This safari 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 including albetine endemic species and a habituated families of chimpanzees, monkeys and other primates.
We proceed to Gisenyi, where Ross Carr’s orphanage is found. We explore Gisenyi and enjoy the lake breeze from Lake Kivu. We continue North, to Ruhengeri at the base of Parc Des Volcans as our base to explore this part of Rwanda where we track mountain gorillas, visit local communities including the Batwa pigmies. In Kigali, we can have an optional city tour such as museum visits or craft shop excursions.
DURATION: 10 DAYS
PLACES TO VISIT: Butare, Nyungwe Forest, Lake Kivu, Gisenyi, Ross Carr’s Imbabazi Orphanage, Virunga Mountains
Pick up at the airport upon arrival and transfer to hotel. [Approximate driving time: 30 minutes]
Dinner is included in the package
Accommodation: HOTEL LE GARNI
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.
Accommodation: Butare Resort
Visit the Botanical Gardens and locally revered hot springs in Rugarama. Lunch at Butare and later proceed to Nyungwe Forest NP. Your driver-guide will stop at the Uwinka offices to see the semi-habituated groups of chimps and coloubus monkeys. This will help you to prepare your activities of the next day.
Accommodation: Gisakura Guest House
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 in population. These are the largest troops of this species known in the world! Nyungwe forest accounts 25% of the African Primates!
Drive via Kibuye on the stunningly beautiful Lake Kivu through beautiful countryside, crossing valleys full of agricultural produce. Kibuye which is one of the three resort towns on Lake Kivu is the most beautiful. We will arrive in time for lunch. After Nyungwe, a relaxing time at the shores of Lake Kivu awaits. Take a boat out on the lake to see the various islands and swim in the refreshing bilharzia-free waters of the Lake or stroll about in the nearby villages rambling across a number of hills.
Accommodation: Molia Hill Resort Kibuye
After breakfast, we will either drive to or take a 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 of 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!
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 kilometers 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 kilometer from a promontory of the Rwandan coast.
Accommodation: Serena Kivu Sun
Visit Ross Carr’s Imbabazi Orphanage. 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.”
Accommodation: Hotel La Palme
After breakfast, we proceed 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 then drive to the slopes of one of the Virunga volcanoes to start Gorilla trekking.
After the trekking, we will have 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 from there depending on weather conditions.
Excursion to the top of the Bisoke volcano (3.711 m) with its beautiful crater lake! There is also an option to have an excursion to the grave of Dian Fossey and the former Karisoke Research Center. Another is a visit to the Golden Monkeys: the little-known Golden Monkey (cercopithecus mitis kandti) listed as “endangered”. We can also visit local communities and surrounding communities.
Transfer to Kigali for overnight at your hotel. [Approximate driving time: 3 hours]
Accommodation: Hotel Le Garni
Tour of the city (optional) including a visit to the markets, the handicraft shops, and the Genocide Memorial Center at Gisozi. Time permitting, we can also visit the Nyabugogo market, and the Franco-Rwanda cultural center. In the evening, we arrange for your transfer to the airport.
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