5 Days, Forest Luxury

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK. DIAN FOSSEY MUSEUM. THE TWIN LAKES BURERA & RUHONDO. KIGALI

Karibu Rwanda!

Located in the heart of Central and East Africa with easy access to the bordering countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo as well as to Kenya, the small hilly country of Rwanda lies in the African Great Lakes region at a high altitude; the lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 metres (3,117 ft) above sea level. Its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. Lying just a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda’s climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year. In July, the winter dry season, the average high is 81 ºF, the average low is 61 ºF, there averages 8mm of rain and one day of rain per month.

Known as “The Land of a Thousand Hills”, Rwanda is iconic for its green undulating landscape of hills, gardens, and tea plantations. It offers tourists a one-of-a-kind journey, being home to one-third of the world’s remaining Mountain Gorillas, one-third of Africa’s bird’s species, several species of primates, game reserves, unique volcanoes, world-class luxury resorts, islands on the expansive lake Kivu, vibrant culture, and friendly people. It is one of only two countries in which Mountain Gorillas can be visited safely. Rwanda is also a very safe country with one of the lowest crime rates in Africa.

The Rwandan economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country’s leading foreign exchange earner. Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture, particularly drums and the highly choreographed Intore dance. Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, including Imigongo, a unique cow dung art.

FAST FACTS
Capital: Kigali
Provinces: South, North, East and West and Kigali City
Number of Districts: 30
Population: 12million
Official languages: Kinyarwanda, Swahili, English, and French
National parks: Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Gishwati Mukura National Park

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Volcanoes National Park, established in 1925, is the oldest park in Africa. It is comprised of five outstanding volcano mountains: Muhabura (4127m), Mgahinda (3474m), Sabyinyo (3634m), Bisoke (3711m) and Karisimbi (4507m). The volcanoes are located in the far northwest corner of Rwanda and are home to the rare and endangered Mountain Gorillas. The park has other species of animals such as golden monkeys, African forest elephants, red-fronted duikers, cape forest buffaloes, hunreds of unique bird species, and more. It is also famous for being the location where the American primatologist and conservationist Dian Fossey conducted an extensive study of Mountain Gorilla groups from 1966 – 1985.

Itinerary

Destination: Arrival at Kigali International Airport (9:20pm)
Accommodations: The Retreat by Heaven Boutique
Activities: Hotel Check-in and Dinner
Transfer time: 20 – 30 minutes

Arrive at KGL at 9:20pm on SA7166 from Johannesburg. After arriving and clearing customs, you will be welcomed by David Mugisha, your personal guide for your entire adventure, who will be waiting for you at arrivals holding a sign with your name on it. You will be driven the short distance to The Retreat by Heaven Boutique, a luxury eco-friendly solar powered resort featuring locally crafted sustainable teak wood furniture, expansive custom built rooms with peaked ceilings, front and rear private patios, bathrooms with indoor and outdoor rain showers, and other luxurious touches. Enjoy a late but fabulous dinner at the hotel’s Fusion restaurant and a restful night at the hotel.

Destination: Musanze/Volcanoes National Park
Accommodations: The Bishop’s House
Activities: Golden Monkey Trekking; Dian Fossey Museum
Transit Times: 2 hrs to Volcanes NP; 20 mins to/from The Bishop’s House to park entrance; 3 mins to Dian Fossey Museums

After an early breakfast, your guide will drive you to Volcanoes National Park while briefing you about your trip en route. You will arrive at park reception for briefings by the park rangers and trek groupings followed by the drive to the edge of the forest to track golden monkeys. It is now believed that the only feasible population of Golden Monkeys resides in Volcanoes National Park. Golden monkeys are beautiful and endangered primates which have become quite habituated to humans, making it possible to observe them closely. Afterwards, you will be taken to The Bishop’s House, a beautiful colonial style luxury inn surrounded by stunning sights and sounds of nature, a haven of tranquility in the land of a thousand hills. Adumu Safaris has arranged a special private welcome ceremony for you, after which you will settle in and enjoy lunch and refreshments. In the late afternoon, visit the Dian Fossey museum to learn about gorillas, conservation efforts to save the species, etc. before your trek tomorrow. Return to the lodge for a delicious farm-to-table dinner and overnight.

