GREAT APES
IN RWANDA

EXPLORE
  • 5 Nights
  • Year Round
  • Rwanda
  • From £6,000 PP
  • Luxury

Trip Overview

Home to the largest population of mountain gorillas on the planet, there is huge interest in trekking these magnificent beasts, with permits selling out virtually every day of the year. Meanwhile, there are excellent chimpanzee trekking opportunities and chances to see a dozen other primates.

With this inspiring itinerary you will see Rwanda’s great apes in their natural habitats by trekking the Virunga Mountains before heading south to the ancient Nyungwe Forest for face-to-face encounters including East Africa’s rare chimpanzee populations and troops of colobus monkeys.

If you love apes, Rwanda has to be the ultimate bucket-list destination.

Highlights of this itinerary

Often the best safaris involve looking beyond the obvious highlights. It’s about the myriad exhilarating encounters that will make your heart sing. These are encounters that nobody could ever predict, but that make your safari genuinely unique.

Trip Itinerary

Great Apes in Rwanda

Volcanoes National Park (2 Nights)
2 Nights

Volcanoes National Park

Getting from Kigali’s modern airport to Volcanoes National Park is a straightforward 2.5-hour road transfer along excellent roads.

In the morning, it’s time for gorilla trekking. The day will start early and punctually at 7am, where you will be assigned to a group of eight maximum. Your guide will match their pace to the slowest walker and take as many rests as required so there’s no need to worry about falling behind. You’ll get a real insight into rural Rwandan life by walking through farmland and villages until you reach the park border, where your guide will prepare you to meet the gorillas beyond it.

You’ll spend an hour in the presence of these magnificent beasts, and though it will fly by, this is ample time to immerse yourself in plenty of action. The youngsters are particularly active while the dominant silverback will be clear due to his enormous size. Why gorillas are so ambivalent to human presence remains a mystery you may ponder for evermore.

In addition to the gorillas, you can do a golden monkey trek as well. This is a rare subspecies of the blue monkey only found in the bamboo forests of the Virunga Mountains. Aside from being photogenic, they are active, playful and a lot of fun to observe. As with the gorillas, there is a one hour time limit.

Accommodation

During your time in Volcanoes National Park, you’ll stay in the unique eco-sensitive lodge located on a natural amphitheatre with dramatic views of the peaks of the Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes.

Bisate Lodge

Set in a 43 hectare plot of reclaimed farmland in the natural amphitheatre of an ancient volcano cone, Bisate combines iconic architecture with visionary reforestation while facilitating the ultimate bucket-list experience, gorilla tracking.

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Parks & Areas

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Nyungwe Forest National Park (2 Nights)
2 Nights

Nyungwe Forest National Park

Onwards to Nyungwe Forest, where the number of visitors is tiny compared to Volcanoes National Park, and while that may be part of the attraction, it’s certainly worthy of more interest than it receives. The stunning forest glades of ancient mahogany, ebony and giant ferns play host to a plethora colourful birds and over a dozen types of monkey.

Chimp trekking in ancient forests

The big draw in Nyungwe is chimp tracking, which starts very early in the morning. Again, you will be in a group up to eight and get to spend an hour with the animals. Nyungwe is lower in altitude than Volcanoes National Park and receives less rain, but hiking is a bit harder as the vegetation is thicker and the slopes steeper. The greenery can also prove somewhat problematic for chimp viewing as they are much more active than the sedentary gorillas, however, observing their uncannily human-like behaviour in such a pristine setting is well worth the effort.

With 130kms of trails to explore, including a canopy walk suspended 50 metres above the forest floor, chimps aren’t the only thing to look for. A rare subspecies of striking black-and-white colobus monkeys live in groups of well over a hundred, while L’Hoest’s monkeys and grey-cheeked mangabey are also frequently sighted.

It’s approximately 4 or 5 hours by car back to the airport, with a couple of interesting places along the way should you choose to break up the journey. These include the excellent National Museum in Huye and the hilltop Rukari Palace.

Accommodation

Discover the ancient forests from the stylish Nyungwe House. Captivating wildlife, dramatic mountain landscapes, and its own working tea plantation. This is a superb lodge to explore the wonders of Nyungwe National Park.

Nyungwe House

Nyungwe House is something of an enigma – a luxury retreat, purpose-built in collaboration with the Rwandan Government 2010 as part of the effort to get international visitors to look beyond the gorillas it was refurbished in 2018 to an even higher standard.

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Parks & Areas

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