(Kigali, Nyungwe, Kibuye, Gisenyi, Parc National des Volcans)
Courageously rising from its haunted past, Rwanda is rapidly showing signs of re-emerging after what was the most publicized genocides of the 21st century. Tourism is the county’s fastest-growing business and while coming face to face with a silverback can’t be missed, the Land of A Thousand Hills offers all the cultural and wild ingredients necessary for a true once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Voyage deep into the heart of the continent with this exotic private guided expedition showcasing Rwanda’s most impressive riches – 1. It’s primates, 2. Unspoiled natural wilds and most importantly 3. Its people’s eternal resolve to recover from it’s tragic past and hope for a better future.
From touring cultural monuments in the vibrant capital of Kigali, chimpanzee and monkey safaris through the lush wilds of the Nyungwe Rainforest and Canoeing on tranquil Lake Kivu to the differences on the Congolese side of the border town of Gisenyi , spending a day voluntouring at one of Africa’s most celebrated orphanages the Imbabazi Project and trekking the fabled peaks of the Parc National des Volcans in search of Mountain Gorillas, this eco-friendly tour while though sometimes tearful, truly immerses you in the optimistic rhythm of Rwanda.
NOTE: Gorilla permits are $750 for Rwanda and they are secured with you trip's deposit. Once secured they are non-refundable. It will take 24-48 hours to secure the purchase from the authorities as they are sold on a first come first served basis. The park authority/management reserves the right to cancel any permit without any refund or further reference.
A private vehicle will provide a transfer between the airport and hotel.
The Serena Hotel is considered the best hotel in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Meeting and surpassing the already high standards set by the luxurious Serena Hotels chain is no easy feat. The Serena Kigali manages this with its 104 rooms and suites, each individually immaculate, clean, and refined in decor. Dining is a treat, where one will never get sick of the extensive menus, created to please all guests. Staff is always available, friendly, and hospitable, offering incomparable service and care. Activities include swimming pool, shopping, and fully equipped gym. On some nights, the hotel even has live music playing at the poolside.
After an early morning breakfast, you will hop aboard your privately driven vehicle for your transfer to the Nyungwe Forest area. During the drive your expert driver guide will make sightseeing stops at the Nyanza King’s Palace, and the National Museum of Butare. These sites are a great source of information on the cultural history of the country and the region; it’s a great way to start your Rwandan Journey. En-route a stop for lunch is scheduled. You will arrive at Nyungwe Forest area in the evening.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge is built to blend in with the surrounding environment. It is situated in a tea plantation on the edge of the Nyungwe closed canopy rain forest, home to 13 species of primate including Chimpanzees. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the rugged African jungle...
Depart the lodge this morning and head out on an exploratory journey through the lush Nyungwe rainforest in the search of local wildlife, specifically chimpanzee. While in search of chimps, marvel at over 300 colorfully diverse bird species, 24 of which are regional endemics, and over 100 varieties of orchids and butterflies. Continue exploring this lush rainforest environment until the afternoon where you will have the opportunity to return for some relaxation at the lodge or visit an exclusive bird viewing area.
The Chimpanzee is considered one of the smartest creatures on the planet. There is no other creature other than humans that is sophisticated enough to use so many different natural objects as tools. It has been documented that chimps often fish for termites using a long piece of grass or twig, creating a delicious all termite-natural skewer. The chimp begins by inserting the grass or twig into the entrance of a termite nest, after a little wiggles the chimp will slowly withdraws it—without losing any of the tasty termites treats that are clinging on. Some chimpanzees also use stones or thick, blunt branches as clubs or hammers to crack open hard-shelled nuts, it of course takes two stones to do the job just right. First the chimp will find a perfect flat base stone to use as a sort of table top. They will then find the perfect nut-cracking stone which they propel like a mallet on the hard-shelled nut in which they placed on their base stone. Chimps have also been documented throwing rocks, stones, and branches at rival chimps and other primates in defense of the territory.
After breakfast, continue your Nyungwe rainforest exploration in search of yet another indigenous primate, the black and white colobus monkeys. As you explore along the way, marvel at some of the thirteen species of other primates including Rwenzori colobus and l’Hoest’s monkey. The colobus live in large groups, including a four hundred-strong semi-habituated group thought to be the largest troop of arboreal primates in Africa.
The word “Colobus” stems from the Greek word for “docked” which refers to the monkey’s nearly absent thumb. The digit located where a thumb would normally be is greatly reduced to a small tubercle and remnant nail. These Old World primates are covered in black hair with white hair surrounding the face and the bushy tail ends. Strangely enough, a Colobus is born completed covered with white hair, in between the fifth and tenth months of life the monkey develops its adult coloration of all black hair.
