Day 1 Welcome to the Land of a Thousand Hills!
Your holiday in Rwanda begins when you arrive at the Kigali International Airport. Our guide/driver will be on hand to 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
Day 2 Tour of Kigali and transfer to Musanze
After breakfast, you’ll take a tour of the city. The Nyamirambo neighbourhood, awash with lots of craft markets and art galleries, will introduce you to the country’s contemporary urban culture while the 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, a 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.
A two-hour drive north of the country will then lead you to Musanze, Rwanda’s second-largest city and the country’s tourism hub. You’ll be driven to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Distance from Kigali to Musanze: 2 hours
Hotel options:Five Volcanoes | Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 3 Golden monkey trekking
Today you will wake up early and get ready for a Golden Monkey trekking adventure 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 travelers.
Day 4 Mountain gorilla trekking
Today is the big day. You’ll join the list of the lucky few who have had the chance to spend an hour with our closest cousins – the iconic mountain gorillas! 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. The Volcanoes National Park is the Rwandan side of the Virunga Massif.
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.
Just like the golden monkeys, 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’ll be driven back to your hotel for meals and overnight.
Day 5 Departure
After breakfast, you will embark on a two-hour journey back to Kigali where, time allowing, you can browse local markets before heading to Kigali International Airport to catch your flight back home.