8 Days Rwanda Safari
Having recovered from the horrific genocide that humbled it on its knees in 1994, Rwanda is now a safe country to visit. This tour presents a lifetime opportunity for you to discover some of its best kept secrets. You will track mountain gorilla families that were habituated by Dian Fossey in Volcanoes National Park, you will track golden monkeys. In the rainforest of Nyungwe National Park, you will encounter as many as 13 different primate species including chimpanzees. The expedition will have a happy ending at Lake Kivu, a scenic Rift Valley lake hemmed in by several volcanoes. It’s a great gem for relaxation, swimming and boating.
Day 1: Arrival at Kigali International Airport
On arrival at Kigali International Airport, your safari Guide from Cul tours will treat you to a heartwarming welcome (the Rwandan style). You will be driven to your lodge for an overnight experience. Diner is included in the package.
Day 2: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest NP via Huye (Butare)
After breakfast, you will depart for Butare, the second largest city of Rwanda, also spread over rolling hills, just like the other parts of Rwanda. It is considered as the intellectual city of Rwanda due to its concentration of several academic and research institutions, as well as the National Museum. The first main stopover of the day will be at Nyanza/Nyabisindu) where you will explore the palace of Rwanda’s former Kings, locally known as Mwami. Here, you will find lots of well-preserved royal regalia ranging from kitchen utensils to warfare tools like spear.
The palace has been reconstructed to its 19th century state and bears a traditional dome which is symbolic of the king’s crown.
Visit the National Museum, the most outstanding ethnographic museum of East Africa. Here, you will find the most breathtaking ethnographic and archaeological collections in East Africa, comprising of over 10,000 artifacts. These include archeological excavations, maps, historical photos, pre-historic art objects and artifacts documenting fishing, basketry, hunting, pottery, metallurgy, textiles and woodcarving.
After the tour of the museum, you will be treated to spectacular performances of Rwanda’s local ballet with the Intore-dancers. The choreography is mostly inspired by the elegance of a long horned species of cattle. After a lunch fest in Butare, you will proceed with the journey to Nyungwe Forest National Park.
On your way to the hotel, your driver-guide will take you to Uwinka offices for a briefing. It will focus on what you can expect the next day as you explore chimps and colobus monkeys. This will mentally prepare you.
Enjoy a serene overnight at the Guest House of Gisakura where you will be treated to a full board experience.
Day 3: Primate & Canopy Walk at Nyungwe National Park
Nyungwe Forest NP is a paradise for hikers. This 160m long and 70m high suspension bridge offers a nice introduction to the canopy life for those who have no clue. Some parts of it are quite high and spectacular. The tour here is educative and electrifying. It offers one an incredible chance to walk above the lush montane rainforest and observe a very unique bird’s eye perspective at a comfortable distance! You will take in an exhilarating perspective on lots of butterflies, colourful birds and orchids. Don’t forget to wear warm clothing; it is quite cold up here!
First though, you will pursue a guided chimpanzee trekking excursion at the foot of this ecologically bio diverse destination that is blessed with 300 Angolan colobus. No other place on earth has as many of this species. To stand better chances of seeing the chimpanzees, you are advised to observe silence while in the forest. We shall provide you with packed lunch and drinking water that you can have while in the forest.
Day 4: Transfer to Kibuye and relax in the afternoon
After breakfast, you will leave for Lake Kivu, via green fields of tea plantations. Kivu is a breathtaking freshwater lake, with great views and lots of scenic islands that you can take boat trips to. The most known are Napoleon Island with its colony of fruit bats and Amahoro Island, a locally popular drink out with a sundowner bar.
You will stay at Kibuye, the most beautiful beachfront hotel among the three resorts on Lake Kivu. It’s a great place to relax and meditate. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the fact that Lake Kivu is Bilharzia free and head out for a refreshing swim at sunset! Rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 5: Transfer to Gisenyi by road/boat
Today’s journey will lead you to the north-eastern part of Rwanda where you will experience the daily lives of the locals in a typical countryside of Africa. The journey doubles as a sightseeing tour, offering you unobstructed views of natives attending to their gardens using local tools that date back to the 20th century. If you wish to be part of their day, you are free to join in cultivating bananas, sorghum, cassava, beans, potatoes, rice and even harvest coffee in their steep fields. The main source of livelihood for locals here is tea growing, brick works and casual labour.
After lunch, you can carry on with relaxing at the shores of the beautiful Lake Kivu.
Day 6: Transfer to Volcanoes N.P
Considering that Volcanoes National Park is just one hours’ drive away, we shall depart for it after you have had lunch. You can make the most of time from 8am-12pm to do as much and as little as you want today. You can stay on the beach and enjoy the serenity of lake, or go shopping local crafts! If you love volunteering, we can take you to Imbabazi Orphanage at Mugongo. It was founded in 1994 by Mrs. Rosamond Halsey to care for the genocide orphans. Rosamond was a young American fashion illustrator when alongside her husband Kenneth Carr, an adventurous hunter-explorer, settled in “Congo Belge”, present day Democratic Republic of Congo. After their divorce in 1949, Kenneth left and Rosamond stayed in Congo until 1955. She later moved to northwest Rwanda where she stayed for the next 50 years. She witnessed all Rwanda’s historical events since then and among which was the 1994 genocide. She is the author of Land of a Thousand Hills: My life in Rwanda.
Overnight at your hotel in Kinigi, Volcanoes National Park. It’s a full a board experience, covering for all meals from breakfast-lunch to dinner.
Day 7: Gorilla Tracking – PM Traditional Village
After breakfast you will report at the ORTPN headquarters where your driver-guide will accomplish the necessary formalities for you. You will meet your ranger guide(s) for a briefing about the greatest ape experience ever. Cul Tours and Safaris will drive you to the starting point for the hike at one of the slopes of Volcanoes National Park for your trek.
In the company of two ranger guides and maximum of 7 other tourists, you will pursue one of the 10 habituated groups. It comprises of over 8 members, ranging from infants to adults and mother.
After the trek, you will have lunch at your hotel or at Ruhengeri and in the afternoon (if time allows), you will enjoy an excursion as you explore the beautiful lakes in the region: Lake Bulera & Ruhondo. An excellent vista of the Virunga chain of Volcanoes depends on weather conditions.
Overnight at your hotel. (Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner).
Day 8: Second Gorilla Tracking or another activity – Transfer to Kigali
Among the activities you can pursue on this day at Volcanoes National Park includes a second gorilla trek, visiting one of the groups that lives in higher altitudes. One such is the Susa group, as comprised of over 35 members.
Other options include an exhilarating hiking excursion to the top of the Bisoke volcano (3.711 m). At its summit lies a stunning crater lake that is surrounded by beautiful giant lobelia plants. From here, you will take in fanciful views in all directions, inclusive of the forest zone and bamboo forest at the foot of the mountain.
Option three entails visiting the tombstone where Dian Fossey was buried in 1985 after she was murdered by poachers. She was a foremost expert on gorillas who went above and beyond to save them from getting critically endangered as a result of poaching. Not so far from her grave is Karisoke Research Center, a conservation institution established in her memory.
The last option is tracking Golden Monkeys, scientifically known as cercopithecus mitis kandti. This endangered species comprises of groups with about 40 individuals, led by an alpha male. You stand great chances of encountering them anytime of the year because they rarely migrate. If you have weak knees, we can book for you a visit to Kabatwa troop. It is easier to access as they stay in the lower slopes of the mountain, not so far from the park Headquarters. On the other hand, Musanga troop lives in the higher altitude near the Karisimbi volcano.
Transfer to Kigali International Airport ahead of your departure from Rwanda.