12 Days Rwanda primates, wildlife and culture safari
12 Days Rwanda primates, wildlife and culture safari is a classic Rwanda safari that has specifically been designed for visitors looking to spend a long holiday in the country. The main highlight of this 12 day Rwanda safari is getting to see the habituated mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, also known as ‘Pac National Des Volcans’ in French.
Detailed Itinerary for the 12 Days Rwanda primates, wildlife and culture safari.
Day 1: Pickup from Kigali and Transfer to Volcanoes National Park.
Pickup from Kigali & City Tour: Welcome to Rwanda! On day 1 of your 12 Days Rwanda primates, wildlife and culture safari, your guide will pick you up from Kigali international Airport upon your arrival. You will then embark on a short tour of Kigali city where you will visit some key tourist sites such as; Kigali Genocide Memorial, Caplaki Craft Village, the Presidential Palace, Camp Kigali, Nyamirambo Women’s Center, and Kimironko market to mention but a few. You will have lunch in Kigali and later proceed with your transfer to Volcanoes National Park.
Transfer to Volcanoes: Your transfer to Volcanoes National Park will take about 2⅟₂ hours of driving. The national park is located in the northeastern part of Rwanda in Ruhengeri district. The park is the only safe haven for the endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Upon your arrival in the park, check into your lodge for dinner and accommodation at Kinigi Guesthouse/ Virunga Lodge/ Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge.
Day 2: Gorilla Trekking and Iby’iwacu Community Tour.
Gorilla Trekking: Today marks the highlight of your 12 Rwanda Gorillas Adventure! Have breakfast early in the morning from your lodge. It is also recommended that you ask the chef to prepare for you packed lunch which you will take with you to the pack. Transfer to the park headquarters in Kinigi where your gorilla trekking experience will begin. Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes national park starts at 8am after a briefing from the head ranger at the park. You are therefore advised to arrive at the park by 7am in the morning. Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes lasts between two to eight hours with an hour to spend with the gorillas once you have located a gorilla group. You will be given time to rest and have your lunch in case you packed some. Later return back to the park headquarters for your gorilla trekking certificate and reconnect with your guide.
Iby’iwacu Community Tour: After your amazing gorilla trekking experience, transfer to the Iby’iwacu community village for a community cultural tour. The Iby’iwacu village community is located just a few kilometers outside the national park. The community members are reformed poachers who have been integrated into the conservation projects in the national park. Get to mingle with the locals, watch cultural dance performances and even listen to interesting folk tales from the elders of the community.
Later drive back to your lodge for dinner and accommodation.
Day 3: Golden Monkey Tracking and Visit Musanze Cave.
Golden Monkey Tracking: Wake up early in the morning and have breakfast at your lodge. Your guide will transfer you to the park where upon your arrival; you will sign into the visitors’ register and proceed for a briefing from the head guide at the park. Just like gorilla trekking, golden monkey tracking activities in the park begin at exactly 8am every morning and can take up to six hours of hiking and tracking. You will therefore be required to report to the park by 7am in the morning. Once you have located a group of habituated golden monkeys, you will be given only an hour to spend in their midst. You will be given time to have your lunch in case you packed some from your lodge.
Visit Musanze Caves: After your primate tracking experience, you will embark on a guided hiking expedition to explore some caves in Musanze town. Musanze caves were opened to the general public and tourists in 2013 by the Rwanda Development Board. The lushly and green rocked caves run for about 2km and are home to cave bats. These caves were created as a result of volcanic eruption about 65 million years ago. You will be given a pair of gloves, keen caps, gum boots, a face mask, helmet and head cap with a touch to enhance your visibility when exploring the caves. You will learn about the history of these caves and their cultural significance to Rwanda’s historical past.
Later return to your lodge for lunch and an overnight stay.
Day 4: Dian Fossey Hike & Visit Karisoke Research Centre.
Hike Dian Fossey Gravesite: Have breakfast from your lodge, grab your packed lunch and head out for a guided hike to Dian Fossey Gravesite. Dian Fossey was a well-known American primatologist and gorilla conservationist. She is famous for her scientific research that she carried out on mountain gorilla groups in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. During her stay in Rwanda, Dian actively participated in conservation projects, strongly opposing poaching of gorillas and other wildlife animals. In December 1985, Fossey was found dead in her cabin at a remote campsite in Rwanda. She was buried next to her favorite gorilla, ‘Digit’ and ten other mountain gorillas that died in Volcanoes national park. The hike to Dian’s tomb starts at the park headquarters in Kinigi at exactly 7am. The hike involves a 10-15 minute stroll to the park’s border and then you will hike through the lush green forests, taking about 1 to 3 hours depending on your hiking pace and physical condition. You will then descend the steep mountain taking about 1 to 2 hours before finally coming to Dian Fossey’s Campsite. The Campsite is found at an altitude of about 3,000 meters above sea level.
Visit Karisoke Research Center: A hike to Dian Fossey’s tomb will also see you taking a tour of the Karisoke Research center, where Fossey carried out most of her research work along with her team of researchers.
Later return to your lodge for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 5: Transfer to Lake Kivu and Evening Boat Cruise.
Transfer to Lake Kivu: After having breakfast at your lodge/Guesthouse, proceed with your transfer to Lake Kivu. Lake Kivu is one of the great lakes in Africa, and it is also the largest fresh water lakes that lie within the Albertine Rift Valley. You will have lunch enroute.
Afternoon Boat Cruise: You will get to visit Lake Kivu and take a boat ride on the lake. Get to explore the stunning birdlife around the lake and its surrounding areas. While on the boat cruise, you will get to see some of the spectacular bird species around like; the yellow- billed kites, common waxbill and cardinal wood pecker among others. You will also get to visit the peace island of Amahoro and Napoleon Island which is well known for its bat caves.
