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Uganda Rwanda Safari Gorilla Chimp Tracking BIG 5 Wildlife Culture - 18 Days

Overview
Itinerary
Accommodation
Inclusions
Overview

Uganda Rwanda Safari Gorilla Chimp Tracking BIG 5 Wildlife Culture - 18 Days

The 18 days Uganda Rwanda Safari Gorilla Chimp Tracking BIG 5 Wildlife Culture  starts with excellent Uganda safari game viewing in Kidepo Valley National Park, rhino tracking in Ziwa rhino sanctuary, game drives and boat safari in Murchison Falls National Park, chimps/ primates tracking in Kibale National Park, BIG 5 safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park, tree-climbing lions in Ishasha Sector, gorilla trekking in Bwindi and optional Rwanda gorilla tracking  in Volcanoes NP, relaxing in Lake Kivu, primates tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park.  You also track the golden monkeys in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park.

You will need to arrive at Entebbe International Airport and Depart from Kigali International Airport. 

We arrange the entire tour booking with DRC visa included in the price. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is necessary for this tour.

  • Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe in the morning hours, drive to Ziwa Rhinos Sanctuary for rhino tracking and overnight
  • Day 2: Continue to Kidepo Valley National Park,  enjoying a traditional Karimajong cultural experience 
  • Day 3: Safaris, game drives in Kidepo Valley National Park
  • Day 4: Depart for Murchison Falls National Park
  • Day 5: Game drives, boat safari in Murchison Falls National Park looking for  lions,  leopards, buffalo, giraffe, elephants, hyenas, rhinos, zebra, warthog, etc
  • Day 6: Fort Portal & Kibale National Park, afternoon primates walk
  • Day 7: Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park
  • Day 8:  Queen Elizabeth National Park, game drives in the afternoon
  • Day 9: Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park  looking for lions,  leopards, buffalo, giraffe, elephants, hyenas, rhinos, zebra, warthog
  • Day 10: Maramagambo Forest, Ishasha tree-climbing lions
  • Day 11: Safari Game drives, drive to  Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for gorilla tracking
  • Day 12: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (or top-up USD900 for gorilla habituation experience allowing you 4 hours with the gorillas)
  • Day 13: Either Canoe trekking or Batwa pygmies experience, transfer to Rwanda
  • Day 14: Either Golden monkeys tracking or (optional) Gorilla Trekking in Parc des Volcanoes
  • Day 15: Musanze cave exploring, Lake Kivu 
  • Day 16: Canoeing to explore Lake Kivu, drive to Nyungwe National Park 
  • Day 17: Primate tracking, canopy walk in Nyungwe
  • Day 18: Drive to Kigali Airport for departure flight back home.
Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe (in the morning hours), drive to Ziwa Rhinos for Rhino Tracking 

Tracking rhinos at Uganda Gorilla Habituation tour, primate habituation experience uganda tour gorilla habituation trek tour

Ziwa Rhino

You will be picked by our driver/guide at your hotel or residence in Entebbe  after you have had breakfast ready to start your tour to the most isolated national park in Uganda and we will drive you through the plain and remote vegetation to the northern part of the country.

Within about three hours we arrive at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where you will be tracking the white rhinos

The Rhino revival project is an initiative of two organizations, Rhino Fund Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is situated about one hundred and seventy six kilometers (approximately 100 miles) north of Kampala on the Gulu highway as you are heading towards Murchison Falls National Park.

 Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place in Uganda where you will get the opportunity to see rhinos in the wild. 

At the moment the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a habitat to sixteen southern white rhinos. Ziwa Rhino sanctuary has become very popular with tourists in the recent years. It’s a perfect spot for rhino trekking, nature walks, bird watching and relaxation.

Accommodation (all meals included)

Luxury: Amuka Safari Lodge

Midrange: Amuka Safari Lodge

Low Budget: Ziwa Rhino Camp

Day 2: Onwards to Kidepo Valley National Park, Traditional Karimajong  Tribe Cultural Experience

Today you will travel to Kidepo valley N.P. A long but rewarding drive will take you passed one of the most beautiful scenery in Uganda.

