(Kigali, Nyungwe, Kibuye, Gisenyi, Parc National des Volcans)
The Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda offers breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife, and endless opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime encounters.
Voyage to the very heart of the African continent and discover Rwanda’s profound natural beauty, as well as the eternal resolve of its people to recover from a tragic past and create a better future. Explore dense jungles in search of exotic orchids and butterflies, colorful birds, chimpanzees, and colobus monkeys. Track through bamboo-studded forests to find yourself in close quarters with some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in existence, and be forever changed as you gaze into their liquid eyes. In the evenings, relax in beautifully-appointed hotels and lodges that offer refined décor and thoughtful services.
Explore the lush Nyungwe rainforest in search of the highly intelligent chimpanzee and watch as they swing from tree to tree, calling to each other in strident tones. You may also get a chance to glimpse the striking colobus monkeys, whose lack of thumbs makes their agility all the more impressive. Take a canopy walk through the treetops of one of Africa’s largest temperate rainforests to view primates and birds on their level. A visit to the Imbabazi Orphanage, home to over 100 children, will be a highlight as you open your hearts and arms to their smiling faces. Get your camera ready as you head to Volcanoes National Park for an exhilarating time gorilla trekking through bamboo-studded forests. You will never forget the first time you lay eyes on these wondrous creatures, sometimes just feet away. Prepare yourself for a cultural and emotional tour through Kigali as you spend time at the colorful open markets, finally making your way to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre which honors those who lost their lives during the Rwandan Genocide. Built on the site where an estimated 250,000 victims were buried, this location serves as a place where individuals can grieve the loss of their loved ones as well as provide educational information regarding the tragic events. Your time in Rwanda promises to be exciting and rewarding.
Enjoy a personalized vacation that best suits your needs, developed by one of our experienced destination experts. Relax during your trip with our 24/7 support and expert local guidance.
Enjoy your private transfer between the airport and hotel.
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.
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.
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.
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 years 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 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.
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.
PERMITS MUST BE PAID IN FULL AT TIME OF CONFIRMATION AND ARE NON-REFUNDABLE.
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.
Golden monkeys are a local subtype of the blue monkey which are endemic to the Albertine rift and live in the montane forests of the Volcanoes National Park area of Rwanda. There is currently 2 groups of habituate golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park, also popularly known as Parc de National Volcans. Each of the habituated golden monkey groups has between 80-100 members in each troop. The golden monkeys are a very playful and inquisitive primates which are habituated to human presence and will usually act up the presence of human visitors leaping from tree to tree as they feed on the bamboo shoots in the forest. Only open for visitors since June 2003, enjoy a rare treat watching these unique primates play and perform in the forest.
Like with gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekkers are required to assemble at PNV park headquarters at 07:00am for pre-tracking briefing. The park guides will lead into the forest for the search of the golden monkeys. The golden monkeys are mostly found at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo. Golden monkey tracking is generally less arduous and less challenging that the gorilla trek.
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.
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.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge is a haven for primates in Africa’s largest mountain rainforest – right at your doorstep. Designed to fit harmoniously within its beautiful natural surroundings, Nyungwe Forest Lodge offers guests exceptional 5 star comforts and ensures an experience rich in local culture, fluently fused with quality service and African courtesy. The lodge is situated in Gisakura, a working tea plantation, on the edge of the Nyungwe National Park. The Nyungwe Forest is the largest mountain rainforest on the African continent with over 13 different species of primates, representing 20% of all the apes in Africa.
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.
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.
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.
Sachi Gowda ,
December 15, 2014
"We are extremely happy with your service from beginning to end and we had very a memorable trip."
Ronald Jones ,
December 12, 2014
"I cannot express how fabulous our trip was!! I know it was made that way thanks to ALL the kind, knowledgable, and helpful people that you all placed in our path. Many went above and beyond to make our experience even more positive. From drivers, to guides, to hotel staff---we met some wonderful people that we can now call friends. Thank you Christine and Kensington tours for this once in a lifetime African adventure!"
December 15, 2014
"Christine, our family trip was ALL we wanted it to be. The hotel accommodations in the cities were GREAT. We needed to make some room assignment adjustments but that's to be expected with a large family with children and same names.
