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Rwanda land of a thousand hills: is a small but stunningly beautiful country in Central Africa; track Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys, hike a Volcano and encounter Rwandan Culture in Volcanoes National Park and Ruhengeri; Nyungwe rain-forest National Park is a nature lover’s paradise; Birding tours, Track habituated Colobus Monkeys, Forest Hikes, track Chimpanzees in Cyamudongo and enjoy the Canopy Walk; Akagera National Park promises big game including elephants, lions, buffaloes and stunning landscape while Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu resort towns sit on the beautiful Lake Kivu.

GOD ROAMS THE WORLD, AND RESTS IN RWANDA!

Rwanda, land of a thousand hills is a small but stunningly beautiful country in the heart of Africa, her dominant feature being the milliard fertile green and beautifully terraced hills scattered all over the country.

Track Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, or the habituated Golden Monkeys; or enjoy a day long guided hike up one of the volcanoes in this beautiful national park. Tour Ibyi’Iwacu cultural village or join your Guide on a town tour of Ruhengeri including the local market where you meet, mix and mingle with the local people. Nyungwe rain-forest National Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Birding tours, Tracking large troops of habituated Angola colobus Monkeys, enjoy regular guided forest hikes down the valleys to water-falls, track Chimpanzees or get your adrenalin pumped on the Canopy Walk, the only one in East and Central Africa. Cultural interaction tours to some of the local tea plantations can also be organised. Akagera National Park is big game country with elephants, newly-introduced lions, buffaloes and milliard other plains game amid her stunning landscape with so many water bodies. and there is a speed boat on Lake Ihema. On the beautiful Lake Kivu, Africa’s 6th largest lake and methane filled, the resort towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu beckon a beach stay for leisure and relaxation. Enjoy guided town tours with your guide to meet and mingle with local Rwandans.

Kigali has become a tourism attraction of her own, a smart African city, reputedly the cleanest on the continent with her wide boulevards and nice flowered pavements. enjoy dining out in her numerous nice local restaurants including Republika (local flavor with a continental twist), Zen (oriental), Heaven Restaurant (American), Bourbon Coffee and many more. On a city tour of Kigali, you will stop at the Kigali genocide Memorial Centre; although obviously a moving experience, it is a part of our recent history and really helps put everything else into perspective. NB: it is a well planned and organized memorial and nobody should feel deterred from visiting. As you tour other parts of the city, you will see just how incredible the recovery has been – a true testament to mankind’s resilience in the face of unfathomable odds.

But by far the most amazing thing about Rwanda is encountering her people, Rwandans themselves, certainly some of the most beautiful, gracious and charming anywhere in the world and hospitable to a fault, their ancient culture repackaged for the 21st century and still being practiced; it is they that always leave the longest lasting mark.

Ikaze mu Rwanda/Welcome to Rwanda, in the heart of Africa.

All non-Rwandan Foreign Non-Residents, except the nationals of a few exempted countries, require a visa to enter Rwanda. Nationals of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Hong Kong, Kenya, Mauritius, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda and Singapore are allowed to enter Rwanda without a visa for a period not exceeding 90 days.

Effective 1st June 2015 Single entry tourist visa for Rwanda increased from US$ 30 to US$ 50 per person. Visas have to be applied for online via the Rwanda Immigration website.

Kindly note that some countries’ nationals who were previously exempted from paying Visa Fees are no longer exempted and are now required to pay for Visa Fees however they are allowed to obtain visa upon arrival at Kigali International Airport – affected countries include: Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA).

Nationals of all African countries not exempt from visa fees shall continue to obtain visa at all points of entry (Kigali International Airport and all border entry points).

All other persons are advised to obtain a Visa from the Rwandan Embassy/High Commission nearest to them before commencing their journey to Rwanda.

