BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE ITINERARY
Explore Rwanda in this 8 day adventure involving top safari activities including gorilla and golden monkey trekking, Dian Fossey hike, Musanze caves tour, mount Karisimbi hike , Lake Kivu boat cruise and the Congo Nile trail.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN KIGALI & VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Your Gorilla Cousins Rwanda tour guide will pick up at the Kigali International Airport and brief you on your upcoming 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, as well as a local market and local handicraft workshop.
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 & DIAN FOSSEY KARISOKE RESEARCH CENTER
After a very early breakfast, your GORILLA SAFARIS RWANDA guide will take you to the Park headquarters where you will be receiving your orientation for the Gorilla Tracking. Upon arrival at the Park Headquarters, you will be served coffee and tea while you have the opportunity to watch a group of local entertainers, dancing and drumming. Immediately afterwards, you will be assigned to one of the groups, headed by one of the Park Rangers. The Ranger will then give you a briefing of the Gorilla Tracking and the Park etiquette. You will then proceed to the track where you will begin your search for the Mountain Gorillas.
The Tracking of the Mountain Gorillas can take quite a few hours, as the Gorillas move about the park and, as a result, it may take some time to locate the specific group you are tracking; this can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours. When you do meet up with the Gorilla Family, you are permitted to spend up to one hour watching and photographing them. Because of the uncertainty as to how long it takes, your accommodation will prepare a packed lunch for you to eat in the forest; you are not permitted to eat when with the Gorillas, so you should take your lunch either before or after you meet the Gorillas. We have a section on our website dedicated to the Gorillas, their habitat, what you can expect when tracking them, and data on the different families that are living in the Park. We suggest you consult this section prior to going on your adventure.
When you are finished the Gorilla Tracking adventure, you will return to your vehicle and re-unite with your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide, who will then take you back to the Park Headquarters where you will begin your walk on the trail to the Karisoke Research Center, located between Mount Visoke (a.k.a. Mount Bisoke) and Mount Karisimbi. This is the place that Dian Fossey, the famous American Zoologist, conducted her research on the Mountain Gorillas. Fossey was murdered and buried at the Center. Visitors are welcome to come to the center to learn about the Gorillas and the history of the center itself. The roundtrip from the Park Headquarters to the Karisoke Research Center takes 3 hours. Besides viewing the grave of Dian Fossey, the Center is a haven for information on Gorillas and other Primates living in the Rwandan forests. There are tours to be taken at the center and many very informative people to enhance your Primate knowledge.
Before night fall, your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide will take you to your accommodation, where you will have dinner. The lodges in the park usually arrange some form of local entertainment for their guests; usually in the form of dancing and drumming.
DAY 3: GOLDEN MONKEY TRACKING & MUSANZE CAVES
After an early morning breakfast, you will be taken to the Park Headquarters, as for the Gorilla Tracking. Again, you will be served coffee and tea while you get an opportunity to be entertained by the local drummers and dancers. Afterwards, you will be assigned to your Golden Monkey Tracking group with a Park Ranger; you will then be highlighted on the tracking procedure and protocol for the Park. After this orientation, you will be taken to the location of the start of the tracking into the forest.
Unlike the Mountain Gorilla Tracking, the Golden Monkey tracking does not take as long, in terms of meeting up with the primates, as they are usually feeding in the Bamboo Forest at the base of the mountain. You will get to spend an hour with the Golden Monkeys, after which you will then return to your vehicle and re-unite with the GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide, who will escort you back to your accommodation for lunch.
After lunch, you will be taken to the Musanze Caves, a short distance from your accommodation. These caves have been used by local people to live in; now they are an attraction for visitors. The largest of the caves is 2 kilometers in length.
You will be taken back to your accommodation before night fall. Dinner will be at your accommodation.
DAY 4: MOUNT KARISIMBI CLIMBING & OVERNIGHT ON THE VOLCANO
After an early breakfast, your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide will take you to the track where you can begin your 2-day climb of Mount Karisimbi; which is the 5th highest snow-capped peak in Africa, the highest of the peaks in the Virunga Range. Mount Karisimbi sits on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Camping gear is required for this journey. Everything you will need for the 2 days will have to be brought with you, including food; porters are available to carry your gear.
