tailored safari specialists

Africa’s Ultimate Primate Safari


Mgahinga National Park, Uganda + Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda + Kahuzi Biega National Park, DR Congo

from US$ 4,189 per person sharing

Bird-watching

Bush-walking

Cultural

Gorilla and chimp trekking

Africa’s Ultimate Primate Safari

E-mail    +27 (0)21 701 1622

Indication Price (from): US$ 4,189 per person sharing *view all prices and dates

Length: 8 days

Group Size: 1 - 6

Location: Mgahinga National Park, Uganda + Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda + Kahuzi Biega National Park, DR Congo

Departure Dates: To suit you

INDICATION PRICES

Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.

OUR CHARGES

The price you see includes all services rendered by us and we only generate revenue once and if you book one of our safaris. Going directly to any of the lodges and other suppliers in our safari packages will not save you money because we earn discounts from suppliers based on the volume of business that we generate for them.

Trekking mountain gorillas is understandably heralded as one of the most exhilarating bucket list pilgrimages in the world. However, this wildlife experience often eclipses the many equally as incredible primate viewing opportunities that the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo have to offer.

What if we told you that on top of meeting the mountain gorillas, we could offer you the rare chance to watch a troop of golden monkeys and track Grauer’s lowland gorillas – the largest and most endangered gorilla in the world? What’s more, you’ll also be able to spend a morning in the company of a chimpanzee family and join Africa’s biggest mega troop of pied colobus monkeys!

This would all involve trekking through the forested hills of Mgahinga National Park (Uganda) and Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda), meandering across the lower reaches of Kahuzi Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and crossing Africa’s highest canopy walkway in the continent’s largest tract of afro-montane forest in Nyungwe (Rwanda).

This Africa Geographic Travel itinerary offers all these things and more. To make life easier, no domestic flights are required on this trip, nor tiring drives of more than four hours. If the indication price does not suit your travel style or budget, let us know what your prefered travel style and budget are and we will quote you accordingly. Dates can be tailored to fit your schedules.

Day 1: Arrival in Kigali and transfer to Mgahinga National Park (Uganda)

On arrival at Kigali International Airport (Rwanda) you will be met by our representative and whisked off on a short three-hour drive towards Kisoro, a small town near the magical Mgahinga National Park in south western Uganda. Departure from Kigali International Airport no later than 08:00. (If you wish to spend the previous night in Kigali this can be arranged at an additional cost). On arrival you will enjoy lunch at the welcoming Travelers Rest Hotel in Kisoro. Here you will be able to settle in, rest and relax for a while.

During the late afternoon you will have the chance to visit the nearby Batwa Cultural Heritage Site. The Heritage Site consists of a demonstration-based herbal garden, a small collection of traditional huts and a short trail that allows the Batwa to demonstrate to interested guests, how they used to live, hunt, and collect honey and other resources from the forest.

Shortly after you will return to your hotel, for a shower, dinner and a well-deserved rest.

At a time of your convenience your guide will debrief you on the basics of gorilla trekking to prepare you for the following day’s adventures.

Day 2: Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park (Uganda) and transfer to Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)

After breakfast, you will take a short drive to Mgahinga National Park’s office headquarters where you will meet the excellent local guides and trackers that will lead you into the Gahinga Volcano slopes on your gorilla trekking experience. Beforehand you will be given an informative talk on tracking etiquette and your physical condition will be assessed so that a mountain gorilla group can be assigned to you accordingly.

Before you embark on your adventure, you will be introduced to your team of rangers, porters and trail assistants. The gorilla trekking experience can then take between one and six hours, depending on a variety of environmental and physical factors, and you could climb to altitudes above 7,500 feet (2,300 metres). The terrain in Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park can be rough, as well as muddy and slippery at times, but your experienced leader will ensure that the group progresses at a pace that is comfortable for everyone. Fret not, for there will also be frequent stops to take in the views, hydrate, rest, take plenty of photographs, and generally just enjoy yourself.