If you can plan today on a Wednesday you'll have the chance to experience an authentic Karamajong cattle market  (that is today in this tour). Some herders walk for 5 hours to be able to buy or sell their goats, cows or chicken here. It’s a colorful and stunning sight and one of the few remaining authentic experiences. Don’t miss this!

The Karimajong are related to the Maasai in Kenya and live and dress similar. The main difference is that not any other tourist is going here. Only few years ago, tourism in Karamoja would not have been possible due to armed inter-tribal conflict but nowadays it’s safe. 

After this thrilling experience it is time to enter into the most remote and pristine national park in the country, Kidepo Valley National Park. The park has some of the most amazing scenery in the country! For many people this is the most beautiful park of Uganda. Here you will find almost no tourists leaving you free to enjoy the park and its unique combination of wildlife without distraction

Accommodation (all meals included)

Luxury: Apoka Safari Lodge

Midrange: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (ensuite)

Low Budget: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (sheltered tents with bedding and mosquito nets)

Day 3: Safari in Kidepo Valley National Park 

Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park

In Kidepo Valley National Park you will find zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions and leopards. This is also the only place in Uganda where you can find the cheetah and ostrich.

Kidepo is famous for its lions relaxing on the rocks - a scene which may remind you of a certain Disney film. You might even be very lucky to spot a leopard or cheetah! Besides the 4x4 safaris you can also take a bush walk in the park with an armed ranger.

You will start your morning with a guided nature walk around the Sabiny community and a few Bagishu people, walk around the Sipi River with the 3-Sipi waterfalls. Get to the view point and view the Mt. Elgon National Park, plus the second highest peak of Mt. Elgon-Jackson Summits.

Return later and drive to Jinja for overnight and to cut short the distance to Murchison Falls National Park.

Accommodation (all meals included)

Luxury: Apoka Safari Lodge

Midrange: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (ensuite)

Low Budget: Kidepo Savannah Lodge (sheltered tents with bedding and mosquito nets)

Day 4: Murchison Falls National Park

We set off from Kidepo  at 7a.m. after our morning breakfast and drive to Murchison Falls National Park.

This route gives you an opportunity to enjoy the scenery of Labwor hills and in particular the massive and bare Alerek (Kidi Rwot) rock about 55 km from Kotido. 

On arrival at the park you will  relax at your lodge for the rest of the day/evening, dinner and overnight.

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest in Uganda at 3,840 square kilometres. Here is the awe inspiring Murchison Falls where the River Nile hurls itself in convulsions through a narrow crevice and then plunges 40 metres in one breathtaking leap.

The park has a variety of vegetation ranging from riparian forests and swamplands to broad savannah, and provides visitors the opportunity of seeing large concentrations of wildlife including lion, leopard, civet, hyena, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, a host of smaller game, small primates and many bird species, including the rare shoebill stork. The park is especially famous for crocodiles and hippos.

One we enter the park,  you will be stopping at the top of the falls which is a fantastic sight. Here the Nile, the longest river in the world, is forced through a narrow gap in the rock (only 7 meters wide), before ferociously plunging down 43 meters.

Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Up-market: Baker's Lodge | Paraa Safari Lodge

Moderate: Fort Murchison Lodge | Murchison River Lodge | Pakuba Lodge

Budget: Fort Murchison Lodge (tents) | Murchison River Lodge (tents) | Red Chilli Rest Camp

Day 5: Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls - Uganda Habituation Tours gorilla habituation, chimps habituation golden monkeys primate habituation tour

Boat Trip to the Bottom of Murchison Falls

After breakfast head to the Delta in search for bird life and enjoy the game drive to look for lions, giraffes, herds of elephants, buffaloes and many more. 