Lunch and Dinner will be prepared by the guide that is leading the way up the mountain. The hike is not an ordinary one, in that there are many wondrous things to see; several bird species as well as primates are a usual sight when climbing. There are 4 belts of vegetation from the dense forest at the base of the mountain to the barren volcanic core at the summit. During the rainy season one should expect muddy trails; although even in the dry periods, there is rain at these high altitudes. There are many photo opportunities along the way and as climbs go in Africa, this is one of the most interesting in terms of the different terrain and the fauna that exists in every stage of the climb.
DAY 5: MOUNT KARISIMBI SUMMIT & LAKE KIVU
After an early morning breakfast, you will continue your ascent up to the summit, which is 4,507 meters above sea level. The vistas at the top are quite extraordinary. The descent takes approximately 6 hours. When you get to the base of the mountain, you will be rejoined with your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide who will then take you to a Rwandese restaurant for lunch, this will be en-route to Lake Kivu, a 3 hour drive.
After lunch, you will continue your drive to Lake Kivu and your accommodation. The afternoon is scheduled for a day of rest and relaxation; a time to enjoy the beaches of Lake Kivu and possibly some water sports or just lazing around the pool of the hotel. After the past few days of tracking the Silverbacks and Golden Monkeys and climbing the volcanic Mount Karisimbi, this time will be most appreciated in terms of catching up and rejuvenating.
Dinner will be served at your hotel.
DAY 6: LAKE KIVU BOAT CRUISE & SEA KAYAKING.
After breakfast, you will be taken to the landing site where the boat cruises depart from. You will board the boat and travel to a number of the islands on the Lake; you will meet many of the local people, getting the opportunity to visit their village, see how their lifestyle is, their tools and how they earn their living from the lake. Please refer to the write up on the side giving detailed information of the activities that are possible on Lake Kivu.
Lunch will be served at your accommodation.
After you have rested a bit after your lunch, your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide will take you to Kibuye where you will go for a sea-Kayaking afternoon around the Bay; paddling on the silent waters of Lake Kivu around the islands. This is a unique opportunity to visit some of the local fishing villages along the shoreline, enjoying the beautiful vistas of the lake. You will return to your accommodation before nightfall.
Dinner will be served at the lodge.
DAY 7: LAKE KIVU & THE CONGO NILE TRAIL
After breakfast, your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide will take you to the starting point of the Congo Nile Trail, where you will pick up your bicycles for the day-long expedition along the shoreline of Lake Kivu. The Congo-Nile Trail can be a 3-day bicycle or 5-day hiking trip, but there are sections that are most appropriate for a one-day journey. You will pass through local villages and towns en route, visiting with local people and sampling some of the traditional foods that are being prepared along the road. There is little traffic on this road, but caution must be taken, as in any bicycle trip such as this, as there are the occasional trucks and buses that will pass you along the way.
Your lodge will prepare a packed lunch for you to take with, so you do not have to look for a place to have lunch on the road. There are many places to stop for drinks and snacks should you be so inclined.
It is a most spectacular way to spend the day, roaming from one village to another to witness the lifestyle of the people and to witness (and participate in) the traditional fishing techniques and nets that the locals use; the most common money earner for the people on the shores of Lake Kivu. Before dusk, your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide will meet you at a predetermined location, and return you to your lodge. Your guide will return the bicycles to the rental shop after dropping you off, so that you do not have to do the return trip.
Dinner will be served at the lodge..
DAY 8: RETURN TO KIGALI
After breakfast, you will pack up your things and start the journey to Kigali to catch your departure flight from the International Airport. If time permits, your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide will give you a guided tour of Kigali City, including the Genocide Memorial Site, commemorating the 1994 unrest in Rwanda.
Your GORILLA COUSINS RWANDA guide will take you to a local Rwandan Restaurant in Kigali for you to try some traditional foods. When it’s time, your guide will escort you to the airport.
End of Tour