Rwanda Discovery + Akagera NP
Discover the land of thousand hills!

The private trip will not only bring you to the three National Parks of Rwanda but will also explore the unique sceneries of Lake Kivu and highlight some unique cultural aspects of Rwanda life. The itinerary is identical as the scheduled Classic Uganda + Akagera. However  it's designed for private parties and offered with a larger choice of accommodation.

Tour Includes: Airport transfers,accommodation, all meals, plenty of mineral water, the services of a driver-guide, all park and entry fees, all activities as per programme: visit of Kigali including the Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi, visit of the national Museum at Huye (Butare), performance of the Intore dancers, visit of the Tin Smith (Huye), all guided primates walks in Nyungwe, visit of the Iby'Iwacu traditional village , 1 gorilla trekking. It excludes: Airline ticket, beverages, tips, visas and personal expenses.

Options at extra cost: boat trip Kibuye-Gisenyi, second gorilla trekking, climbing the Bisoke (3.711 m), visit of the Dian Fossey grave and former Karisoke centre, visit of the golden monkeys. 

Duration : 12 Days
Travelstyles : Tailor-made, Road Safaris, Lodge Safaris
Activities :  Bird Watching, Chimpanzee Trekking, Cultural Activities, Gorilla Trekking, Guided Nature Walks & Hikes., Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Akagera National Park, Genocide Memorial Centre - Gisozi & others, Huye (Butare) and the National Museum, Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village - Volcanoes NP, Lake Kivu, Nyungwe Forest NP., Volcanoes National Park


Day 1 : Arrival at Kigali

Murakaza neza mu Rwanda! (Welcome to Rwanda!) Meet and greet at Kigali International Airport by your Magic safari driver-guide. You will be transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time and your personal programme, your driver-guide may propose you a visit of Kigali city which includes the Genocide Memorial centre at Gisozi.

Flights: There are daily flights to Kigali out of Nairobi with Kenya Airways and Rwandair Express. Brussels Airlines has direct flights out of Brussels, Ethiopian Airlines has flight from Addis Ababa. 

Accommodation : Hotel Chez Lando (***), Laico Umubano (***), Milles Collines (****), Ninzi Hotel (**), Serena - Kigali (*****)

Day 2 : Kigali - Huye (Butare) - Nyungwe Forest NP.

After breakfast you will depart for Huye (Butare) the second largest city of Rwanda and is regarded as the intellectual city of Rwanda. It hosts the National Museum, several academic (University) and research institutions.

On your way to Huye (Butare) you will visit Nyanza (currently Nyabisindu) the former Mwami's palace (King's palace) and the seat of the feudal monarchy. The palace has been reconstructed to its 19th century state and shows a traditional dome that can be compared with the Kabaka's palace of Buganda.

You will visit the National Museum in Huye which is one the well set-up if not the finest ethnographic museum of East Africa. It's a good source of information on the cultural history of Rwanda and the region.

After the visit of the museum you will have a spectacular performance of the Urugangazi group of Intore-dancers. This is probably the best group of Rwanda and their performance is regarded by many as one of the highlights of your safari! 

Lunch is foreseen in Butare and in the afternoon we will drive to Nyungwe Forest NP. Just a few kilometres out of butare you will visit the workshop of the Tin Smith of Huye (Butare). You will find one of the finest handmade use-and decoration objects in pewter of 99% of quality. Unique!

Your driver-guide will stop at the Uwinka offices of Nyungwe Forest NP to have the last update on the presence of the semi-habituated groups of chimps and colobus monkeys. This will help you to prepare your activities of the next two days. Overnight is foreseen at the Guest House of Gisakura. (B-L-D)

Distance & driving times: Kigali-Butare: 135 km - 3h30 including the visits. Butare-Gisakura: 158 km - 2h30 - Good roads. 

Rwanda has one of the finest traditional handicrafts of Africa. The ceramics, woodcarvings  and basketry are found in the streets of Kigali and Huye.

The "Intore", once the elite of the traditional Rwanda army, were not only trained as military but also in high jump and dance. They were known for there remarkable technique allowing them to jump over 2m40. The Intore became worldwide famous as dancers in 1958 when the World Expo was held in Brussels. Today Intore dancers are part of the rich Rwanda folklore.