We will then go for an afternoon boat cruise to the foot of Murchison Falls. This boat trip along the Nile is often cited as being the highlight of a trip to Murchison since it allows you to get up-close and personal with the animals. Along this stretch of the river, there are reported to be around 4,000 hippos in addition to some enormous Nile crocodiles. The bird life is stunning with brightly colored kingfishers and bee-eaters darting along the riverbanks. If lucky, you may see the rare and prehistoric looking shoebill, which is a cross between the dodo and a dinosaur. The boat takes you to the base of the falls which only adds to their impressiveness. 

Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Up-market: Baker's Lodge | Paraa Safari Lodge

Moderate: Fort Murchison Lodge | Murchison River Lodge | Pakuba Lodge

Budget: Fort Murchison Lodge (tents) | Murchison River Lodge (tents) | Red Chilli Rest Camp

Day 6: Fort Portal & Kibale National Park

Leave Murchison Falls National Park for Kibale Forest National Park via the Lake Albert escarpment, having a good view of the lake.

Stopover at Kolping Hotel in Hoima for lunch and after drive across the interesting river Nkusi (flowing from the southern end of Lake Albert, through the villages of Kagadi, joining Victoria Nile). Both rivers join Lake Kyoga and flow through the Murchison Falls continue to Lake Albert and north to the Mediterranean Sea.

This is a great day as the drive takes you through the community and forests with chances of seeing vervet monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys jumping up in the trees as you advance into the Kyenjonjo on a rocky road.

Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Upscale: Kyaninga Lodge | Ndali Lodge | Crater Safari Lodge

Midrange: Isunga Lodge| ensuite tents at Kibale Forest Camp

Low Budget: Tents at Kibale Forest Camp (with bedding and mosquito nets, shared bathroom) | Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Day 7: Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park & Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Chimp, Kibale Forest chimpanzee habituation experience gorilla tour uganda

Assemble at Kanyankyu River camp at 08:00 hours to go for the most popular activity in this park which is chimpanzee tracking.

Chimpanzees are man’s closest cousins though they are one of the most threatened primate species. More primates like black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, bush babies, pottos and many bird species like the yellow spotted nicator, rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, green breasted pitta, the crowned eagle, black bee-eater and mammals like elephants can be seen in this walk.

Kibale National park, which averages about 3,300 feet in elevation, is an extension of the great rainforests of central Africa. It is inhabited by three large communities of chimps, each numbering more than 100 individuals. Each community has a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against incursions by male outsiders; the females usually wander in small family groups.

Typically, we locate the chimps by listening for their pant-hooting calls, then hustle to the area from which they are calling. We get to observe them as they feed in fruiting trees, lounge, and socialise with each other, or even, occasionally hunt.

In the afternoon we visit a nearby forest swamp that is excellent for viewing primates and other forest animals. At the eastern edge of Kibale Forest is Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is maintained by the local community. You will expect birds like the great blue turaco, blue monkeys, baboons, otters, mongoose, bushbucks, bush pigs and among others.

Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Upscale: Kyaninga Lodge | Ndali Lodge | Crater Safari Lodge

Midrange: Isunga Lodge| ensuite tents at Kibale Forest Camp

Low Budget: Tents at Kibale Forest Camp (with bedding and mosquito nets, shared bathroom) | Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse

Day 8:  Queen Elizabeth National Park

Crater Lake, Uganda tour habituation gorilla primate chimp Queen Elizabeth National Park

Leave the national park after breakfast and drive to Fort Portal.

We incorporate some crater lake hikes into our this program. You will be simply by amazed by the beauty of these ancient and not ancient crater lakes found in the Fort Portal area.

