Image by Ingo Stiller

Akagera NP & Volcanoes NP, Rwanda

Resplendent Rwanda

£5,095 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: June 5th - June 14th, 2022

Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.

Prices: £5,095 pp sharing (with a £995 single supplement)​, excluding international flights.

In a sentence: So rarely can the magic of the bush be combined with the majesty of mountain gorillas; in Rwanda this dream becomes reality.

Overview

Rwanda is often unfairly overlooked by prospective visitors to Africa. The legacy of the 1994 genocide still clouds the perception of many when it comes to this remarkable nation. In the three decades since those unspeakable atrocities, this small landlocked nation has undergone a remarkable transformation. Economically and politically, stability has come to Rwanda. In an unprecedented move, the education system has been reformed to coincide with the adoption of English (rather than French) as the lingua franca of the country. Kigali, the capital, is now stylish and meticulously well governed, attracting businesses and tourists alike.


Ecotourism has now, in turn, arrived in Rwanda. There are three main attractions in the country for wildlife enthusiasts, all of which we will visit on this tour. Akagera National Park, in the east, is the most recent addition to Rwanda's wealth of natural wonders. The park itself has been established for many decades, at one time gaining renown for its astonishing wildlife, including hundreds of African Wild Dogs - the park was even known as the 'Parc aux Lycaons' for this very reason. However, the park fell into ruin as unrest gripped Rwanda. In recent times, under the admirable stewardship of African Parks, the park has seen a number of re-introductions and wildlife populations have boomed. Lion, Leopard and Black Rhino are now all present in the park, and seen regularly. The reserve can now claim to be a 'Big Five' park, although it has much more to offer than that - the birdlife on Lake Ihema alone is worth a visit. The park itself is beautiful, with its open grasslands and rolling hills sometimes more reminiscent of an English meadow than a game reserve.

Volcanoes NP is the gorilla-tracking hub of Rwanda. Situated near the borders with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this area couldn't feel further away from Akagera. Dense forest coats the mountains along these borders, sheltering the vulnerable populations of Eastern Gorilla, as well as a number of of other primate species. Ungulates are also well represented in this tough terrain, including Black-Fronted Duiker. Predators are less common here, although the highly-prized African Golden Cat is possible.   

Nyungwe is home to the few habituated families of Chimpanzee in Rwanda, offering an incredible opportunity to spend time with these social primates. Two main family groups are habituated to tracking groups - one family of c.60 apes is seldom seen due to rugged terrain, whereas a smaller group of c.30 is more obliging.

Rwanda has much to offer, and this itinerary is a great way to scratch the surface of this incomparable country - we can't wait for you to join us!

Itinerary

Day One

Kigali

On arrival into Kigali you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to your hotel (Flame Tree Village or similar). Should you arrive early enough, we will happily arrange a city tour of this fascinating capital. Dinner and a briefing will follow in the hotel.

Day Two

Akagera

This morning it is just a two-hour drive to the beautiful Akagera National Park. Arriving by mid-morning, we will be able to head out onto Akagera's centrepiece, Lake Ihema, in the early afternoon. This lake is the lifeblood of the park, attracting herds of Bush Elephant and playing host to many pods of Hippo. The birdlife around the lake is also remarkable and, with a bit of patience, we may flush out a number of interesting species.

Following our boat safari, we will head out for an afternoon game drive, focussed on the dense vegetation in the south of the park. This area is home to the small introduced population of Black Rhino in the park, as well as sometimes acting as a resting area for the active and photogenic Lions in the park. Bush Elephant and Savanna Buffalo are also likely today, often posing for great photographic opportunities with the lake or open savanna in the background.

Once we have returned to Karenge Bush Camp, there is the option to go out on a night drive with park authorities. This is highly recommended, as Leopard and several unusual species of Mongoose are frequently seen in Akagera in the hours of darkness.

