Explore Akagera National Park, home to the African Big Five and one of the most scenic national parks in Africa; visit the King’s Palace Museum, former home of King MusingaYuhi V; track the region’s famous chimpanzees in Nyungwe National Park; trek the iconic, critically endangered mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park; and enjoy a leisurely ramble on the shores of Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s Great Lakes that spans Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

INCLUDED IN THIS TOUR

Airport pick-up and return
Fully escorted by our guide
Travel within Rwanda
11nights luxury accommodation
All sightseeing and park entry fees as per itinerary

Day
1
Welcome to Rwanda!

When you arrive at Kigali International Airport, you will be picked up by our guide/driver who will transfer you to your hotel where you’ll spend the night.
Distance from airport to hotel: 15 minutes
Hotel options: Kigali Serena Hotel | Hotel des Mille Collins | Lemigo Hotel

Day
2
Game drive in Akagera National Park

Today you will wake up as early as 6:00 am and begin your journey to Akagera National Park, northeast of Kigali on the border with Tanzania. The trip to Rwanda’s most prominent national park – which spans 1,085 km² – takes about two hours.
The park was named after the river that runs along Rwanda’s eastern edge, and it’s the country’s counterpart to the famous savannah reserves of Tanzania and Kenya farther afield. It’s a stunningly beautiful park, boasting more than 10 freshwater lakes and more than 80 and 500 animal and bird species respectively.
Today’s game drive will reward you with an authentic African Big Five safari experience in a less touristy destination where lions and rhinos returned in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Some of the park’s most famous residents include lions, elephants, rhinos, zebras, cheetahs, hyenas, buffalos, giraffes, monkeys, hippos, bush pigs, warthogs, baboons, crocodiles, leopards and antelopes.
Distance from Kigali: 2 hours
Hotel options:Rusizi Tented Camp

Day
3
Game drive and a boat ride on Lake Ihema

Due to its vast size, it’s highly recommended that you have two days of game viewing in Akagera National Park. Today you’ll specifically be on the lookout for some of the sightings you missed yesterday. It could have been a lion, a cheetah or the very elusive hyena.
After the game drive, you’ll be taken back to your hotel for lunch and a brief relaxation. The afternoon is reserved for one of the most captivating adventures Akagera National Park has to offer: a boat ride on Lake Ihema, the country’s second-biggest freshwater lake after Lake Kivu.
Lake Ihema is a birder’s paradise; here you’ll be fascinated by sightings of water birds such as cormorants, fish eagles, African jacana, papyrus gonolek and kingfishers. But the highlights are usually sightings of the monstrous elephants grazing by the lakeside, crocodiles enjoying the morning sun, and hippos playing in the water.
After the boat ride, you’ll be taken back to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Hotel options:Rusizi Tented Camp

Day
4
History, art and culture

Your fourth day in Rwanda will start with a one-hour journey to Nyamata Genocide Memorial Centre. Initially a church, this memorial will introduce you to the horrors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which left an estimated one million Rwandans dead.
During the genocide in 1994, the church building went from holy house to the sight of one of the most appalling acts of brutality – it’s estimated that over 2,500 Tutsis who had sought refuge here were mercilessly slaughtered by Hutu extremists.
Here you will be moved by the memorial’s exhibits: the walls are still blood-stained, clothes of the victims still piled on the pews, and the bones and skulls that were recovered after the massacres are neatly arranged on shelves.
From Nyamata you’ll be driven to Nyanza town, Rwanda’s first capital city and home to the King’s Palace Museum. You will explore the traditional palace that was built by King MusingaYuhi V and the first house built by King RudahigwaMutara III, which were recently restored to form the King’s Palace Museum.
Still in Nyanza, you’ll also visit the Rwesero Art Museum, the newer house built by King Mutara III, before setting off for a one-hour journey to Huye (formerly Butare) district to explore the Ethnographic Museum, formerly the National Museum of Rwanda
Distance from Nyamata:One hour
Hotel options:Nyanza Heritage Hotel

