not be trekking at a fast pace, however you must be able to keep going (with rest breaks) uphill for at least a few hours. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. 

Age Limits:
The minimum age for gorilla tracking is 15 years old.  

Accomodations

These are our preferred lodges for gorilla tracking safaris.  A night in Kigali is always recommended before or after your safari.

Parc National des Volcans

This national park is the protected habitat of an estimated 400 endangered mountain gorillas. Advance planning is advised for obtaining gorilla tracking permits and accommodations.

Photo: Virunga Lodge​

Virunga Lodge

The spectacular Virunga Lodge is perched high on a ridge and has stunning views of the Virunga Volcanoes and the twin lakes Bulera and Ruhonda. The organic, ‘bush-chic’ design reflects the local building style and offers eco-luxury comforts to all guests. The bandas are quite spacious and each has its own terrace with breath-taking views of the volcanoes or lakes. Wi-Fi is available in the main lodge building. 

Photo: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

This luxury lodge is located close to the entrance of Parc National des Volcans, where you check in for gorilla trekking.  There are five cottages, two suites and one family cottage. All are stone buildings with Rwandese terracotta tile roofs, and feature large sitting areas, fireplaces, and a sheltered veranda. The main lodge provides as communal dining room, library, sitting area and game room. 

Photo: Wilderness Safaris - artist rendering

Bisate Lodge

Wilderness Safaris opened this luxury lodge in June, 2017.  Situated next to Parc National des Volcans means it is conveniently close to the starting point for gorilla tracking one of the ten habituated mountain gorilla families in this area.  Guests are encouraged to participate in the reforestation of the area, as well as meet the local community.  Each of the six forest villas has its own private deck facing the dramatic Mount Bisoke.   The lodge is located in the natural amphitheater of an eroded volcanic cone.  The word bisate means ‘pieces’ in Kinyarwanda, describing how the cone was once whole but worn away by natural erosion.

Kigali

The capital city has modern hotels, clean streets and bustling markets.

Photo: Serena Hotels

Kigali Serena Hotel

Located on one of Kigali’s charming boulevards, this 5-star hotel caters to the business traveler as well as the leisure market. There is an inviting reception area leading to several different restaurants, lounge areas and a swimming pool and large deck. The rooms offer 24-hour room service, flat-screen satellite TV and Wi-Fi. There is also a gym and spa.    

Photo: Hotel des Mille Collines

Hotel des Mille Collines

This hotel is known around the world as “Hotel Rwanda” because of the 2004 feature film set in this location.  Situated in the city center with breathtaking views over the hills of Kigali, today it is a Kempinski 5-star property.  Rooms and suites offer complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. There is a restaurant offering all-day dining and another for fine dining. 

Travel Information

When to go to Rwanda
Gorilla trekking can be done year-round, and permits are in high demand during the drier months.  June to late September is the dry season which is followed by short rains that last until early December. March to May is when it is generally very rainy. The volcano areas in the north are covered by rainforest and sometimes have snow at the highest peaks. Daytime temperatures average in the mid-70s F with cooler weather in the higher elevations and in the evenings.

Passport & Visa

A passport valid for six months beyond the date of entry, and a tourist visa is required to enter Rwanda. As of January 1, 2018, all travelers to Rwanda, regardless of nationality, will get a 30-day visa on arrival without prior application.  The cost is $30.   If you are traveling beyond Rwanda (and Rwanda is your first point of entry), you can get an East Africa Visa (EAC) which is a joint tourist visa for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.  The cost is $100 and the multiple entry visa is valid for 90 days.  This visa is available online in advance

For further information: The Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Washington, D.C. & U.S. State Department

 

Medical Information
Before traveling to Africa, please consult with your physician. A certificate of yellow-fever immunization is required to enter Rwanda. A malaria prophylaxis is recommended. Although much of Rwanda lies at too high an elevation for malaria to be a major concern, the disease is present. 

To minimize the transmission of human diseases to the gorillas, anyone with a cold, flu or other contagious illness will not be allowed to participate in the trek. Those wanting to have this amazing experience should be in reasonably good condition, as the climb can be challenging.

For further information: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Rwanda