GTR 3 – 13 days Rwanda Cultural & Primates Tour

Day 1 – Kigali

Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to Lemigo Hotel. –Dinner on own account.

Conveniently located in the Kimihurura area of Kigali, barely 10 min. from the international airport, Lemigo hotel is a refreshingly unique experience of relaxation amidst serene landscapes. LEMIGO HOTEL (BB)

Day 2- Kigali, Nyamata & Ntarama

This morning after breakfast, drive, 45 minutes south of Kigali, to Nyamata and Ntarama visiting two local churches there, scenes of serious atrocities committed during the 1994 genocide. At its peak, people took refuge in churches believing no one attack holy grounds: thousands perished in places they considered safe.

Thereafter, drive back to Kigali for a lunch at a local restaurant on own account, then proceed on a city tour that includes the memorial centre and craft centres (Optional at extra charge)

The history of Rwanda dates back centuries, Kigali has been a part of it for a hundred years. Founded in 1907 as a German settlement, Kigali did not become the capital until Rwanda’s independence in 1962 when it replaced the colonial seat of power in Butare. Since then, the city has seen major economic development resulting in what it is today; a vibrant African city of 1 million with wide boulevards, an international airport, world-class hotels and restaurants, crafts & crafts centres as well as a lively, cosmopolitan population.

Pay a moving visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre – we feel it puts a lot else in perspective. Established in 2004 as a permanent memorial to the victims of the widely documented Rwandan genocide in 1994 it is a constant reminder of the cost of ignorance – it also serves as a place for people to grieve those they lost. Learn about Rwanda’s history pre-colonial to 1994 genocide as well as other genocides in the world.

 In the late afternoon you will drive back to your hotel and spend time at leisure. –Dinner on own account.

LEMIGO HOTEL (BB)

Day 3 – Muhanga to Huye

After breakfast, drive 1hr to Muhanga through the hilly terrains of Rwanda.

(Optional at extra charge)

On arrival you will proceed to Azizi Life for a half day experience, here you will gain an insight into the life of rural Rwandans and their families. -From Banana Juice making, construction, pottery and traditional drumming. Azizi is the ideal way to look into life in rural Rwanda.

 Afterwards you will proceed to Butare for lunch and a well deserved shower. En route (Option at extra charge) Drive south to Nyanza (30 mins), the historical seat of the Rwandan kingdom and visit the Royal Palace Museum– the dome shaped traditional Royal Palace house (urukari), steeped in history and tradition running back over three centuries, has been restored, entirely of traditional materials, to its 19th century grandeur.

In the more modern Palace building, once the residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa, there is a wide range of implements and photographs appertaining to the Kingdom and Kings (Mwami) while in an adjacent hill are the graves of King Mutara III himself (of whose death just before independence the Belgians were suspected of) as well as that of his wife Queen Rosalie Gicanda who was killed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

At the adjacent Rweser Art Museum, modern Rwandan artists express their view of the world and Rwanda in particular through aspects of culture, gests and behaviours of the Rwandan people inspired by everyday life especially following the 1994 genocide and its tragedies.

 

On arrival in Butare check in at Hotel Ibis for overnight. Dinner on own account.

FOURSTEPS HOTELS (BB)

 

Day 4 – Nyanza/Butare

After breakfast, visit the Rwanda National Museum in Butare before a lunch a local restaurant, on own account. Thereafter you will proceed to Nyungwe forest National Park.

A true nature lovers’ paradise, Nyungwe Forest National Park’s glorious sense of expansiveness is among its most striking features. The 970 km² of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps and bogs in the majestic hills of southeast Rwanda is the largest remaining ‘island’ of montagne forest in East and Central Africa – and it dates back to the ice ages. It is also home to a rich variety of flora and fauna; 200 types of trees, hundreds of flowering plants, over 100 species of orchids and sensational lobelias and 13 recorded species of primates, 25% of the African primate checklist, including the acrobatic Angola colobus that move in troops of several hundred and an estimated 500 chimpanzee (often seen from the forest trails during the rainy season) as well as L’Hoest’s monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey and red-tailed monkey. Bird enthusiasts will not be disappointed with over 300 species including 24 Albertine Rift endemics e.g. the spectacular Ruwenzori turaco and several iridescent birds.

Check in at Nyungwe Forest Lodge for dinner and overnight.

The ultra luxurious Nyungwe Forest Lodge is nestled in an expansive tea plantation on the edge of Nyungwe Forest National Park, barely 5 min off the main Nyungwe/Cyangugu road and 45 min. to the Park HQs

NYUNGWE FOREST LODGE (FB)

 

Day 5 – Nyungwe Forest Park

After breakfast, transfer to the park HQs for a half day forest trek in search of the Angola Colobus monkeys which can be found here in troops of several hundred; the largest, can be up to 450 individuals.