The warriors dance is a jewel of the choreographic heritage of Rwanda. Dressed with a mane made of sisal fibre,  Tied up on ankles, little bells jingle on each step, giving the warriors dance a thrilling rhythm. Throughout the Intore  ballet, physical confrontation turns into artistic rivalry and then at "the end" comes out into a vigorous hug of the warriors. This is the most artistic gesture of friendship, mutual aid and protection.

The National Museum in Butare was donated in 1989 by the Belgium government and gave back a part of the ethnographic collection acquired during the colonial period. The design and concept of the museum was realized in co-operation with the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren, Belgium.  The modern building has different sections and displays a wide collection of monochrome pictures, traditional artefacts and objects, tools and different craft products. Ethnographic objects are grouped together according to theme giving excellent information on the daily life. Traditional ceramics and basketry are still manufactured and belong to the finest handicrafts of the region. The National Museum remained surprisingly untouched during the civil war in 1994.

Accommodation : Gisakura GH (*)
Activities :  Cultural Activities
Parks & places :  Huye (Butare) and the National Museum

Day 3 : Nyungwe Forest NP

Nyungwe Forest NP is a paradise for hikers. The terrain is rugged and steep, and you will be at relatively high elevation. Wear good hiking shoes and bring warm clothing!

This is a paradise for hikers! During your stay your driver-guide will accommodate your programme to your interest!

Your day will start with an early breakfast and a briefing at Uwinka tourist information centre. Depending on your personal interests you will have a choice of different opportunities to explore the largest high altitude rainforest of East Africa! Of a particular interest are the large social groups of Angolan Colobus (Colobus angolensis), which may be over 300 individuals. These are the largest troops of this species known in the world!  Nyungwe forest counts 25% of the African Primates!

One of these groups is semi-habituated and we recommend to start your exploration with a guided primate walk in search of the Angolan Colobus monkeys (black and white Colobus)! Rangers will tell you approximately where the group is located and the hiking times may vary as the group is travelling continuously looking for food. Be prepared to have a more strenuous hiking!

In the afternoon you can continue your exploration. There are different beautiful trails available and the superb waterfall trail of Gisakura is probably the most rewarding. The hiking time is 2 up to 3 hours and is a very enjoyable hike accessible to everybody! If you missed the Angolan Colobus you can have another try near to the tea factory where another troop is hosted. Overnight at the Guest house of Gisakura. (B-L-D)

Distance & Driving times: Gisakura Guest House is 40 min from the headquarters of Nyungwe NP.  

Nyungwe Forest is the only place in Africa where troops of 300 black-and-white colobus monkeys (Angolan Colobus) can be seen jumping in the trees! A spectacular sight!

Accommodation : Gisakura GH (*)
Activities :  Guided Nature Walks & Hikes.
Parks & places :  Nyungwe Forest NP.

Day 4 : Nyungwe Forest NP

Some considerable efforts have been made to habituate the chimpanzees at Nyungwe Forest NP. You can see the chimps at  Uwinka (head quarters) and Cyamudongo (near Cyangugu) (New!). The reporting time on site for both visits is at 6 a.m. at latest! Considering the driving time an early departure from the Guest House at 5 a.m. is necessary!  

If you prefer you can have another guided primate walk or one of the hikes on the well-maintained trails.

There are l’hoest monkeys and blue monkeys present and often observed around Uwinka, requiring less strenuous hiking. There is also an orchid garden at Uwinka and for those who would like a challenging hike we recommend the trail "the Bigugu Mountain", the highest peak in Nyungwe Forest at nearly 3000m.

Bird watchers will certainly be interested to know that Nyungwe has also some Albertine rift endemic species that can only be seen here! Birding is very rewarding on one of the special designed trails! Don’t forget to bring your binoculars with you! (B-L-D)

Nyungwe Forest has more than 100 species of orchids! 

Accommodation : Gisakura GH (*)
Activities :  Bird Watching, Chimpanzee Trekking, Guided Nature Walks & Hikes.
Parks & places :  Nyungwe Forest NP.