Early this morning you’re privately driven vehicle will depart the lodge and travel back into the conservancy for a chance to view the forest from the canopy walkway. This 45 minute walk in the forest canopies weaves through the tree tops on a suspended bridge. This experience provides excellent views of one of African’s largest temperate rainforests as well as offers an excellent opportunity to view primates and birds at eye level. In the afternoon you’re privately driven vehicle with depart Nyungwe and travel to Kibuye, located on the shores of the beautiful Lake Kivu. In the afternoon you have the opportunity to kick back and relax in and around the lodge or enjoy some of the many water sports available at this picturesque beach locale.
The Cormoran Lodge is a newly constructed resort built on the shores of the beautiful turquoise Lake Kivu, considered to be one of the most prestigious and picturesque locations in all of Africa. This Lodge has five chalets and a restaurant, with the entirety of the construction done of natural wood.
Some strategic positioning and planning we're conducted before the construction of the Cormoran Lodge as to ensure that all guests would be able to enjoy the sheer beauty and recreational opportunities made available by its dynamic Lake side location. Guest can enjoy a variety of sport and leisure activities and are encouraged to make use of one of the lodge's canoes for a picturesque nautical morning on the water. Lake Kivu covers a total surface area of some 2730 km2 and stands at a height of 1463 m above sea level. Lake Kivu is a shared water source between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lake bed sits upon on a rift valley that is slowly over time being pulled apart, causing sometime violent volcanic activity in the area. Due to the volcanic activity the lake is particularly deep, with its maximum depth of 485 m being ranked eighteenth deepest in the world. The lake is surrounded by majestic mountains, making it one of Africa's most picturesque and relaxing atmospheres.
A private vehicle will provide a transfer between Kibuye and Gisenyi today. The approximate travel time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Located along the northern shore of Lake Kivu, Goma and Gisenyi lie along a flat plain featuring lava formations from the eruptions of nearby Mt Nyiragongo. In contrast to Goma, Gisenyi escaped the lava flows of both the 1977 and the 2002 eruptions.
Gisenyi offers you a gentle introduction to the developing economies of DR Congo and Rwanda. Relax at your hotel, enjoy the lake, or explore the city with your guide and see the contrast of local culture and everyday life. You may even have the chance to see Bralirwa, Rwanda's only brewery which manufactures local beers such as Primus and Mützig.
Lake Kivu Serena Hotel is located in the Rwandan resort town of Gisenyi, on the shores of Lake Kivu, the sixth largest lake in Africa. The hotel is ideally situated on a sandy beach, with the nearby Virunga Volcanoes providing a spectacular backdrop on one side and a panoramic view of the lake on the other. Accommodation comprises of 66 air-conditioned rooms, including 6 luxury suites, 23 family rooms and one room especially equipped for disabled guests. The restaurant offers a stunning view of the lake as you have breakfast, lunch or dinner. Lake Kivu Serena Hotel offers business facilities including a boardroom and three conference rooms available for business meetings, cocktails and banquets. The hotel also has a gym, outdoor swimming pool and two tennis courts.
Enjoy an inspiring visit to one Rwanda`s most feel-good charitable location today. The Imbabazi Orphanage is located in Gisenyi, and was originally founded in December 1994 by Rosamond Carr from New York, USA. Rosamond Carr brought a flower plantation in the Mugongo area in 1955, and for the next 50 year, while witnessing the end of colonialism and celebrated Rwanda’s independence, became one of Diane Fossey’s closest friends. Rosamond was forced to flee Rwanda in April 1994 due to the outbreak of the genocide. When she later returned in August 1994, at the age of 82, she found her home and plantation completely ruined. It was at this point when she decided to open her doors to genocide orphans and developed the remarkable Imbabazi Orphanage. Due to obvious security reasons in the early years of existence, the Orphanage was moved to other locations 4 times, but is now settled in Gisenyi. The flower plantation is still running and provides fresh produce for the orphanage. The word “ìmbabazi” means ‘a place where you will receive all the love and care a mother would give’ - in Kinyarwanda dialect. Since the Orphanage opened its doors in December 1994, Roz Carr and her staff have cared for more than 400 children. Many have been reunited with family members by relief agencies still working throughout Rwanda. Others have grown up and moved on to lead successful and meaningful lives. The Imbabazi is currently home to 110 children. Rosamond Carr died on the 29th of September 2006, at the age of 94. The operations and management of the Imbabazi have been passed onto the Imbabazi Foundation, which is dedicated to the continuation of her work and the preservation of her legacy.
