Duration: 7 days
Highlights: Nyungwe National Park, Lake Kivu, Volcanoes National Park
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Day 1: Arrive in Kigali
Meet your representative outside Kigali International Airport who will then transfer you to the hotel for the night.
Rwanda’s premier grand hotel, Hôtel des Milles Collines, is steeped in history. Today the resort boasts comfortable, contemporary-styled bedrooms, a large outdoor pool with poolside massage hut, and a rooftop restaurant and premier lounge bar. However, in 1994 Hôtel des Milles Collines was much more; a symbol of hope for many during the dark days of the Rwandan Genocide. It was here, within the walls of this luxury resort, where over a thousand Tutsis sought refuge and found protection. The event has since been depicted in the Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda. Today, the hotel withholds its 4-star label and continues to enjoy incredible views across the hills of Kigali (its name translating at the ‘Hotel of a Thousand Hills’). Mille Collines also strives to promote Rwandan art and culture, hanging its walls with work from local artists and enjoying weekly cultural nights featuring live performances. With its wealth of history and heritage, and close proximity to the city’s popular attractions, Hôtel des Milles Collines is a fantastic choice for those visiting Kigali.
Overnight: Hotel des Mille Collines
Day 2: Drive to Nyungwe National Park
Today drive south towards Nyungwe National Park. Your hotel is on the edge of Lake Kivu and you will get there after lunch and have some time to relax in the afternoon.
Mantis Kivu Marina Bay Hotel is located in Rusizi on the shores of Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s largest lakes. From its vantage, the hotel enjoys stunning views of the lake and the rolling hills which border it. Decked out in brown and golden tones, its 79 rooms have private balconies from where to enjoy Rwanda’s famed coffee and the surrounding views. While not enjoying tantalizing meals at the La Vue Restaurant or relaxing by the lake view swimming pool, explore the area on boat rides or by kayak. Rusizi is located at the start of the Kivu Belt which offers a number of great walking trails. Visit a coffee processing project and learn all about coffee roasting as you taste different varieties. End the day watching the fishermen row to the lake for night fishing from your perch at the Rose Bar.
Overnight: Kivu Marina Bay
Day 3: Nyungwe National Park
Early this morning drive to Nyungwe National Park (approximately one hour) and head out on a chimpanzee track - a truly thrilling experience. Follow the chimp family through the forest for about an hour and watch was they swing through the trees or feed on the fruit and nuts that have fallen to the ground.
Tucked away in the southwest corner of Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is a plethora of extraordinary sites and activities. With over 80 species of mammal, 13 species of primate, 1000 plant types and more than 300 kinds of bird - 27 of which are endemic - it is little wonder that many hail this forest as Rwanda’s most important site for biodiversity. The chance to track chimpanzees is high up on the list of things to do, with over 400 of the creatures living beneath the forest’s dense canopy, some of which have been habituated to human contact. To add to the mystical beauty of this ancient rainforest, Nyungwe is home to the source of the world’s longest river – the Nile. With 130 kilometres of hiking trails, trekking through the rainforest is sublime, particularly the route which crosses East Africa’s highest canopy walk. This spectacular landscape is not to be missed.
Overnight: Kivu Marina Bay
Day 4: Lake Kivu
After a leisurely breakfast drive north along the edge of Lake Kivu to your hotel. You will arrive in the afternoon and there is the opportunity to set out on the lake in a kayak with a professional guide (at an additional cost).
Lake Kivu is as impressive as it is picturesque; forming part of the Great Rift Valley, this spectacular body of water is the largest lake in Rwanda and one of the largest in Africa. The lake is surrounded by dramatic hills and mountains, dotted with idyllic islands, and fringed by sandy beaches and several pretty, tranquil fishing towns. Between the three main towns along the shores – Gisenyi (Rubavu), Karongi and Rusizi – there is plenty to explore around the lakeside, from visiting museums to hiking along the shores. Visitors can also venture into the deep waters - free of hippos and crocodiles - and enjoy a variety of water activities: kayaking, a ride on a local amato boat, windsurfing, fishing and trips to the gorgeous islands.
Overnight: Lake Kivu Serena
Day 5: Drive to Volcanoes National Park
Drive to Volcanoes National Park and arrive at the lodge in time for lunch. In the afternoon visit the Karisoke Research Centre which was set up by Dian Fossey and the Iby’iwacu Cultural Village which was set up by ex-poachers.
Visit the Karisoke exhibit to learn about the history of the Dian Fossey Fund as well as the current research and protection practices of the gorillas. The exhibit features Dian Fossey artifacts, a 3D interactive model of the Virunga Mountains, casts of real gorilla nose prints and more. Guests are welcome to stop by to see the exhibit or guided tours can be arranged.
IBY’IWACU CULTURAL VILLAGE: This cultural encounter is a local community project made up of people who were previously poachers in the park but have now chosen to support conservation and protection of mountain gorillas and other wildlife species. Rwanda’s past and present are showcased for visitors to personally engage in cultural experiences. Guests can participate in riding a wooden bicycle, grinding millet and sorghum, shooting bows and arrows or be entertained by the Intore dances people. There is an opportunity to learn more about banana and sorghum, these are staple foods in Rwanda. They can also engage in a botany safari with traditional healers which will educate them about the herbs that are used for treatments.
Overnight: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 6: Gorilla Tracking
After a very early breakfast depart on a gorilla track, tracking can take anywhere between two to six hours. We will provide a list of necessary equipment and clothing. Once the gorilla family are spotted, guests have one hour with them. This is one of the most magical experiences anyone could wish for and our only advice is to make sure you put the camera down for a while to fully enjoy it.
The park features ten habituated groups and the trek takes from 30 minutes to 8 hours depending on location of gorillas, nature of the habitat, walking speed and other factors. Visitors are given one hour to be with the gorillas in the wild. Across the world, it is only in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where guests can catch a glimpse of these rare species while they are still in their natural habitat. Mountain gorillas are listed as critically endangered species and there are fewer than 1000 that are left in the entire world today.
Overnight: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 7: Kigali - depart
Today drive back to Kigali where there will be some time to do a little shopping before catching the flight home.