Gorillas & Cultural Tours
The cultural trip starts with a visit to Omwami’s palace in Nyanza, continuing to the locally revered hot springs of Rugarama near Nyungwe Forest in South West of Rwanda, the largest afro-montane forest in Central Africa. With over 10000sq.km in size, Nyungwe – the undisputed giant in Central Africa – is rich in birds, butterflies, over 300 bird species and a large host of chimpanzees, monkeys and other primates. A visit to the forest is really rewarding and addictive.
Proceed to Gisenyi, where Ross Carr’s orphanage with thousands of orphans is found. Explore Gisenyi and enjoy the lake breeze from Lake Kivu. End your trip with the North, in Ruhengeri, where the Batwa pigmies, an animist community that was recently resettled and track gorillas. For those who wish, visit genocide memorials as well, in Gisenyi, Butare and Ruhengeri. Back to Kigali, the Capital, an attractive city spread over many hills for which Rwanda is prominent. Enjoy local dances and see local cultures. The City has a pleasant, buoyant air and its peoples are some of the friendliest in the world. Local crafts can be bought.
DAY 1: Arrival in Kigali
Arrive Kigali. Met by our smiling guide. Greet and transfer to hotel. [Approximate driving time: 30 minutes] Diner (D) is included in the package. O/N: Hotel des Mille Collines/Hotel Chez Lando or similar (D).
Day 2: Kigali – Butare.
After breakfast you will depart for Butare the second largest city of Rwanda and is regarded as the intellectual city of Rwanda. It hosts the National Museum, several academic (University) and research institutions. On your way to Butare you will visit Nyanza (currently Nyabisindu) the former Mwami’s palace (King’s palace) and the seat of the feudal monarchy. The palace has been reconstructed to its 19th century state and shows a traditional dome that can be compared with the Kabaka’s palace of Buganda. You will visit the National Museum which is one the well set-up if not the finest ethnographic museum of East Africa. It’s a good source of information on the cultural history of Rwanda and the region.
The National Museum in Butare was donated in 1989 by the Belgium government and gave back a part of the ethnographic collection acquired during the colonial period. The design and concept of the museum was realized in co-operation with the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren, Belgium. The modern building has different sections and displays a wide collection of monochrome pictures, traditional artefacts and objects, tools and different craft products.
Ethnographic objects are grouped together according to theme giving excellent information on the daily life. Traditional ceramics and basketry are still manufactured and belong to the finest handicrafts of the region. The National Museum remained surprisingly untouched during the civil war of 1994.
Overnight in Butare or Nyungwe on a Full Board basis.
DAY 3: Butare Cultural visits
Visit the Botanical Gardens. Visit the locally revered hot springs in Rugarama. Lunch at Butare and later we will drive to Nyungwe Forest NP. Your driver-guide will stop at the Uwinka offices to have the last update on the presence of the semi-habituated groups of chimps and colobus monkeys. This will help you to prepare your activities of the next day.
O/N: Gisakura Guest House or similar (FB)
DAY 4: Nyungwe Forest
Early morning visit to Nyungwe Forest. In Nyungwe Forest NP: guided nature walk or primate treks. Of a particular interest are the large social groups of Angolan Colobus (Colobus angolensis), which may be over 300 individuals. These are the largest troops of this species known in the world! Nyungwe forest counts 25% of the African Primates!
Overnight: Guest House of Gisakura (*) on Full Board basis.
DAY 5: Nyungwe Forest to Kibuye
Drive via Kibuye on the stunningly beautiful Lake Kivu to Gisenyi; through beautiful countryside, crossing valleys full of agricultural produce. Kibuye which is one of the three resort town on Lake Kivu is the most beautiful. Arrive at lunch time. After Nyungwe, most participants will welcome that relaxing moments on the shores of Lake Kivu! Take a boat out on the lake to see the various islands. Swim in the refreshing, bilharzias-free waters of the Lake or stroll about in the nearby villages rambling across a number of hills. Rest of the day at leisure.
Lake Kivu is unique: Its deep waters contain an enormous quantity of dissolved gas. There are, in fact, 65 billion cubic metres of methane, in other words the equivalent of 50 million tonnes of petrol lying at the bottom of the lake under 250m of water. If it were exploited, this energy, veritable manna from heaven, would provide Rwanda with an almost inexhaustible source of energy, freeing it from worry about energy needs linked to its development projects. There is a pilot station for the extraction of methane for energy in this place.
O/N: Molia Hill Resort Kibuye (B-L-D)
Day 6: Kibuye – Gisenyi
After breakfast, either drive to, or you will have an enjoyable speed-boat trip to Gisenyi (on payment of a $200pp boat supplement + visa fees $110). The trip is not only an encounter with local people; fishermen, fishing villages but also with the residents of Idjwi Island (Congo) who are rowing long distances in their dugout canoes to visit the Rwanda markets.
