7 Days Drive Gorilla Safari – Akagera National Park and Volcanoes National Park

Destination Overview

Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is located in the northeast of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes, of which the largest is Lake Ihema.

The rolling hills of Acacia and Brachystegia Woodland coupled with scattered grassland and swamp-fringed lakes along the meandering Akagera watercourse combine to create a park of breath-taking scenic beauty.

Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans)

In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest – the Virungas”.

Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Volcanoes National Park protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range – home of the rare mountain gorilla – and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath. The mysterious rainforest is alive with the calls of colourful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey and littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive populations of buffalo and elephant. The magnificent peaks are glimpsed through gaps in the forest canopy, easily accessible and among the highest in Africa, beckoning an ascent.

TOUR SUMMARY

  • This tour starts and ends in Kigali
  • You'll visit Akagera National Park & Volcanoes National Park
  • Activities: Gorilla tracking, Cultural Village Visit and Genocide Museum
  • Accommodation: Kigali Serena Hotel, Ruzizi Tented Lodge & Virunga Lodge

TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1: Kigali 

Upon arrival at Kigali international airport, you are met by a Great Lakes Safaris representative; you will be transferred to your hotel in Kigali, where you will have a briefing on your safari. Overnight at Kigali Serena Hotel (Bed and Breakfast).

Day 2: Kigali –   Akagera National Park

Have breakfast at your hotel; Take up a city tour of Kigali, including a visit to the Genocide Memorial site, a grim reminder of a senseless massacre of innocent’s lives in 1994. Learn about Rwanda’s history from pre-colonial times to the 1994 genocide; learn about other genocides globally and how this country has dealt with that past.

Tour more and see the new developments in Rwanda; the recovery has been incredible, a testament to humankind’s resilience. The history of Rwanda dates back centuries. Kigali has been a part of it for 100 years. Founded in 1907 as a German settlement, Kigali did not become the capital until Rwanda’s independence in 1962, when it replaced the colonial seat of power in Butare.

You will have lunch in Kigali; Then drive to Akagera National Park. Once you arrived, you will enjoy an afternoon game drive—dinner and overnight at Ruzizi Tented Lodge.

Day 3: Game drive– Boat ride

Today in the morning, depart to the park for a scenic game drive. The Akagera National Park is home to a variety of game, and it’s an exciting reserve in which to spend a few days and an exciting contrast to the more mountainous central and western parts of Rwanda. There are plenty of animals around, and the birdlife is quite exceptional.

Mammals include a healthy population of Elephant and Buffalo, lions, plus 11 species, including Impala, Common Duiker, Defassa Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Oribi, Tsessebe, Cape Eland and the rare Sable Antelope. Zebra and Giraffe still roam the more open acacia dotted plains.

In the afternoon, you will enjoy a boat ride on Lake Ihema, where you can catch sight of hippos and crocodiles. Dinner and overnight at Ruzizi Tented Lodge.

Day 4: Akagera National Park – Volcanoes National Park

Today you will exit the park with more game viewing and depart to Ruhengeri, the base for Gorilla trekking at the Parc National des Volcans.

Stop for lunch in Kigali; Afterwards, proceed to Ruhengeri. Ruhengeri town itself, located only 25 km from the Uganda border, is relatively a small city. The Town has excellent views of the surrounding volcanoes. People are amicable here, and although a former Belgian colony (and thus French-speaking), many people speak English here. Dinner and overnight at Virunga Lodge.

Day 5: Volcanoes National Park – Gorilla Trekking

Early breakfast at your lodge; 0600 hrs.: transfer to the Volcanoes National Park HQs 0700 hrs: Registration, where the park staff determines which group of gorillas you will visit. The park staff discusses your fitness level and advises you of the trekking times and conditions to the various groups based upon their location in the park the previous evening. There are 80 gorilla permits available each day, with a maximum of eight trekkers visiting any one group.

Once the trekkers are put into groups, each group’s Lead Guide briefs the trekkers of the trekking procedures and the “do’s and don’ts” while in the presence of gorillas. After the briefing, trekkers return to their respective vehicles to drive up the mountain to the starting point. Porters may be hired for the trek to carry your backpack and gear. The cost, US$10 per person/per day. We advise that you utilize this service.

Please remember to bring your passport for registration, appropriate, waterproof hiking boots and a light raincoat. To protect from stinging nettles, we recommend long pants and long-sleeved tops. A pair of old gardening gloves can help grab onto the vegetation, while most hotels/lodges provide a walking stick that comes in very handy, especially when hiking downhill.  A small waterproof backpack is an excellent idea to carry a light snack, bottled water as well as protection for your camera.

After the trek, join your driver-guide to transfer back to your lodge, dinner and overnight at Virunga Lodge.

Day 6: Volcanoes National Park – More Gorillas

Have an early breakfast at your lodge; 0600 hrs.; Transfer to the Volcanoes National Park’s Office to undergo the now-familiar gorilla trekking formalities. Then enter the forest for the second trek, visiting a different family from yesterdays. After the trek, rejoin your driver-guide to transfer to your lodge for dinner and overnight at Virunga Lodge.

Day 7: Volcanoes National Park – Kigali– Departure

Today you will enjoy the scenic drive back to Kigali and proceed to the airport for your departure flight.

Pricing

Number of Pax High season
(Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, 15Dec—28Feb)
Low season (1st Oct- 14Dec, 1 Mar-31 May)
Travelling with 1 pax US $ 11,845 US $ 7,981
Travelling with 2 pax US $ 8,729 US $ 6,072
Travelling with 3 pax US $ 8,234 US $ 5,520
Travelling with 4 pax US $ 7,958 US $ 5,279
Travelling with 5 pax US $ 7,797 US $ 5,152
Single Suppliment US $ 1,599 US $ 391
PRIMATES TRACKING PERMITS (to be added to the package) US $ 1,500 US $ 1,500

Package Inclusive:

  • Pick up and drop off at Kigali International Airport
  • Safari vehicle
  • All specified accommodation
  • Meals as described in the itinerary
  • Bottled mineral water in the safari vehicle
  • Activities and excursions mentioned in the program
  • Entrance fees and ranger fees for national parks
  • Evacuation insurance (AMREF - Flying Doctors)
  • English speaking driver-guide
  • 24/7 phone support

Package Exclusive:

  • International Flights
  • Visa (USD 50, available upon arrival)
  • Optional activities
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned above
  • Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzee Tracking and Permits
  • Items of personal nature
  • Souvenirs
  • Laundry service
  • Tips