By choosing to participate in a Best of Rwanda, preparing yourself for an all-around educational and enriching experience of this beautiful country! Although trekking with the gorillas may undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip, Rwanda is also home to many other rare, beautiful, unique and endangered species of animals and birds that cannot be found anywhere else in this world!! Combined with the stunning views of volcanoes, hills, plains and rain forests; the warm and friendly smiles from the local people and the opportunity to participate in day-to-day local traditions, culture, activities and community development, Rwanda promises to be a destination you will NOT soon forget!!!
Day 1: Kigali, Rwanda (city tour
Our professional, local guide will greet you at your hotel in the morning and brief you on your trip. To start things off, you will be given a tour of Kigali, Rwanda's capital city which was named in 1907 by Dr. Richard Kandt, the first colonial resident governor of Rwanda. It is the main administrative and economic centre of Rwanda. Surrounded by lush hills of green, it is the cleanest and safest city in the region. Kigali’s face is her fortune: a dramatic beauty from which its name is derived. There are, however, other contributing factors - it is a city that delights the mind as well as the eye of any visitor and is a city where the past lives comfortably with the present.
On the tour, you will have the opportunity to see the following:
Visit the 1994 Gisozi Genocide Memorial site.
Visit an artisan shopping centre to view and purchase local arts and crafts.
Visit the Kigali Museum and learn the history of Kigali’s and Rwanda’s pre-colonial and colonial period as well as the colonial masters in Rwanda.
Tour around the city and see, first hand, the post-genocide development and expansion of Kigali.
Visit Juru Park, one of the highest points in Kigali and enjoy fantastic views of the city and its surrounding hills and countryside.
In the evening, we can take you to the Crystal View Cocktail Lounge on the eighth floor of the Top Tower Hotel where the panoramic views overlooking the entire city of Kigali are second to none! As striking at night as it is during the day, one is reminded exactly why Rwanda is known as “the Land of a Thousand Hills”.
Day 2: Akagera National Park and afternoon southern lake-circuit game drive
Drive to Akagera National Park passing through Rwanda’s phenomenal landscapes and living lifestyles. Check-in at Akagera Game Lodge and after a quick rest at the hotel, continue on with a southern game drive alongside the Lake Ihema circuit.
Plenty of animals can be seen, including elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles and also many other mammal species. Known as one of the most scenic savannahs in East Africa, the game drive in Akagera provides you with the opportunity to also view gentle hills blending beautifully with lowland swamps and water bodies.
On this day (depending on time available), we offer you a choice of value-added activities from the following:
Evening walks around the hotel where you can see various bird species.
Participate in day-to-day local pastoral lifestyle.
Presentation on the ecology of the Akagera ecosystem and the conservation efforts, including the coexistent dynamics between the local people and wildlife.
Day 3: Northern game drive and transfer to Butare via Kigali
Early morning game drive starts with a spectacular sunrise and early morning bird calls. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and landscape through the northern circuit where you will see hippos, crocodiles and even more wildlife than on the lake circuit. Head to Kigali for a quick lunch and then on to Butare, the original capital and intellectual centre of Rwanda. Passing through magnificent hills and cultivated countryside, we will stop along the way and visit the famous King's Palace in Nyanza, which offers visitors a window into pre-colonial Rwandan history. For those who are interested, we can also visit the art museum at Rwesero Nyanza.
Day 4: Nyungwe Forest National Park
Your morning will start early with a visit to the National Museum of Rwanda, providing you with a deeper insight into Rwandan history and culture. We will then continue on to Nyungwe Forest National Park. Nyungwe is the only destination in the world where you can see up to 13 species of primates in a single location, including rare species such as Chimpanzees, the Blue Monkeys, L'Hoest's Monkeys and the Angolan black and white Colobus Monkeys. Nyungwe presents a unique phenomenon in primate tourism due to its huge concentrations of habituated primates whose troops can include 400 to 500 individuals!
As one of the most important ornithological hubs in Rwanda, the park is also home to almost 300 species of birds, making it a bird watcher's paradise!
Along the way, we will stop at the new Visitor's Interpretive Centre to orient you to this magnificient park and then it's off to your hotel to check-in and have a relaxing lunch. The afternoon will be spent trekking to the Colobus Monkeys. You will hike through lush forests, endless, green tea fields and take in the stunning views of your surroundings.
Day 5: Trek chimpanzees
Early morning trek to the chimpanzees. Following your trek and depending on available time, we offer you a choice of value-added activities from the following:
Participate in tea harvesting in the neighboring local communities.