After your short boat ride experience on Lake Kivu, drive to your designated hotel for dinner and an overnight stay at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel.
Day 6: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Transfer to Nyungwe: Have breakfast at your lodge and check out and proceed with your transfer to Nyungwe National Park. You will have a stopover at the Royal King’s Palace in Nyanza for a short tour of the palace, have lunch and continue with your drive to Nyungwe Forest National Park. Upon your arrival in Nyungwe National Park, Check into your lodge/hotel for dinner and accommodation at Gisakura Guesthouse (Budget and Mid-range)/ Nyungwe One & Only House (Luxury).
Day 7: Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe.
Chimpanzee Trekking: This day marks one of the highlights of your 12 day Rwanda safari. Have an early breakfast and then head to the Park’s headquarters in Uwinka where you will be briefed by the park’s head ranger and placed in trekking groups of 8 members per group. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest national park begins at exactly 8am, so endeavor to keep time and make sure you are at the Uwinka center by 7am.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to approximately 80 habituated chimpanzees. While tracking chimps in the forest, you might as well spot other primate species such as; the black and white colobus monkey, red-tailed monkey, golden monkey and other monkey species. You will have your packed lunch after your chimp trekking activity or return to your hotel for lunch and good rest.
Community Cultural Tour (Optional): Later in the evening, you can opt to go on a cultural encounter to one of the nearby villages. While there, you will get to learn more about the Rwandan culture interact with the local people, get to see their daily lifestyles and even enjoy performances from the local dance groups.
Later return to your lodge for dinner and an overnight.
Day 8: Canopy walkway and Visit Gisakura Tea Estate.
Nyungwe Canopy Walk: Wake up early in the morning, have your breakfast and head back to the park’s headquarters at Uwinka Centre. This is where you will begin your hiking trip, which will lead you to the Canopy Walkway. The Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk is the most exciting and adventurous activity in Nyungwe National Park. This activity is not for the faint of hearts as it involves walking along the canopy walkway, which stretches 160 meters long and extends 70 meters above the forest ground. The Canopy walkway in Nyungwe national park gives visitors a chance to explore the national park from above, as visitors along the canopy walkway can get a panoramic view of the forest canopy. In addition to this, visitors also have an opportunity to see wildlife in the park such as; monkeys, chimpanzees, butterflies and different bird species.
Visit Gisakura Tea Estate: Later in the evening, you can head to Gisakura Tea estate. Here, you will be taken through the process of tea growing, harvesting, processing and packaging. You will even get to taste the delicious taste of the final product.
Return back to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Hike to Isumo Water Falls.
Hike to Isumo waterfalls: Have breakfast at your lodge and later head out for a guided hiking expedition to Isumo waterfalls in Nyungwe Forest national park. The Isumo waterfall trail is a favorite hiking trail amongst hikers in the national park. It takes about 4 hours to complete the 10.6 kilometer long circuit. This trail passes through tea plantations and Nyungwe forest leading to the popular Isumo water falls. Visitors hiking this trail can on a good day sight various primate and bird species.
Later head back to your lodge for lunch and relax for the rest of the evening. Dinner and overnight stay at your lodge.
Day 10: Transfer to Akagera National Park.
Transfer to Akagera: Wake in the morning and have your breakfast at leisure. Your guide will pick you up from your lodge and transfer you to Akagera National Park. The national park is situated in the eastern province of Rwanda, in the district of Kayonza. The park covers approximately 1,122 square kilometers making it the biggest national park in Rwanda. Akagera national park is also Rwanda’s only refuge for savannah wildlife, and it is also the only national park where you will get a chance to see the highly sought after Big Five animals of Africa, including the lion, African Bush elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo.
Upon your arrival in the park, you will check into your lodge for dinner and accommodation at Magashi Safari Camp/Karenge Bush Camp/Akagera Game Lodge.
Day 11: Morning Game Drive and Afternoon Boat Cruise.
Morning Game Drive: Have your breakfast early in the morning and head out for a morning game drive. Get to explore the beautiful savanna and landscape in the park. You will also have the opportunity to see wildlife animals in the park like; elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards, rhinos, waterbucks to mention but a few. You will return back to your lodge for lunch, rest for a short while.
Evening Boat Cruise: Later embark on an evening boat cruise on Lake Ihema. While on your boat cruise, you will get to see the splendid wildlife at the park like; Nile Crocodiles, Hippos and some water birds like; the marabou stork, herons and the African fish eagle. After your boat cruise, you can opt to go guided nature walk and explore the marvelous flora and fauna species that Akagera National Park has to offer.
Return back to your lodge for dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Day 12: Community Cultural Tour and Transfer back to Kigali.
Community Cultural Tour: Wake in the morning and have a relaxed breakfast at your lodge. Later embark on a cultural tour to the nearby local communities neighboring Akagera national park. Get to visit the Imigongo Art and Craft Centre which was designed by Prince Kakira. While there, you will get to explore the traditional made houses, which were constructed by the local women using coloured dung and clay. You will also get to visit the Humure Refugee Village which is a 40 minute drive from Akagera national park. The community village was established by the government of Rwanda to provide a safe haven for refugees who had returned to the country after the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. Most of the members of the community come from different cultural backgrounds and yet live in harmony with one another.
Transfer back to Kigali: After your community cultural tour, proceed with your transfer back to Kigali where your guide will drop you off at your preferred hotel in the city or at Kigali International Airport. End of Tour.
End of 12 Days Rwanda primates, wildlife and culture safari