Gorillas & Rainforests – Private Departures Only

Highlights

  • Meet the Gorillas doctors who look after sick and injured gorillas
  • Track the Mountain Gorillas
  • Trek to Diane Fossey’s tomb
  • Meet Iby’Iwacu cultural village – a former poaching community now rehabilitated in the importance of gorilla conservation

Join us on a life-changing journey through Rwanda, a land made up of rainforests, volcanoes, jungles and primates!

Track the endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda, and throw yourself into local community life! Witness these giants in their natural habitat and be in awe at their gentle nature and human-like qualities.

Spending time with the Gorilla Doctors, who run a mountain gorilla veterinary project, you will learn about their efforts and projects to help save these endangered primates as they not only educate the locals on anti-poaching practices but also how to sustain the fragile environment the mountain gorillas need for survival. Discover the Iby’Iwacu cultural village, a local community embracing eco-tourism practices and now producing locally made musical instruments. A perfect safari to combine with your East Africa experience in Kenya and Tanzania.

Journey map

Fitness level

Easy
Moderate
Challenging
Tough

Itinerary

Day 1 - Kigali to Ruhengeri

Welcome to Rwanda, the Land of a Thousand Hills! On arrival, we have organised a meet and greet with express privileges through immigration. After processing your visa, the meet and greet team will take you through customs and introduce you to your guide. After introductions, you will be assisted to your safari vehicle(s) and depart on a city tour of Kigali.

Your first stop is the Kigali Genocide Memorial & Museum.  Located just outside of Kigali City Centre in the Gasabo district, Kigali Genocide Memorial & Museum is a highly transparent, educational, and challenging tour that takes you through the causes, atrocities and ultimately inspiring reconciliation and rebuilding by the Rwandan people. This is a visit you will not forget.

After here, we will embark in the vehicle and transfer to Nyamirambo Women’s Centre.

Nyamirambo Women’s Centre for some local activities with some truly inspiring Women. Nyamirambo Women’s Centre (NWC), a Rwandan NGO, was launched at the end of 2007 by 18 Rwandese women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together, they created a project which aimed to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination.

Today, NWC’s mission is to provide education and vocational training to women who do not have the means to pay for such training on their own, so that they can gain better opportunities for employment.

We begin our Nyamirambo Women’s Centre experience with a walking tour of the surrounding suburb. Start with a traditional snack, a quick Kinyarwanda language lesson, and an introduction to the Centre and its activities. It then weaves through Nyamirambo, one of Kigali’s oldest neighbourhoods. Along the way guides lead participants into a women’s hairdressing salon where the adventurous type can get a free braid; into a family compound to pound cassava leaves; by two mosques and a lookout view over Kigali and into a tailor shop to feel the fabrics you’ll otherwise see styled on the streets. The tour concludes with a traditional lunch made and served in the home of Aminatha, NWC’s best cook.

After lunch, leave Kigali and drive through the beautiful, terraced hillsides that characterise much of Rwanda’s landscape and gradually climb to the base of the Virunga Volcanoes. If the weather is clear, you can sometimes see as many as five peaks. Upon arrival at your lodge, check in and spend a couple of hours resting and enjoying the tremendous views and traditional dancers at the lodge.

At 5:45 pm, we take you for a very interesting educational behind-the-scenes presentation at the Gorilla Doctors.

This organisation works closely with the Karisoke Dian Fossey Mountain Gorilla Fund to administer treatment to injured or sick Mountain Gorillas. Their knowledge of Gorilla anatomy, genetics, language, and habits is at expert level and will give you amazing insights into our ancient ancestors. The presentation will add a lot of value to your trek tomorrow.

Return to the lodge for dinner at around 7:30 pm. Many of the ingredients come straight from the chef’s garden and local farms. (L,D)

3-nights at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (3*), Ingagi Park View Lodge (3.5*) or Amarembo Gorilla Village (4*)

Distance and Journey Time: Transfer from Kigali International Airport – Kigali Genocide Memorial (approx. 11km) 24 minutes, Kigali Genocide Memorial – Nyamirambo Women’s Centre (approx. 6km) 15 minutes, Nyamirambo Women’s Centre – Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (approx. 115km) 2 hours 40 minutes.

Day 2 - Gorilla Tracking

Today you will have the rare opportunity to observe the Rwandan mountain gorillas. Tracking the gorillas through the forested slopes of the Virungas is a magical experience. If you are lucky you can get to the gorillas, spend an hour with them, and be back at the base in time for a late lunch.

Some gorilla families, however, are more elusive, and tracking can take a full day, especially when it is wet and muddy.

Your climb begins through the scenic terrain of rainforest that covers the Virungas. The length of your trek will depend on the position of the gorillas and will commence at about 2,000 m above sea level. The ground can be slippery, and the temperature may change instantaneously from hot and humid to a cool chill, and being close to the equator, rain can fall at any time. Once you reach the family of gorillas you will enjoy a remarkable experience.

Gorilla families range in size from six to 40 gorillas, usually with at least one silverback male. Your guide will advise you on the appropriate protocol and behaviours around these territorial mammals.