Where there is no Rwandan Embassy/High Commission in their vicinity persons are allowed to apply online at https://www.migration.gov.rw/online_visa/ for a special pre-entry facilitation letter. Applicants are required to attach an invitation letter from the persons hosting them while in Rwanda addressed to the Director General, department of immigration. We are the ones that normally write such a letter for guests who need visas. Persons know their application was successful when upon their online submission they receive on their supplied email address a tracking number by which they can make follow up.

They then wait for a Visa Acceptance Letter from the Director General, Rwanda Department of Immigration which they use as the official travel document to Rwanda. This normally takes no more than four working days. Upon arrival at the designated port of entry, visitors present their Visa Acceptance Letter, pay the due visa fees and the Visa stamp embossed on their passports. Visas are otherwise not automatically issued at any port of entry unless authorized in advance as above. The Department of Immigration has made this very clear.

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VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK (PNV)
Volcanoes National Park (PNV) is the Rwanda section of the great Virunga Volcanoes, a rainforest range of 8 volcanic mountains including the still active Nyiragongo and Nyakagezi in DR Congo, which sits on the borders triangle between Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. They are home to the rare and critically endangered Mountain Gorillas (gorilla beringei beringei) of which only approx. 800 members remain in the world! Volcanoes National Park encompasses 5 of the 8 volcanoes including Sabyinyo, Muhabura, Gahinga, Bisoke and Karisimbi.

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
Mountain Gorillas inspire great curiosity and interest in humans due to their being such massive and powerful wild animals that genetically, socially and physically so closely resemble humans. Gorillas can weigh up to 250kgs, grow twice as big as a man and be 8 times as powerful. They are also very rare (with only approx. 800 of them remaining in their wild world in the Virunga Mountains and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in central Africa) and listed in the IUCN red-list of critically endangered species. They are therefore a huge tourist attraction.

HABITUATION
Gorillas live in families of few to 40 members headed by a dominant male, a silverback, often with several females and their young of different ages. To facilitate visits by tourists, selected whole families are taken through a controlled scientific training process called habituation after which they can tolerate the presence of humans in their vicinity for short controlled periods of time. There are 10 habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park each residing in a different section of the various volcanoes. Each gorilla family can be visited by a maximum of 8 persons per day, accompanied by a specialist Gorilla tracking guide and an armed ranger.

GORILLA TRACKING
Gorilla tracking involves an exhilarating hike up and down ridges and valleys in a mountain forest sometimes in wet, muddy and rainy conditions which can be difficult however no one should feel deterred from doing it; an average level of fitness normally sufficient for the excursion and assistance is always available from porters and cooperative. Once we come to the gorillas, visitors are requested to maintain a distance of 7m (25feet) from the gorillas and allowed the magical chance of staying with them for one hour as they go about their daily life; it is an unforgettable and potentially life changing experience.
NB: Although the gorillas are habituated, they are still wild animals – please be sure to follow your guide’s instructions at all times.

NYUNGWE RAINFOREST NATIONAL PARK
Nyungwe rainforest National Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Chimpanzee tracking, the only Canopy Walk in east and central Africa, track habituated families of Angola Colobus Monkeys, Bird Walks, regular guided Forest Hikes down the valleys to waterfalls below, visit the reputed furthest source of River Nile (only possible from Kibuye on the other side of the park) or enjoy a Cultural Interaction visiting one of the local tea plantations where you meet and mingle with the local people.

AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
It is amazingly scenic big game country barely 2.5hrs from Kigali – Elephants, Buffaloes, Antelopes, Nile crocodiles and Hippos  as well as boat rides on Lake Ihema; and the icing on the cake is: lions have just been re-introduced!!

GISENYI, KIBUYE & CYANGUGU
Enjoy beach-time on the resort towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye or Cyangugu sitting on the shores of the incredibly beautiful Lake Kivu – one of the African great lakes and the sixth largest lake in Africa. The former two towns are on the border with DR Congo – Rwandan towns are so well organized, spotless cleaned, and enjoying excellent weather. Enjoy cultural tours, guided town tours on foot or by car, visit historical sites and meet.mingle with local Rwandans. You can even swim in Lake Kivu – no bilharzia.