Day 5 : Nyungwe Forest NP - Kibuye

After breakfast you will leave for Kibuye, passing through the green fields of tea plantations before exploring the shores of Lake Kivu. Kibuye which is one of the three towns on Lake Kivu is the most beautiful. Arrival at Kibuye is foreseen at lunch time. After Nyungwe, most participants will welcome some relaxing moments on the shores of Lake Kivu! You can also take a walk and visit this splendid area! Rest of the day at leisure.Lake Kivu is Bilharzia free! (B-L-D).

Distance & Driving times: 4h30 hours - bad roads. 

Lake Kivu is unique: Its deep waters contain an enormous quantity of dissolved gas. There are, in fact, 65 billion cubic metres of methane, in other words the equivalent of 50 million tonnes of petrol lying at the bottom of the lake under 250 m of water. If it were exploited, this energy, veritable manna from heaven, would provide Rwanda with an almost inexhaustible source of energy, freeing it from worry about energy needs linked to its development projects. There is a pilot station for the extraction of methane for energy.

Accommodation : GH of Bethany (*), Moriah Hill Resort (**)

Day 6 : Kibuye - Gisenyi by speed boat (Goma) - Kinigi

After breakfast, you will have an enjoyable speed-boat trip to Gisenyi. The trip is not only an encounter with local people; fishermen, fishing villages but also with the residents of Idjwi Island (Congo) who are rowing long distances in their dugout canoes to visit the Rwanda markets.

You will be picked up in Gisenyi for lunch and if time/security allows we make arrangements to cross the border to Goma (Optional -Congo visa is $ 30 and you need to pay for a re-entry visa for Rwanda). Goma was devastated by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. The visit shows the fantastic capabilities of the local population to overcome this natural catastrophe! We drive to Ruhengeri and Kinigi for an overnight at your hotel. (B-L-D)

Distance & Driving time: Kibuye - Gisenyi, the boat trip will take 1h30 along the shores of Lake Kivu. Gisenyi-Kinigi: 1h15 - good road.

Idjwi is an island in Lake Kivu, belonging to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At 40 km in length and with an area of 285 km², it is believed to be the largest inland island in Africa, and the eighth largest in the world. Idjwi is roughly equidistant between the DRC and Rwanda, with 10 to 15 kilometres separating its western shore from the DRC mainland and a similar distance between its eastern shore and the coastline of Rwanda. The island's southern tip, however, lies only 1 kilometre from a promontory of the Rwandan coast.

The Nyiragongo volcano (3470 m) erupted on the 17th of January 2002 and destroyed part of Goma town. Most of Goma's 400 000 inhabitants escaped the advancing lava flows crossing the border into neighbouring Rwanda. The eruption  destroyed the homes of 120 000 people and caused between 70 and 100 victims.   

Accommodation : Gorillas Volcanoes (***), Hotel La Palme (**), MGV Lodge(***), Sabyinyo Lodge (****), St Anne Hotel (*), Virunga Lodge (****)
Parks & places :  Volcanoes National Park

Day 7 : Gorilla Trekking

After breakfast you will report at the ORTPN headquarters where your driver-guide will accomplish the necessary formalities for you. You will meet your ranger guide(s) for a briefing about the greatest animal experience ever.  Magic Safaris will drive you to the slopes of one of the Virunga volcanoes for your trekking.

After the trekking, lunch at your hotel or at Ruhengeri and in the afternoon, if time allows, an excursion to explore the beautiful lakes in the region: Lake Bulera & Ruhondo. An excellent view of the Virunga chain of Volcanoes can be seen while there depending on weather conditions. Overnight at your hotel. (B-L-D)

Accommodation : Gorillas Volcanoes (***), Hotel La Palme (**), MGV Lodge(***), Sabyinyo Lodge (****), St Anne Hotel (*), Virunga Lodge (****)
Activities :  Gorilla Trekking
Parks & places :  Volcanoes National Park

Day 8 : Second gorilla trekking or another activity - Transfer to Kigali

For a  second gorilla trek we propose that you visit one of the groups with a longer hiking time; the Susa group which is located on the slopes of the Karisimbi volcano and has more than 35 members and will give you a great sense of achievement!

