This fantastic Rwanda itinerary will take you to 2 of the country’s best National Parks to not only enjoy a thrilling chimpanzee trekking excursion, but also one of the world’s most memorable and exciting wildlife encounters…getting up-close to the famous mountain gorillas. Described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the most exciting encounters of my life”, this unbeatable experience i...
An accomplished and experienced Namibia birding and photographic guide, Toni holds a Namibia Academy for Tourism and Hospitality Level 3 qualification (the highest level attainable in Namibia) and is widely renowned for her extensive knowledge of the cultures, ornithology, flora, astronomy and wildlife of the country.
In 1981 Toni moved to Namibia with her family and from then on her love of the outdoors and all things nature grew and grew. Her father was an exploration geologist who travelled extensively around Southern Africa, living in small mining towns and managing bush camps where Toni would spend her school holidays camping in the bush, or visiting private farms and reserves. Toni’s father passed on to her his unparalleled knowledge of all things Namibia, and she carried this with her as she became a manager and guide at some of the most remote lodges in the extreme North West of Namibia. Toni has travelled expansively across Namibia and its neighbouring countries, making regular visits to all of the National Game Reserves and developing her photographic skills which she takes great pleasure in passing on to visitors to the region.
Her deep love and knowledge of the Namibia, coupled with her infectious passion and enthusiasm to want to share it, make her one of the country’s top guides and ambassadors for this beautiful country. More than just a guide who simply points from a vehicle, Toni becomes fully involved in the experiences of her fellow travellers and places a great emphasis on finding the best adventures, wildlife encounters and photo opportunities for her tour groups. As a Managing Tour Consultant she plans safaris for a wide range of interest groups but her main focus is on birding and photographic small group tours, where she delights in each visitor gaining an up-close and personal experience of all that the country she loves and knows so well has to offer.
Born in Chartres in the West Falklands, Jenny grew up on the family farm where her love for animals was nurtured by the25,000 sheep, horses and cows that lived alongside her. Forever a nature, conservation and wildlife enthusiast Jenny has travelled extensively throughout the Falkland Islands, visiting each and every wildlife island at least once, and even travelling around some by yacht. She spent 11 years on Sea Lion Island as Manager of the Lodge, Warden of the Nature Reserve and as the principal tour provider, meaning her knowledge of Sea Lion Island in particular is second to none. Having spent so much time here, as expected her wildlife speciality is Elephant Seals, but she is also well versed in the ways of the seabirds, penguins, whales, dolphins and sea lions that call the Falklands their home.
After her time on Sea Lion Island Jenny moved to Stanley to work for the Falkland Islands Government and became manager of a local travel firm assisting with travel arrangements for incoming visitors, before taking semi-retirement to spend more time with her family and enjoy more time further exploring the lands she knows so well. Jenny is extremely passionate about sharing the hidden nature secrets of the Falklands with those who come to visit her homeland and will be looking forward to accompanying you and passing on her unsurpassed knowledge of the areas you will be visiting.
Upon arrival at Kigali airport you will be met by your driver guide and transferred to the 4-star Lemigo Hotel for your overnight stay. Located in the heart of the city centre, this hotel is a great base from which to explore the city. You can choose to discover the city at leisure this evening or simply relax by the pool or in your stylish bedroom in preparation for the adventures that lie ahead.
Overnight accommodation at Lemigo Hotel with breakfast included.
After breakfast this morning you can enjoy a city tour of Kigali which includes the interesting Gisozi Genocide Memorial Centre. The centre exists as a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide of 1994 and you will have chance to visit the three poignant permanent exhibitions, the largest of which documents the genocide, and pay tribute to the victims.
After your city tour you can enjoy lunch at Khanna Khazana Restaurant before being collected by your driver to begin your journey to Nyungwe National Park. On the way we will stop in Butare, Rwanda’s second largest city, to visit the national museum and Nyanza, the former Mwami's Palace (King's palace) and the seat of the feudal monarchy. Upon arrival at Nyungwe National Park you will check in to the Top View Lodge and enjoy a welcoming dinner before settling into your comfortable bedroom for a good night’s sleep in preparation for tomorrow’s chimpanzee trekking experience.
2 nights accommodation at Nyungwe Top View Lodge on a full board basis.