After you have witnessed all these amazing landscapes, you will be transferred to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Up-market/Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge |  Katara Lodge

Mid-range: Ihamba Safari Lodge| Enganzi Lodge | Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge |  Buffalo Safari Resort 

Budget: Bush Lodge (tents)|  Simba Safari Camp (tents) | Pumba Cottages 

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 9: Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park  -BIG 5 Game drives and Kazinga boat trip

Uganda gorilla habituation experience, intimate habituation experience for chimps habituation & golden monkey habituation, lions &rhino tracking, Chimp Caregiver.After breakfast we depart to Queen Elizabeth National Park which is dominated on its northern border by the snow-capped 16,000-foot Rwenzori Mountains - the famed "Mountains of the Moon". This 767-square-mile conservation area is bordered on the north-east by Lake George and on the south-west by Lake Edward; its western border adjoins the Congo Parc du Virunga.

As we drive through the park, expect to spot teeming herds of impala-like Uganda kob, as well as topi, elephant, Cape buffalo. There are also several soda lakes filling ancient volcanic calderas where flamingos reside seasonally.

In the afternoon we will go for a boat trip along the Kazinga Channel. This gives you the opportunity to view wildlife up close: hippo’s huff and spray at very close range from the boat, buffalo linger in the shallows. The shores of the channel are also home to an array of birds including pink backed pelicans, pied and malachite kingfishers, saddle billed stork and many others.

Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Up-market/Luxury: Mweya Safari Lodge |  Katara Lodge

Mid-range: Ihamba Safari Lodge| Enganzi Lodge | Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge |  Buffalo Safari Resort 

Budget: Bush Lodge (tents)|  Simba Safari Camp (tents) | Pumba Cottages 

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Optional activity: Lion Tracking:

For visitors who yearn to get up close to wild African fauna, a research trip is a rewarding adventure. This new and unique experience allows visitors to actively participate in monitoring some of lions in the park, using locator devices and learn habituation calls, as well as monitoring weather, surroundings and behavior. The results are added to researchers’ databases, contributing valuable information to the overall understanding of wildlife ecology - and helping to conserve this wonderful ecosystem. This will as well gives you a 95% chance to see the lions!

The number of people on each outing is limited in order to reduce stress on the animals and to increase the quality of the experience for visitors.

For visitors who yearn to get up close to wild African fauna, a research trip is a rewarding adventure. This new and unique experience allows visitors to actively participate in monitoring some of the exotic birds and mammals that fill the park, using locator devices and learn habituation calls, as well as monitoring weather, surroundings and behavior. The results are added to researchers’ databases, contributing valuable information to the overall understanding of wildlife ecology - and helping to conserve this wonderful ecosystem.

The experiential tourism activities currently available are Mongoose Tracking, Lion Tracking, Hippo Census, and Bird Counts. The number of people on each outing is limited in order to reduce stress on the animals and to increase the quality of the experience for visitors.

Experiential tours lasts between one and three hours. They usually take place in the early morning or evening, or occasionally at night. All activities must be booked through the Visitor Information Centre in Mweya at least 24 hours in advance.

For visitors who yearn to get up close to wild African fauna, a research trip is a rewarding adventure. This new and unique experience allows visitors to actively participate in monitoring some of the exotic birds and mammals that fill the park, using locator devices and learn habituation calls, as well as monitoring weather, surroundings and behavior. The results are added to researchers’ databases, contributing valuable information to the overall understanding of wildlife ecology - and helping to conserve this wonderful ecosystem.

The experiential tourism activities currently available are Mongoose Tracking, Lion Tracking, Hippo Census, and Bird Counts. The number of people on each outing is limited in order to reduce stress on the animals and to increase the quality of the experience for visitors.

Experiential tours lasts between one and three hours. They usually take place in the early morning or evening, or occasionally at night. All activities must be booked through the Visitor Information Centre in Mweya at least 24 hours in advance.

Costing: $85 us dollar p.p.

Day 10: Tree climbing lions in Ishasha & Maramagambo Forest Bush Walk

Another early start for a bush walk through the Maramagambo Forest.

