Rwanda. More than gorillas 

A spectacular multi-active journey though the great African Rift Valley 

Discover Rwanda (operator FAM trip) 

7 days (LO) 8 days (from London)

Departure 22 Nov - 29 Nov 2018 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Fly by helicopter over the Land of a Thousand Hills to see Africa's most spectacular scenery: the Virunga Volcanoes
    rising above the deep blue waters of Lake Kivu next to the largest tropical montane forest in East Africa

  • Go trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park, home to 13 species of primates and walk with chimpanzees

  • Take part in real cultural experiences with local communities

  • Kayak on the spectacular blue water of Lake Kivu in the African Rift Valley

  • Mountain bike on wide tracks down to the shores of Lake Ruhondo

  • Canoe on a gentle river teeming with birds in the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes

  • Meet a family of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park

  • Option to extend your trip to go on safari or climb the volcanoes

Itinerary

Day 1: Thursday 22 November. Depart from UK.


Depart Gatwick at 1900 on RwandAir WB701 via Brussels to Kigali.




Day 3 Saturday. Helicopter or drive to Nyungwe Forest, see eco-tourism centre and canopy walkway


Depart and head towards Nyungwe Forest. Depending on conditions and availability we plan to either make the journey by road or helicopter, taking in the impressive views and stunning landscapes of the Virunga Volcanoes and the deep blue water of Lake Kivu, before arriving on the outskirts of the Nyungwe Forest itself. If driving, we will be reminded that today is Umuganda, the monthly community workday, when grass-roots initiatives foster reconciliation. During our journey we’ll see examples of how collaboration and co-operation has become normalised. We will also pass the Ethnographic Museum where your clients could gain a rich insight into Rwandan history and culture (our itinerary does not allow for this today).
Lunch at the Kitabi Eco-Center, which has spectacular, panoramic views over lush green hills and tea plantations. Here we will also find out about how tourism is helping to protect Nyungwe forest by creating new opportunities for local people. Drive to the Uwinka Visitor Center in Nyungwe forest. Nyungwe canopy trail, a two-hour guided walk in the forest including a 90m walkway suspended high in the trees with amazing views over the forest. Continue the journey through Nyungwe forest. Check in for dinner and overnight at a Nyungwe hotel.




Day 4 Sunday. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest


Early breakfast and departure for Nyungwe Forest. Here we go trekking with an expert guide in one of the oldest continuously forested locations on Earth, meeting our closest relatives - a troop of chimpanzees are found in the trees or running around on the ground! Lunch at Nyungwe Forest Visitor Centre or a nearby hotel. Transfer to Kibuye. Check in for dinner and overnight at Cormoran Lodge overlooking Lake Kivu.




Day 5 Monday. Kayaking on Lake Kivu in the great African Rift Valley


A very different Monday morning experience! After breakfast on the terrace, you’ll meet Kingfisher Journeys’ Rwandan guides - who are qualified British Canoeing leaders. After a short briefing we’ll go kayaking on the blue waters of Lake Kivu. Paddle out to the uninhabited islands that are a haven for birds, watch for otters in the water and maybe we’ll spot vervet monkeys in the trees. A boat transfer option is available if preferred. Packed lunch on a small beach or one of the islands in Lake Kivu such as Munini (popularly known as Napoleon Island) to see a colony of thousands of fruit bats. Transfer by boat to a private island where Kingfisher Journeys’ guides have established a campsite. Onward transfer to Gisenyi by boat. At the end of the afternoon we will go on the water by kayak to see the sunset and meet the local fishermen, who will be setting out for night on the lake, singing as they go... Looking for sambaza, a type of sardine, they shine lights into the water to attract the small fish and then catch them in their nets; it’s an absolutely fascinating, genuine and very real experience. Check in for dinner and overnight at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel in Gisenyi.




Day 6 Tuesday. Mountain biking and Mukungwa River Canoe Trip in the foothills of the Virungas


Breakfast and demonstration of Kingfisher Journeys’ Stand Up Paddleboards - very popular with families on the blue water in front of the hotel. Departure for Musanze. After refreshments at a small café, pick up mountain bikes for a mostly gentle, downhill ride through the countryside and villages to the Twin Lakes of Ruhondo and Bulera on the flanks of the Virunga Volcanoes. Transfer by car if preferred. Lunch at the impressively located Virunga Lodge overlooking Lake Bulera. Meeting our guides for the Mukungwa River Canoe Trip we float down a mostly gentle river in the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes that The Sunday Times described as a ‘half day of pure joy’. Taking visitors far from the road, this is the perfect way to enjoy the scenery for which Rwanda is so famous, watch so many birds and meet friendly local people where a fascinating way of life flourishes all along the river. Check in for dinner and overnight at a Musanze Hotel.




Day 7 Wednesday. Track mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park


Early breakfast. Arrival at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, meet with park guides and transfer to the trailhead. Begin trekking through the dense vegetation where families of mountain gorillas live. After up to an hour or two in the forest with an expert ranger you will be guided to where a family of gorillas have chosen to spend their day. Adults resting, juveniles misbehaving and young babies rolling around on the ground - all under the watchful eye of the silverback. We are visitors in their domain and this is an hour that you and your clients will recall forever. It is a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience. After our visit, we’ll enjoy a packed lunch in the forest. Meet a successful women’s co-operative that exports quality woollen garments that are spun and knitted by hand for sale around the world. As the sun starts to set behind the volcanoes, celebrate an incredible day by sipping a glass of champagne on a personally guided canoe trip on Lake Ruhondo, whilst looking out for water birds in the surrounding wetlands and bushes. Transfer back to Kigali.
Check in for dinner and overnight at the Kigali hotel.




Day 8. Thursday 29 November. Depart Kigali and fly to London


Early breakfast and transfer to Kigali International Airport for an early morning flight with RwandAir to London. Depart Kigali at 0840 on flight WB700 via Brussels and arrive back at Gatwick Airport at 1730 on the same day.




Optional extensions at the start of the trip:


Safari in Akagera National Park Home to iconic African species such as elephant, lions, leopard, buffalo, rhinos and so much more (one or two days). Cultural tours Take part in a rural experience day in the Rwandan countryside. Designed and hosted by local families, artisans and artists you’ll find a taste of the beauty and rigour of rural life and Rwandan culture. (one day) Volcano climbs Climb through the rainforest past several different climate zones to the summits of either one of these Virunga Volcanoes: - Bisoke with its remarkable crater lake (one day) or - Karisimbi, the highest of all the Virungas, where snow occasionally settles on its conical summit (two days)




Day 2 Friday. Kigali city tour and visit Rwanda’s Genocide Memorial


Morning arrival at Kigali International Airport. Welcome drink and check in at one of Kigali’s top hotels. We start by going on a short guided tour to see this vibrant, clean and safe African city at the heart of Rwanda, including its arts and local markets that define so much about Africa. An exciting Rwandan lunch is included! Visit to the Azizi Life Studio where visitors can take part in local craft projects. We also meet some of the people who run the best community-based cultural experiences in rural Rwanda. Optional visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial to learn about the difficult times in Rwanda’s history. However, while this can be a difficult thing to take in, it also sets the scene for the remarkable transformation and optimism for the future that has taken place and developed since. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.





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