This fair to moderate trek can be adapted to guests’ fitness and lasts up 6 hours. It’s an absolutely amazing experience, to see so many Colobus monkeys at the same time; 50-60 at a given time. Besides their incredible numbers, Angola Colobus differ from the more common Eastern colobus by the extent of white hair and leaner frame.

Other primates likely to be seen during the trek include l’Hoest’s monkey and the grey-cheeked mangabeys. The birds too are spectacular, though as in most tropical forests, one has to look harder. Giant hornbills, great blue turacos and red-breasted sparrow hawks are amongst the specials, 24 of them endemic to this section of the Rift Valley.

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 Arise at dawn then 0430 hrs: transfer to the Cyamudongo Forest for a Chimpanzee tracking experience. NB: Although it is possible to track and see chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest as well as in the adjacent Cyamudongo forest, this is in very hilly terrain (high ridges and deep valleys) in a rainforest and the Chimps themselves only semi-habituated and tending to move far and wide over a large area. This makes the tracking difficulty and unpredictable and sighting the chimps not possible to guarantee. The national park does not practice a refund policy in case of failure to sight. Consequently, we prefer to offer Nyungwe more as a rainforest experience than a chimpanzee tracking destination; with her other many exciting activities – we recommend Colobus Monkeys tracking, a thrilling adventure on the new Canopy Walk, regular guided Forest Hikes including to the waterfalls, Birding trail and many more – all with the chance to see some of the other primates who ‘call’ Nyungwe home including Black and White Colobus monkeys, Grey cheeked Mangabeys, Blue Monkeys, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, etc.

After lunch at the lodge, tour to a nearby tea plantation; an excellent way of interacting with the local farmers, know them, hear their stories and challenges, and make friends.

In the early evening return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

NYUNGWE FOREST LODGE (FB)

Day 6 – Nyungwe forest park to Kibuye

In the morning you will drive to Kibuye along the shore of the Lake Kivu en route you will proceed on a tour to Bisesero Museum (USD 10 – for donation)

Bisesero is a mountainous region situated about 31 km from the lakeside town of Kibuye. Historically, the majority of people who lived in Bisesero were Tutsis, whose main activity was cattle breeding. They were called Abasesero, a name from which the region derives its name.

The Bisesero story

During the genocide of 1994, people in other prefectures were all killed because of their small numbers. Here, however, the Tutsi who lived in Bisesero and the surrounding region gathered together to resist the killers—killers which were their neighbors and other Hutus from surrounding area. That’s why this hill is now called the “Hill of Resistance.” They were successful for some days because they chose the top of a hill on which there were many rocks which they threw at the advancing attackers who were armed with clubs and machetes. After many days of resistance, Hutu reinforcements from the Republican Guard in Kigali and Interahamwe militiamen organized a serious attack against the Tutsis at Bisesero. These new attackers came armed with modern powerful weapons. Under this new assault, the people of Bisesero couldn’t resist for very long and thus succumbed to the genocide.

Thereafter proceed to Kibuye and check in at Moriah hill resort for overnight. –Dinner on own account.

Located in Kibuye on the shores of Lake Kivu, Africa’s 6th largest, Moriah Hill Resort epitomizes gracious living and elegance in an ideal, homely and very welcoming environment.

Optional activities: Boat rides in the resorts’ nice boat cruiser, Kayak rides in self or double kayaks, Swimming in Lake Kivu (the lake is free of bilharzias), walks along the lake or climbing on the local hill, visit Gisovu – the largest tea plantation in Rwanda, visits to the genocide memorial sites at Karongi catholic church or Nyange catholic church. MORIAH HILL RESORT (BB)

 

Day 7 – Kibuye to Musanze

In the afternoon, following lunch on own account, you will drive to Musanze at the foothills of the Virungas via Lake Kivu with a stop for lunch at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel on own account. Thereafter proceed to Musanze and check in at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge,a 3* bush lodge on the periphery of Volcanoes National Park offers good quality accommodation with panoramic views of the Virungas, barely a km away from the Park HQs. MOUNTAIN GORILLA VIEW LODGE (FB)

Day 8 – Volcanoes national park

 After an early breakfast, drive to the Volcanoes National Park to be allocated a gorilla tracking group.

0700 hrs: Briefing by your trackers then drive to the trail head for the start of an amazing adventure.

Our exhilarating trek, in the footsteps of the rare and critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, the largest living primate on earth, starts in the cultivated foothills of the Virungas with stirring views in all directions. Upon entering the national park, her paths littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive buffalo and elephant, trekkers will be immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with colorful bird calls, butterflies, etc. Through gaps in the canopy, the magnificent Virunga peaks, among the highest in Africa yet easily accessible, are glimpsed, beckoning an ascent.

Weaving through overhanging vines, moss-covered hagenia and giant lobelias that thrive in the tropical climate, our experienced trackers, they spent their entire lives in or close to this forest, soon bring us up close with the family.

 Upon sighting the gorillas, you will stay with them for a magical hour as they go about their daily life, feeding, playing, resting; raising their young. Coming face to face with a giant silverback must truly be one of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth!

