This Rwanda Cultural tour and Gorilla Trekking safari explores the history and culture of Rwandan people. Visit Kigali, the modern capital city of Rwanda, as well as the genocide memorial at Gisozi (depicting Rwanda’s dark recent history).
You will also explore local markets, tour the king’s palace (reminiscent of the old Rwanda before colonialism), visit Ross Carr’s Flower Farm and orphanage, see the sights of Lake Kivu in Gisenyi, continue to Ruhengeri/Musanze to visit local communities, and have the rare privilege of tracking mountain gorillas and golden monkeys (on separate treks) in their natural habitats.
Day 1: Arrive in Kigali, Rwanda!
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met by your safari guide and transferred to your hotel for orientation/safari briefing where you will also have dinner.
Luxury: Des Mille Collines
Mid-range: Des Mille Collines
Note: The Des Mille Collines is luxury; it is used for both luxury and mid-range options as there are no suitable mid-range options in this area.
Day 2: Kigali to Ruhengeri/Musanze
After breakfast, visit the genocide memorial in Kigali at Gisozi and later travel to Musanze on the foothills of the Virunga Mountains. Check in at the hotel, freshen up and have lunch. Later in the afternoon, visit the Iby Iwachu Cultural Group for cultural interaction and traditional dances. This cultural group is composed of pygmies and local people whose livelihood once depended on poaching animals in Volcanoes National Park. They now have abandoned the illegal practice for a different lifestyle. Listen to their side of the story and enjoy the local dances.
Luxury: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Mid-range: Gorillas Hotel Musanze
Cultural Center, by Marilyn Harding, Gorilla trekking Gorilla tour
Day 3: Gorilla Tracking
Today’s activity may be the most exciting and challenging of our entire expedition. The mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park are part of a worldwide population of just about 800 individuals. The gorillas we are allowed to track belong to one of the 8 habituated family groups that live in this mountain park. For up to five years each, these groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually brought them to tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day and allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them in the wild. The gorillas are by no means tame ,and are completely wild animals. Experienced guides will accompany us on our trek. Many of them have been involved in the habituation process themselves.
The guides and trackers will use their knowledge of the gorilla’s habits and information from the previous day to locate the groups’ whereabouts. Because of this, the time required to track the gorillas varies enormously ,from as little as half an hour to as much as 8 hours before one returns to our hotel. Once the gorillas are located, our group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. This is one of the world’s truly memorable experiences; looking into one of these magnificent creature’s eyes brings home the poignant fact that they are on the edge of extinction, and that our presence here contributes to ensuring their continued survival. The hour is often over all too quickly, and we slowly make our way back to our lodge to recount the days adventures.
Luxury: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Mid-range: Gorillas Hotel Musanze.
Day 4: Karisoke Research Center, Golden Monkeys, Return to Kigali
There are several options on offer: Track golden monkeys, visit Mt. Visoke, or visit the Karisoke Research Center. All these activities are in the Virunga Mountains where mountain gorillas live and we shall be with guides and rangers on the hike of our choice. After the hike, enjoy lunch and travel to Kigali arriving in time for evening flights.