Today begins with a 5am wake-up call for your trek into the forest to get up-close to the chimpanzees that reside in Nyungwe National Park. Located in the South West corner of Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is an untouched natural rainforest that is filled with exciting biodiversity. Covering over 1000 square kilometres, Nyungwe is one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. Home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates species (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), it’s also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammal.
Although we will be on a constant lookout for the other wildlife that fills the park, the main attraction here is the huge numbers of habituated chimpanzees that reside here. Your trekking experience will allow you to observe these fascinating primates up-close as they go about their everyday lives climbing through the trees, grooming, growling, feeding, and taking care of their young. An unforgettable experience that will no doubt leave a lasting impression.
After your trek you will return to the lodge for lunch and the rest of the day will be at your leisure.
After an early breakfast this morning you can enjoy a long trek through the forest in search of the abundant rainforest birds and other primates that reside here, before getting back into your safari vehicle for your scenic drive over the Albertine (western) Rift, a part of the Great Rift Valleys, to Kibuye. Kibuye is located between Gisenyi and Cyagugu, about halfway down the eastern shore of Lake Kivu which boasts an extraordinarily beautiful inland beach enclosed by steep, green terraced hills and the most serene environment within the central African Region.
Check in to the Moriah Hill Resort Hotel and enjoy a tasty dinner and an evening of relaxation along the riverside.
Overnight accommodation at Moriah Hill Hotel on a full board basis.
After breakfast this morning your driver will take you north-east towards the stunning Volcanoes National Park and the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. The lodge is located on the foothills of Mount Karisimbi, one of the volcanic mountains that make up the Virunga Massif, and is a 10 minute drive from the main entrance to the park. Upon arrival at the lodge you can enjoy some time relaxing after your busy morning, and preparing for tomorrow’s exciting adventures.
2 nights accommodation at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This morning it’s another early wake-up call as the wildlife experience of a lifetime awaits! After an early breakfast you will transfer to the park to begin your gorilla trekking excursion at 7am. Upon arrival the park’s expert gorilla trekking staff will introduce you to the plan for the morning and brief you on what to expect. This will include safety instructions as well as rules for behaviour around these fascinating primates. Depending on your fitness levels and how far you want to trek, you will be assigned a group of 8 people and a gorilla family that you will be trekking to see. A maximum of 80 visitors are allowed to participate in this activity per day, with a maximum of 8 people visiting any one group of gorillas. These rules are stringently adhered to and that’s why your gorilla permit is so important. Your gorilla permit is included in the price of your package and the vast majority of the cost of this permit is delivered directly to the park for conservation efforts and ensuring the safety and ongoing survival of these beautiful animals.
Having been assigned a group, you will return to your safari vehicle for the short drive to the trekking start point where your group leader will go over the plan and rules again before you start your trek through the mountains in search of your allocated gorilla family. This trek does require a relative level of fitness and sometimes it can take longer than expected to find your gorilla family, but the anticipation of seeing these gentle giants in the wild, along with the spectacular views and likely bird sightings on offer, is likely to be more than enough distraction from that. And we can almost guarantee that when you come face to face with these majestic animals the trek will soon become a distant memory!
Porters may be hired for the trek to carry your backpack and gear. The cost is US$10 per person/per day.
Upon sighting the gorillas your group will be allowed one hour with them to watch them as they go about their daily lives; feeding, moving, playing, wrestling and feeding their young – this will be a totally unique and unforgettable experience!
As your exciting gorilla adventure comes to an end you will head back to the lodge for lunch and the rest of the day is at your leisure. You could relax on your private verandah and reflect on the remarkable experience you will have had today before enjoying a delicious dinner and settling down for the last night of your Rwanda primate experience tour.
The final morning of your exciting Rwanda primate safari will allow you to spend some more time exploring the magnificent Volcanoes National Park. Featuring a rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath, as well as five extinct volcanoes, this spectacularly scenic park is home to 178 recorded bird species, as well as other wildlife such as golden monkeys, bush duiker, buffalo and spotted hyenas. There will be a number of optional extra activities available this morning including golden monkey treks, a hike to Dian Fossey’s grave, a Bisoke mountain hike or a cultural visit to a local village.
After a morning of exploration we will depart from the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes and take a scenic drive back to Kigali for your onward or homeward flights.
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