Although the gorilla trekking experience can be physically demanding, the beauty of the surrounding scenery always makes the trek worthwhile. All fatigue will be forgotten once the gorillas are located and you watch in awe while these gentle giants go about their daily routine in peace. In most instances gorilla groups are likely to be grooming, resting, casually eating, or absorbed in some other primal social activity. Being followed by the expressive eyes of a mountain gorilla is one of the most poignant wildlife experiences that Africa has to offer.

After 60 minutes’ fly by, you will step away from their realm and trek back to the park’s headquarters for a shower, a change of clothes and some lunch.

Thereon, you will drive back into Rwanda. Time allowing and dependant on when you finish your Gorilla trek, en route you will stop to admire the serene twin crater lakes Burera and Ruhondo. After this, it will be time to head to Mountain Gorilla View Lodge in Kinigi, next door to the Volcanoes National Park for check-in.

Back at the hotel, a wholesome meal awaits before you retire for a good night’s rest to gather energy for tomorrow’s golden monkey trek.

Day 3: Trekking Golden Monkeys in Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda) and transfer to Lake Kivu

After breakfast you will be transferred to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, and this time golden monkeys are on the agenda. The golden monkey is a local subspecies of the widespread Sykes monkey, also known as the blue monkey, which is endemic to high altitude forests in Volcanoes National Park, Virunga Mountains and Mgahinga National Park.

These monkeys have an endearing nature; they are playful and inquisitive and often spend their time leaping between bamboo branches or frolicking on the forest floor.

The habituated group that you are most likely to encounter has around 80-100 members and resides at the foot of Mount Sabyinyo. The trek to find the golden monkeys is only attempted in the cool of the mornings, and once you find them after a couple of hours, you will be allowed to observe and photograph them for about an hour.

Your driver will await your return from the trek. Lunch will be enjoyed at the Hotel Muhabura, where if you ask they will show you Dian Fosseys favorite room during her visits to Musanze to stock up on food and conduct her meetings.

After lunch, you will visit the Karisoke Centre in Musanze to learn about the work, life and ongoing research that Dian Fossey instigated, and which today continues as a beacon of hope for the conservation of Mountain Gorillas.

Shortly after lunch you will depart for the shores of Lake Kivu (Kibuye), which is a mere 2,5 hour drive.

Dinner and overnight at Cormoran Lodge.

Day 4: Enjoying Lake Kivu and transferring to Bukavu (DR Congo)

It is an early start today to catch the morning cruise to Bonaparte island to see hundreds of fruit-eating bats returning from the forests of Congo and Rwanda after their nightly feast on pollen and nectar. Quite a sight!!. Upon return to the Hotel, it will be time for breakfast and perhaps some time to enjoy lake activities of kayaking, cycling, or swimming. You will take a slow drive to Cyangugu town, where lunch will be had Emeraude Kivu Resort, before transferring to Bukavu town / DR Congo.

Your guide will assist with the border crossing proceedings and hand you over to your DRC driver/guide.

Once in DRC, you will be transferred to the Orchids Hotel in Bukavu Town. Here you spend the remainder of your day at your leisure, catching up on emails, your diary, that book of your amazing life or resting before tomorrow’s Grauer’s Gorilla Trek.

Late in the afternoon, as the sun sets, it might be fun to walk to Lake Kivu’s edge and watch, and listen to the fishermen mournfully singing on their way out, or jovial fishermen returning with baskets full of fish as the day comes to an end.

Tip : Bukavu offers very little of interest, and a city tour is not worth the effort.

Dinner and Overnight at Orchids Hotel.

Day 5: Trekking Grauer’s Gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park (DR Congo)

After breakfast and a short drive to the Kahuzi-Biega National Park headquarters, you will meet the rangers and trail guides that will lead the day’s expedition in search of one of Africa’s rarest apes – the Grauer’s lowland gorilla. The Grauer’s gorilla is only found in eastern DRC, and it is protected in a number of dwindling locations.

