Day 1: Arrival to Kigali
Welcome to the land of a thousand hills! This small but scenically stunning country is thus known for its endless rolling green hills, which you will experience on your fly-over to Kigali International Airport.
At the airport you will be greeted by your Matoke Tours guide and driven to your hotel in a quiet leafy street in the heart of down-town Kigali. Over a complimentary drink by the hotel’s pool bar your guide will brief you on the details of your upcoming adventure.
If time allows, you are free to explore the city today. Your guide can take you on a city tour or visit the craft markets to browse amongst the pottery, carvings, batik, weaving, musical instruments, leather and fabrics on offer. Prepare to use your haggling skills!
||The Retreat by Heaven
Day 2: Visit Genocide Memorial & Travel to Nyungwe Forest
If you get an early start today there will be time to visit the Genocide Memorial in town before setting off to Nyungwe Forest. The Genocide Memorial is a place of commemoration for the 250,000 victims buried in mass graves in the area and an important remembrance of the unfathomable brutality of the 1994 genocide. The exhibit is an intensely emotional experience but also an educational one, where you will learn about the darkest hour in Rwanda’s recent history.
On your drive out west today, you will be passing through the town of Butare, about 135km from Kigali. Here you can visit Butare National Museum displaying a range of ethnographic objects that will give you an insight into the rich traditional life and culture of the country.
At the end of the day you will reach Nyungwe Forest National Park, one of the world’s oldest and arguably Africa’s most beautiful rainforest. The forest is incredibly biodiverse with 13 known primate species in residence, from colobus monkeys, mangabeys, blue monkeys and, of course, our nearest relatives, the chimpanzees.
Nyungwe Forest is also famous among the birding community who come to spot some of the 310 bird species recorded here, 26 of which are endemic to Rwanda.
You will have plenty of time to explore the interior of the forest tomorrow.
Day 3: Chimpanzee Tracking & Canopy Walk (optional)
Today you will venture deep into Nyungwe Forest National Park in search of the chimpanzees.
On a Chimpanzee Tracking experience in Nyungwe Forest you will have the opportunity to follow an experienced guide into the forest to observe these fascinating creatures at a close range. Watching them interact with each other and go about their daily routine of grooming, playing and foraging is an incredible experience.
While your chances of encountering chimpanzees are high during your tracking excursion, it is never 100% guaranteed. These are, after all, wild animals with wills and minds of their own!
From the trails below the foliage you will now head up high into the forest canopy on one of East Africa’s first canopy walks. The network of suspension bridges will lead you on a 1.5 hour walk over a deep gorge, through beautiful and lush vegetation and difference animal habitats.
The canopy walk is an optional activity. Should you want to spend your afternoon enjoying the luxurious comforts of the lodge or doing one of the complimentary activities on offer there, just let your guide know in advance.
Day 4: Volcanoes National Park
If you think after Nyungwe Forest that Rwanda can’t get any more scenic, you haven’t seen Volcanoes National Park. The national park contains parts of the Virunga mountain range and its 5 volcanoes that form the border between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Besides being one of the most scenic sights in Africa, the park is also the gateway to face-to-face encounters with the iconic mountain gorillas.
While the main draw of visiting Volcanoes NP is to see the real gorillas in the mist, there are other fantastic activities to experience here like, tracking excursions to find the rare golden monkeys, spectacular volcano hikes and a visit to the Dian Fossey research center. Speak with your Travel Consultant if you would like to extend your stay in the park for an additional day to include one or more of these activities.
||Sabinyo Silverback Lodge
||Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional lodge upgrade: Bisate Lodge
Located in the natural amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, with dramatic views of the peaks of the Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes, Bisate Lodge is one of Rwanda’s first genuinely luxurious and eco-sensitive safari lodges. Six opulent en-suite forest villas maximise comfort and views while adhering to environmentally responsible principles and reflecting the rich culture of rural Rwanda.
Ask your Travel Consultant for a quote for this lodge upgrade.
Day 5: Gorilla Tracking
Encountering the rare and endangered mountain gorillas is an experience of a lifetime.
In the company of an experienced park ranger you will be tracking the whereabouts of one of the habituated family groups who live in the park and can tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day.
Your gorilla tracking experience will be an exciting, yet challenging, journey along forested (sometimes muddy and slippery) slopes, tangled vines, thick vegetation and bamboo forests before you reach the territory of these gentle giants. En-route, your ranger will point out telltale signs of previous gorilla activity like dung, nests and chewed bamboo shoots. Depending on the location of the gorillas on any given day the walk can take anything from 1 to 7 hours. Once the family of gorillas have been located, settle in to the environment and enjoy the hour you have to quietly observe these fascinating primates whose habits and mannerisms remind us so much of our own.