This is one of the largest forests in Uganda, and forms a habitat for a number of primates and forest dwellers. Due to its location, Maramagambo also has a great diversity of butterflies and birds. The walk culminates in a visit to volcanic caves that are home to thousands of bats. Pythons are often observed in the crevices of the bats cave as they prey on bats. In this walk you will see the picturesque blue lake Kimeranjojo which got its name after swallowing an elephant. Other trails will lead you to the Crater Lake and habitats of the wild chimps and forest bird.

In the afternoon you will proceed to Ishasha Sector. Drive along the deep and wide dry craters that are occupied by savanna grasses and acacia. The drive takes you through the unique western rift valley escarpment and the (southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park) Ishasha sector where you will take on yet another game drive in search of tree climbing lions in the afternoon and evening. 

Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Up-market/Luxury: Ishasha Wilderness Campsite

Mid-range: Enjojo Lodge | Ishasha Ntungwe River Camp

Budget: @ the River

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 11: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park 

Early morning guided bush walk for a closer interaction with nature in Ishasha. The mid morning will be spent on a game drive for the tree climbing lions, elephants and other Big Mammals, thereafter proceed to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

The journey takes about 2-3 hours but driving through interesting features. We shall be arriving in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the evening. This park is home of the rare mountain gorillas plus 11 other primates species including the blue and red tailed monkeys. The forest itself is lush and green and there are streams running through it.

Accommodation Options (Full Board)

Up-market: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Lodge | Chameleon Hill Lodge

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge | Gorilla Mist Camp

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp | Buhoma Community Campground

Day 12: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

After breakfast, proceed for the morning briefing before enjoying the highlight of the trip - gorilla trekking, which may last the entire day.

We trek through the rainforest and bamboo covered slopes, accompanied by a guide and trackers, in search of a mountain gorilla family. The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. When sighted, visitors will be guided to within 6 metres from the gorillas, sit around them for a whole hour while gazing into their big round eyes.

Gorilla trekking is unpredictable. It's difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. The gorilla excursion can take from 2 up to 8 hours. Expect to walk along distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. A good physical condition is recommended. For conservation purposes, time spent with the gorillas is limited to one hour. A ranger will brief you on how to behave with the gorillas.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Lodge  |  Chameleon Hill Lodge

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Silverback Lodge | Gorilla Safari Lodge | Nkuringo Gorilla Camp

Low Budget:  Buhoma Community Rest Camp | Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp

Day 13: Canoe Trek or Batwa Pygmies Experience, Transfer to Rwanda

Either Lake Bunyonyi  or Lake Mutanda Canoe Trekking

After having breakfast, we shall take a scenic drive to Lake Bunyonyi taking you through the beautiful terrain of the rolling hills with terraced landscape. A short drive leads us to the beautiful Lake Bunyonyi where we can relax and enjoy some reflection time. With its fresh water, bilharzias-free and beautiful landscapes, Lake Bunyonyi is a small paradise for travellers.

After meeting our local guide for the day, we are led out for a canoe trek as well as bird watching on the beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, traversing to the gorgeous Kyabahinga peninsula. Here you will be gladly welcomed with songs plus dances by the resident school children. You will enjoy with the locals at least a cup of “Obushera” which is a local brew. You will ascend the Kyabahinga slopes having a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the birdlife and the verdant terrain. The view is very breathtaking! The guide will certainly brief you about the history of the area.
Among the bird species you will see are the Dusky Tutle Dove, the Handsome Francolin and Alpine Chat. A renown herbalist who is a tradition healer -Omugurusi Jeremiah, based on the hill top will disclose to you some of the secretes about the flora on the tropical highland. 

Or BATWA EXPERIENCE -  BWINDI 

 The exciting Batwa Cultural Experience isn't  too strenuous. It is a one hour hike through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, that will reward you with stunning vistas and the serenity of this ancient rain forest. Along the way you will learn about the healing plants and the delicate fare offered from the forest and how the Batwa collected wild honey, wild yams and mushrooms. You will inspect the traditional dwellings and participate in the traditional dances. Hear stories and learn the folklore of the Batwa pygmies from the elders, practice shooting their bow and arrows and join in a mock hunting party.

