On our active Rwanda Gorilla and Chimpanzee Trekking Safari, visit the remote and little-known Nyungwe Forest in southern Rwanda. The park is one of Africa’s hidden gems, with many rare plant, bird and primate species. Then we move on to the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda to experience mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in their misty mountain refuge.
We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your nearby hotel for a briefing on the rest of your Rwanda primate safari.
Kigali has been the capital of Rwanda since independence in 1962, and the city is attractively spread out across several hills. The ‘downtown’ city centre is located on one hilltop, and the government/diplomatic quarter on another.
The city offers its fair share of colourful African bustle and energy, but on the whole is very clean and orderly when compared to most African capitals, and its wide, tree-lined streets are a pleasant place to take a stroll.
Today we drive south to Nyungwe Forest, stopping first at Nyanza for an informative visit to the Royal Palace. Nyanza was once the capital of Rwanda from 1958 to 1962, and the palace was built for King Mutara III Rudahigwa. The King sadly passed away before he had the chance to reside in it, and it has since been converted into an Art Museum.
After our palace visit, we continue to the town of Butare for lunch and a short visit to the National Museum of Rwanda, before completing our scenic drive to Nyungwe Forest, and our five star safari lodge, located on the edge of this vast forest and a verdant tea plantation.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the largest, most primal and biodiverse forests in all of Africa. This rich mosaic of habitats ranges from bamboo groves, open marshes, tracts of giant lobelia and dense jungle vegetation. It is the primary water catchment area for the region, and Nyungwe contains the famous Congo-Nile Divide.
This morning we will depart the lodge early to go chimp trekking in nearby Cyamudongo Forest. This small forest was historically connected to Nyungwe, and is rich in bird species typical of the Albertine Rift Valley system. It also has a resident habituated chimpanzee group, and with the compact size of this forest, sightings are usually better here than for those trekking chimps in Nyungwe Forest itself.
We return to the lodge and later on visit the nearby tea plantation to learn all about the process of producing world class tea – a speciality in Rwanda.
Day 4 is spent hiking forest trails in Nyungwe Forest. The national park hosts a rich floral diversity, and is home to a staggering number of Albertine Rift endemic bird species, as well as 13 different types of primate. This includes chimpanzees, L’Hoest monkeys, golden monkeys, as well as the largest troops of black and white colobus found anywhere on the continent – a habituated group of up to 400 individual members are resident in the forest.
This morning, we will enjoy a hike to Nyungwe’s most famous attraction – East Africa’s only canopy walk – a suspended walkway that hangs above the treetops for a bird’s eye view of forest life. After lunch, we can return to the forest for a guided hike along one of the many trails, to enjoy birding, butterflies, waterfalls and forest scenery.
This morning, we will transfer by road back to Kigali. After lunch at a city restaurant we drive north to Volcanoes National Park. Straddling Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC, the Virunga Volcanoes are one of the most stirring sights in East Africa.
This rugged chain of eight peaks rises as high as 4,500 metres in places, and five of these mountains are protected in Rwanda. The slopes of each mountain are covered with thick rainforest, which gives way to montane grassland and alpine moorland higher up.
This morning we will meet at the park headquarters to be briefed on today’s primate activity – golden monkey tracking in the bamboo forests of the Virungas.
This little known primate offers a chance to track an equally fascinating endangered species. You will set off on your trek to find them, accompanied by experienced rangers, in a small group of no more than eight people. The monkeys have been habituated to the presence of the rangers and guests, and once we locate them, you will spend up to an hour observing their charming antics, as they leap from branch to branch.
Today, we enjoy the highlight of our trip, tracking the gentle giants of Africa, the mountain gorillas. Experienced guides will accompany us on our tracking, many of who have been involved in habituating the gorillas themselves.
The time taken to track the gorillas varies, and 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 – a look into one of these magnificent creature’s eyes brings home the bond that exists between them and us.
We will drive back to Kigali and transfer you to the airport for your departure flight home.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge is the first up market accommodation to be built in this remote and ethereal national park in southern Rwanda.
As befits the park, the lodge is outstanding, consisting of 20 luxurious rooms and two suites, each equipped with a viewing deck. After a day’s hiking one of Nyungwe’s eight trails in search of the rare animals and plants found in the forest, guests are treated to an outdoor heated swimming pool, a relaxation retreat with two treatment rooms, and a fitness centre.
Local materials and construction methods were used to the greatest extent possible when the lodge was built, and the buildings blend with the landscape. The resulting spaces are comfortable and elegant, celebrating the site with views over the tea plantation, to the forest and beyond.
One of several lodges nestled at the foot of the volcanic Virungas range of mountains, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is a joint initiative between the Sabyinyo Community Lodge Association (SACOLA) and Governors Camps. Governors built and manage the lodge, and pay the local community a fee for every bed night utilised.
There are five stone cottages, two suites and one family suite, roofed with locally made terracotta tiles, each with its own fireplace, bathtub, shower and double sink. The rooms are adjacent to the main dining and lounge areas, which themselves are luxuriously furnished with overstuffed sofas and hardwood furniture, all making for intimate and exclusive surroundings in which to spend your evenings.
The lodge is at the top end of the scale for accommodations around the Virungas, and offers unsurpassed service for this part of Rwanda. It is one of the most comfortable places from which to track the Volcanoes National Park’s eight habituated mountain gorilla families.