Uraho, and welcome to Kigali. The ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’, Rwanda is a place of sweeping majesty, boasting dramatic volcanoes and imposing mountain peaks, dense bamboo forests and shimmering lakes. Beyond its extraordinary biodiversity, the country’s warm hospitality makes Rwanda a beloved destination for many.
Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport (KGL), meet your tour representative and transfer to the magnificent Governor’s Residence to check-in. This palatial hotel is an elegant taste of tranquillity in the country’s vibrant capital and the perfect launchpad for your Rwandan adventure. Settle in by the pool and admire the stunning view.
After a hearty breakfast, depart for the spellbinding beauty of Volcanoes National Park. Bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the park is named for the mighty Virunga volcanoes that populate this magnificent mountain range. One of Africa’s most enchanting national parks, Volcanoes National Park is one of the only natural habitats for the endangered mountain gorilla and golden monkey. This mountainous region offers a network of stunningly beautiful hiking trails, mirror-surfaced lakes and soaring peaks.
Disembark from your comfortable 4WD safari vehicle and experience plush comfort amongst the trees when you check into Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel – the ideal anchor to your fantastical primate pilgrimage.
Wake to the promise of adventure and fill up with breakfast, then set out on a trek through the verdant rainforest in search of the legendary mountain gorillas. Hike across an open savannah, through hilly bamboo groves and dense cloud forest, listening for your expert guide’s signal. With quiet humility, the chance to watch these gentle giants is an unfathomably moving experience. Learn each gorilla’s name – gifted in the yearly Kwita Izina tradition practised by local conservationists – and hear about their critically endangered status.
With less than 100 people permitted each day, witnessing the majestic mountain gorilla is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that cannot be overstated.
Prepare for a day of more monkey magic with a refreshing early breakfast, then meet your ranger guide for a briefing and the drive to your trailhead. Enter the deep rainforests of the surrounding Virunga Mountains. Often found swinging on bamboo or casually lounging in the shade, the golden monkey is a playful resident seen only by a select few visitors each day. Follow your guide on a trek to their favourite haunts, tracking the golden monkeys through the leftover bamboo shoots they enjoy eating. Once you’ve caught up, you’ll have an hour to spend observing these curious creatures as they leap from tree to tree, using their long tails for balance. Admire their prominent golden fur coat and cherubic cheeks, taking a moment to reflect on your exclusive experience with these Rwandan wilds.
In the afternoon, take to the water on a canoe ride of River Mukungwa. Running along the nearby foothills, this is an excellent opportunity to uncover the region’s abundant birdlife, active otters, grand views and friendly communities.
After breakfast, embark across the country to the eastern landscapes and natural grandeur of Akagera National Park. Bordering Tanzania, Akagera National Park is Central Africa’s largest protected wetland, stretching across low-lying mountains and vast savannah. Home to the 'Big Five' safari animals, there’s the chance to spot the robust rhino, sleek leopard, proud lion, thoughtful elephant and hardy buffalo, all in one breathtaking locale. Check-in at your Game Lodge and gather your energy for an exciting itinerary in the morning.
Start your day with a sumptuous farm-to-plate breakfast, then set out to again explore the sprawling wilderness of Akagera National Park. Cruise the placid waters of Lake Ihema and watch for the elusive crocodile, mesmerising zebra and commanding hippopotamus, as well as myriad waterbirds.
In the evening, retire to your beautifully appointed accommodation and soak up the serenity.
After an early breakfast, it’s time to make the cross-country journey back to the lively streets of Kigali. Check-in once more at the Governor’s Residence, then spend your afternoon discovering the city’s highlights on a fascinating guided tour, visiting vibrant gardens, expansive markets and the profoundly moving Kigali Genocide Memorial, commemorating the 1994 civil war and the genocide of more than half a million Tutsi people that followed. Take the time to reflect on this tragic history.
Continue to Nyamirambo Women’s Centre – a Rwandan community-based organisation launched in 2007 by eighteen local women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Collectively, they created a project aimed at addressing gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination, working to empower women through development and employment. This mission has seen Nyamirambo Women’s Centre offer free classes in literacy, basic computer skills, handicrafts and sewing, women’s rights and health, as well as training on responsible community-based tourism. Take the chance to learn about the daily life of the local community and meet the talented people behind this long-running and critical initiative.
For those seeking a taste of the city’s artistic culture, head to the Inema Arts Centre to glimpse the tradition of painting, sculpture and modern dance, or spend the day admiring the city’s fascinating Museum of Natural History, housed in the former home of famous psychiatrist-explorer Richard Kandt – known for discovering the Rwandan source of the Nile River.
With golden glimpses of wildlife and mountain memories to last a lifetime, this morning you’ll say goodbye to the beauty of the Rwandan wilderness as you transfer to Kigali International Airport (KGL), where your journey concludes.