KIGALI
Kigali is Rwanda’s stunning capital city and the main gateway into the country as well as her tourism hub. It is reputedly the cleanest and safest city in East and Central Africa and is home to many world class hotels including Kigali Serena Hotel and the famed Hotel des Mille Collines. Join your guide on a sightseeing tour around her wide boulevards, samples the many specialty restaurants and tour the Kigali Memorial Centre for a perspective on the recent history but the recovery has been utterly phenomenal – a true testament to humankind’s resilience.

UMUGANDA
IMG-20150913-WA0002In Rwanda, every last Saturday of the month from 08.30am to 12.00 pm is Umuganda; a time when all Rwandans of all walks of life step away from their personal daily chores and come together within their neighborhoods to participate/work together in the traditional community service. Activities normally include sweeping the roads, clearing sidewalks/bushes, unblocking drains, clearing new fallow ground, repairing or building neighborhood schools and hospitals, visiting and assisting the needy, and so on.  Whilst participation is now mandatory, people have over time developed a voluntary desire to be part of this activity that has made Rwanda one of the cleanest, best organized, and most beautiful countries in the region and earned them so much global adulation and respected. Traffic is restricted during this period and although most common tourist activities like gorilla tracking, game viewing drives, rain-forest hikes, chimpanzee tracking, etc, continue unhindered, certain other more public activities/places like museums, memorial centers, public libraries, shops, malls, businesses, remain closed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

PLASTIC BAGS
Rwanda is one of the first countries in Africa to effectively ban the use of low grade plastic bags as defined by the united Nations Environment Program. Visitors arriving at the airport with plastic bags carriers may have them confiscated and be issued with alternative higher grade plastic or khaki bags. We support this cause and encourage other governments around the world to adopt because it is best for the global environment as well as cleanliness.

KWITIZINA GORILLA NAMING CEREMONY
Kwita-Izina, the wildly popular Gorilla Naming Ceremony is held every year around June and focuses on the conservation of mountain gorillas as well as overall environmental conservation and consciousness.

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The Best of Rwanda

Day 1
Arrive at Kigali International Airport Met and transferred into downtown Kigali tor a City Tour including the Kigali Memorial Center and Crafts Centers.
After lunch at a local restaurant, drive north to Volcanoes National Park (115kms/2½hrs) and arrive at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge early evening with time to relax before dinner and overnight

Day 2
Arise early for breakfast then at 06.30hrs: transfer to the National Park Headquarters where participants put into groups of 8, allocated a gorilla family and a specialist Tracking Guide.
0700hrs briefing by your guide then drive to the trail head from where the trekking begins as your guide leads you first through local homesteads and small scale pyrethrum farms then into the national and up the volcanoes through interspersed bamboo forest and grassland until you find the gorillas.
Upon sighting the gorillas guests are allowed to stay with them for one amazing and unforgettable hour as they go about their daily life – sleeping, climbing, playing, feeding and raising their young; the hour is always over too soon and then you hike back down to rejoin your driver/guide and transfer back to your lodge for a needed shower and lunch .
In the afternoon, join your guide on a tour to the Ibyi’Iwacu ex-Poachers for a Rwandan cultural experience including music and dance, kingship, traditional medicine.
ex-Poachers village is an award winning conservation initiative where former poachers were convinced to cease their destructive ways and instead come together to form this replica of a Rwandan traditional village where the show case Rwandan culture and customs and earn a living as conservationists.
Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 3
Today you return to the forest for a Golden Monkeys Tracking experience before returning  back to lodge for lunch.
In the afternoon lunch drive to Gisenyi on the shores it the magnificent Lake Kivu and check in at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel for overnight – dinner is under own arrangements

Day 4
After breakfast, embark on a scenic and leisurely all-day drive to Nyungwe Forest National Park with lunch en- route in Kibuye. You will arrive at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel early evening in time for dinner and overnight.

