8 Days Rwanda and Congo Safaris

8 Days Rwanda and Congo Safaris

This Safari takes you to the majestic Virunga, Africa’s oldest National Park. Here, you stand excellent chances of encountering both species of gorillas; the lowland and mountain gorillas. The cherry on the cake is a hike to Nyirangongo, an active volcano with a boiling lava lake!

Day 1:Kigali, Rwanda 

Arrive in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, check in at the Kigali Serena Hotel, a five-star hotel built around a polished granite atrium that showcases the very best of Rwanda’s cultural art. The hotel has everything a business traveler needs and wants: Resplendent rooms, extensive tropical gardens, relaxed & lavish menu, cozy spa & health club, a palatial swimming pool…

On arrival, you will receive a full briefing of your safari from our guide. After this brief starter, you will be left alone to relax in your room or enjoy the hotel’s inviting amenities, most of which are free of crowds.

Day 2:Kigali City Tour and transfer to Lake Kivu

After breakfast, visit the Kigali Genocide memorial museum, one of the museums that were established to commemorate the victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. This is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda. It honors the memory of the more than one million Rwandans killed in 1994. It takes a lot of strength and courage to experience this dark tour, but it is worth it. Its history and exhibits such as bones are well presented. You will leave feeling shaken, saddened and better informed about how this relatively small country has quickly recovered from its painful history. This recovery has been facilitated by education and peace-building.

After this enlightening tour, go for lunch at Hotel Des Mille Collines, that was featured in the Hollywood movie ’Hotel Rwanda’ in 2004. After lunch, depart Kigali and drive west, to Lake Kivu through the green rolling hills with fertile farms. After two and half hours’ drive, arrive at Lake Kivu Serena that sits on the shores of the Lake Kivu. It is a yogi still attraction in a convent quiet setting that boasts of pristine beaches. The welcoming open-plan lobby gives a private stretch of beach reserved exclusively the hotel guests. Enjoy the sundowner as the African sun brightens Kivu waters.

Day 3:Transfer to Bukavu

After breakfast, drive southwest through a remote and beautiful part of Rwanda and arrive at the DRC border of Cyangugu. Seek visa clearance before crossing into the town of Bukavu and subsequently to your lodge.

Bukavu is one of the most scenic towns in the whole of Congo, built over a number of hills protruding out into Lake Kivu. Be checked in at The Orchids Safari Club, a sleek and elegantly decorated hotel that offers a mixture of contemporary and traditional African styles. Bukavu features lakeshores dotted with faded colonial mansions, whose colorful gardens spill over into the lake. Watch fishermen casting their nets in the setting sun, as children play alongside mothers washing clothes in the shallow shores.

Day 4:Transfer to Kahuzi- Biega National Park

 Take an early breakfast and depart for Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Drive for one and a half hours past Lake Kivu shores into the forest that leads to the park headquarters. Dominated by two huge extinct volcanoes (Kahuzi and Beiga), Kahuzi-Biega National Park was founded in 1939 and later designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. The park is the last stronghold of the eastern lowland gorillas, numbering around 250 individuals with three habituated families.

The forest trails are usually frequented by elusive forest elephants and is also home to a high number of primates including Bosman’s potto, red tailed monkey and Angolan Black Monkeys. You will be welcomed and given a short briefing by the park rangers who will lead you into Kahuzi Biega Park to search for the eastern lowland gorillas. During the trek, park rangers will explain the family dynamics, and after finding the gorillas, spend an hour watching them feed and play before you retrace your steps back to the park headquarters and drive back to Bukavu for an overnight at The Orchids Safari Club.

Day 5:Transfer to Goma and Drive to Virunga National Park

After breakfast, take a three and a half hours’ luxury exclusive boat at the jetty in Bukavu. You will travel across northern shores of Lake Kivu to Goma where you will meet our guide. He will drive you to Virunga National Park through colorful traditional villages that are surrounded by patchwork fields of sorghum, wheat and maize clinging to hillsides. It overlooks rainforest valleys, Mikeno Lodge and rolling hills of Rwanda (in the background). Continue through a number of small settlements and towns, you then enter the main Virunga Park headquarters. Behind it sits Mikeno Lodge, your home away from home. It is a boutique accommodation of the 12 bungalows built out of solid lava stone and natural thatch, overlooking the forest. Large open fires in each room, help keeps the chill at bay. The wooden verandas outside each room and the main bar are the perfect place to watch the Colobus and Blue monkeys leaping in the trees above.

Day 6:Mountain Gorilla Tracking in Virunga National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage, Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park with a size of 7800 square kilometres (3000 square miles) includes forests, savannahs, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, active volcanoes and the glacial peaks of Rwenzori Mountains. It is also the only park in the world to have populations of three great ape species – the chimpanzee, the lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla. As you wander through the shadowy forests, you might find the Okapi, a beautiful and rare animal that looks quite like giraffes but is closely related to zebras. The forest walk also offers an exciting opportunity of comparing forest elephants to savannah elephants. Other pleasant surprises include large colonies of hippos, numerous rare birds and even lions.

Our main focus today is the endangered mountain gorillas. After an early breakfast, you will drive to the park offices which are one hour away from the lodge. This is where you will meet the park rangers who will give you a short briefing and lead the spirited search for Mountain Gorillas through the thick forest. You will walk in the shadow of Mt Mikeno, the second highest mountain in the Virunga Massive. Virunga is a high-altitude landscape which spreads across Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.

Once you find the gorilla group, spend one hour watching them feed, play and nurse their young ones. This is regarded as the most thrilling wildlife encounters. Return to Mikeno Lodge for a relaxed evening.

Day 7:Transfer to Mount Nyirangongo

Drive through a number of roadside markets dotting the edge of the forest, to Nyirangongo Park Headquarters. Here, you will pick the guide who will lead you on a hike of Nyirangongo a conical active volcano that rises to 3,470 metres above sea level. The adventure takes between four and six hours, passing through the volcano’s forested lower slopes, which are home to a variety of animals, including chimpanzees and numerous birds – all of which are slowly returning after previous eruptions.

Spend a night Nyirangongo Summit Shelters. The huts here have sensational views of the crater rim. You will witness its fiery lava as it glows and boils in the darkness. The full moon adds a spectacle drama to the vast plains below.

Day 8:Transfer to Kigali and Depart. 

Have an early breakfast and descend Nyirangongo and drive to Goma border point for Rwanda border and transfer to Kigali ahead of your departing flight.

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