This Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tour is fantastic for primate viewing in the ancient rainforests of central-east Africa. Go mountain gorilla trekking and golden monkey tracking in Volcanoes National Park, as well as tracking chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park - an utterly outstanding combination of primate encounters!
In addition to the rare and extraordinary experience of watching endangered African mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and chimpanzees in Rwanda, you will also see an astounding diversity of plants, birds, insects, small mammals and other primates. Highlights include endemic bird species, exotic butterflies, a variety of beautiful orchids and primates such as black-faced vervet monkeys, l’Hoest’s monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys and Rwenzori colobus monkeys.
On this affordable tour you get to see the hilly, green landscapes of scenic Rwanda, travelling in a 4x4 safari vehicle and staying at well-established, excellent-value accommodation.
At the start of this Rwanda Primate Safari you are collected from the Kigali International Airport (also known as Kanombe International Airport) and transferred to the city. Spend your first night at a hotel in Kigali, the clean and modern capital of Rwanda. Spend the evening resting after your travels and enjoy dinner at the comfortable hotel with views of the city.
On day two we leave Kigali behind, travelling to Nyungwe Forest National Park in southwestern Rwanda. We take the winding roads down to Butare, stopping to visit lively local markets and the historic Nyanza King’s Palace.
Reaching Butare we spend some time in the Botanical Gardens and visit the Ethnographic Museum, formerly the national museum of Rwanda. After a lunch break we head west to Nyungwe Forest, driving through rolling hills dotted with lush tea plantations and the little wooden homes unique to the Nyungwe Forest region.
Tonight we have dinner and relax at the guest house, getting a good night's rest before our primate adventure in Nyungwe Forest tomorrow.
This morning we have an early breakfast at the guest house, before setting off for Nyungwe Forest National Park, where we go chimpanzee tracking. Nyungwe Forest covers over 1000km² of montane rainforest - the largest intact area of mountain forest in East and Central Africa.
Our search for chimpanzees takes us into the oldest montane forest in Africa, on foot. Walking through this ancient and biodiverse rainforest is an incredible chance to spot a rich array of exotic and rare animals, birds, plants and small creatures. Once we find a troop of chimpanzees we spend time watching them move between the trees noisily. Sharing 98% of the same DNA as humans, chimpanzees are our closest relatives, often behaving very similarly to humans.
Nyungwe Forest is home to about 500 chimpanzees, offering excellent opportunities to watch these social apes, along with 12 other primate species. We are likely to encounter black-faced vervet monkeys and l’Hoest’s monkeys, with grey-cheeked mangabey and Rwenzori colobus monkeys also often sighted. Along with the abundance of primates, the dense tropical forest of Nyungwe also hosts over 60 species of other mammals, a multitude of orchids, over 120 butterfly species and more than 300 species of birds. Keep an eye out for endemic Grauer’s warbler, Rwenzori Turaco and Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill in the forest canopy.
We have lunch in this massive old rainforest and later this afternoon return to our guesthouse for dinner. Spend the evening reminiscing about your captivating encounters in the magical forest habitat of Nyungwe Park.
Today we travel north to the city of Ruhengeri, the main travel hub for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park.
Our drive takes us via either Gisenyi in the northwestern region of Rwanda or back to Kigali and then northwest to Ruhengeri. We travel through the scenic hilly landscapes of Rwanda, known as the 'Land of a Thousand Hills'.
Reaching Ruhengeri, now officially named Musanze, we check in at our well-established guest house and enjoy a tasty dinner. This evening we prepare for tomorrow's once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trek in Rwanda. Remember to take water, snacks and a raincoat with you and wear sturdy hiking boots for the trek.
We will go gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, hosting about 300 mountain gorillas, living in ten groups - the largest number of habituated groups found anywhere.
Rise and shine early this morning for breakfast at the guest house. Then we transfer to the headquarters of Volcanoes National Park, located in the nearby village of Kinigi. Your guide gets your paperwork processed for the trek at the headquarters, where all the gorilla treks begin. The park rangers will brief you on the mountain gorilla tracking procedures, informing you about the trekking rules, safety aspects and appropriate etiquette.
Formalities complete, it is time to head into the dense rainforest on foot. Trekking in groups of eight, your park ranger leads the way, following established forest paths. The rangers keep in radio contact with the trackers to help locate your allocated gorilla group. The trek can be tiring and challenging, taking up to eight hours, but your face-to-face encounter with the endangered gorillas makes it worth every bit of effort. As we walk through the ancient afro-montane forest and swamps we come across a rich diversity of plants, small creatures and birds, many of them rare and endemic. We will stop along the way to have our packed lunches from the guest house.
Once we find the gorillas, an hour is spent observing these giant primates in their natural habitat. Many consider this the most poignant wildlife encounter on earth.
We watch as the mountain gorillas interact with each other; grooming, playing, competing and bonding. These social apes are also constantly feeding on the lush vegetation and spend a good deal of time dozing. At times the gorillas watch visitors with curiosity, even approaching people to take a closer look.
Once we have spent an hour watching our group of African mountain gorillas in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, we trek back to Kinigi and return to the guest house. Enjoy dinner at the guest house and unwind after your unforgettable day in the rainforest.
On day six we are up early for breakfast before heading back into Volcanoes National Park. In addition to being Rwanda's gorilla trekking hotspot, Volcanoes Park is also famous for its golden monkey tracking. Today we go in search of the endangered golden monkeys endemic to this region of the Virunga massif.
These rare golden monkeys are found in the bamboo forests on the lower slopes of the mountains; which makes for an easier and shorter trek than the previous day. If you prefer to take it easy, then you can stay at the guesthouse and rest up instead of trekking. Golden monkey tracking is however a highly recommended and rare wildlife experience, so we encourage guests not to miss out.
Finding one of the two large, habituated troops, numbering over 100 golden monkeys each, we stop to watch these striking, long-tailed primates. The golden monkeys are very social and active, jumping energetically between the trees and interacting playfully. Our walk also offers excellent opportunities for spotting other primates and mammals in the forest, along with numerous exotic birds. Animals found here, include forest elephants, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, bushpigs and various antelopes such as bushbuck and duikers.
After tracking the golden monkeys of Rwanda we return to the Volcanoes Park headquarters at Kinigi and transfer back to the guest house in Ruhengeri. This afternoon we make our way back to Kigali city, in central Rwanda. Staying at the same hotel as before, you are free to sit back and relax, admiring the lovely views of the city. Tonight we have a final dinner together at the hotel and celebrate our extraordinary journey through Rwanda.
On the last day of this Rwanda Primates Safari we set off on a city tour of Kigali, time allowing.
The tour offers great insight into contemporary Rwandan society, sightseeing in the modern, vibrant and clean capital city. We visit a local market where you can buy traditional crafts and find out more about the horrific 1994 Rwandan genocide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
You will be transferred to the airport today for your onward flight, bringing our memorable Rwanda trip to a close.
The tour price excludes the Rwanda Gorilla Permit fees of US$1500 per person.
Children under the age of 16 may not go gorilla trekking.
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