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Rwanda

9-Day Classic Rwanda

Classic Rwanda -- Trip Photo of Rwanda tour  Rwanda map

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Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrival in Kigali, transfer to hotel, optional afternoon Kigali tour

Visiting: Kigali

Meet and greet at Kigali International Airport by your safari driver-guide. You will be transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time and your personal program, your driver-guide may propose you a visit of Kigali city which includes the Genocide Memorial centre at Gisozi.

*** GENOCIDE MEMORIALS: In Rwanda, there are Memorials to remember the genocide of 1994 all over the country. The most important Genocide Memorials are those of Kigali (Gisozi) and Murambi (Gikongoro) where the history of the genocide is explained. A visit to the genocide memorial is for most visitors an emotional event.

  • Meals: LD
  • Budget Lodging: Ninzi Hotel
  • Standard Lodging: Hotel Chez Lando or Flaming Tree Cottages
  • Luxury Lodging: Hotel des Milles Collines
  • Elite Lodging: Kigali Serena Hotel

Day 2 : Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park (via Butare)

Visiting: Nyungwe Forest

After breakfast you will depart for Huye (Butare) the second largest city of Rwanda and is regarded as the intellectual city of Rwanda. It hosts the National Museum and several academic (University) and research institutions.

On your way to Huye (Butare), you will visit Nyanza (currently Nyabisindu), the former Mwami's palace (King's palace), and the seat of the feudal monarchy. The palace has been reconstructed to its 19th century state and shows a traditional dome that can be compared with the Kabaka's palace of Buganda.

You will visit the National Museum in Huye which is one of the finest ethnographic museum of East Africa. It is a good source of information on the cultural history of Rwanda and the region.

After the visit of the museum, you will have a spectacular performance of the Urugangazi group of Intore dancers. This is probably the best dance group of Rwanda, and their performance is regarded by many as one of the highlights of your visit!

Lunch is typically in Butare, and in the afternoon, we will drive to Nyungwe Forest NP. Just outside Butare, you will visit the workshop of the Tin Smith of Huye (Butare). You will find one of the finest handmade objects in pewter of 99% of quality.

Your driver-guide will stop at the Uwinka offices of Nyungwe Forest NP to have the last update on the presence of the semi-habituated groups of chimps and colobus monkeys. This will help you to prepare your activities of the next two days.

*** Distance & driving times: Kigali-Butare: 135 km - 3h30 including the visits. Butare-Gisakura: 158 km - 2h30 - Good roads.

*** Rwanda has one of the finest traditional handicrafts of Africa. The ceramics, woodcarvings and basketry are found in the streets of Kigali and Huye.

*** The "Intore", once the elite of the traditional Rwanda army, were not only trained as military but also in high jump and dance. They were known for there remarkable technique allowing them to jump over 2m40. The Intore became worldwide famous as dancers in 1958 when the World Expo was held in Brussels. Today Intore dancers are part of the rich Rwanda folklore.

The warriors dance is a jewel of the choreographic heritage of Rwanda. Dressed with a mane made of sisal fiber, Tied up on ankles, little bells jingle on each step, giving the warriors dance a thrilling rhythm. Throughout the Intore ballet, physical confrontation turns into artistic rivalry and then at "the end" comes out into a vigorous hug of the warriors. This is the most artistic gesture of friendship, mutual aid and protection.

*** The National Museum in Huye (Butare) was donated in 1989 by the Belgium government and gave back a part of the ethnographic collection acquired during the colonial period. The design and concept of the museum was realized in co-operation with the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren, Belgium. The modern building has different sections and displays a wide collection of monochrome pictures, traditional artifacts and objects, tools and different craft products. Ethnographic objects are grouped together according to theme giving excellent information on the daily life. Traditional ceramics and basketry are still manufactured and belong to the finest handicrafts of the region. The National Museum remained surprisingly untouched during the civil war in 1994.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Guest House Gisakura
  • Standard Lodging: Nyungwe Guest House
  • Luxury Lodging: Nyungwe Forest Lodge
  • Elite Lodging: Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 3 : Primate walks in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Visiting: Nyungwe Forest

Nyungwe Forest National Park is a paradise for hikers. The terrain is rugged and steep, and you will be at relatively high elevation. Wear good hiking shoes and bring warm clothing.

