Tailor-Made Holiday

Rwanda - Volcanoes and Akagera National Parks

Gorilla Trekking and Big Game Safari Holiday

9 days

from £5,395pp (excluding flights)

Trek for endangered mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif, before driving east to the lakes, savannah and hills of Akagera. Combine Rwanda’s most famous national park, Volcanoes, with the more traditional safari landscape of Akagera – a park in recovery.

  • Trek for mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park
  • Stay at the beautifully positioned Virunga Lodge
  • Explore the diverse landscape of Akagera National Park
  • Spot birdlife, plains game and big cats in this eastern wilderness

After the successful reintroduction of lions in 2015, Akagera is planning the reintroduction of black rhinos in early 2017. Like the lions, these will be brought in from a South African game reserve and will make Akagera a Big Five park once again.

GORILLAS AND GOLDEN MONKEYS

Begin by driving north from Kigali to the green slopes of the Virunga Mountains, close to the border of Uganda. Here, stay at the magnificently positioned Virunga Lodge, which offers some of the greatest views in Africa. From the comfortable stone bandas, look out at the cloud-topped volcanic landscape, decorated in rich shades of green.

Set off into the park, climbing steadily in search of the world’s largest primate. Led by knowledgeable guides and park rangers, leave the terraced crop fields behind and enter the dense forest that carpets the lower slopes of these dormant volcanoes.

After several hours of trekking, draw close to the gorilla family. Leaving bags behind, and holding cameras at the ready, creep closer and enter their domain. Spend an hour amongst the mountain gorillas, as they play, groom and eat. Watch as youngsters roll through the lush grass and see the dominant silverback stalk through his relaxed family.

The following day, return to the hills in search of a smaller primate. Track down a group of endangered golden monkeys, which only survive in this mountainous region. Watch as these agile old world monkeys – with their glistening gold-streaked fur – spring from branch to branch.

PLAINS GAME, BIRDS AND BIG CATS

Leave the mountains behind and drive to the eastern fringes of Rwanda. Here, Akagera National Park is squeezed up against the Tanzanian border. A series of lakes and rich marshlands fill the valleys, with savannah and acacia forests dotted between rolling hills. Although relatively small, this diverse park contains a variety of habitats.

Explore by boat and 4x4, in search of the wildlife that fills this recovering park. Once all but empty of game, it now supports a wide variety of species. These include a small pride of reintroduced lions, as well as a number of elusive leopards.

The watery, verdant landscape attracts a variety of birdlife, whilst the lakes are home to hippos and crocodiles. Elephants roam the savannah and woodlands, occasionally wallowing in the muddy marshlands. Inland, on the rich grasslands, numerous antelope species graze on fresh shoots.

WHY WE LIKE IT

Rwanda has become synonymous with gorilla trekking, but this holiday showcases another side to this fascinating country. Combine a fantastic primate experience, with a very different safari journey through the varied terrain of Akagera.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 5395 £ 700
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation and meals as stated in the itinerary
  • Voyage gratuities
  • All transfers

PLEASE NOTE THE COST SHOWN INCLUDES INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK, BASED ON AN APPROXIMATE AIR FARE. PLEASE ASK YOUR TRAVEL EXPERT FOR AN ACCURATE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT QUOTE. INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Nairobi overnight

Day 2

Fly Nairobi to Kigali


Kigali offers a charm offensive, the people here being some of the warmest and most welcoming you could hope to meet. Aside from the laid back but surprisingly organised feel, it is a forward-thinking city - banning plastic bags, public transport that runs on bio-fuel and holds a national day of cleaning once a month. The Rwandese people rightly take pride in their capital.

Drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park


On arrival in Kigali, after collecting your luggage and going through immigration, you will be welcomed at the arrivals gate by your guide. They will then take you to a nearby coffee shop for a quick bite to eat where they will give you a briefing on the start of your adventure. You then depart Kigali and journey north to the Volcanoes National Park, a beautiful three-hour drive winding up and over ridges of lush, steeply terraced hills to the world-renowned home of the mountain gorilla, arriving at the lodge in time for lunch.


The forested slopes of the Volcanoes National Park are spectacular and full of drama. A chain of free-standing volcanoes, they are home to local snake spirits, active volcanoes and the place where Dian Fossey lived - and died - for mountain gorillas. With peaks reaching nearly 4,500 metres and a network of rugged trails, this is a park that is as challenging as it is thrilling and despite its popularity, it is still the best place to see mountain gorillas.


