This 16 Days Best of Rwanda and Congo safari takes you through best of Rwanda and Congo travel destinations like Akagera National park, Nyungwe Forest National park, among others. Despite both Congo’s being among the least-toured countries in Africa, slowly (slowly) the region is beginning to take ground in the tourism industry. Today, the region prides itself in its equatorial verdant jungles, numerous rivers, volcanic and fiery mountains, breathtaking waterfalls, and jaw-dropping unique and classic large wildlife.
Here are a few highlight for your experience as you Visit Rwanda You have to wake up early morning, meaning that you must find accommodation closer to the park entrance. Your African gorilla guide will be briefing you at 7 am about safety precautions as well as the etiquette. There are over 80 gorilla tracking guides provided the Rwanda Development Board, well trained and speaking English and French.
Day 1: Check with Immigration for Visa
After your arrival in Kigali, you will check with Immigration for Visa and all other necessary documents to allow you enter Rwanda, please note for Rwanda Visa you will always get it on arrival at $30 per person for single entry Visa. Later you will look for someone with a placard having your name or Booking Agent on it transfer to the accommodation for overnight or resting.
Day 2: Check out and meet your guide who will transfer you to Akagera National park
Morning breakfast, check out and meet your guide who will transfer you to Akagera National park. On your way visit Kigali city’s historical places, the highlight is the genocide memorial, king’s palace, presidential palace and local markets. Later proceed to Akagera National park for an evening game drive.
Day 3: Embark on your journey to the game drive tracks to look for big game
Early morning breakfast, embark on your journey to the game drive tracks to look for big game, on a lucky day you will easily spot the big cats, elephants, Masai Giraffes and rare black rhinos. In the afternoon go for a boat cruise on Lake Ihema. This boat is a perfect platform for bird viewing and photography. Later drive back to the lodge with evening at leisure
Day 4: Relaxed breakfast and do a game drive as you check out of this park.
Relaxed breakfast and do a game drive as you check out of this park. You will proceed to Butare province with a drive through diverse scenery views and breathtaking mountains with magnificent landscapes. On your way visit the famous national museum and Huye Mountain coffee growers and experience how coffee seeds are turned into world’s charming aroma. Later proceed to Butare town for overnight.
Day 5: Proceed to Nyungwe Forest National park. In the afternoon go for a canopy walk
Morning breakfast, proceed to Nyungwe Forest National park. In the afternoon go for a canopy walk where you will have a clear view of the forest and it is possible to spot many bird species and few monkeys.
For people with heights this will be an endless adventure and those without it will be a close to nature walk and life time rewarding experience. This is the third Canopy walk in the world and the only one in East Africa. The starting point is Uwinka visitor’s information Centre and this activity requires advance booking or be ready to pay credit card if it has not been booked! Later overnight at your accommodation.
Please Note! Depending on the weather this activity is subject to change the park Authorities for the safety of clients and then be res-scheduled to another possible time.
Day 6: Chimpanzee tracking day
Chimpanzee tracking day! Today you will have a short night as you are advised to start your Journey between 4:00am and 5:00am depending on where you stayed (Kitabi or Gisakura). You will pick the ranger from the ranger post and go to Uwinka information center, there you will be assigned a community of Chimpanzees to track. Two places where fully habituated chimpanzees are found are: Nyungwe National park (Main) and the fragmented Cyamudongo forest which is also park of Nyungwe National park. Cyamudongo has the largest community of Chimpanzee but the park authority determines where tracking will take place.
All visitors are required to have some level of fitness as this will be a walk through un marked trails and sometimes walking fast is a requirement in order to catch up with these apes. Observing them eat, caring for babied, play and knowing their social life will be your days highlight! Later drive back to the information center and check in to your accommodation. For those who may not have had a chance to do Canopy walk today is also another opportunity to do it!
Day 7: Birding walk
Today before cross border driving, open activities where you can pick from include: Birding walk along the forest edges, go for Imbaraga walk to the 4 water falls with great view points, Birding on the way, go for Irebero trail where a variety of birds and monkeys can be spotted, later in the afternoon drive to Bukavu border crossing point for checkup before entering Congo.
