BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE ITINERARY
This 4 days visit to Rwanda offers three activities in the Rwanda safaris they include gorilla tracking at volcanoes national park,mountain climbing at Bisoke, and golden monkey tracking at the volcanoes national park.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN KIGALI AND TRAVEL TO VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK.
While on a trip to Rwanda,Your Gorilla Cousins Rwanda tour guide will pick up at the Kigali International Airport and brief you on your upcoming 2-day Gorilla Tracking safari. . Your journey will begin immediately you are in the vehicle in the parking lot; heading off to Volcanoes National park, a two and a half hour drive. Time permitting, your Gorilla Cousins Rwanda guide will give you a tour of Kigali city; this will include the Genocide Memorial Center, the most famous attraction in the Capital City.
You will then drive the two and a half hours it takes to Volcanoes National Park and check in at your accommodation. Dinner will be served at your lodge.
DAY 2: GORILLA TRACKING AND IBYLWACU CULTURAL CENTER
You will get up early in the morning, be served a quick breakfast at your lodgings and head off to the Park Headquarters of Volcanoes National Park. Upon arrival at the Park Headquarters, you will be served coffee or tea, while a local cultural group entertain you with a local dance and drumming routine. Shortly thereafter, the final paperwork will be finished, and you will be assigned to one of the 10 families of Mountain Gorillas. A short briefing and talk about park etiquette will be given by your Park Ranger and then you will be ready to head off to the track for your search for the gorillas.
You will then drive to the starting point for your tracking. Because the Mountain Gorillas are forever moving about the forest, it could take anywhere from an hour to 8 hours to meet up with the particular Gorilla Family you have been assigned to. There are rangers in the forest following the trail left by the Gorillas in the early morning; these rangers are in constant contact with your Ranger Guide. When the Gorillas are spotted, your Ranger Guide will then be alerted and you will proceed to the exact location that they are at that moment. We highly suggest you take a few snacks with you and water, should you be in the forest for many hours; these snacks you will have to eat either before or after meeting the Gorillas, as it is not permitted to eat in front of them. When you finally meet up with the Gorilla Family, you will be allowed one hour of observing and photographing.
After the Gorilla Tracking, you will return to your accommodation for lunch and a little rest. There is an opportunity for your Gorilla Cousins Rwanda guide to take you to the Ibyiwacu Cultural Center in Kiningi. Here at the Center you can watch local drummers and dancers perform their native music and dance moves. In addition, the local people put on costumes and recreate a traditional wedding ceremony for their guests, a most interesting drama to watch.
Before night fall, you will be returned to your accommodation for dinner.
DAY 3: CLIMBING MOUNT BISOKE
After breakfast you will be taken to the base of Mount Bisoke (a.k.a. Visoke) The climb is not very demanding, but the elevation may disturb some, in terms of breathing; in addition there are some steep stretches along the trail. The summit is 3,700 meters above sea level; at the top is a beautiful Crater Lake. Mount Visoke is both in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Rwanda, the summit is in Rwanda.
The ascent takes around 3 hours, the round trip, 5 hours, possible longer if one is not experienced. Guides will escort you and porters are available to carry your luggage. Your hotel will pack you a lunch for the trip; one should take plenty of drinking water. After the climb-hike, you will be taken back to your accommodation, where you can rest up and have some dinner.
DAY 4: GOLDEN MONKEY TRACKING AND RETURN TO KIGALI
After another early breakfast you will return to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters to report for your Golden Monkey Tracking. As on the day you went Gorilla Tracking, you will be served coffee and tea while you watch a local drum and dance group entertain you briefly. You will then be assigned a group and a Ranger Guide, who will brief you on the Golden Monkey Tracking procedure. You will then go with your group to the track and begin your search for the Golden Monkeys. As they prefer bamboo to eat, they are not as difficult as the Mountain Gorillas to find; your search will begin at the foothills in the bamboo forest, which is nearby.
After your Golden Monkey Tracking is complete, you will return to the vehicle and re-unite with your Gorilla Cousins Rwanda guide, who will then escort you back to your hotel for lunch. After you have eaten, you will pack up your things and start your journey back to Kigali. When the time is right, your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight. Time permitting, your guide can also take you to a local market and/or handicraft workshop if you are interested in doing some shopping before leaving Rwanda.
VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK/PARC NATIONAL DES VOLCANO
Volcanoes National Park, approximately 160 square kilometers in size, is situated in the Northern part of Rwanda. This is the oldest National Park in Africa, established in 1925; initially a very small conservation area to protect the Mountain Gorillas from poachers. The park was enlarged a few years later, then split in two with the political boundaries between Rwanda and the Congo being established. Dian Fossey, the American Zoologist who conducted her research originally in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, shifted into Volcanoes National Park in 1967, because of security concerns. Fossey established the Karisoke Research Center, where she continued with her Mountain Gorilla Research and advocacy work to protect these primates from poachers. In 1985 she was murdered at the Center, where she was buried. The Center has expanded its work, now employing over 100 people; in addition to the research and advocacy work, the Center is a tourist attraction that can be easily reached by a two-hour trail from the park headquarters.
There is little doubt that the main attraction to Volcanoes National Park is tracking the endangered Mountain Gorillas, the foremost wildlife experience on the continent. The park does offer many other attractions for visitors; there are daily Golden Monkey Tracking tours, one-day and two-day volcano climbing to the summits of Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke, respectively. In September every year there is a baby gorilla naming ceremony; it is called Kwita Izina. There are lakes and caves to be explored, as well as a number of unusually interesting cultural encounters with local people. The Park is home to almost 200 bird species, 29 of them endemic to the Rwenzori Mountains and the Virungas.
Due to the large altitudinal range in the park, there is a large variety in the types of vegetation that exist; everything from grasslands to dense forests. These different flora support equally as diverse fauna. In the park one can see black-fronted duiker, buffalo, spotted hyena, bushbuck, and even a few elephants. Tourism is the main function of the park; the majority of the revenues generated by the park are put back into the park for maintenance and for the conservation of the wildlife that lives within its borders. Around 10% of the revenue goes to local projects in the area to help the indigenous people benefit from the large revenue stream generated by the park.
FIVE VOLCANOES BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel is located in Musanze Province, on the road to Kinigi, where the Volcanoes National Park head office is situated. This 5-star accommodation has beautiful views of the rolling hills and the neighbouring forest. There are 13 rooms, a VIP cottage, each with air conditioning, flat screen TV, a refrigerator and a kettle. The hotel has a restaurant, pool, traditional sauna and a steam sauna.
SABYINYO SILVERBACK LODGE
The Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is also located in Musanze District, close to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters. The views of the Virunga Range from this foothill location are excellent. The lodge comprises of 8 cottages, all with stunning views of the Virunga Volcanoes, and are well spaces for privacy. Each cottage has a sitting room area with a fireplace, a bedroom and dressing room. The large bathrooms have both a bath and a shower with 24 hour hot water.
There is a sheltered balcony on each of the cottages, where one can have a relaxing breakfast. There is a library and games room in the main lodge building; also a bar and restaurant.
Virunga Lodge is located an hour’s drive from the Volcanoes National Park Headquarters, with one of the most magnificent views in Africa; the lodge is on a ridge overlooking Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo. There are 8 spacious stone rooms, all with wooden floors, locally made wooden furniture and large verandas. The private toilet and shower for each is connected by a short covered walkway. Toilets at the lodge are low-flushing eco toilets and the showers are solar heated hot water. They offer free evening entertainment in the form of local Indore dancers.