You will be staying at Virunga Lodge, Full board

Day 3

Gorilla Trek in Volcanoes National Park
After waking at sunrise, there is a short drive to the park headquarters, where briefings, porters and coffee awaits before stepping into the cool forests to begin your adventure. Guides help steady the pace, with stops for water, signs of gorillas and a chance to soak up the views of the valleys below.

Trekking can take anything from 30 minutes to most of the morning so it is important you are prepared. When the gorillas are found, porters stay with your bags as you step forward, with cameras at the ready, for a truly magical wildlife experience.

You will spend one hour with the gorillas - sometimes you will move to keep up with them, other times they will remain in the same place, although the guides will always ensure you get the best views. After the hour is over, return to the porters and begin your trek back - the length of time again depends on where you are in the forest. A packed lunch (provided) is usually eaten at a scenic spot in the forest, before returning to the lodge to freshen up. Then transfer to Kigali for your flight home.


You will be staying at Virunga Lodge, Full board

Day 4

Golden Monkey Trek
Smaller and nimbler than the gorillas, but equally deserving of protection, a half day visit to spot the golden monkeys is a fun way to explore the forest. So named because of their bright orange bodies, they are indigenous to the region and more elusive than the gorillas, but these fast moving primates will keep you on your toes. Return to the lodge in the afternoon to relax.


Remainder of Day at Leisure
Relax with the remainder of day at leisure, or spend some time exploring the nearby villages.


You will be staying at Virunga Lodge, Full board

Day 5

Drive from Volcanoes National Park to Akagera


A journey of around five or six hours. All but the final part of the journey will be on good, asphalted road.


Akagera could not be more different to the dramatic, cultivated hills that distinguish much of the country, offering a wonderful savannah contrast. Dominated by a maze of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering path of the Akagera River, the beautiful undulating plains, acacia woodland and rolling grasslands are home to big game - although not in the numbers found in other East African parks. That said, elephants and buffalo, hyena, giraffe and the occasional leopard can all be seen.

An exciting new addition to Akagera's four legged fauna is the reintroduction of lions to the national park. Five females and two male lions were translocated from South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal, chosen for their reproductive potential. This is a project managed by African Parks and is a part of a larger effort to promote conservation in Akagera and restore the park to its pre-genocide state, where lions and other big game flourished.


Take and evening game drive through the park.


You will be staying at Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Full board

Day 6

Boat Trip on Lake Ihema
After a morning game drive through the national park, take to the waters of Lake Ihema. The largest of the park's lakes, this vast body of water lies to the south, pressed up against the Tanzanian border. Surrounded by beautiful acacia woodland, verdant savannah and birdlife-rich marshland, this sheltered lake is home large numbers of hippos, Nile crocodiles and migratory bird species. Non-migratory bird species include the rarely sighted shoebill stork, which, with luck, can be spotted here.


You will be staying at Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Full board

Day 7

Day of Game Drives
Spend a full day, accompanied by an expert guide, driving through the fascinating landscape of Akagera National Park, looking out for the wildlife that thrives here. The varied terrain is reflected in the species spotted here, with savannah areas rich in giraffes, impalas, waterbucks and other plains game. Whilst beside the numerous lakes that fill the park's valleys, the birdlife flourishes - hippos, elephants and crocodiles can all be found on the lakeshores and within the muddy waters.

On the other hand, the rock-strewn slopes are ideal leopard territory, although the park's cats are notoriously elusive and sightings can never be guaranteed. In mid-2015 lions were reintroduced, having been wiped out in the 1990s. Now, a small pride roams the park, becoming ever bolder as they acclimatise to their new home.


You will be staying at Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Full board

Day 8

Drive from Akagera to Kigali


Drive west to Kigali, a journey of approximately two hours.


Time to Explore Kigali
Today is more relaxed. Take a short tour of Kigali, including the moving Genocide Memorial, a number of local markets or if you prefer, head to a local restaurant for lunch (at own expense).

Fly Kigali to Nairobi

Fly Nairobi to London overnight

Day 9

Arrive into London Heathrow.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Virunga Lodge

Virunga Lodge

Sitting atop one of Rwanda's "thousand hills", Virunga Lodge has one of the most breath-taking views of any lodge in Africa....

View Accommodation

Ruzizi Tented Lodge

Ruzizi Tented Lodge

Perfectly located for exploring Akagera National Park, Ruzizi Tented Lodge is built on the shores of Lake Ihema....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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