Destination: Musanze/Volcanoes National Park; The Twin Lakes, Burera
and Ruhondo
Accommodations: Virunga Lodge
Activities: Gorilla Trekking; Twin Lakes Visit
Transfer time: 20 mins to the park from The Bishop’s House; 35 minutes
from park to Virunga

Today is your once-in-a-lifetime trip to see the critically endangered mountain gorillas! After breakfast, depart to the park reception areawhere you will be briefed   placed in a group to track a particulargorilla family. Venture into the lush forest with  your guide who will takeyou to where the gorillas are going about their day-to-day . Once you’ve spotted them, you will linger for about one hour in themidst of these amazing creatures, human’s long lost cousin. This is perhaps one of the most breathtaking wildlife experiences on earth! You get so close to these awesome giant primates; you stare at each other blankly, not knowing who will break the long silence first. Tracking the gorillas through the light mountain forest on the slopes of Virunga is a magical experience you will never forget! Retreat from the forest and travel 35 mins to Virunga Lodge in time for a late lunch and refreshments. (Please note that some gorilla families are more elusive and tracking can take a full day, especially when it is wet and muddy.) Virunga Lodge is the premier luxury gorilla lodge of Rwanda and one of Africa’s finest and most renowned hotels. The lodge is perched high on a ridge with stunning views of the Virunga Volcanoes and the Musanze Valley to the west and Lake Burera and Ruhondo to the east. After lunch, depart for a guided walk around the beautiful twin lakes–Burera and Ruhondo, where you can also learn about different traditional fishing techniques with local fishermen. Return to the lodge for dinner, drinks, and entertainment.

Destination: Musanze/Volcanoes National Park
Accommodations: Virunga Lodge
Activities: Forest Walk to Dian Fossey house and grave;
Complimentary massage
Transfer time: 30 mins to park entrance

After breakfast, your guide will take you to the park entrance for a briefing and grouping before commencing your forest walk to Dian Fossey’s house and gravesite. Trekking to the Dian Fossey Tomb is one of the most sought after safari activities carried out while visiting Volcanoes National Park for a gorilla trek. The walk from the park boundary to the research center where Dian’s grave takes about 1 – 1.5 hours and affords good views of forest hogs, forest elephants, a variety of primates and bird species. This hike is an incredible experience physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It is inspiring to learn about someone who was so dedicated to the Mountain Gorillas and left a legacy that impacts how we think about and respect the
gorillas today. The hike involves moving through the forest and hiking up the slopes and therefore requires some relative degree of fitness and patience—a moderate hike accessible to most. At the site, you will see Dian Fossey’s house and the peaceful place where she was buried just next to her favorite gorilla friend, Digit and about 20 other mountain gorillas who were either killed by poachers or suffered death for other reasons. Return to Virunga for lunch and refreshments. In the afternoon, you can enjoy the lodge and it’s entertainment at your leisure, and we invite you both to take advantage of a complimentary massage at the lodge’s beautiful spa! Enjoy another fabulous dinner and overnight at the lodge, contemplating the amazing experiences you’ve had this week.

Destination: Kigali; Johannesburg, South Africa
Activities: International Departure to South Africa (9:45am)
Transfer time: 2 hrs to the airport

After an early breakfast, you will be transported to the airport for your international departure to Johannesburg on SA7167. Kwaheri!

  • Current passport (visitor’s Visa can be obtained upon entry)
  • Suitcase, duffel, or backpack; extra packable bag for souvenirs (optional)
  • Small backpack or daypack large enough to carry a raincoat, water bottle, camera, etc. for treks
  • 2 pairs of trousers
  • 5 days of shirts
  • 1-2 warm layers (sweater/cardigan/sweatshirt)
  • Underwear and socks
  • Rain-proof /wind-proof jacket or rain poncho (raincoats can be rented at Volcanoes NP)
  • Hiking boots for trekking (rain boots can be rented at Volcanoes NP)
  • Good quality sunglasses
  • Sun hat
  • Camera and film, zoom lens (200mm or more recommended), extra batteries, dust cover (NB: do not take photos of army, army facilities, policemen, prisons and prisoners. You should ask you guide before you take photos of local communities.)
  • Phone and charger plus electrical converter (or you can unplug!)
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries and personal care products
  • Prescribed medications
  • Anti-malarial medication (if you opt to take it)
  • Medical bracelet/necklace (if applicable)
  • Insect repellent
  • Flashlight (head lamps are excellent)
  • Binoculars (recommended 10 x 40)
  • East Africa/Rwanda birds book (if you are a birder)
  • Basic first-aid medical kit (with Band Aids/plasters, antiseptic cream, aspirin, etc.)
  • Optional: walking stick (can be rented at Volcanoes NP)

