Come face-to-face with rare mountain gorillas on the ultimate wildlife adventure. Trek through Rwanda’s steamy jungle and spend an unforgettable hour in the presence of these majestic creatures.. Stay in a boutique hotel nestled at the foot of the stunning Virunga Mountains. Get ready for breath-taking views.. Discover a different, darker side to the country at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre – a place to learn about and reflect on the atrocities the Rwandan people faced in the mid-90s..
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 our lodge, nestled in the scenic slopes of the Sabinyo Volcano, 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.
Breakfast Included: 3 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 2
Kigali / Ruhengeri
Welcome to Rwanda. This Independent Experience starts at Kigali Airport where you will be met by our local representative. 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 visit the Genocide Museum, which was opened in 2004 to mark the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Whilst the genocide occurred as a result of a complex series of factors, it can only be seen as an absolute tragedy to Rwanda and its people. Time spent at the museum is sure to be emotionally moving, but it is an important way to understand the sheer courage and resilience of the people of this beautiful, tiny nation.
Then you travel towards the gorillas with a drive through the verdant rolling hills of Rwanda. You’ll be staying in the Musanze region (formerly Ruhengeri).
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.
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. The groups include Group 13, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Umubano, Susa, Kwitonda (which has recently arrived from the DRC) and the Hirwa group, newly formed from different habituated families. 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 the great apes before trekkers must leave, however reluctantly. Be aware that the trek can be strenuous and may reach altitudes of almost 3,000 metres 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 for, 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. Be mesmerised 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.
Notes: Your gorilla trek will be a shared activity. You will be accompanied by other travellers, with a maximum of 8 people per gorilla group, plus your guides.
Ruhengeri / Kigali
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 fans of the book and/or movie 'Gorillas in the Mist', the Dian Fossey Trek is anther 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, including the famous Digit. 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. 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 mesmerising experience. After your experience today you will then travel back to Kigali (approximately 2 hours) late in the afternoon or early in the evening. Dinner tonight will be at your own expense and can be enjoyed at one of the many nearby restaurants.
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).