This tour starts and ends in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. It will take you to the most sought after tourist spots in Rwanda. These include; Kigali city, Akagera National park famous for its amazing launch trip on Lake Ihema, the Big five mammals as well as the unique flora.
The 9 days Rwanda tour as well presents to you Nyungwe Forest National Park known as the famous primate capital of Rwanda. Volcanoes National park on the other hand is a highlight of the safari. This national park shelters over 400 mountain gorillas making up over a quarter of the remaining mountain gorilla population in the whole world.
9 Days Rwanda Safari Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Kigali, City Tour & Overnight
Upon your arrival at Kigali airport, meet and greet with the company guide. The guide will brief you about the final itinerary of the safari. Transfer thereafter to your booked hotel in Kigali city. Depending on the arrival time, you can undertake a city tour in Kigali, Africa’s most beautiful and cleanest city.
During a city tour, visit the Kigali genocide Museum; presenting a commemoration of the horrible 1994 genocide that happened in Rwanda.
Visit the Kigali craft market in Rwanda to interact with the local people and to purchase some souvenirs. Visit the presidential palace museum, Nyarutarama Golf Club, Richard Kandt Museum and the Belgium memorial site. Retreat from the excursion, go for lunch in one of the traditional restaurants in the city.
Time permitting, visit the Ntarama and Nyamata genocide Memorial sites on the outskirts of Kigali city. These are other historical sites that portray the tragedy of the 1994 genocide that befell Rwanda. After the tour, the guide will drive you back to your hotel in Kigali city for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 2: Transfer to Akagera National Park
Depart early to Akagera National Park, a drive of approximately 2-3 hours. This park is set amidst the plains of Akagera River and is home to a wide variety of wildlife including elephants, lions, hippos, buffaloes, antelopes, and numerous species of birds. The journey to Akagera is about 110km taking about 2.5 hours’ drive to reach the park. En route, the journey offers you beautiful scenery of rolling hills for which the country Rwanda is well known.
You will arrive at park headquarters in mid-morning and register before undertaking an interesting behind the scenes tour. Here key park management will go through the history of Akagera National Park (Africa’s 2nd oldest National Park), their anti-poaching methods and confiscated items, conservation measures and a look at their innovative tracking room which monitors the movements of the parks newest inhabitants – the lions and rhinos. Dinner and overnight stay at a lodge.
Day 3: Game Drive & Boat Cruise
Following an early breakfast at your lodge overlooking the scenic plains, proceed on a game drive to discover the Big 5 residents of Akagera national park. While on this morning game drive, look out for the early risers, nocturnal, as well as large predators including Lions, leopards and Hyenas.
Akagera game drive lasts between 3-4 hours, and return to the lodge thereafter for lunch and relaxation. In the afternoon after lunch, embark on a leisurely boat cruise along Lake Ihema. This is a 3 hour cruise along Rwanda’s second biggest lake. Lake Ihema shores are dotted with herds of lazy buffaloes, pods of hippos wallowing, and uncountable bird life. In the evening, return to the lodge for relaxation and overnight stay.
Day 4: Morning Game Drive & Transfer to Volcanoes National Park
Early breakfast and prepare for yet another short game drive as you make your way out of Akagera all the way to the northern province, volcanoes national park. Akagera national park has a myriad of Savannah animals and it is where one can spot lions and Rhino. The lions where introduced 4 years ago and their numbers are increasing very healthily and the Rhinos are only less than a year in the park so it will be a great day if we manage to spot them.
This is big Savannah country with several lakes dotting the landscape creating further opportunities to spot bird life and hippos.
The game drive lasts between 3-4 hours, and return to the lodge thereafter for refreshing. Transfer to Volcanoes national park in the Northern Province of Rwanda, arriving for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 5: Gorilla Trekking & Evening Cultural Tour
Have an early delicious breakfast at the lodge; and your safari guide will lead you to the park headquarters to attend a briefing session about the dos and the don’ts of gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. A gorilla trek in Rwanda is really an exciting adventure as it provides unmatched views of the Virunga ranges in all directions. Follow a trail that penetrates the rain forest filled with an array of wildlife species. Wildlife in Volcanoes national park include; buffaloes, forest elephants, primates and a huge population of birds.