Day
5
Canopy walk in Nyungwe National Park

After breakfast, you will head farther south to Nyungwe Forest National Park, the largest remaining tract of montane rainforest in East and Central Africa. You will settle into your room at One & Only Nyungwe House, one of the best luxury lodges in Rwanda.
Nyungwe protects more than 1,000 species of plants, at least 120 butterfly species, 310 bird species, 32 amphibian species and 38 species of reptiles.
The most recent count recorded at least 86 different mammal species in this forest, 13 of which are primates, including colobus monkeys, mangabeys, blue monkeys, dend’s monkeys, olive baboons and grey chimpanzees, among others.
Twenty-seven of Nyungwe’s bird species are Albertine Rift endemics, of which three cannot be found anywhere else on the eastern side of the Albertine Rift: the Albertine owlet, red-collared babbler and Rockefeller’s Sunbird. But the real gems here are the great blue turaco, a chicken-sized bird with garish blue, green and yellow feathers, as well as the flycatcher, a long-tailed blue, orange and white bird.
After lunch, you’ll go for East Africa’s only canopy walk, a trek above a deep gorge that lasts an average of one-and-a-half hours. The metallic walkway, suspended between higher slopes and the forest’s trees, is about 200 metres long with a maximum height of about 40 metres. During this expedition, you are likely to spot blue monkeys and some rare bird species that are resident in the forest.
Hotel options:One & Only Nyungwe House

Day
6
Chimp trekking in Nyungwe National Park

Today you will have an up-close encounter with Nyungwe National park’s most famous residents: chimpanzees! As you set off for the memorable trek, you’ll hear them before you see them, hooting somewhere deep in the forest, one voice at first, and then several of joining in a crescendo before fading away or merely stopping on the spur of the moment.
The Nyungwe National Park is home to more than 80 chimpanzees and four small types of prosimian and small nocturnal primates.
Chimp trekking will be interspersed with other activities, including a hike to Isumo Waterfalls, where the moist air, the thunderous waterfalls, and the enlivening sounds of birds, tree frogs and insects will make you fete a real return to nature.
After the memorable chimp trekking expedition, you will return to your room for relaxation, dinner and overnight.
Hotel options:One & Only Nyungwe House

Day
7
Drive to Kibuye, boat ride on Lake Kivu

After breakfast, you will travel to Rwanda’s vacation town of Kibuye, located on the on the eastern shores of Lake Kivu, which straddles Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today’s options include a boat ride to some of the lake’s islands where you can spend some time in nature, visiting the Ndaba Falls on the mainland, or taking a walk around the town to admire some of Kibuye’s colonial buildings that have somehow survived greedy town planning.
Hotel options:Cormoran Lodge

Day
8
Drive to Gisenyi

Rubavu (formerly known as Gisenyi) is located about 110 kilometres from Kibuye and is contingent with Goma, the far-famed city across the border in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
With its beautiful sandy beaches, shady palm-lined avenues, and a refreshing climate, Rubavu is an ideal place to chill out. It’s Rwanda’s sixth largest town and the largest port on the Rwandan side of Lake Kivu with several recreational activities for you to choose from. You can go kayaking, visit nearby islands, hike Mount Rubavu, visit the historic Nyundo School of Music, check out the Gisenyi hot springs, or take a swim in the lake, which spans 2,700 km² and sits at an altitude of 2349 km² above sea-level. Lake Kivu is the world’s 15th and Africa’s 3rd deepest lake.
Hotel options:Palm Garden Beach Hotel | Kivu Serena Hotel