After your chosen activity, we will cross the border via Kisoro or Kabale then clear at the border - Rwanda is 1 hour behind Uganda.

Located in the far north-west of Rwanda, Parc des Volcans is home to the steep slopes of this wonderful mountain range – home of the rare mountain gorilla – and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which cuddles evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath.

Accommodation options available

Up-market: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge | Five Volcanoes Lodge

Moderate: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge | La Palme Hotel | Volcanoes Gorilla Lodge

Low Budget: Kinigi Guest House | Muhavura Lodge.

Day 14: Either Golden Monkey tracking or Gorilla Trekking in Parc des Volcanoes 

You could opt for a second gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park (extra $1500 per person). Have breakfast and go to ORTPN offices for briefing after that set off in the forest for gorilla trekking.

A thrilling trek through the refined foothills of the Virungas provides inspiring views in all directions. Then, suddenly, the trail enters the national park, engrossing trekkers in the strange closeness of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colourful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, and besieged with fresh spoor of the mountains' elusive populations of buffalo and elephant. Through gaps in the forest canopy, the marvellous peaks are sighted, easily easy to get to and among the uppermost in Africa, indicating an ascent.

Gorilla trekking is quite strenuous but a worthwhile on encounter of these gentle giants. The enthusiasm of your coming across with these apes will wipe away your intricacy of the strenuous trek. Spend time watching gorillas, watch the adults feeding their young ones, brushing and resting as the youngsters play from vines in a pleasurably playful display.

Golden Monkey Tracking in Volcanoes National Park

If you won't be going for the gorilla trek, please join us for the golden monkey tracking in Volcanoes National Park. 

Trekking to see the golden monkeys is another highlight of Volcanoes National Park. The Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus Mitis Kandti) is a local subspecies of the widespread Sykes Monkey, also known as the “Blue Monkey” and is endemic to the high altitude forests of the Volcanoes National Park area. The monkeys are playful and inquisitive and often spend their time leaping from bamboo branches or frolicking on the forest floor.

There are two habituated groups of Golden Monkey, one group comprises around 80 - 100 members and has its home at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo. As with treks to see the Mountain Gorillas, treks to see the Golden Monkeys take place in the mornings and visitors are permitted to stay for 1 hour with the monkeys. Departure for the Golden Monkey trek is from the Park’s Kinigi Headquarters at 07:00am. 

These monkeys will easily be found as they mostly live at the bottom of the Volcano Mountains with in the bamboo forest, and by just following the traces of fresh leftovers from the bamboo shoots eaten, the trackers are then able to locate them with in less than an hour. The guests also spend 1 hour watching these beautiful creatures as they try picking the bamboo shoots and also make vast leaps from tree to tree and this is possible with their long tails that provide balance. These long tails can also get stuck by the bamboo and then these are cut off as you will view some monkeys with short tails.

These monkeys always spend most of their time at the top of the bamboo and also climb trees to the eye level and also on the ground. These are also some of the shyest monkeys you can come close to within a meter. They are also very delightful for photography and the flash is allowed which is not allowed for the other primate species, ie the gorillas and chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda. These monkey species also love camera flashes and also love moving out of the park into the open potato fields in order to eat the Irish potatoes that are left behind after the harvest. The monkeys also dig and clean the potatoes before eating and this is so amazing to watch!

Up-market: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge | Five Volcanoes Lodge

Moderate: Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge | La Palme Hotel | Volcanoes Gorilla Lodge

Low Budget: Kinigi Guest House | Muhavura Lodge.

Day 15: Musanze Caves, Lake Kivu

This morning we  have the chance to tour the Musanze Caves two kilometers long underneath that were recently unveiled to be visited by tourist in 2013 by the Rwanda Development Board.

The caves can be sited north of the country in Musanze District, the site has had a major facelift with establishment of tourist walkways, trails and stairs that take you to the dark interior of the caves that illustrates a picture of a house with several rooms and corridors. The floor is paved and there are some stairs to ease movement.