Grauer’s gorilla is the largest of all gorilla subspecies, with males in the wild reaching weights of 250kg and heights of 2m when standing upright. Females are considerably smaller with a maximum weight of 110kg and a height of 140cm.

You can typically expect to make your way through the dense vegetation of Kahuzi-Biega for up to two hours. During this time, there is also the possibility of coming across another primate “megas” like the enchanting owl-faced guenon. The colourful Ruwenzori turaco abounds in this area and if Lady Luck is looking down on you, you may just find yourself stepping into the footprints of a roaming forest elephant.

However, nothing will compete with the moment when you first notice a Grauer’s gorilla’s eyes peering inquisitively at you. A quick scan will most likely reveal the rest of the group; their beady eyes staring at you from deep in the bamboo.

The next hour is spent in the company of these lowland creatures, watching them feed, play, rest, groom, teach and discover. Soon enough you may even find yourself recognizing the different facial expressions and personalities of each family member.

If you are lucky enough to track down Chimanuka’s family, you will meet the four sets of twins that this troop is raising. This is a unique phenomenon that has baffled and excited the world’s primatologists.

Once your hour-long encounter is over, you will return to headquarters where a picnic lunch waits. Shortly after lunch you will be transferred to Bukavu border where you cross over into Rwanda and meet your Rwanda driver (the same driver that took you to Uganda a few days ago). You are then transferred to Emeraude Kivu Resort where you will have dinner and overnight. Emeraude Kivu Resort is a beautiful lake front hotel that overlooks Lake Kivu, a blissful location.

Day 6: Chimp trekking and exploring Nyungwe Forest National Park (Rwanda)

Thanks to its 13 species of primates and 300 species of birds (including 25 Albertine Rift endemics), Nyungwe Forest is a hotspot for anyone passionate about birding and primates. Hiking and trail walking enthusiasts are blessed with 130 kilometres of extraordinarily well-maintained trails that allow visitors to explore its riches.

Starting very early in the morning, you will have the chance to trek and meet Nyungwe’s chimpanzees. As with other primate trekking in the region, you will be adequately briefed and prepared for your meeting. Reaching them can be strenuous as a result of Nyungwe’s topography, however, their engaging playfulness and human-like characteristics always make for a remarkable experience.

After lunch you will head out again into the forest and take a leisurely walk to the Kamiranzovu Waterfall, a beautiful sight and easy walk with stunning stretches of gushing streams, lush riverine vegetation, moss cloaked forests and a lovely waterfall.

In the early evening, you return to Emeraude Kivu Resort for a well-deserved scrumptious dinner, and rest.

Day 7: Tracking down Africa’s largest pied colobus mega-troop and Nyungwe’s thrilling canopy walkway

After breakfast, with bags packed, you check-out from Emeraude resort, bidding farewell to lake Kivu. You will park your vehicle at the Uwinka reception center in the heart of Nyungwe and set off on foot with your appointed rangers in search of one of Africa’s largest primate troops – the Rwenzori pied colobus monkeys. With more than 400 individuals, this promises to be a primate watcher’s dream as the troops also provide safety to a myriad of other primate species, such as the grey-cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest’s, Grivet’s, Syke’s, silver, blue, red-tailed monkeys, and olive baboon – to mention some.

After spending some time with them, you will return to Uwinka via Nyungwe’s famous canopy walkway. Climbing onto East Africa’s highest canopy walkway, which hovers 50m above the forest floor, you will have the chance to admire Nyungwe’s birds, epiphytic plant life and primate diversity. The sprawling views of Nyungwe Forest – Africa’s largest tract of afro-montane forest – are simply unforgettable.

Once lunch has been enjoyed, at Ibis hotel in Butare/Huye town, you will be transferred to Kigali where you have the option of visiting the Genocide Memorial Museum. The Kigali Genocide Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims from the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It honors the memory of the more than one million Rwandans killed in 1994 by focussing on education and peace-building.