Visit a tea factory and learn about the production processes of one the highest quality teas produced in East Africa.
Visit local artisan groups to learn and participate in this and other local community income-generating projects. This is also an opportunity to purchase locally-made crafts and products.
Listen to a presentation on the ecology of Nyungwe Forest National Park and the ongoing conservation efforts, including the managing of the dynamics and coexistence of park/wildlife and local communities.
Day 6: Kibuye, driving along the shores of Lake Kivu.
Lake Kivu is one of the great lakes in Africa and the largest of the fresh water lakes that gleam in the Albertine (Western) rift of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Kivu stands at 1461m (4,790ft) above sea level establishing it as Africa’s highest lake. The northern shore of the lake is often subject to eruptions from nearby Mt Nyiragongo.
Kibuye is Rwanda’s most attractive of lake ports, nestled in a series of interwoven and undulating hills and offering visitors spectacular views of the lake, its islands and the stunning surrounding countryside. It is considered one of Rwanda’s hidden treasures, with its lush green hills and peaceful breeze.
Day 7 L'Esperance Children's Orphanage and Village
A visit to the L’Esperance Orphanage and Children's Village, located in Kigarama near Kibuye, will give you a first hand view of how generous organizations and donations from individuals have helped this Children’s Village to thrive and have funded various innovative projects in and around the Village. You can choose to spend the day there, help out if possible or you can relax by the lake for the rest of the day.
Day 8: Morning transfer to Gisenyi
This morning we will continue on to the town of Gisenyi. With its waterfront and sandy beaches and excellent views of Lake Kivu, Gisenyi is a wonderful place to relax, having a captivating feel of a tropical beach resort. The afternoon will be spent relaxing and re-energizing or we can offer you the choice of a value-added activity as follows:
Visit hot springs and learn about the geographic make-up of the Virunga volcanic chain.
Visit local projects in the area and interact with project members.
Visit local artisans and a local women's weaving association and see how your visit makes a difference in their lives.
Day 9: Morning transfer to Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village in Musanze District
Morning transfer to Musanze District where you will visit and stay at the Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village, based in the community bordering Parc National des Volcans. At the village, you will have a wonderful, interactive experience, learning all about Rwandan traditions, culture, song and dance. You can participate in local dances and drumming, all while wearing traditional local “Umushanana” dress; shooting arrows,attending a traditional healer's medicine showYou will also have the opportunity to sample local food and banana beer and visit a local household or school. As well, you can choose to visit some of the local community projects and co-operatives to see, first hand, how your travel with us contributes to making a difference in people's lives. You will spend the night here, in traditional houses and participate in Gitaramo, a cultural tradition of sharing stories, song and dance while sitting around a warm fire.
Day 10: Gorilla Trekking in Parc National des Volcans
Early morning transfer to Park offices for pre-trek briefing for all guests. Once the trek is completed, we will drive to Ruhengeri/Musanze, check-in to hotel, have lunch and relax or take a walk to the Ruhengeri Market, providing you with an opportunity to see and buy local Rwandan fabrics, foods, handicrafts, etc. and to see how local markets are organized.
Day 11:Golden Monkeys Trekking in Parc National des Volcans
The Golden monkey is the most endangered primate in Africa and is endemic to the Albertine Rift. The Virunga troop is said to be the only viable species left. The young ones are small, fluffy and playful and are a joy to watch. They mainly live on the lower reaches of the park making the trek generally short to find them.
Once the trek is completed, we can drive to the Virunga Lodge, enjoy a coffee/tea while taking in the spectacular panoramic views of the Twin Lakes, Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo and the Virunga mountain chain.
Day 12: Kigali, stopping at SINA GERARD Urwibutso Ecotourism Project
Morning transfer to Kigali. Halfway back to the city, we will stop in Nyirangarama for lunch and then tour the Urwibutso Ecotourism Project. This enterprise began in 1983, when owner and manager SINA Gerard opened a small restaurant and bakery at this location. Over the years, his business has grown tremendously and it has been his mission since 1993 to become a leader in the production and processing of organic fruits and vegetables in the area and in Rwanda. The Urwibutso Enterprise supports local farmers and contributes to social and economic development in the area, providing schools and education, creating jobs and opportunities, particularly for women, and training for farmers. This has made the community of Rulindo District one of the most self-sustainable communities in Rwanda and a role-model to others.