The caves are  believed to be as a result of volcanic eruption decades ago that offer an in-depth understanding of the geological and geographical historical development of the globe. The place is located on the foothills of Volcanoes national park.

Afterwards, we enjoy a 2 hours drive to Lake Kivu for overnight and dinner.

Up-market: Serena Lake Kivu Hotel

Moderate: Paradise Malahide

Low Budget: Paradise Malahide

Day 16: Canoeing on Lake Kivu, transfer to Nyungwe National Park

You have some time to explore this beautiful area of Rwanda. After you have had your breakfast, you  will take a boat ride on Lake Kivu to discover the Island of ‘Napoleon’s Hat’ and continue the ride to Gisenyi town. On this boat ride you will get a chance to enjoy the breathtaking views of Congo’s Nyiragongo Volcano.

Afterwards, you will be transferred to Nyungwe forest, one of the most important bird watching important areas in Rwanda with over 280 bird species recorded and the majority are forest specialists and 26 are regional endemics. 

Covering over 1000 square kilomtres, Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity.

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.

This majestic rainforest is filled with nature and wildlife experiences for you to emerge yourself in. Hiking or even biking the beautiful terrain, tracking the famous chimpanzees, experiencing the canopy walk, witnessing beautiful birds, relaxing by waterfalls are just a glimpse of activities that Nyungwe offers.

Sounds and views collaborate to create a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience. Exploring through the forest, travellers will witness the lush green mountains and cooling mist in a landscape that won’t be soon forgotten.

Dinner and overnight at Nyungwe Top View Hotel (all meals included)

Day 17: Chimpanzee trekking & Canopy walk

Have breakfast, and after meet at the park offices for the briefing about the primates and the forest, after enter into the tropical rain forest searching for the shy chimpanzees in the tree branches. 

Nyungwe is home of roughly 400 species of chimpanzees.  Nyungwe is home to one of East Africa’s last intact populations and boasts two wild chimp communities that welcome guests (one in Cyamdungo and other around Uwinka). Thus, it’s not surprising that chimpanzee tracking is a popular activity in Nyungwe (especially when the park’s trees are in full bloom during the summer) as well-trained guides often lead visitors through the park’s forests. And while actually viewing chimpanzees is not guaranteed, you’ll enjoy learning about these creatures and their natural habitats from your guides. For chimps tracking, you’ll probably have to get up around 4a.m. to succeed in this very challenging activity as chimps are mostly likely to be seen early in the morning.

While on this walk expect to spot other primates like the white and black Columbus, Vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys and manageably. More birds can be spotted too in the Nyungwe National park. 

Return to lodge for lunch and then evening take the canopy walk looking for primates, birds and the clear of the green canopy cover.

Visitors to Nyungwe National Park can experience the rainforest from a new perspective: the Canopy Walkway. Hanging 60 meters above the forest floor between giant trees and towers, East Africa’s only Canopy Walkway provides a stunning view of the park’s amazing wildlife and nature. The Walkway is accessible as part of a specialized guided tour along the Igishigishigi trail or if you’re not part of a tour, hiking the Imbaraga or Umuyove trails.

All participants must be at least six years of age and children must be accompanied by adults. You should bring a raincoast as rain frequently falls in Nyungwe. But if you don’t come with a raincoat, you can rent one as well as walking boots and sticks.

Dinner and overnight at Nyungwe Top View Hotel (all meals included)

Day 18:  Transfer to Kigali Airport for departure flight back home (about 3.5 hrs drive).

Have breakfast and after drive to Kigali with lunch en-route.  Along the way to Kigali, you could visit the ancient King’s palace at Nyanza, National Museum at Huye. Then drive to the airport for your return flight back home.