You will be picked up in Gisenyi for lunch and if time allows we make arrangements to cross the border to Goma (Optional). Goma was devastated by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. The visit shows the fantastic capabilities of the local population to overcome this natural catastrophe!
The Nyiragongo volcano (3470 m) erupted on the 17th of January 2002 and destroyed part of Goma town. Most of Goma’s 400 000 inhabitants escaped the advancing lava flows crossing the border into neighbouring Rwanda. The eruption destroyed the homes of 120 000 people and caused between 70 and 100 victims.
Idjwi is an island in Lake Kivu, belonging to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At 40 km in length and with an area of 285 km², it is believed to be the largest inland island in Africa, and the eighth largest in the world. Idjwi is roughly equidistant between the DRC and Rwanda, with 10 to 15 kilometres separating its western shore from the DRC mainland and a similar distance between its eastern shore and the coastline of Rwanda. The island’s southern tip, however, lies only 1 kilometre from a promontory of the Rwandan coast.
Overnight at Stipp Hotel or Serena Kivu Sun on a Full Board basis.
Day 7: Gisenyi – Kinigi
Visit Ross Carr’s Imbabazi Orphanage. Stroll about at lake and visit other local villages. Imbabazi Orphanage was founded by Mrs Rosamond Halsey Carr in late 1994 at Mugongo to care for the genocide orphans. Rosamond Halsey was a young American fashion illustrator when she married an adventurous hunter-explorer, Kenneth Carr. Together they journeyed to then “Congo Belge” (now Congo DRC) in 1949 but where they later came to a pungent divorce. Kenneth left but Rosamond stayed in Congo until 1955. From there on she moved to northwest Rwanda where she stayed for the next 50 years. She witnessed all Rwanda’s historical events, including the vinegary genocide of 1994. She is the author of “Land of a Thousand Hills: my life in Rwanda.”
Lunch and we drive to Ruhengeri and Kinigi for an overnight at your hotel. O/N: Hotel La Palme/Virunga Hotel/Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (B-L-D)
Day 8: Gorilla Trekking
After breakfast you will report at the ORTPN headquarters where your driver-guide will accomplish the necessary formalities for you. You will meet your ranger guide(s) for a briefing about the greatest animal experience ever. Then we will drive you to the slopes of one of the Virunga volcanoes for your trekking.
After the trekking, lunch at your hotel or at Ruhengeri and in the afternoon, if time allows, an excursion to explore the beautiful lakes in the region: Lake Bulera & Ruhondo. An excellent view of the Virunga chain of Volcanoes can be seen while there depending on weather conditions. Overnight at your hotel.
O/N: Hotel La Palme/Virunga Hotel/Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (FB)
Day 9: Second gorilla trekking or another activity – Transfer to Kigali
Second gorilla tracking (subject to availability and payment of $500 gorilla permit supplement); or do one of the other options (at extra cost):-
An excursion to the top of the Bisoke volcano (3.711 m) of which the distinctive feature is a beautiful crater lake!
Or an excursion to the grave of Dian Fossey and the former Karisoke Research Centre. The excursion will provide excellent background information and this is a wonderful site to see.
Or a visit to the Golden Monkeys: the little-known Golden Monkey (cercopithecus mitis kandti) is listed as “endangered”, the newly habituated groups of about 40 individuals are the only ones in Africa. The Kabatwa troop is located not so far from the Park Headquarters and the Musanga troop lives near the Karisimbi volcano and has a much longer walking distance.
Or visit local communities and visit to the surrounding communities. See other local Dian Fossey projects. A visit to the Batwa pigmies and other local communities.
Transfer to Kigali for overnight at your hotel. [Approximate driving time: 3 hours] O/N: Chez Lando Hotel or Mille Collines (B-L)
DAY 10: Kigali visit and departure
Go for a tour of the city (optional) including a visit the markets, the handicraft shops and the Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi, which takes a few hours. It’s a touching visit! Time permitting, visit the Nyabugogo market, the Moslem quarter in Nyamirambo, and the Franco-Rwanda cultural centre. Many hotels and restaurants prepare local dishes. Buy crafts.
Genocide Memorials: In Rwanda you will find all over the country Memorials to remember the genocide of 1994. The most important Genocide Memorials are those of Kigali (Gisozi) and Murambi (Gikongoro) and the most prominent one at Nyamata (some 70km south of Kigali) where the history of the genocide is explained. A visit to the genocide memorial is for most visitors an emotional event.
Transfer to Airport for departure. (B-L)
- All ground transportation in a 4×4 Safari Vehicle
- Fuel, Services of an English speaking driver guide
- All entrance fees, Park entrance fees
- Vehicle entrance fees
- Gorilla Permits, Chimpanzee permits
- Airport pick up and transfer
- Meals en route, Bottled mineral water
- International Airfares
- All drinks, Activities not mentioned above
- All items of personal nature like laundry services
- Tips and Visa fees to Rwanda