A private vehicle with English speaking driver will provide a transfer between Gisenyi and the Parc National des Volcans area. The approximate travel time is 1 hour.
The magnificent Virunga Safari Lodge, set on a stunning hillside, has eight bandas with a panoramic view of the Virunga volcanoes and the lakes Ruhondo and Bulera. The terraced gardens on this high ridge are now well established, with a magical sunken paradise garden as their focal point. Aside from gorilla tracking , clients can climb a volcano, track the golden monkey, visit Dian Fossey's grave or go for gentle strolls around the picturesque villages near the lakes. Three hours' drive from Kigali or a long day's drive from Kampala.
After breakfast you will depart the lodge and drive for approximately 1 hour to the Park Headquarters where you will meet with excellent local guides and trackers who will provide an informative session on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. After the session the hike into the forest begins. The guide will take you to where the gorillas were seen the night before and begin to track them from that point. The trekking can take from 1 to 6 hours and climb to altitudes not in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times quite muddy. Once the gorillas are located all the aches and fatigue of the trek are forgotten, as the experience is often described as finding a hidden natural treasure in the mist. Picnic lunches are provided and it is important to take in plenty of water. Cameras and plenty of fast speed film are recommended. It can rain at anytime in the forest, so waterproof clothing is recommended for you, your cameras and film. Please note that plastic (e.g. carrier / shopping) bags are illegal in Rwanda.
On average a mountain gorilla weighs in between 200 & 400 pounds. The male mountain gorilla can stand as tall as six feet tall, and when excited, or intimidate by an enemy, a male gorilla stands on his legs and slaps his cupped hands against his chest, creating an aggressive facial displays and loud grunting sounds. A fully-grown male mountain gorilla is twice the weight of a mature female; these mainly vegetarian thrive off eating leaves, tree-shoots, fruits, flower bulbs, tree bark, vines, and various nettles. Just like us humans, gorillas are extremely protective of the children, and in certain instance family members have been killed whilst trying to save the infants. There is said to be less than 650 gorillas in the wild today, so appreciate this once in a life-time experience amongst these endangered giants.
This morning you will spend your last day exploring within Volcanoes National Park in the search of the rare golden monkeys. Your expert guide will take you to find a fully habituated group of these uniquely colored and beautiful primates. This park is one of the only places in Africa where this type of viewing experience is offered.
A private vehicle with English speaking driver will provide a transfer today from Parc National des Volcans to Kigali. The approximate travel time is 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Prepare your senses for an explosion of culture and emotion during today’s excursion through Kigali. Begin by visiting some of the popular market places to view and purchase if you’d like some of the local products. Next, you’ll travel to a location stained with heart aching cultural history, The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. This tragic memorial was constructed in April 2004 to honour those whom lost their lives during the Rwandan Genocide. The centre was built on the site where an estimated 250000 victims were buried. This location serves as a place where individuals can grieve the loss of their loved ones as well as to provide educational information regarding the genocide. Rwandans believe that although the gruesomeness and painful emotions associated with this tragedy may be construed as negative it is extremely important that the younger generations of Rwandans fully understand the reasons and effects of such an event on a nation. The Centre features three permanent exhibits which depict the events of 1994, as well as a children’s memorial which exhibits the history of genocidal violence towards children from all over the world.
A passport is required and evidence of yellow fever immunization is recommended. Citizens of the following countries DO NOT require a visa and may visit for up to 90 days:USA, Germany, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Great Britain, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong and Burundi. Canadian citizens and all other nationalities must apply for a visa online and then pay for the visa upon arrival. A Tourist Visa costs approximately $70.
Please note obtaining a visa is your responsibility. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you check with the embassy of Rwanda for the most up to date visa information.
NOTE: Only newly printed USD currency and local currency will be accepted in East Africa, any USD currency printed without the new security measures will not be accepted. HEALTHHealth insurance is essential. Guests of Kensington Tours are covered by East African Flying Doctor Services included in the tour price. This coverage guarantees that any member injured or ill while on safari will be airlifted back to Nairobi to the international hospital. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/rwanda.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Kigali Government: Republic since 1962. Gained independence from Belgium in 1962. Language: The official languages are Kinyarwanda, French and English. Kiswahili is used for trade and commerce. Religion: Animist (50%), Christian (mostly Roman Catholic) and an Islamic minority. Time: GMT + 2. Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Telephone: Country code +250. There are no area codes. Mobile Telephone: Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies. Internet: There are Internet cafes in Kigali, including one at the airport.
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