Day 5
After breakfast, transfer to the park headquarters for your guided Colobus Monkeys Tracking excursion visiting of one the habituated families of Angola Colobus Monkeys in this stunning rainforest; some families can be as large as 400 members!!
After lunch at the lodge (or picnics in the forest), enjoy the adrenalin pumping Nyungwe Canopy Walk excursion; with a specialist guide on the swaying 200m long bridge elevated across a valley over the forest canopy and almost 70m high at the deepest point of the valley. From its vantage point, one can enjoy splendid and extensive views across most of the forest even to Lake Kivu on a clear day as well as see some unique canopy features and creatures including flowers, insects, monkeys and other small mammals as well as birds – it is the only one of its kind in east and central Africa.

You will return to the lodge in time for a refreshing shower, dinner and overnight.

Day 6
After breakfast, return to the forest for a 3hrs guided Forest Hike up and down Nyungwe’s valleys and ridges with a specialist botanical Guide who will tell you lots about the forest itself as well as the trees, flowers, plants and the wildlife .
Spend the afternoon at leisure to enjoy the hotel’s facilities or tour to one or the nearby tea plantations to meet and mingle with the local people; Rwandans are not only absolutely charming, they also have incredible stories of their culture and customs. As well as their country’s rebirth from the ashes and the incredible recovery the country has undergone.
Dinner and overnight at the lodge

Day 7
After a leisurely breakfast, check out and drive to Kigali.
En-route, you will stop at the university town of Butare, the colonial capital of Rwanda and tour the Rwanda National Museum which is reputedly one of the best ethnographic museums in east Africa.
After lunch at a local restaurant, proceed north to Nyanza, the pre-colonial capital of Rwanda and currently the cultural heart of Rwanda. Tour the Royal Palace Museum and learn about Rwanda’s pre-colonial history, culture, kings and systems of governance. At the adjacent Rwesero museum, tour the house of the last King of Rwanda that he never got to live in as well as his tomb and that of his queen (both killed, but at different times he just before independence and she during the 1994 genocide!!).
Afterwards, drive on north to Kigali arriving early evening to check in at Lemigo Hotel for overnight – dinner under own arrangements; your driver will be on standby and may take you out dining at one of Kigali’s nice local and specialty restaurants

Day 8
Breakfast at the hotel and thereafter transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
URUGENDO RUHIRE

 

GORILLA TRACKING GUIDELINES
Gorilla tracking entails hiking long distances in steep and sometimes wet and muddy conditions with rain overhead. Although it can be difficult and a reasonable degree of fitness is required, no one should feel discouraged from taking the hike; we have had even elderly people successfully doing the trek. For the best experience, participants are advised to pace themselves, and follow your guide’s advice at all times.

Remember to bring the following:

  1. Your Gorilla Tracking Permit
    One cannot be allowed to track without a permit.
  2. Your valid passport for registration, the park authorities insist on it.
  3. A light raincoat or poncho.
    Being a rain forest, one can expect rain or shine at any time or day.
  4. Good hiking boots, preferably gators, with a good traction
  5. A walking stick.
    The park offers a rudimentary one but guests prefer an own one.
  6. A pair of Gardening Gloves helps with grasping on wet vegetation.
  7. Long pants and long sleeved shirt to protect from stinging nettles.
  8. Your Camera
  9. A waterproof bag for your camera equipment
  10. Bottled mineral water and light snacks to much along the way

While on the trek, always follow your Guide’s instruction

Gorillas, a critically endangered species, are susceptible to human illnesses. If you are sick with a cold or flu, do notify your guide and not go on the gorilla tracking.

Upon Sighting the Gorillas:

  1. Always maintain a distance of 7m/21feet from the gorillas
  2. Participants are allowed to stay with the gorillas for a maximum of one hour.
  3. Although they are habituated, gorillas are still wild animals not domestic pets
    Keep your distance.
    Do not try to touch them even if they touch you.
    Always follow your guide’s instructions.
  4. If you need to sneeze or cough, face away and cover your nostrils.
  5. Flash photography disturbs the gorillas and is strictly disallowed.

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