Embark on an unforgettable expedition to track mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, in the rainforest of Rwanda. Visit a research centre set up by Dr. Dian Fossey, who spent 18 years studying gorillas in the Virunga Mountains with support from National Geographic, and get up close to these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Set out in search of the “big five”—lions, leopards, elephants, and Cape buffalo—while on safari in Akagera National Park, while learning about the incredible conservation efforts that brought this onetime battleground back from disaster.
TRAVEL STYLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC JOURNEY
Greater exploration, insider access, and the freedom to roam – all without sacrificing comfort.
SERVICE LEVEL: UPGRADED
Quality accommodations and more inclusions, like meals, private transport, and activities.
PHYSICAL RATING: 4 - DEMANDING
Some high-altitude hikes or more strenuous activities, but accessible to most healthy travellers.
TRIP TYPE: SMALL GROUP
Small group experience; Max 6, avg 5.
AGE REQUIREMENT: 15+
All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
|June 4, 2023||from $6,397 CAD - (compared to $9,240)||Per Person|
|1||Sun Jun 4||KIGALI|
|2||Mon Jun 5||KIGALI/VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK|
|3||Tue Jun 6||VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK|
|4||Wed Jun 7||VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK|
|5||Thu Jun 8||VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK/AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK|
|6||Fri Jun 9||AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK|
|7||Sat Jun 10||AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK TO KIGALI|
|8||Sun Jun 11||KIGALI|
DAY 1 – KIGALI
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.
DAY 2 – KIGALI/VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and pay your respects to the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, learning about this somber chapter of the country’s past. Later, embark on a community walk in the vibrant Nyamirambo neighbourhood and enjoy a local lunch at the G Adventures–supported Nyamirambo Women’s Centre. Travel to northern Rwanda in the afternoon and settle into our lodge, located at the edge of Volcanoes National Park and offering stunning views of the soaring peaks.
Volcanoes National Park borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains can be found here. The volcanoes and highlands of the park are covered in lush rainforest and bamboo (a favourite snack of the gorillas). While the most famous resident is the mountain gorilla, there’s plenty of other wildlife roaming around: buffaloes, bushbucks, golden monkeys, hyenas, numerous bird species, and some elephants call this place home.
DAY 3 – VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Set out on a trek in lush, jungle-covered hills with a park ranger to track a unique and endangered species—the golden monkey. Observe these playful, curious creatures in their natural habitat; then visit the Ellen Degeneres Campus of the Karisoke Research Center, founded by National Geographic Grantee Dian Fossey. Visit the public exhibit and enjoy immersive activities, like a 360-degree theatre and replica of Dian Fossey’s original cabin before meeting with some of the organization’s gorilla experts. Hear their experiences and stories working for the largest gorilla conservation organization in the world, and have the chance to ask them questions.
DAY 4 – VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Embark on an unforgettable trek through the jungle alongside a park ranger to search for mountain gorillas. When we come across a group of gorillas, witness their fascinating social dynamics up close. Note that these treks can vary in length and difficulty depending on the location of the gorillas. Return to our lodge for lunch, followed by a visit to a local village to catch a glimpse of daily rural life.
Approximately 800 mountain gorillas exist globally in the wild today. They are found in Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda. In DRC and Rwanda, gorillas live in similar ecosystems/areas. The gorilla species found in these three areas are called highland gorillas.
In Rwanda there are ten habituated gorilla families that are open to visits – the visit to a gorilla family is done once per day, with a maximum 8 trekkers per group and the duration of a visit is limited to one (1) hour with the gorilla family. The time spent with them is limited due to conservation considerations and to minimize impact on the day-to-day life of the gorilla family you are visiting. It is important to be well prepared for the trek — you never know if your total trek will be short or long. The total duration of a trek can vary and be anything between 4 and 9 hrs in length depending on the location of the gorillas, which are constantly moving. You will mainly walk where there are no paths apart from the occasional buffalo or elephant trail.
Touching the gorillas is not allowed (although in some cases they may touch you). Making loud noises or sudden movements is also not allowed. You should attempt to keep a distance of 7m from the gorillas, however the gorillas themselves are unaware of this and will often get very close, in which case you should try to slowly move away. At all times you must abide by the instructions of the trackers and rangers.
DAY 5 – VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK/AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Head back to Kigali for lunch, then continue east to Akagera National Park. Armed conflict once devastated this part of Rwanda, and many years of neglect and misuse followed. Yet dedicated work by the local communities resulted in the return of wildlife to the park’s savannas, forested hills, and wetlands. Learn more about this fascinating conservation success story in a behind-the-scenes visit to the African Parks headquarters here. Later, check into our comfortable lodge overlooking stunning Lake Ihema.
Akagera National Park offers a remarkable conservation story and is home to the Big Five, zebras, giraffes, elephants and hundreds of bird species. Running directly along the boarder with Tanzania, the park covers 1,122 km2 (433 sq mi) and offers a variety of landscapes including highlands, savannah plains, swamps, wetlands and lakes.
DAY 6 – AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
Wake before sunrise for an early morning safari drive in search of the “big five.” Keep an eye out for lions, buffalo, hyenas, and antelopes grazing freely here. Return to the lodge for lunch and some free time to relax or take a dip in the pool. In the afternoon, glide along Lake Ihema by boat, watching for hippos and crocodiles. Spot more wildlife, such as elephants and buffalo, as they gather at the lakeshore to drink water. Keep an eye out for a variety of birds including herons, shoebill storks, fish eagles, and kingfishers.
DAY 7 – AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK TO KIGALI
Head out with a packed breakfast for our final safari drive in the early hours when animals are most active. Look for giraffes, gazelles, impalas, baboons, Butchel’s zebras, leopards, and lions. Later that morning, depart through the northern edge of the park and travel overland back to Kigali for our last evening.
DAY 8 – KIGALI
Depart at any time.
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