This afternoon, you will visit the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Fund.

This extraordinary new campus was Ellen’s wife, Portia’s birthday gift to Ellen to permanently connect Ellen’s passion for Wildlife Conservation with her childhood hero Dian Fossey. This start of the art centre has enabled the temporarily housed Dian Fossey Fund to find a permanent home and expand education and research into Mountain Gorilla Conservation. This campus will make an everlasting positive contribution to the communities of Volcanoes National Park and the future of Mountain Gorillas After this visit, you will return to your accommodation. (B,L,D)

Walking/Trekking Time: approximately 2-6 hours

Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult

Distance and Journey Time: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge to Gorilla Trekking (approx. 10km) 21 minutes, Lodge to Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Fund (approx. 6km) 13 minutes

Day 3 - Dian Fossey Tomb Trek

Following an early breakfast, embark on a special trek to visit the grave site of Dian Fossey. This courageous pioneer studied her beloved Mountain Gorillas for 15 years before her death. In the same area is the Gorilla graveyard where her beloved Digit and others rest nearby. Occasionally the Gorillas visit, it’s as if they know. Return to the lodge for lunch followed by a leisurely rest or your choice of inclusive optional activities:

  • Community Walk: Guided walk around Musanze and village life.
  • Twin Lakes sightseeing: Stunning scenery of two neighbouring lakes 100 metres apart in elevation.
  • Basket weaving workshop at the foot of the Volcanoes: Traditional Crafts and interaction.
  • Canoeing around the Volcanoes: Gentle rivers and rapids and a great way to see rural life.
  • Pamper at the Volcanoes: Massage, pedicure & manicure.

Returning for dinner at your lodge. (B,L,D)

Diane Fossey Trek
Walking/Trekking Time: (approx. 3km return) approximately 3-6 hours, depending on weather track conditions and group fitness. Starting altitude 2500m, climbing to Dian Fossey’s Tomb at 2967m
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult, depending on track conditions.

Day 4 - Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village - Coffee Master Class

After breakfast, you will visit the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, a sustainable tourism concept created for the communities who live around the mountain gorilla’s national park. The concept is designed to stop poaching and raise the income levels of the communities through a participative approach as an incentive for conservation. It encompasses what gorilla trekkers have been missing, a place where people and cultures can meet to appreciate the wonders of nature while embracing the history where traditions still run, while the modern world carries on.

You will return to the lodge for lunch before departing the wonderful Volcanoes National Park driving south past lush coffee, tea, and banana plantations on a breathtakingly scenic drive back to Kigali. Once in Kigali, you have a final activity with a Question Coffee masterclass.

Rwanda is famous for its Mountains Gorillas, recovery post-genocide and rich culture but did you know Rwanda has some of the finest speciality coffee in the world? High altitudes, high rainfall and volcanic soil are perfect conditions for growing coffee and Rwanda has all of these. Question Coffee is the leading producer, roaster, and exporter in Rwanda, and they will host you for a 3-hour coffee master class where you will learn about:

  • Coffee History of Rwanda
  • Coffee growing
  • Roasting
  • Packing
  • Tasting Have your branded gift coffee presented at the end of the Masterclass.

We then transfer you to check in to Kigali’s finest accommodation, Kigali Marriott Hotel. (B,D)

Overnight accommodation at Kigali Marriott Hotel or similar

Distance and Journey Time: Drive to Kigali Iby’iwacu Cultural Village (approx. 10km) 22min, Drive to Coffee Master class (approx. 119km) 3hrs

Day 5 - Departure

This morning sleep in and enjoy the facilities and amazing breakfast at Kigali’s finest hotel, Kigali Marriott. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy. We can recommend and transfer you to several activities if you wish:

  • Kigali Fashion & Art Tour ($100 USD)
  • Ntarama Genocide Memorial ($30USD donation)
  • Women’s Twongerre Coffee Coop ($60USD)

Most flights leave late evening out of Kigali International, so we have arranged a farewell dinner at Kigali’s best local restaurant Republika. After dinner, it’s only a short transfer to Kigali International to bid you safe onward travel and great memories that last long after you return home. (B,D)

Don’t have time now?

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What’s included

  • Return airport transfers
  • VIP meet and greet at the Airport.
  • Complimentary water in the vehicle
  • Professional English-speaking driver/guide
  • Private transportation in 4×4 jeeps/Safari Vehicle
  • 4 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 5 Dinners
  • 4 nights’ accommodation
  • Kigali Genocide Memorial Visit
  • Nyamirambo Women’s Walking Tour
  • Gorilla Doctors Presentation
  • Mountain Gorilla Trek
  • Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Fund
  • Dian Fossey Tomb Trek
  • Iby’iwacu Cultural Village
  • Question Coffee Master Class
  • Local Emergency Medical Evacuation
  • Services of an English-speaking local guide
  • National Park fees
Exclusions
  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • All services, meals other than those indicated above
  • All activities other than those indicated above
  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc
  • Optional activities on days 3 and 5

**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.

* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.

* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.

A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person + Gorilla permit payment is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.

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