Day
9
Drive to Musanze, visit Gorilla Guardian Village

After a relaxed morning on the shores of the scenic Lake Kivu, you’ll be driven to the northeastern town of Musanze, close to the Virunga range of volcanic mountains, home to the unique mountain gorillas.
In Musanze you will visit the Gorilla Guardian Village (formerly known as Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village), an award-winning venture that was founded in 2004 and is owned entirely by local communities.
Since its inception, the Gorilla Guardian Village has significantly helped in improving the livelihoods of communities living near the Volcanoes National Park, which houses the mountain gorillas. The venture offers employment to hundreds of former poachers and potential poachers, thereby curtailing human pressure on the Volcanoes National Park.
Set in a replica of the traditional Rwandan palace, here you’ll be regaled by Rwandan Intore dancers and drummers, Batwa pygmies will showcase their bow and arrow skills, while a little village walk will introduce you to the local community’s way of life.
From here you’ll be driven to your hotel for dinner and relaxation.
Distance from Rubavu:1 hour 30 minutes
Hotel options:Mountain Gorillas View lodge | Five Volcanoes

Day
10
Golden monkey trekking

Today you will wake up early and get ready for a Golden Monkey trekking expedition in the Volcanoes National Park.
You’ll be at the park headquarters as early as 7:00 am, so that park rangers take you through the dos and don’ts of tracking these fascinating primates. As you plunge deep into the bamboo forest, park guides will give you commentary on what makes these species unique – why they can only be found in the Virunga chain of volcanic mountains, the area that is also the only home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas.
Guides will lead you to one of the habituated families that are now accustomed to human presence. When you finally find them, viewing will be limited to just one hour to avoid stressing them, but one hour of an up-close encounter with these unique primates in their natural habitat is good enough for you to have some genuinely hypnotic moments engraved in your memory. Oblivious of your presence, you’ll watch them feeding on bamboo leaves, playing boisterously, and hopping from one tree branch to another.
When you are done with the golden monkeys, a visit to Kinigi Community Commercial Center (KCCC) will introduce you to some reformed poachers and other Rwandan artisans who are now doing well by doing good. KCCC is an initiative of the Rwanda Development Board, the government agency that is in charge of the country’s tourism and conservation space.
From KCCC you’ll be driven back to your hotel where you can spend the rest of the day relaxing or swapping stories with fellow travellers.
Hotel options:Mountain Gorillas View lodge | Five Volcanoes

Day
11
Gorilla trekking and twin lakes

Your 11th day in Rwanda will begin at 6:00 am as gorilla trekkers are required to be at the park headquarters by 7:00 am. Critically endangered and currently numbering about 1,000 individuals (according to the 2018 census results), the mountain gorillas can only be found in two places in the world: the Virunga Massif, a volcanic range that straddles Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
After equipping yourselves with the essential gorilla trekking gear (hiking boots, long trousers, gloves, etc.), the park’s head ranger will divide you and other trekkers into different groups basing on your fitness. Usually, the more physically fit track gorilla groups that require a shorter, less strenuous trek while the fit ones can scour the forest for a longer time, and at a relatively higher altitude.
The mountain gorillas you’ll be allowed to view are families that have been habituated. As the excursion progresses deeper into the forest, your guide will point out signs of previous gorilla activity – dung, nests, chewed bamboo shoots, etc. Once you find them, you’ll be allowed to stay with them for one hour. And despite their intimidating, massive size, don’t fret! Habituated gorillas are not aggressive; they’ll just stare at you blankly.
After gorilla trekking, you will be driven back to your hotel for lunch and brief relaxation. Your next destination will be the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo, situated about 25 kilometres from Musanze town. With the lakes’ odd shapes, the fabulously steep hills that cascade them, the stunning scenery around the lakes coupled with the volcanoes brooding in the background, this is a superb spot to spend the afternoon after gorilla trekking.
Hotel options:Mountain Gorillas View lodge | Five Volcanoes

Day
12
Kigali City tour & departure

After breakfast, you will embark on a two-hour journey back to Kigali where you’ll tour the city and, maybe even, engage in a bit of shopping. The Nyamirambo neighbourhood, awash with lots of craft markets and art galleries, will introduce you to the country’s contemporary urban culture while Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre will acquaint you with the barbarities of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which decimated the country and left an estimated one million people dead.
On the brighter side, however, the tour of Kigali will show you how Rwandans have put those dark days behind them and literally rebuilt their country – one picturesque building at a time.
Later on, you’ll be driven to Hotel des Mille Collins for lunch and then to Kigali International Airport to catch your flight back home.