Here your guide will hand you over to another guide form Congo side as it is more convenient to use the Congo driver for easy communication, routing, comfort of guest and experience from these wonderful and friendly guys. Transfer to the hotel for overnight. For French speaking countries feel free to speak French as it is commonly used here.
Note! For the Congo Visa you need to have it approved in advance and your agent will handle this during the process of gorilla permit reservation.
Day 8: Low land Gorilla tracking
Low land Gorilla tracking (Grauer’s gorilla). Early morning breakfast, the drive will pick you from your hotel and drive for 30km before reaching the park headquarters because there are no improved and standard lodging facilities near the park. On arrival you will be briefed on the day’s activity, assigned a team of armed rangers for your safety while in the forest. Spend an hour with these giants and observe them eat, play you will see the distinction between them and the mountain Gorillas. Large body sizes, large hands and small sharp pointed heads. Later drive back to Bukavu town for acclimatization in the afternoon and overnight
Day 9: Boat transfer to Goma town.
Early breakfast and get ready for the Boat transfer to Goma town. The boat leaves at 7:30 and it will be a speed boat however for people at leisure there is an option using a public ferry which takes 8-10 hours. The boat takes about 4-5 hours, here you will be picked your driver who will pick you and take your hotel in Goma town for overnight. Goma is one of the old towns of Democratic republic of Congo and in the recent years it has developed into a major business center for Congolese, Rwandese and some Ugandans who run their business from there. It was affected the recent volcanic eruptions from Nyiragongo mountain and this left many people dispersed and other lost lives. But the good news is this is only place where active Volcanicity is still taking place don’t for get to include the Nyiragongo hike on your must-see places while in Goma.
Day 10: Checked in at the tourism office in Goma town
Today you have breakfast at Leisure, at 11:00 you will be required to have checked in at the tourism office in Goma town, gather for briefing and present your entry permits for both Gorilla tracking and Nyiragongo hike (For those who are going to hike). You will be escorted to Kibumba tented Camp for overnight
Day 11: Mountain Gorilla tracking experience.
After breakfast, move with your picnic lunch and meet the rangers who will be taking to you the Mountain Gorilla tracking experience. There is a level of fitness required and also Porters to support and carry your Cameras will be near- for hire. The terrain may change depending on the gorilla family you will visit and this keeps the total time spent today on hold and unpredictable until you come back. Afterwards drive or walk back to the lodge for overnight.
Day 12: Gather at the Kibati Ranger post
Today gather at the Kibati Ranger post and you will be picked up a team of porters and guides, who will join you for this Hike, the arrival estimated time at the resting huts is about 5:00pm and you will prepare your overnight at the summit shelters. At night you will clearly observe the burning larva and bright frames coming from this still burning volcano it is a great time for taking photos.
Day 13: Back to Goma town or to the Rwanda border
At 6:00am you will start descending back to the starting point where a vehicle will be waiting for you for pick up and transfer back to Goma town or to the Rwanda border. Where you will link up with the guide again. Proceed to Musanze for overnight and acclimatization after busy and tough days in the Congo.
Day 14: Leave the day at Leisure
Today, you will have a relaxed breakfast and depending on your to do list choose to leave the day at Leisure, hike one of the volcanoes, take a hike to the Diane Fossy grave, do a forest walk, stay with the community as you experience their ways of living, visit to the twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo.
All activities are optional and you need to notify the guide a day before as for activities inside the park you only need to pay using Credit card or bank transfer.
Day 15: Gather at the park offices in Kinigi for briefing.
Early morning after your breakfast, gather at the park offices in Kinigi for briefing. A ranger will eb assigned to you and the hike starts from the park or depending on their feeding pattern you may be required to have a vehicle transfer till the hiking starting point.
The Golden monkeys are one of the old-world monkeys which live in groups called troops and they are a sub specie of the blue monkeys which are highly endangered and it is estimated to be about 20,000 remaining in the wild. Watching them play and swing in tree branches will be a reward for this walk, they have been habituated and so the level of shyness is low and they are free with photography.
Day 16: Breakfast at leisure, later proceed to Kigali city
Breakfast at leisure, later proceed to Kigali city (Africa’s cleanest city) for a possible city tour if interested or spend the evening at the lodge relaxing as you prepare for your flight.