I don't know where/how ya'll got those guides but...KEEP'EM! In both Cape Town and Joberg the guys knew their cities and environs excellently. Their English was very good...so good in fact that several got the sarcasm and even joked some. I do apologize if we over-tipped. I relied on each family to tip their own driver but, I wasn't sure of their "sense of what was right" so I followed up with something for each.
Simbavati was "PERFECT". As much as Glenda and I really liked Ngala, I do not think they could have handled a family as well...UNLESS, they had accommodations we did not see.
Please rest assured when ever I plan to travel on a multi-dimensional trip in the future, for sure with a group, or maybe just Glenda and I, I'll be calling Kensington... Christine and Donna specifically. And most definitely, anytime I can recommend a travel professional, your company and you two will be mentioned by name!
Thank you again Christine...you presented us the exact trip we dreamed about for our family and your folks on the ground made it happen! I sincerely hope you, Donna and everyone else involved have a most Blessed Christmas and a wonderful, successful New Year!"
Bruce Lundstrom ,
December 15, 2014
"Morocco has a lot to offer. Food, historic sites, craftsmen (rugs, jewelry, ceramics, furniture, etc.), natural beauty, roads and infrastructure, and a reasonably safe environment. Both Guide (Abdel) and Driver were excellent. Service-oriented, timely and easy going. Abdel was not afraid to speak his mind, offer suggestions and give us feedback on ideas. We enjoyed their company."
December 09, 2014
"A truly wonderful trip......first class accommodations and service in each venue....the guides were knowledgable and went out of their way to insure that we could see and understand Africa. Capetown is a fascinating city, Sabi Sands an extraordinary private game preserve, and Zimbabwe with Victoria Falls and the Victoria Falls Hotel a once in a lifetime experience. For those who want to visit Africa we enthusiastically recommend Kensington Tours. And Jolene Plant stayed with us in every step during the planning of our trip and itinerary. We saw as much of Africa as much as anyone can during our two weeks vacation."
Belinda Skelton ,
December 12, 2014
"This was one of the most amazing trips that I have ever had. The custom tours and activities exceeded my expectations. I was traveling alone but felt safe and in good hands. The process of booking the trip with Lily Baffour was so easy and personal, especially with the constant communications from her up to my departure. Thank you Kensington Tours for an awesome experience. I will definitely use you for my next adventure!"
December 12, 2014
"Our week-long tour in Morocco went without a hitch in the company of a great driver and knowledgeable guide who were always prompt, courteous, helpful, and very nice. Kensington Tours' picks for our overnight accommodations were excellent, as well as the excursions planned for us. We're grateful to our conscientious agent, Lily, who went out of her way to make us feel welcome in Morocco. We feel confident that we are in very capable hands whenever we travel with Kensington Tours. "
December 12, 2014
"Our trip was a perfect 10 - exceeding all expectations! Starting with Christine Willner's attentiveness to our wish list and balancing it to our budget, every leg and element of our journey took place without so much as a hiccup. We were blown away by the quality of our tours, accommodations and guides. Thank you for giving us a great experience and wonderful memories!"
Rebecca Warren ,
August 02, 2014
"My 26 year old daughter recently traveled alone to Madagascar using Kensington tours. I was a little concerned about her safety and wanted to make sure that she would be well taken care of. Kensington was great from start to finish. Our travel agent, Marc Sisson, put together the tour in very short order with very little notice, had no problem doing it for just one person, and gave me a sense of security that my daughter would be well cared for. She did the Anjajavy 5 Day Beach extension. The tour guide who picked her up at the airport in the capitol city was outstanding -- very knowledgeable and helpful. The Anjajavy hotel was extraordinary. Her pictures are breathtakingly beautiful. She kayaked, swam in the ocean and saw lemurs feeding. She got to practice her French with the outstanding hotel manager and otherwise was able to just relax and unwind. She described the experience as "visiting Eden." I highly recommend Kensington. I contacted a number of tour/travel agencies and none of them compared to Kensington. "
Shayna Maislin ,
April 21, 2014
"I would highly recommend the tour guide that we had in the Serengetti . He was extremely knowledgeable, very helpful and courteous. We all agree that Kensington has first class staff working for them in Africa. All the camps that we stayed at were absolutely beautiful except perhaps for the one in Lake Manyara. All in all it was a spectacular trip!"
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