On arrival at Kigali Airport you are met by our local representatives. You must arrive in Kigali before 1pm. If your flight does not arrive before 1pm, you need to arrive one day earlier and book one night's pre-tour accommodation as well as an arrival transfer (both at additional cost). Please make sure you've read the visa information for Rwanda on your pre-departure information before you depart as you're required to apply for your visa before arrival. On arrival visit the Genocide Museum, which was opened in 2004 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Whilst the genocide occurred as a result of a complex series of factors, it can only be seen as an absolute tragedy to Rwanda and its people. Time spent at the museum is sure to be emotionally moving, but it is an important way to understand the sheer courage and resilience of the people of this beautiful, tiny nation. Afterwards drive through the verdant rolling hills of Rwanda as you head towards the gorillas. Our accommodation is located in the Kinigi region, approximately 17km from Musanze town (formerly Ruhengeri). The lodge is nestled on the scenic lower slopes of Sabinyo Volcano - one of five volcanoes located in the Parc National des Volcans. The small Rwandan town of Ruhengeri is the gateway to Volcanoes National Park, one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the mountain gorilla.
This morning we have a very early start driving to the park headquarters where we are briefed on our gorilla trek by the guides of Parc National des Volcans. This 13,000 hectare national park protects the Rwandan sector of the Virunga Mountains and include a range of six extinct and three active volcanoes that straddle the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bamboo forest is interspersed with alpine moorland, grassland and marshland. In this park, there are ten different gorilla families This region is one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the mountain gorilla. No more than eight per day can visit any one habituated family and visits are strictly controlled to minimise the possibility of disturbance or transmission of disease to the animals. Tracking gorillas in the dense forest can sometimes be wet, muddy and uncomfortable. The terrain is by no means easy either, so it can be pretty strenuous and often humid, but the sheer thrill in coming across a habituated group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, more than outweighs any difficulty. You need to be prepared and fit enough to walk up to 4 hours - up and down hill, as it may take anything between 40 minutes and four hours to reach our designated gorilla family. The trackers have already set out and located the gorilla family by the time we start our trek, so our actual time of walking can usually be predicted when we set off. We can get very close to the mountain gorillas, who are placid and gentle, and watching their movements is like seeing a mirror image of yourself. Your visit with the gorillas will last one unforgettable hour. As lunch can only be taken upon return to the hotel, it is recommended that you bring a few snacks to keep you going throughout the morning. At the end of the day the comforts of the hotel beckon, along with a chance to reflect on what is sure to be a truly memorable day.
Today is a day of various trekking options. You may choose to visit another gorilla family or see the rare golden monkey. These options must be pre-booked and confirmed at time of purchase of the main tour, in order to ensure availability. Gorilla trekking permits in particular can be booked out many months in advance. For those who loved the book and/or movie 'Gorilla's in the Mist', the Dian Fossey Trek is a good option. Over the course of the morning you follow in Dian Fossey's footsteps on our way to her grave, as well as the graves belonging to many poached gorillas including famous Digit. You are guided around the area where Old Karisoke Research Station was set up by a park guide. Although very little of the station remains, the setting is incredible and one can imagine the incredible life that Dian Fossey led in these isolated mountains. For a more leisurely but equally unique experience, trekking in search of golden monkeys is highly recommended. In June 2003 the nationals parks department first allowed permits to walk the trails in search of these rare and engaging primates. This walk takes you to the edge of the forest and watching these unique monkeys play and interact is a mesmerising experience. Please note that the roads leading to both of the above treks are not in the best of conditions, so be prepared for rough and bumpy rides! Please note the prices of these optionals are not inclusive of transport costs to and from the activity. We then travel back to Kigali late in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). Dinner tonight is at your own expense and can be enjoyed at one of the many good nearby restaurants.
Rwanda's capital, Kigali, is a great place to explore on foot - from its market areas to the infamous Hotel Rwanda. This morning we are taken on a city tour of Kigali before then being transferred to Kigali International Airport, arriving there about midday. Any additional post-tour accommodation in Kigali or individual departure transfers are not included and must be pre-booked. Please note that your international departure flights from Kigali today should not be booked to depart before 1pm.