This 8 days all-round safari in Rwanda starts and ends in Kigali, Rwanda. On this trip expect to track the primates in Nyungwe forest national park including the endangered chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and numerous other primates. You will view the rolling hills and valleys of magical Rwanda, meet face to face with the rare mountain gorillas in the famous Volcanoes national park (Pac National Des Vulcans), plus a myriad of other cultural encounters at Iby’Iwachu cultural village, Kigali city and more.
8 Days Rwanda Safari Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival, city tour and overnight stay in Kigali
Arrive in Kigali, check out and meet with your guide at the airport waiting lounge. Be driven to your hotel for check in, a cup of coffee or juice and briefing about the entire trip. Depending on your arrival time, you will take a short city tour and have the opportunity to visit different sites of historical and cultural significance. These include, Kigali genocide museum, Kigali craft market, Belgian monument, presidential palace museum and other historical features the city presents.
Day 2: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest
Depart Kigali city for Nyungwe after breakfast. Nyungwe forest is located in south – west province of Ruzizi near the border with D.R. Congo. En route visit Ntarama and Nyamata genocide churches located just 20kms out of Kigali city. Visit Murambi Genocide memorial museum and stop in Butare town (Second biggest to Kigali) to visit the National Museum, ethnographic museum, have lunch and proceed to Nyungwe forest for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 3: Chimp Trekking & Afternoon Canopy Walk
Chimpanzee trek in Nyungwe forest begins early morning after breakfast. Get pre-trek from park rangers and head to Nyungwe forest for a magical encounter with these rare apes. This may take up to 5 hours depending on the weather, and movements of the chimps; but experienced trackers will endeavor to find them as soon as possible. After Chimpanzee tracking, trek back to starting point, enjoy your delicious packed lunch and head off to begin the canopy walk.
Nyungwe canopy walk is a specialized guided tour and only accessible along the Igishigishigi trail. Like nowhere else in east Africa, visitors in Nyungwe National Park can experience the rain-forest from the canopy walkway, swinging 60 meters above the forest floor between giant trees and towers, the iconic Canopy Walk presents first hand and stunning views of the magnificent wildlife, lively nature and birdlife resident in the forest.
Day 4: Drive to Lake Kivu
Have a relaxed breakfast and check out from your lodge in Nyungwe forest. Begin your transfer to Lake Kivu – Rwanda’s largest lake and home to expansive white sand beaches, scenic islands and luxurious resorts. Arrive just in time for lunch, and spend the entire afternoon relaxing on a beach overlooking the shimmering lake. Or take a luxurious boat trip to explore the interior of the lake, inland islands, and interact with resident fishermen casting their nets to trap a catch of the day. Overnight at a resort on the shores of the lake.
Day 5: Transfer to Volcanoes National Park, Iby’Iwacu Cultural Visit
Leave Lake Kivu in the morning after a leisurely breakfast and drive further north wards to Rwanda’s famous and most sought after national park, Volcanoes National Park. The journey takes you through one of Rwanda’s finest rolling hills, valleys and the towering Virunga ranges that mark the border between Uganda and Rwanda. Upon arrival in Volcanoes National park, have lunch at the lodge and spend the rest of your afternoon relaxing.
In the evening, go for the amazing cultural encounter at the famous Ib’yiwachu cultural village in the fringes of Volcanoes national park. Iby’Iwachu highlights the nature and life of any typical traditional Rwandan village, and portrayed a wealthy Rwandan culture that has existed for centuries. It also offers visitors a chance to mix and mingle with local people in their day – to – day activities. Get to know how Urwagwa – a local banana brew is produced from primary stage to the finished product, visitors can even have a taste of the local beer. After this tour, return to the lodge for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 6: Gorilla Trek in PNV
Volcanoes national park is a striking green swathe of impenetrable forest, a notable biologically diverse area in the world and famous home of the famous primatologist, Dian Fossey. On this day, begin with an early breakfast, and head off into the entwined and mist-shrouded alpine forest with rangers and experienced trackers who will help in finding the allocated gorilla family by tracing their nests or droppings.
Tracking these majestic apes goes through thick and completely natural rainforest, while scrambling over mossy rocks and through deep undergrowth and it can be arduous and uncomfortable at times. But the sheer joy of that close encounter with the gorillas for the first time is undeniably worth it all. Meeting and seeing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat creates memories that will last a lifetime.
After spending utmost one hour with the mountain gorillas, trek back to the trail head, enjoy your box lunch / snacks and link up with your guide who will drive you back to the hotel. Spend the afternoon relaxing or you can visit the twin lakes – Bulera and Ruhondo. These are historical lakes located on the base of Mount Muhabura, in the north of Rwanda. Dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Day 7: Golden Monkey Trekking & Optional Activities
Have breakfast at 7:00am, and be driven to the park headquarters for briefing, before finally penetrating into the mist-shrouded jungles of Volcanoes National park (Pac National Des Vulcans). Just like gorilla trekking, only 8 individuals are permitted to view a specific troop of golden monkeys per day. The adventure lasts averagely 1-5 hours, depending on the movements of golden monkeys.
While in the forest, you can encounter other resident primates such as the red tailed monkeys, Blue and black colobus monkeys, Vervet monkeys, olive baboons, and forest mammals, including buffaloes, elephants, bush babies, bush pigs and numerous bird species. Retreat back to the lodge for lunch after the golden monkey trekking adventure. This afternoon, undertake any of the optional activities; either hike to the Dian Fossey grave and learn about the history of this legendary primatologist or visit the historical Musanze caves on the outskirts of the park to learn about its magical historical facts and resident bats.
Day 8: Transfer to Kigali & Departure
You will have an early morning breakfast and then transfer to Kigali via the undulating hills of northern Rwanda. It takes approximately 2.5 hours’ drive to reach Kigali city, tour some historical sites that you might have missed on the first day or go for shopping in Rwanda’s iconic craft markets. Connect to Kigali airport in the evening for your return flight.