After this thought-provoking outing you will be transferred back to Flame Tree Village.

A festive farewell dinner has been organized, at Hotel Chez Lando, in the evening.

Overnight at Flame Tree village.

Day 8: Kigali City Tour and transfer to Kigali International Airport (Rwanda)

After a leisurely breakfast, you will check out from Flame Tree Village Hotel to start your morning City Tour of Kigali. The Kigali City Tour offers one an in-depth view of Kigali, past and present, assuring that one feels the genuine heartbeat of the city.

Lunch will be had back at Flame Tree Village Hotel, which after you will be transferred to Kigali International Airport for your homebound flight.

End of services

Indication Price (from): US$ 4,189 per person sharing (see below for further pricing where relavant)

Departure Dates: To suit you

1 person 2 people 4 people 6 people
Price per person US$ 7,069 US$ 5,031 US$ 4,309 US$ 4,189

 

Price includes:
Transfers to and from the airport in Kigali, Rwanda, on arrival and departure days. Accommodation on a full-board basis. All meals mentioned in the itinerary – starting with dinner on arrival day and ending with breakfast on departure day. Coffee/tea and an unlimited supply of mineral water during transfers. All trekking permits, park fees, museum entrance fees, and activities mentioned in the itinerary. All ground transportation in a 4×4 WD vehicle, with fuel provided, and the services of our English–speaking tour guide/driver. Driver and guide fees. 24/7 office support.

Price excludes:
International or local airfare, but we can help you to book your tickets. Visas and airport departure taxes. Internet services, items of a personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, travel and medical insurance, tips, excess baggage charges, gratuities to all staff. Any activities not specified in the itinerary.

INDICATION PRICES

Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.

OUR CHARGES

The price you see includes all services rendered by us and we only generate revenue once and if you book one of our safaris. Going directly to any of the lodges and other suppliers in our safari packages will not save you money because we earn discounts from suppliers based on the volume of business that we generate for them.

COVID-19
  1. There is currently a countrywide curfew from 9 pm to 5 am. However, if your flight arrives or departs within curfew times, fear not, we can apply for a police pass to arrange for after-curfew pick-ups and drop-offs if required.
  1. VERY IMPORTANT !!! Please read this Entry Protocol Document before booking your flights to Rwanda.
  1. Please familiarize yourself with the NEW Covid-19 regulations for Gorilla trekking in Volcans NP.
Additional Information

Climate: Temperatures typically vary from 15°C to 29°C and are rarely below 14°C or above 31°C.

Difficulty: Trekking for gorilla and golden monkeys takes place at altitudes of 3,000 metres above sea level. Grauer’s gorillas are found at slightly lower altitudes ranging between 1700-2800 metres above sea level, but in pretty similar terrain to mountain gorillas. Chimpanzees are often found at 1600-2300 metres above sea level in Cyamudongo Forest in Nyungwe National Park. All primate treks require an average physical fitness to reach these targets and the slowest member in your party will determine the group’s speed. The pace will be moderate, with plenty of stops to rest, ask questions, re-hydrate, and enjoy the forest and views. Local porters can be hired to assist you if required.

Flight details: The cost of return flights to Kigali in Rwanda is not included. Should you wish to book with us, we will do our utmost to secure your booking at the best possible rate. Should you wish to extend your stay/do an additional trip before this tour, please contact us for details.

Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will need to contact us for a booking form, which will include details relating to the deposit and final payments.

Recommended reading: For the most authoritative and up-to-date information about Rwanda as a travel destination, we recommend Wild Rwanda. Beautifully written and lavishly illustrated, this book contains everything you need to know about Rwanda’s habitats, reserves and national parks, as well as information on where and how to find its most iconic birds, primates and fascinating wildlife. Click here to purchase your copy. Read more here about the top 10 ways to protect mountain gorillas.

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" Make a real difference for African conservation - come on safari with us. We support sustainable, ethical tourism that benefits wildlife and communities. "

Simon Espley, Africa Geographic CEO