After the trekking, visit of the Iby'Iwacu traditional village (a community based tourism project where the local community displays the traditional ways of living). On your way to Kigali, several stops will be made to admire the scenery. Rwanda is the country of the thousand hills! Overnight at your hotel.


- A second gorilla trek.

- An excursion to the top of the Bisoke volcano (3.711 m) of which the distinctive feature is a beautiful crater lake! Fantastic views in all directions, lushly forested slopes, shady bamboo forest and an exhilarating climb!

- An excursion to the grave of Dian Fossey and the former Karisoke Research Centre. The excursion will provide excellent background information and this is a wonderful site to see!

- A visit to the Golden Monkeys: the little-known Golden Monkey (cercopithecus mitis kandti) is listed as “endangered”, the newly habituated groups of about 40 individuals are the only ones in Africa. The Kabatwa troop is located not so far from the Park Headquarters and the Musanga troop lives near the Karisimbi volcano and has a much longer walking distance.

Transfer to Kigali for overnight at your hotel (or departure). (B-L-D)

Distance & driving time: Kinigi - Kigali: 1h30.

Accommodation : Hotel Chez Lando (***), Laico Umubano (***), Milles Collines (****), Ninzi Hotel (**), Serena - Kigali (*****)
Activities :  Gorilla Trekking, Guided Nature Walks & Hikes.
Parks & places :  Volcanoes National Park

Day 9 : Kigali - Kayonza - Akagera NP

After breakfast you will drive for 3 hours to Akagera NP, via Kayonza to the Eastern part of Rwanda. We will arrive before lunch at the beautiful Akagera Game Lodge which has a swimming pool. Take a swim before lunch. After lunch you will start your exploration with a game drive by visiting the giraffe valley.

The giraffes of Akagera NP were translocated from Kenya in Januaray 1986. The 2 males and 4 females Masai giraffes were captured near Lake Magadi (Kenya) and transported by plane B-747 from Nairobi to Kigali. The giraffes were first put in an enclosure on the peninsula of Rurama. One night on Christmas 1987 they escaped because the barrier was broken down by elephants.(A ranger died of its wounds when he tried to prevent the elephants). The giraffes crossed the Kiyonza ridgs an settled on the plain of Nyamwashama since then also named as the giraffe valley. The first baby giraffe was born in 1988 and the second a year later.  

Accommodation : Akagera Lodge (****)
Activities :  Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Akagera National Park

Day 10 : Akagera NP

You can do as much and as little you want, Akagera NP allows you not only to visit this beautiful Park but also to enjoy the Lodge and its astonishing views over Lake Ihema.

After an Early breakfast your exploration starts with a boat trip on Lake Ihema which is a very rewarding for seeing the large number of hippos, the huge Nile crocodiles and many birds. After the boat trip you will continue your exploration along the lakes Kivumba, Hago; Mihindi and Rwanyakizinga. They are the most interesting part of the park especially for birders. You will for your lunch and enjoy a fresh swim at the Lodge. In the late afternoon you will return to the giraffe valley which is usually full of surprises. Overnight at the Akagera Game Lodge.

Accommodation : Akagera - Campsite
Activities :  Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Akagera National Park

Day 11 : Akagera NP - Kayonza - Kigali

You will wake up early in the morning and leave after breakfast for another day of exploration. This time you will start with a visit to the height of Mutumba, the highest point of the park. You will have a view on all the Akagera lakes and the Karangwe mountains in Tanzania. You will descend to the Lake area where you will have a pic nic lunch on edge of one of the beautiful lakes. 


In the afternoon you will drive back to the lodge before returning to Kigali where we will drop you at the airport or at your hotel (overnight is optional).

Activities :  Bird Watching, Wildlife Viewing
Parks & places :  Akagera National Park

Day 12 : Kigali visit and departure

The half day Kigali City trip includes a visit to the Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi, which takes a few hours. It’s a touching visit! Transfer to Airport for departure. (B-L)

Genocide Memorials: In Rwanda you will find all over the country Memorials to remember the genocide of 1994. The most important Genocide Memorials are those of Kigali (Gisozi) and Murambi (Gikongoro) where the history of the genocide is explained. A visit to the genocide memorial is for most visitors an emotional event.