Rwanda has an instant association with its amazing mountain gorillas and dramatic mountain views. Its rich biodiversity in the Volcanoes National Park and the Nyungwe Forest, along with its charming people make Rwanda a place that visitors will long to return to.
The best time to travel to Rwanda is during the drier seasons, periods between December to early March and June to September.
Where in the world?
Rwanda is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley where the African Great Lakes region and East Africa converge. One of the smallest countries on the African mainland, its capital city is Kigali. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is highly elevated with its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.
Arrive from your international flight into Kigali to be met by our representative who will arrange for your transport to your accommodation which is one of the new boutique hotels in Kigali. The American owners created a 12-room luxury boutique hotel 20 minutes from the airport. It is Kigali’s first eco-friendly resort and features solar electricity, organic toiletries, locally-crafted furniture from a Tanzanian sustainable teak farm, outdoor showers, private terraces, a yoga and meditation room, spa, large heated saltwater swimming pool with a jacuzzi and an open-air fitness center.
After breakfast, visit the memorial for victims of the 1994 genocide, which puts into perspective the miraculous transformation and recovery through which the country has passed in just two decades. Head out of town onto the winding roads through the many hills towards the Virunga mountain range. Stop off for lunch on the way in a small friendly restaurant. After lunch, take a short drive up to the Volcanoes National Park and settle into your hotel. Spend the afternoon relaxing in your lodge which is on 11 hectares and has fabulous and dramatic views of the surrounding volcanoes. Each beautifully appointed en-suite cottage has a country-chic style and open log fires making it a perfect haven of warmth and luxury.
After an early breakfast, you will be driven to Volcanoes National Park Headquarters for a briefing before you start your gorilla trekking experience. Gorilla treks take place in the morning and depart from the Park Headquarters at around 07:30am. The treks normally start in the cultivated land on the edge of the forest and you are guided up into the canopy of the forest. The trek normally lasts between 2 and 5 hours depending on the location of the gorilla family and a maximum of eight visitors are allowed per group to one gorilla family per day. Once you reach the gorillas you are permitted to stay for one hour to view them.
Spend another day gorilla trekking or see the other primates that inhabit the forest. The Golden Monkey is a local subspecies of the widespread Sykes Monkey, also known as the “Blue Monkey”. As with treks to see the Mountain Gorillas, treks to see the Golden Monkeys take place in the mornings starting at 7am and visitors are permitted to stay for 1 hour with the monkeys. In the afternoon there is the option to visit Lake Kivu where you can spend a pleasant and relaxing day strolling down the palm-tree fringed lakeside promenade, enjoying the sunshine on the sandy beach on the lakeshore or go for an energetic swim.
After breakfast, take part in one or more of the many other activities available from the lodge including visiting Dian Fossey’s research camp and grave, visit the Iby Iwacu Cultural Village, head out for a guided mountain bike ride, go for a bird watching walk or visit the Musanze Market. Your driver will then take you back to Kigali airport for your onward flight to Kenya (depending on whether you do the add on before or after Rwanda) or your international flight home.
We came to see the gorillas after our safari in Kenya. It only took 4 days and it was so worth the visit. These creatures have such a beguiling nature and for all the pressure they have encountered from the human race through loss of habitat and hunting in the past, they have amazing tolerance and presence. We loved it.
This is an incredible safari – exactly what we wanted to see; all the primates as well as a bit of safari all in one country. Well worth the visit and the helicopter made it so enjoyable and really glad we took that option.
Kelly Dudzik , February 2018
Reasons to visit
The Volcanoes National Park
The Volcanoes National Park is in the north-west of the country and is home to the impressive mountain gorilla. Time spent here tracking the gorillas on foot is, for many travellers, a lifetime dream come true.
To the south you find the Nyungwe Forest, whose dense forest canopy is home to large chimpanzee and colobus monkey populations.
Akagera National Park
In the east, Akagera National Park is home to a unique swamp ecosystem that is one of the largest protected wetland areas in eastern Africa.
Located at the base of volcano Muhabura, Lake Burera is one of the most beautiful lakes in Rwanda. Lake Burera is surrounded by luxury lodges where visitors can stay during their visits to the lake and its surroundings.