 In the afternoon, following lunch, you may tour to the nearby ex-poacher’s village. (Optional at Extra Charge)

An award-winning conservation initiative, former poachers were convinced to renounce their wayward ways and become conservation activists. Together with their families, they founded this little community village with a replica of the Kings palace, where they now participate in eco-tourism showcasing Rwandan culture and customs. On arrival, guests will be welcomed with drum beats and the Intore (warriors, the chosen ones) dance, followed by a briefing by a village ‘guide’. They then ‘visit’ the King (Mwami)’s House where they learn about the life and times of a Mwami and a ‘King’ will be ‘crowned’. Tour the traditional healers homestead and enjoy demonstrations of traditional skills – fire-making, archery, weaving, medicine, architecture (totally unique grass thatched huts that were used by the kings), magnificent Rwandan cultural dances, etc. among other things – followed by a mass dance where all guests are invited. This lasts a couple of hours. Time at ex-poachers village is very interactive, educational and fun for all ages.

Return to lodge early evening for dinner and overnight

MOUNTAIN GORILLA VIEW LODGE (FB)

 Day 9 – Volcanoes national park

After an early breakfast, drive to the Volcanoes National Park HQs where you will be allocated a Golden Monkeys tracking group. 0700 hrs: Briefing by your trackers then drive to the trail head for the tracking.

The very beautiful Golden Monkey has a golden body, cheeks and tail with contrasting black limbs, crown, and tail-end. Not much is known about their behavior; other than they live in social groups of up to 30 individuals and their diet consists mainly of leaves and fruit – it is believed they eat insects too. Restricted to the highland forest of the Virungas especially near bamboo, they share this habitat with their big Brother the Mountain Gorilla, inhabiting a small area that overlaps the territory of one of the Gorilla families Together, they face the same threats; snares, human encroachment etc. and are listed on the IUCN Red List of critically endangered species.

Tracking usually takes from 2 to 4 hrs. Once you come to the habituated families, you will spend the allowed one hour with them as they go about their daily life; adult monkeys frolic in plain view, feeding on bamboo leaves and leaping from perch to perch while females carry their young, completely oblivious of on-lookers.

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 You have another early rise and after breakfast, return to the Park HQs for your second gorilla trek.

– Opportunity to visit a different gorilla family, experience a different thrill – no two visits are ever the same.

 

There are, at the moment, 10 habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park, each usually residing in a different section of the ranges, further or higher up the volcanoes. Gorillas are however not territorial and when two families meet, the silverbacks may fight, sometimes to death, but to defend family not territory. Numbering only about 780 individuals worldwide, this amazingly huge hominid with a large head, broad chest and long arms and who share 95% of their genes with humans, is now listed on the IUCN Red List of critically Endangered Species due to habitat loss, poaching, disease and war. Trackers to one of the habituated families will be delighted to know that their visit contributes to the preservation of these special creatures.

In the afternoon, you will have a tour around Musanze, visit a school or a local family and hear their stories as well as see what they go through in everyday life.

 Return to lodge early evening for dinner and overnight.

MOUNTAIN GORILLA VIEW LODGE (FB)

Day 10 – volcanoes national park to Muhazi

This morning you will drive back to Kigali and have lunch at a local restaurant on own account then proceed to Muhazi and check in at Muhazi beach hotel for overnight. –Dinner on own account.

There are a number of activities to do at the hotel, Fishing, Volleyball, and Jet Ski or take a boat ride. All activities are at extra cost to be paid directly to the hotel.

MUHAZI BEACH HOTEL (BB)

 Day 11 – Akagera national park

0600 hrs: You will drive to Akagera National Park (125 km/2.5 hrs) proceeding on a morning game viewing drive in this African savannah park before stopping for lunch at Akagera Game Lodge on own account.

 

Herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes; lucky visitors might stumble across a leopard, a spotted hyena, even a stray lion. Giraffe and zebra haunt the savannah and more than a dozen types of antelope inhabit the park, most commonly the handsome chestnut-coated impala and the world’s largest antelope, the statuesque Cape Eland. Alongside the picturesque lakes, pods of 50+ hippopotami grunt and splutter throughout the day, while outsized crocodiles soak up the sun with their vast jaws menacingly agape. And lining the lakes; some of the continent’s densest concentrations of water birds, amongst the parks over 500 recorded species.

 After lunch proceed on an afternoon game drive, chance to view a different variety of animals that come out in the afternoon and evening. Thereafter drive back to Muhazi Beach hotel for overnight. –Dinner on own account.

MUHAZI BEACH HOTEL (BB)

Day 12 – Akagera to Kigali

This morning you will have a second game drive with lunch at Akagera game lodge on own account, then drive back to Kigali and check in at Lemigo Hotel for overnight. –Dinner on own account.

LEMIGO HOTEL (BB)

Day 13 – Kigali

This morning after breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.

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