Rwanda - A Bevy of Primates in the "Country of a Thousand Hills"

Explore Rwanda and immerse yourself in a verdant world of emerald hills and lush tropical rainforest; this mist-shrouded habitat is home to the majestic mountain gorilla.  Rwanda's thickly forested Volcanoes National Park is home to an estimated one-half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas.  This is where Dian Fossey did her groundbreaking work which ultimately leads to the conservation of these gentle giants—a story brilliantly retold in the book and award-winning film, Gorillas in the Mist.  But Rwanda is much more than the home of gorillas—wildlife of an astonishing variety abounds here. With hippos, elephants, a selection of other primates and antelope inhabiting its protected areas, and a staggering selection of jewel-colored birds in the trees above, Rwanda has become a model for other African countries, and is one of Africa’s top must-see destinations.

Degree of Difficulty - Four Paws

Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.

Weather Reports - When To Go

Rwanda: Mountainous Rwanda has been dubbed “the country of a thousand hills” and is good to visit any time of the year. When gorilla trekking, it’s not uncommon to encounter rain. After all, you are in the rainforest and it rains quite a lot, but that will not stop you from trekking to see the gorillas. The rainy season overall in the country follows the East Africa pattern – long rains mid-March through May, and short rains in November. Gorilla viewing is actually better during the rainy season, as they’re generally lower in elevation feeding and can be viewed with less trekking. However, this can never be guaranteed – neither can one guarantee 100% success in viewing the gorillas, although they’re almost always sighted.

Days 1/2 USA/ADDIS ABABA/KIGALI

Your journey begins as you board your overnight flight to Addis Ababa where you connect with your flight to Kigali, capital of Rwanda. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the beautiful Kigali Serena Hotel, where you’ll be free to relax and refresh from your journey and prepare for the remarkable adventure ahead. Enjoy a welcome dinner tonight. KIGALI SERENA HOTEL. (Meals Aloft, D)

Days 3/4 KIGALI/AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK

Dive directly into your safari adventure with a drive to Akagera National Park, the ultimate destination for wildlife viewing in Rwanda. The park covers a large and diverse range of terrain, ranging from flat savannahs to mountains to wet swampland, and each area has the remarkable wildlife to match. Here you’ll search for elephant, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, crocodile, zebra, and a variety of antelope while an incredible assortment of bird species fill the skies and trees overhead and wade through the waters around you. Pass the nights in a luxury tented lodge that finds the perfect balance between eco-responsibility and comfort. Enjoy meals on the deck overlooking Lake Ihema and watch for hippos, vervet monkeys and water birds. RUZIZI TENTED LODGE. (B, L, D Daily)

Day 5 AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK/KIGALI/KINIGI

Return to Kigali for lunch and an informative tour of the city, touching on the varied and tumultuous history of the region and stopping by some of the cultural cornerstones of modern Rwanda, including the Parliament Building, the city market, and the Institute of Science and Technology. Afterwards, enjoy a scenic hill-side drive to Kinigi and the Volcanoes National Park, where famed primatologist Dian Fossey spent almost 18 years observing and championing preservation of the mountain gorilla. Your lovely cottage is located near the park headquarters, surrounded by five dormant volcanoes and verdant bamboo forests. GORILLA MOUNTAIN VIEW LODGE. (B, L, D)

Day 6 VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Prepare yourself for the ultimate encounter with the mighty mountain gorilla. Today you will trek into the bamboo forest to visit one of the resident gorilla families, each with their own names and distinct members, including the formidable silverback Guhonda who leads the Sabyinyo family. In the company of a porter, you will part the veil of mist and mystery that makes up this lush landscape, trekking through vegetation ranging from thickets of dry bamboo to curtains of emerald moss. While it is certainly a physical challenge to find your primordial cousins, the effort will be the last thing in your mind when you finally catch your first sight of a wild gorilla family, going about their daily lives in the wilderness. Once you find the gorillas, you’ll spend one hour with them and then return to the lodge where the balance of the day is at leisure. GORILLA MOUNTAIN VIEW LODGE. (B, L, D)

Days 7/8 VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Today you’ll search for a much lesser known primate called the golden monkey. This chubby-cheeked creature is an endangered species and lives only in this area of the world. You’ll catch the extremely rare sight of them in areas dense with bamboo, which makes up a large part of their diet. Afterward, return to your fellow humans for an intimate look at Rwandan’s rural cultures as you visit the village of Iby’Iwachu for the remarkable opportunity to witness traditional Rwandan life as you observe things such as herbal healing, schools in session, banana brewing, and traditional music and dance. Next day, you may wish to return to the jungle in search of gorillas. If time permits, today will also feature a visit to the nearby city of Musanze, which has a bountiful outdoor market full of textiles, produce, and hand-crafted items ranging from baskets and pottery to jewelry and trinkets. GORILLA MOUNTAIN VIEW LODGE. (B, L, D)

Day 9 KARISOKE/KIGALI

This morning will present the opportunity to take an excursion to Karisoke, where you’ll have the opportunity to visit Karisoke Research Center and pay your respects at the resting place of Dian Fossey. Karisoke is one of the most valuable contributions to primatology in the world and an integral study site since the 1970s. Beyond the obvious allure of the gorilla populations, the rare wildlife population and diverse ecological landscape draws scientists from around the world to gather invaluable data. Retire to your accommodation in Kigali for the evening, where you enjoy a farewell dinner and reminisce about the wonderful adventure you’ve enjoyed. KIGALI SERENA. (B, L, D)

Days 10/11 KIGALI/EN ROUTE/USA

Bid a fond farewell to the remarkable nation of Rwanda as you depart for home, taking with you memories that will be with you forever. (B, Meals Aloft)

PRE-EXTENSION TO NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK

Arrive Rwanda and spend a night in Kigali before departing for Nyungwe Forest, with a stop off at Nyanza King’s Palace and the National Museum of Butare, once the imperial capital of Rwanda where the kings and queens conducted their reigns prior to the arrival of European colonialists. During your two days at Nyungwe Forest, you’ll seek out the chimpanzees living in the forest as you trek through the diverse and dense greenery. The 13 primate species you can spot in Nyungwe represent close to a fourth of the total number of primates in all of Africa. You may spot a Rwenzori Colobus monkey, the Olive baboon, the Angola colobus, the silver monkey, and the golden monkey. That’s not to mention the incredible array of avian life also living in the forest, which includes 275 species of incredible birdlife. If you wish to get a more intimate view of the canopy, a 45-minute aerial canopy tour is available at an additional cost. You’ll stay at a magnificent five star eco lodge on the cusp of the closed canopy rainforest, the NYUNGWE FOREST LODGE..

Prices starting at $2,995. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.