After a long hike through the jungles, you will finally come face to face with these wonderful giants and be allowed up to a full hour to interact with them, take photos and get acquainted with their daily lifestyle. This is the highlight of any wildlife safari in Rwanda. You will see the gorillas play, feed, jump and go about their daily routine.
After trekking, take your picnic lunch/snacks and get back to the starting point. Link up with your guide who will drive you back to the lodge. In the evening, if you are not tired opt for a community tour to the nearby Iby’Iwachu village and enjoy cultural performances, traditional activities, local brew, songs, stories, and return to the lodge for overnight stay.
Day 6: Golden Monkey Trekking & Dian Fossey/Musanze Caves Tour
Have breakfast and proceed to Volcanoes national park headquarters for another briefing, this time for golden monkey trekking; and not the gorilla trekking. Enter into the bamboo forest, on the lower slopes of Virunga Mountains where these shy, rare primates inhabit. Golden monkey trekking tours lasts averagely 1-5 hours depending on the movements of the golden monkeys.
During trekking, you will meet other resident primates in the park like, Blue and black colobus monkeys, Vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons, among others. After trekking the golden monkeys, spend the rest of your afternoon touring either Musanze caves or taking a hike to Dian Fossey grave to pay your last respects to a famous primatologist, Dain Fossey who died during her effort to save mountains gorillas from extinction in the Virunga region.
Day 7: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest
Depart after breakfast to Nyungwe Forest. The drive passes via rural villages and bustling small towns taking approx. 5-6 hours, stopping for a picnic lunch at Lake Kivu. View the towering Congo Blue Mountains, plus the Congo-Nile drive. Nyungwe is an enchanting ancient rain-forest, harbors notable range of flora and fauna, birdlife, forest mammals and most importantly primates.
Nyungwe forest is the biggest in Rwanda and famous for its remarkable primate population including the chimpanzees, diademed monkeys, olive baboons, red –tailed monkeys and black and white colobus monkeys. Optional excursions around Nyungwe include a guided forest walk, visit to the tea plantations, cultural tours, hiking, cycling, etc. Have an overnight stay at the lodge overlooking the dense forest.
Day 8: Chimpanzee Trekking & Canopy Walk
Today is sure to be thrilling! After breakfast, join your guide and drive to Nyungwe forest park headquarters, a 30 minutes’ drive bringing you to chimpanzee pre-trek briefing point. Enter into the forest to begin your hunt for chimps, following well-defined paths marked with their droppings, or hearing them pant-hoot up in the trees. Trackers and rangers will help you locate a chimpanzee troop as fast as possible.
Their sightings cannot be guaranteed, but chances of spotting them are as high as 95%. Once you finally find them, spend approximately an hour observing and following their movements as they jump from one tree to the other. Have lunch, and start the canopy walk experience by 1400hrs. Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk is one of the few canopy walk experiences in Africa and the first of its kind in East Africa.
It is a hanging bridge suspended to offer 360 degrees views over the valley and entire forest. The walking trail extends to Kamiranzovu swamp, with its numerous bird life, orchids and waterfall. This canopy walk lasts close to 2 hours and provides an exhilarating perspective about the ancient treetops and resident wildlife. The notable primate sightings during the walk include various species of monkeys like the black and white Colobus, L’Hoest’s monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys and an array of birdlife endemic to the Nyungwe forest.
Day 9: Return to Kigali
After breakfast, embark on a journey to Kigali. Drive for 2 hours until you make a first stop in Butare (2nd largest city in Rwanda after Kigali) for cultural experience. Visit the King’s Palace which avails a detailed insight into the Rwandan traditional setting and their monarchy. It is presents a breathtaking historical display, reinstated to its 19th century state and made up of entirely traditional materials.
An Ethnographic Museum of Rwanda is located right nearby in 40 minutes and presents an impressive display of ancient and historic antiquities from throughout Rwandan history. While here you’ll be entertained by an organized traditional Rwandan dance troupe. After this excursion, have lunch and proceed to Kigali city in the evening. Check in at your pre-booked lodge for an overnight stay or be dropped off at the airport for an onward flight.