This is a paradise for hikers! During your stay your driver-guide will accommodate your program to your interest.

Your day will start with an early breakfast and a briefing at Uwinka tourist information center. Depending on your personal interests, you will have a choice of different opportunities to explore the largest high altitude rainforest of East Africa. Of a particular interest are the large social groups of Angolan Colobus (Colobus angolensis), which may be over 300 individuals. These are the largest troops of this species known in the world. Nyungwe Forest counts 25% of the African Primates!

One of these groups is semi-habituated and we recommend to start your exploration with a guided primate walk in search of the Angolan Colobus monkeys (black and white Colobus). Rangers will tell you approximately where the group is located and the hiking times may vary as the group is traveling continuously looking for food. Be prepared for strenuous hiking.

In the afternoon you can continue your exploration. There are different beautiful trails available and the superb waterfall trail of Gisakura is probably the most rewarding. The hiking time is 2 up to 3 hours and is a very enjoyable hike accessible to everybody. If you missed the Angolan Colobus you can have another try near to the tea factory where another troop is hosted.

*** Distance & Driving times: Gisakura Guest House is 40 min from the headquarters of Nyungwe NP.

Nyungwe Forest is the only place in Africa where troops of 300 black-and-white colobus monkeys (Angolan Colobus) can be seen jumping in the trees. A spectacular sight!

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Guest House Gisakura
  • Standard Lodging: Nyungwe Guest House
  • Luxury Lodging: Nyungwe Forest Lodge
  • Elite Lodging: Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 4 : Primate walks in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Visiting: Nyungwe Forest

Some considerable efforts have been made to habituate the chimpanzees at Nyungwe Forest NP. You can see the chimps at Uwinka (head quarters) and Cyamudongo (near Cyangugu). The reporting time on site for both visits is at 6 a.m. at latest. Considering the driving time, an early departure from the hotel at 5 a.m. is necessary.

If you prefer, you can have another guided primate walk or one of the hikes on the well-maintained trails.

There are l'hoest monkeys and blue monkeys present and often observed around Uwinka, requiring less strenuous hiking. There is also an orchid garden at Uwinka and for those who would like a challenging hike we recommend the trail "the Bigugu Mountain", the highest peak in Nyungwe Forest at nearly 3000m.

Bird watchers will certainly be interested to know that Nyungwe has also some Albertine rift endemic species that can only be seen here! Birding is very rewarding on one of the special designed trails! Don?t forget to bring your binoculars with you!

Nyungwe Forest has more than 100 species of orchids!

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Guest House Gisakura
  • Standard Lodging: Nyungwe Guest House
  • Luxury Lodging: Nyungwe Forest Lodge
  • Elite Lodging: Nyungwe Forest Lodge

Day 5 : Transfer to Kibuye at Lake Kivu

Visiting: Kibuye, Lake Kivu

After breakfast you will leave for Kibuye, passing through the green fields of tea plantations before exploring the shores of Lake Kivu. Kibuye which is one of the three towns on Lake Kivu is the most beautiful. Arrival at Kibuye is usually at lunch time. After Nyungwe, most participants will welcome some relaxing moments on the shores of Lake Kivu. You can also take a walk and visit this splendid area. Rest of the day at leisure. Lake Kivu is Bilharzia free.

*** Distance & Driving times: 4h30 hours - bad roads.

Lake Kivu is unique: Its deep waters contain an enormous quantity of dissolved gas. There are in fact 65 billion cubic meters of methane, the equivalent of 50 million tonnes, of petrol lying at the bottom of the lake under 250 m of water. If it were exploited, this energy, veritable manna from heaven, would provide Rwanda with an almost inexhaustible source of energy, freeing it from worry about energy needs linked to its development projects. There is a pilot station for the extraction of methane for energy.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Bethany Guest House
  • Standard Lodging: Moriah Hill Resort
  • Luxury Lodging: Cormoran Lodge
  • Elite Lodging: Cormoran Lodge

Day 6 : Transfer to Gisenyi and drive or speed boat to Kinigi

Visiting: Gisenyi

After breakfast, you will drive or have an enjoyable speed-boat trip to Gisenyi. The trip is not only an encounter with local people; fishermen, fishing villages but also with the residents of Idjwi Island (Congo) who are rowing long distances in their dugout canoes to visit the Rwanda markets.