Accommodation

Mikeno Lodge

The Mikeno Lodge is a 90 minute drive from Goma and offers large bungalows and a good restaurant. The lodge and restaurant are located within a forest and offer beautiful views of the rift valley and Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes. Nature walks and visits to local places of interest can be arranged. There is an abundance of bird life, as well as resident blue monkeys, colobus monkeys, and baboons. Chimpanzees are also frequent visitors to the area.

Bukima Tented Camp

Just outside the Virunga National Park boundary lays the Bukima tented camp, which is one of the main starting points Virunga mountain gorilla treks. The camp was originally built for researchers, but is now used primarily by trekkers. As the name suggests, overnight guests at Bukima sleep in platform tents, but by camping standards they are quite plush. Each tent features an adjoining bathroom with running water and a nicely appointed bed and dresser for clothes. The views from the tent sites – or anywhere in camp for that matter – are spectacular. To the south, the view is dominated by Mt. Mikeno, whose 4437m (14,560’) summit towers over the gorilla sector. Across the valley is Nyiragongo volcano, whose lava lake colors the night sky with a red glow. Every few years, Nyamulagira volcano erupts and steals the nighttime show by spewing hot lava hundreds of feet into the air. Occasionally, the mountain gorillas themselves wander into the Bukima tented camp. Although this is highly frowned upon by park staff, it never ceases to impress the guests.

Prices for the camp include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Alcoholic beverages are available for an additional charge. Of the six tents, four feature double beds and two are outfitted with twin beds.

Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters

Nyiragongo is a beautiful stratovolcano that features the world’s largest lava lake. The volcano’s forested lower slopes are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys, and bushbuck. Nyiragongo’s summit rim is largely devoid of vegetation and is frequently dusted with snow. From the rim, visitors can peer down into a churning lava lake and see and hear hot gases exploding up though a mosaic of molten lava. Although predictable and therefore safe for tourists, Nyiragongo is greatly feared during eruptions. Because of the high silica content of its lava, Nyiragongo’s lava flows are extremely fluid. During the 2002 eruption, some of Nyiragongo’s lava flows were clocked at 100 km/hr (62 mph) and reached all the way to Lake Kivu.

Treks to the summit of Nyiragongo volcano begin at the Kibati patrol post, which is approximately 30 minutes by car from Goma. The patrol post is less than a one hour drive from the Mikeno Lodge in Rumangabo. Park rangers lead all treks and porters (unaffiliated with the park) are available for hire. The time required to reach the summit depends on the average fitness of each group, but typically takes 4 – 6 hours. Altitude sickness can be an issue for some because the climb begins at 1989m (6,525 ft) and ascends to 3470m (11,382ft) in a short time. Proper hydration is the best way to adapt to the change in altitude. People prone to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) should speak to their physicians about taking preventative measures before making the climb. It is possible for fitter people to climb up and descend in one day, but most groups choose to overnight in basic accommodation available at the top (included in the permit fee). Trekkers are advised to bring raincoats and cold weather gear. Rain showers are a common occurrence on the climb up during the rainy season and temperatures at the summit can dip below 0°C/32°F.

Guests staying at the Mikeno lodge can arrange packed meal service for the trip, while those coming with tour groups must supply their own. There is no food service on Nyiragongo. Porters can be hired at the base of the climb to carry loads for $12/day ($24 for the overnight trip). The maximum weight that porters are authorized to carry is 15kg.

Each of the twelve summit shelters contains two single beds on which visitors can put their sleeping bags. Although these shelters aren’t plush, they offer a welcome escape from the elements. The cost of staying in a summit shelter is included in the permit fee.

 

Inclusions
  • 1 gorilla trek permit for Bwindi  (the Volcanoes (Rwanda) gorilla trek is optional for extra USD1500 per person) 
  • Kibale  and Nyungwe Chimp primate trek permit
  • All boat trips and canoeing activity
  • Meals indicated on programme
  • Drinking water on the vehicle 
  • Services of an experienced English-speaking safari guide
  • Accommodation as per safari programme
  • Park fees for the various parks
  • Private transport using a 4x4 safari vehicle

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