GORILLA TREK INCLUDES

  • Pick-up and drop-off at Kigali International airport
  • 1 night a The Retreat by Heaven Boutique
  • 1 night at The Bishop’s House in a deluxe room
  • 2 nights at Virunga Lodge
  • Bottled water
  • All meals and refreshments
  • Alcoholic beverages and sodas
  • Transport in a 4x4 vehicle
  • Park fees
  • All activities mentioned above
  • Complimentary massages at Virunga Lodge Spa
  • Complimentary Welcome Ceremony at The Bishop's House
  • Taxes and administrative fees
  • English speaking driver guide for your entire trip, trekking guides, and rangers
  • Gorilla and Golden Monkey permits

SAFARI EXCLUDES

  • International airfare & flights
  • Passport & visa fees
  • Personal health insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Laundry services, unless provided by the lodges
  • Additional alcoholic beverages not offered by the lodges
  • Optional massages and spa services
  • All items of personal nature
  • Optional gratuities to safari guides and lodge/camp staff

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU TRAVEL TO RWANDA

Rwanda Visitor’s Visas can be obtained on arrival at the airport for a fee of 100 USD. All visitors must hold a passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months and that contains at least one empty page.

The official currency in Rwanda is the Rwandan Franc (RWF). You can exchange your U.S. dollars for RWFs at the airport foreign currency exchange; however, the U.S. dollar is widely accepted.

We recommend that you carry a sufficient quantity of cash with you. Please make sure the bills are of recent issue—2009 or later.

Credit cards may be accepted at your hotels, but in general you should not assume that your credit cards or debit cards will be accepted where you travel.

As your trip is all-inclusive, you should not need money for more than souvenirs, optional rentals at the park, and optional tipping.

We advise packing a light raincoat, good hiking/walking shoes or boots, insect repellent, and a small day pack to carry your layers, repellent, water, and camera for your treks. When trekking, you will be in a rainforest environment where it could rain at any time. NB: For a small fee, you may opt to rent a raincoat, rain boots, and/or a walking stick at the park. You can also hire a porter to carry your things for you, if you prefer.

Rwanda has recently become a strictly polythene-free country for environmental reasons. This means that plastic bags are not allowed in the country. You will have to dispose of them before traveling to Rwanda, or you might face a fine at customs.

It is not advisable to drink water from the tap. Your guides and hotel staff will provide you with bottled water at all times. Please just request it, if it is not automatically provided for you. We advise that you brush your teeth with bottled water as well, and that you generally avoid getting tap water in your mouth, to your best ability.

The food that you will be provided will be of the highest quality and prepared in a way so that tourists should feel completely at ease enjoying it. We advise avoiding street food, should you come across it, as this could potentially cause you to fall ill.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is only required for travelers 1 year of age and older coming from a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission. Since you will be visiting multiple countries in Africa before your Rwanda holiday, we recommend getting the vaccine. However, Yellow Fever vaccinations can be obtained at customs, if needed.

Malaria prophylaxis is not compulsory but advisable. We recommend Malarone, and we do not recommend Larium.

In Rwanda you can find hospitals wherever you are during your trip. Pharmacies can be found all over in cities, towns, and even small villages. Please note that these pharmacies are not like the ones in the U.S. and are solely for dispensing medication. Medications are different brands and varieties than what we have in the U.S., so please make sure to bring your prescriptions and favorite pain relievers, etc.

  • Never walk alone in the park. Always take a guide and listen carefully to him/her
  • Keep your voice low so that you don’t frighten the wildlife
  • When you are with gorillas/chimpanzees keep your distance (7m minimum/23ft)
  • No smoking, eating or drinking
  • Do not litter—carry your trash until you reach the park reception where you will find trash bins
  • It is prohibited to pick or remove any plants or other wildlife from the park
  • Do not use a flash with your camera
  • No cell phones—or if you are using your phone as your camera, make sure to put your phone on airplane mode
  • If you must sneeze or cough, always cover your face and turn away from gorillas. NB: Coughs and sneezes spread diseases and can kill gorillas. If you have a cold or flu or other infectious illness, do no visit the gorillas.
  • Get a doctor’s note, and your permit fee will be refunded or you can trek when you are healthy.
  • Visits are limited to 1 hour per gorilla group per day.

We highly recommend downloading WhatsApp onto your smartphones, if you haven’t already. This app allows you to make free calls and texts all over the world, wherever you have access to wi-fi. Wi-fi should be available at the airport and at your hotels, but not in the parks or en route between parks and hotels.

If you need to reach us, you can contact our U.S. office using WhatsApp at +1 530 574 9519 at any time. If you need to reach our Kigali office, please call, text, or WhatsApp Ninah at +250 787 897 158. You can also reach your guide, David, directly at +250 788 357 052.