You will be picked up in Gisenyi for lunch and if time/security allows we make arrangements to cross the border to Goma (Optional - Congo visa is $ 30 and you need to pay for a re-entry visa for Rwanda). Goma was devastated by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. The visit shows the fantastic capabilities of the local population to overcome this natural catastrophe! We drive to Ruhengeri and Kinigi.

*** Distance & Driving time: Kibuye - Gisenyi, the boat trip will take 1h30 along the shores of Lake Kivu. Gisenyi-Kinigi: 1h15 - good road.

Idjwi is an island in Lake Kivu, belonging to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At 40km in length and with an area of 285 km2, it is believed to be the largest inland island in Africa, and the eighth largest in the world. Idjwi is roughly equidistant between the DRC and Rwanda, with 10 to 15 kilometers separating its western shore from the DRC mainland and a similar distance between its eastern shore and the coastline of Rwanda. The island's southern tip, however, lies only 1 kilometer from a promontory of the Rwandan coast.

The Nyiragongo Volcano (3470 m) erupted on January 17, 2002 and destroyed part of Goma town. Most of Goma's 400,000 inhabitants escaped the advancing lava flows crossing the border into neighboring Rwanda. The eruption destroyed the homes of 120,000 people and caused between 70 and 100 victims.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Hotel La Palme
  • Standard Lodging: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
  • Luxury Lodging: Virunga Lodge
  • Elite Lodging: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Day 7 : Gorilla Trekking in Virunga

Visiting: Virunga

After breakfast you will report at the ORTPN headquarters where your driver-guide will accomplish the necessary formalities for you. You will meet your ranger guide(s) for a briefing about the greatest animal experience ever. We will drive you to the slopes of one of the Virunga volcanoes for your trekking.

After the trekking, lunch at your hotel or at Ruhengeri and in the afternoon, if time allows, an excursion to explore the beautiful lakes in the region: Lake Bulera & Ruhondo. An excellent view of the Virunga chain of Volcanoes can be seen while there depending on weather conditions.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Hotel La Palme
  • Standard Lodging: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
  • Luxury Lodging: Virunga Lodge
  • Elite Lodging: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Day 8 : Second gorilla trekking or another activity - Transfer to Kigali

Visiting: Virunga

For a second gorilla trek we propose that you visit one of the groups with a longer hiking time; the Susa group which is located on the slopes of the Karisimbi volcano and has more than 35 members and will give you a great sense of achievement!

After the trekking, visit of the Iby'Iwacu traditional village (a community based tourism project where the local community displays the traditional ways of living). On your way to Kigali, several stops will be made to admire the scenery. Rwanda is the country of the thousand hills!

Activities/options for today:

A second gorilla trek

An excursion to the top of the Bisoke volcano (3711m) of which the distinctive feature is a beautiful crater lake. Fantastic views in all directions, lushly forested slopes, shady bamboo forest and an exhilarating climb!

An excursion to the grave of Dian Fossey and the former Karisoke Research Centre. The excursion will provide excellent background information and this is a wonderful site to see!

A visit to the Golden Monkeys: the little-known Golden Monkey (cercopithecus mitis kandti) is listed as "endangered", the newly habituated groups of about 40 individuals are the only ones in Africa. The Kabatwa troop is located not so far from the Park Headquarters and the Musanga troop lives near the Karisimbi volcano and has a much longer walking distance.

*** Distance & driving time: Kinigi - Kigali: 2h30.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Ninzi Hotel
  • Standard Lodging: Hotel Chez Lando or Flaming Tree Cottages
  • Luxury Lodging: Hotel des Milles Collines
  • Elite Lodging: Kigali Serena Hotel

Day 9 : Kigali visit and departure

Visiting: Kigali

The half day Kigali City trip includes a visit to the Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi, which takes a few hours. It's a touching visit! Transfer to airport for departure.

  • Meals: BL

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