Our accommodation at Karenge Bush Camp is a delightful tented camp set in a remote area of Akagera. The solitude and peacefulness of this camp is second to none and, when combined with the superb hospitality of the camp staff, must rank as one of the very finest camps in East Africa.

Days Three to Five

Akagera

Most visitors to Akagera visit for the day, or perhaps spend one night - in our opinion, this does the park a disservice. Despite the great strides made in recent years by the management of African Parks, much of the wildlife in Akagera remains elusive and shy. Three full days allows us to explore Akagera fully, and gives us a good chance of encountering its most famous residents, including Lion, Leopard and Black Rhino.

Each day will be structured around two game-viewing activities, namely game drives, walking safaris or boat safaris. Night drives will also be available each evening. 

Day Six

Kigali & Musanze

It is a day dominated by driving today, waking early to traverse the breadth of this scenic country. We should be back in Kigali by mid-morning, for a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This site is the resting place for over 250,000 people killed in the 1994 genocide. Visits are haunting and sombre, giving us an insight into the horrors of Rwanda's past. This visit often serves as a reminder of how lucky we are to be able to visit Rwanda during times of peace, and highlights how far this nation has come in such a short space of time.

After lunch in Kigali, we will continue our drive west to Musanze, Rwanda's second-largest city and the gateway to Volcanoes National Park. Arriving by early evening, we will overnight at Home Inn or similar.

Day Seven

Volcanoes NP

At first light we will head into Volcanoes NP to meet up with park rangers and begin our trek into the mountains in search of Eastern Mountain Gorillas. Depending on which family we have been allocated, our trek may take anything from a few minutes to the full day. Once we have located the Gorillas, we will be able to spend a magical hour in their company, watching them feed and play. This is always a highlight of this tour and a truly humbling experience.

Provided we complete the trek in good time, we will head back to our accommodation for lunch, before visiting the Iwacu Cultural Village to learn more about Rwanda's rich pre-colonial cultural history. We will overnight at Home Inn or similar.

Day Eight

Volcanoes NP & Lake Kivu

This morning we will return to Volcanoes NP to track and photograph the always-entertaining Golden Monkeys living in the park. Agile and nimble, getting a good photo of these creatures is about as challenging as it gets.

After lunch we will head directly for our lovely accommodation on the shores of Lake Kivu. Accommodation will be at the Paradise Malahide or similar.

Day Nine

Nyungwe

Our day will start with an incredibly scenic drive through the hills and along the shores of Lake Kivu, before arriving at our next accommodation (Gisakura Guesthouse or similar) for lunch. We will then head into Nyungwe Forest for an afternoon activity of your choice. We could take a guided walk through the forest, head out on foot to admire the park's many waterfalls, or simply scope the canopy for Colobus monkeys - the choice is yours.

Day Ten

Nyungwe & Kigali

Nyungwe's most famous residents are its families of Chimpanzees, and we will track these intelligent apes on foot this morning. Aiming to intercept them as they descend from their night-time roosts in the trees, we hope to be able to spend time with them as they feed.

Directly after this wonderful experience, we will head back to Kigali where the tour will end. We recommend late flights from Kigali should our journey from Nyungwe be delayed. We are happy to arrange an extra night's accommodation in Kigali at an extra cost.

Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.

Dates and Prices

This tour will run in June 2022, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when gorilla and chimpanzee tracking is easiest. The tour will run from June 5th to June 14th.

The cost of this trip is £5,095 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. All drinks are included. We regret that there is a £995 single supplement for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,300 must be paid.

Flights and Visas

Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Kigali at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Kigali after 20.00 on your return to avoid disruption to your plans.

British nationals do require a visa to enter Rwanda. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Visas are freely available at Kigali Airport for UK nationals.

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in Rwanda in June is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 27 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 16 degrees Celsius.

A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat. 

Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.

Safety and Security

This itinerary does not visit any areas where there are currently security concerns.

Image by Wade Lambert

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