Encountering the mountain gorillas in the wild is a truly humbling and emotional experience, one that you are sure to remember for the rest of your life.
Day 6: Transfer back to Kigali and flight to Nairobi
Enjoy your last morning in the rainforest today. You will have some time to relax in the morning and enjoy the lodge and its surroundings. After lunch at the lodge your guide will drive you back to Kigali for your departure flight to Nairobi.
Departure: 7.20 PM
Arrival: 9.50 PM
On arrival at Jomo Kenyatta international airport a Matoke Tours representative will be waiting to pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel for the night.
Optional extension: Safari in Akagera National Park
Rwanda is mainly known for its abundance of primate species, but did you know that you can combine your trip with a wildlife safari in Akagera National Park? The park is located in the north-eastern part of the country, near the border with Tanzania, and only a 5-hour drive from Volcanoes National Park.
The park has a variety of wildlife and is a habitat for over 500 different species of birds. On a game drive in the park you may see herds of elephant and buffalo emerge from the woodland to drink at the lakes, and if you are lucky, maybe even leopard, spotted hyena or lions. Over the past couple of years several black rhinos have been re-introduced to the park after having been made extinct in 2007. That officially makes Rwanda a Big 5 country again!
If interested ask your Travel Consultant to add two nights in Akagera NP to your tour.
Rwanda on the fly
Want to experience Rwanda but limit your time in a car? Daily scheduled helicopter flights are now available connecting Kigali to Nyungwe Forest, Volcanoes National Park and Akagera National Park. Ask your Travel Consultant for prices to include one or more flights to your program.
Day 7: Flight to Masai Mara & Game Drive
In the early morning you will be picked up at the hotel and taken to Wilson Airport, the hub for all domestic safari flights.
Your flight with Mombasa Air Safari will take you on a 1-hour scenic journey to the famous Masai Mara. If you are in search for the Big 5, you came to the right place. The Masai Mara has excellent year round animal concentration and is known for its short-grass savannah plains, making wildlife spotting all the better.
Departure: 10.00 AM
Arrival: 11.00 AM
A 4wd vehicle from Neptune Mara Rianta will be waiting for you at the airfield to take you on an en-route game drive to the camp.
Nestled in the heart of the exclusive Masai Mara North Conservancy, the 20 luxury tents of the camp are directly overlooking the Mara River, which winds through the camp with gentle flowing waters that attract an abundance of wildlife and large pods of hippos.
After lunch at the lodge you will be taken on a private game drive to explore the wonders of the Masai Mara.
The region has a high concentration of wildlife and you will have the chance to encounter many different species of the animal kingdom as well as marvel at the stunning landscapes that you pass along the way. Keep your eyes open for prides of lion, hyenas, and if you're lucky, you might even spot a rhino. On the vast savannah plains you will cross paths with giraffes, impalas and other antelopes, while on the shores of the Mara River you might find elephants, buffalos and the impressively large Nile crocodiles.
||1 hr Domestic flight
Neptune Mara Rianta Luxury Camp
||Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 8: Full day game drive in Masai Mara
Sunrise is a great time for wildlife spotting as animals tend to be the most active during the “golden hours”, when the first rays of sunshine come to rest on the savannah. Few predators hunt during the heat of the day, so the early morning is the best time to observe the thrill of the chase, or at least the aftermath of a hunt.
For your safari adventure today you can decide if you want to take a packed lunch for a full day private game drive or come back to the camp for a hot lunch before returning to the bush in the afternoon.
||Depending on game drive
Neptune Mara Rianta Luxury Camp
||Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Want to go on a Hot Air Balloon Safari?
A hot air balloon safari launches in the early morning, just in time for sunrise. For about one hour you will be floating peacefully above the ground, with a bird’s eye view of the African bush below. The capacity for this activity is limited making this a very special and exclusive experience. Please note that this activity is weather dependent and may need to be rescheduled due to poor weather.
The additional cost for this optional activity is USD 490 per person.
Day 9: Morning game drive & flight to Nairobi
Enjoy your last African sunrise today as you take in the sights and sounds of nature all around you. If you rise early you will have time to join other guests for a short morning game drive before you bid your farewell of this beautiful corner of the world.
After a hearty breakfast a driver from the camp will take you to the airstrip in time for your return flight to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. A Matoke Tours representative will be waiting at the other side to transfer you to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in time for your international flight home.
Please note that your international flight must depart after 3 PM. If you need an extra night in Nairobi please let your Travel Consultant know and we will make arrangements for you at an additional cost.
||1 hr domestic flight
For more information about the rates and conditions, click here.