Rwanda & Tanzania - Of Human Origins, Gorillas & the Migration

Rwanda and Tanzania offer to the traveler a rare glimpse into our past that is all at once very present and immediate to our lives. In Rwanda, see the cost of ignorance at the Kigali Memorial Center, where the horrors of genocide are preserved to teach us. Travel to the lush volcanic mountains for the rare privilege of visiting with the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. See how the Maasai have lived within the route of the greatest yearly migrations of animals in the world, while maintaining their way of life. Investigate and learn about human prehistoric origins at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, where the Leakys made their discoveries. This journey connects our past with our present in a way that grounds us to the earth beneath our feet.

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.

Tanzania: Tanzania is located close to the Equator. The temperature, therefore, does not vary too much. During our summer months (June through August) it is about 10 degrees cooler, but days will be warm and can reach 80’s and evenings can be cool and can drop to the 40’s in the higher elevations. The program includes some high elevation spots – the rim of the crater is at 7,500 feet. The rainy season is in April/May (long rains) and November (short rains). However, it does not rain every day, or all day, and rainstorms are quickly followed by brilliant sunshine which makes for incredible photographic opportunities. Wildlife viewing is good year-round, however the migration of zebra and wildebeest follows the following cycle:

  • January-March – southern sector of the Serengeti and the animals are massing and giving birth to their young
  • April-June – central Serengeti and the animals begin to move
  • July – western corridor of the Serengeti and on the move towards Kenya
  • August-October – northern Serengeti and mostly into neighboring Maasai Mara in Kenya
  • November-December – returning back to the Serengeti and making their way to the southern sector.

Zanzibar follows a similar pattern with rains (longer rains in April & May with short rains in November) but it does not rain every day and all day, rather short showers. Being so near the equator, Zanzibar is tropical year round, but in summer (December/January) it’s usually windy, so there are pleasant sea breezes.

Days 1/2 WASHINGTON, DC/ADDIS ABABA/KIGALI

Board your overnight flight, arriving Rwanda the next afternoon. Upon arrival in Kigali, transfer to your luxury hotel located in the center of Kigali’s heart. KIGALI SERENA HOTEL. (Meals Aloft, D)

Day 3 KIGALI/KINIGI

Today visit the Kigali Memorial Center inaugurated in 2004, on the 10th Anniversary of the genocide that split Rwanda apart. It is a place of recognition and healing where some 250,000 victims of the genocide have been interned as a lasting testament to the unacceptable cost of ignorance. Afterwards, drive to Volcano National Park, the site of Dian Fossey’s celebrated gorilla habituation and anti-poaching project, and the location for the film Gorillas in the Mist. GORILLA MOUNTAIN VIEW LODGE. (B,L,D)

Days 4/5 VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK/KINIGI

Early this morning arrive at Park Headquarters where local guides and porters will assist you on your trek up the slopes of these ancient volcanoes to see the mountain gorillas. Your group will have the opportunity for two treks per person to view these gentle giants. Permits must be purchased in advance. Next day, another opportunity to trek for the mountain gorillas, or if you wish, you can trek for the golden monkeys that make their home in the Virungas. GORILLA MOUNTAIN VIEW LODGE. (B,L,D)

Day 6 KINIGI/KIGALI

Today’s options include visiting Karisoke, the site of Dian Fossey’s research camp, or trek for golden monkeys. Later, drive back to Kigali where your afternoon is at leisure. KIGALI SERENA HOTEL. (B)

Days 7/8 KIGALI/SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK/WESTERN CORRIDOR

Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Western Corridor of the Serengeti National Park. Today, the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Maasai Mara Reserve across the border in Kenya, protect the greatest and most varied collection of terrestrial wildlife on earth, and one of the last great migratory systems still intact. You’ll be in the Grumeti River area of the Western Corridor, noted for huge crocodile and hippo pools. Look for lion sunbathing atop kopjes – prehistoric rock outcroppings, framed by the bluest of skies, or a solitary leopard watching your every move from a tree branch. Slowly savor every minute of Africa’s splendor from vibrant sunrises to seemingly endless starlit night skies in your elegant Victorian-era tented camp. KIRAWIRA CAMP. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 9/10 CENTRAL SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

Further explore the Serengeti, host to the annual centuries-old migration of over one million wildebeest, hundreds of thousands of zebra, and with them, lion, cheetah, and hyena who stalk this moveable feast. Giraffe, topi, buffalo, and Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle roam the open plains and elephant herds find shade in the palm thickets and sausage trees of the Seronera Valley. Soar through the skies on a balloon safari for exhilarating views (at additional cost). Also a World Biosphere Reserve, visit the Serengeti Wildlife Research Centre to learn more about the Park’s diverse ecosystems. SERENGETI SERENA SAFARI LODGE. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 11/12 OLDUVAI GORGE/NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA

Discover Olduvai Gorge, the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ where Louis and Mary Leaky uncovered the early origins of modern man. Tour the museum to learn about their archeological methods and remarkable finds. Resume your drive, stopping at a Maasai village. Next day, descend through misty clouds 2,000 feet to the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater to see swaggering prides of blackmane lion, large herds of wildebeest, buffalo, hartebeest, eland and zebra, roam the grasslands with hyena close behind. The best chance to observe the fiercely protected endangered black rhino is here. Hildebrandt’s Francolin lurk in the forest while Verreaux’s Eagle soar high above a flamingo-filled soda lake. Massive tusked bull elephant charge in the plains, while the matriarchs meander through the forest under the watchful eyes of a leopard. NGORONGORO SERENA SAFARI LODGE. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 13/14 ARUSHA/ADDIS ABABA/WASHINGTON, DC

Drive to Arusha where you have some time to shop before your transfer to the airport for your flights home. (B; Meals Aloft).

OPTIONAL POST EXTENSION TO ZANZIBAR

Spend four days on the exotic spice island of Zanzibar beginning in Stone Town – a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars and unique wooden doors. Stay at the SERENA INN on the Indian Ocean in a haven of tranquility and old-world opulence, dazzle your senses at a spice plantation and watch rare, red colobus monkeys frolic overhead in Jozani Forest. Then, travel to MATEMWE and stay in a spacious villa set on top of a small cliff overlooking the ocean and next to a beach with sand as fine as powder, and enjoy some of the best snorkeling and diving on the continent. Swim in the turquoise waters and return home rejuvenated.

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • Flight between Kigali and Grumeti on the main trip.
  • Flight between Arusha and Zanzibar on the post extension.
  • Superior accommodations throughout as indicated or similar.
  • All meals while on safari in Rwanda & Tanzania. Other meals as specified.
  • Wildlife viewing in specially-designed 4-wheel drive safari vehicles, with open roof viewing hatches for wildlife viewing and photography. A window seat is guaranteed. Gorilla trekking will be made on foot.
  • Complimentary bottled water in vehicles and during meals.
  • Professional naturalist on main tour with 10 travelers.
  • Gratuities for baggage handling, hotel tips and all applicable hotel and lodge taxes.
  • National Park and Reserves entry fees.
  • Complimentary baggage tags and passport wallets.
Prices starting at $8,995. 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.