Rwanda Safari Ideas
1. Gorilla Trek – Volcanoes National Park
No Rwanda tour is complete without a gorilla trek. The 13,000 hectare Volcanoes National Park Forest that covers these peaks is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is here where the mountain gorillas reside. The oldest of these Volcanoes, Sabyinyo rises 3640 meters towering directly over the town Musanze. The volcanoes on the Rwanda side are extinct with their craters being filled with lakes however nearby volcanoes in the Congo also in this chain of volcanoes have been the site of recent eruptions and lava flows.
The Volcanoes National Park joins Mgahinga National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the Congo to form a large trans frontier park in which around 380 of the 730 or so remaining mountain gorillas in the world reside. The rest of the remaining mountain gorilla are found in The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda.
It is in this area of Rwanda where we stay the primatologist Diane Fossey undertook the first studies in mountain gorilla behavior. Her work to promote the plight of the highly endangered mountain gorilla has led to the promotion of the current gorilla tourism program .
Sitting with the mountain gorilla is one of the most amazing wildlife experiences you will ever have. A dominant male silverback can weigh over 200 kilos and is the largest living primate. He will control our meeting as well as deciding when his group will eat, sleep and move on. His females care for their young with affection and playfulness but also with discipline. They are very curious, and are capable of making over 25 different vocalisations, including chuckling and purring. Communication also includes posturing, chest beating and if all else fails – the charge! The privilege of spending an hour with this family group is an experience that will never leave you. After your hour is up, you wind your way slowly out of the forest and back to the camp or lodge to swap stories about your amazing experience.
2. Golden Monkey Trek – Volcanoes National Park
The golden monkey is a rare species of old world monkey now found only in the Virunga mountain range. Now endangered it is one of the species on the endangered red list. It lives in social groups of up to 30 individuals usually led by one adult male. Communication is by calls and visual expressions. The monkey has a golden reddish back and sides, cheeks and tail with black limbs and can weigh up to 12 kilos in maturity. The golden monkey has a lifespan up to 19 years and females will generally give birth every two years. Males generally leave the group when they reach sexual maturity only returning when they are stong enough to lead the group and mate. You spend up to one hour with the group as they forage for bamboo, leaves and fruits travel play and rest. This is a different experience than the gorilla viewing as the golden monkeys are fast and nimble and can be harder to spot but the time in the forest with these charming animals is a highlight.
3. Genocide Memorial
This memorial tells the story of the1994 Rwanda genocide where an estimated 800000 people died. The story is told through story boards, photographs, id cards, and collections of bones, video artifact and a number of grave sites. The memorial has been presented in a very moving way and cannot help to affect you.
We find the majority of persons visiting this memorial think there time in Rwanda would not have been complete without a visit here, but it can be a very moving and sad experience. It is a personal choice should you like to visit, if you would prefer not to we will arrange another option for your time in Kigali. The following report from one of our clients sums it up beautifully.
“As you had said, it is really something worth visiting. My feelings were ripped to shreds with the horror of what I saw firsthand and the story that they told so well. Even saying that, I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to try to understand how such a thing can happen, and how human beings can actually destroy others the way they did. Now, both sides have to live with the pain of the event, and they are so brilliant at getting on with their lives. I can’t explain how strongly I feel about the visit but, knowing that you’ve also seen it, I’m sure you understand. It now stands out as one of the most amazing days in all of our month in Africa” Gabrielle Holmes. Australia
4. Nyungwe Forest Park
With 13 primates located here this national park has one of the highest diversity of primates in a single region. With 310 species of bird this park is one of the most important Ornithological sites in Rwanda. One, Two or three day hikes through the forest and a canopy walkway are available.
5. Lake Ruhondo
Lakes Burera and Ruhondo, close to the gorilla-tracking centre of Musanze. People living around Rwanda’s many lakes try to make a living out of what these lakes have to offer. People use traditional fishing methods at the twin lakes Burera and Ruhondo. The work is carried out either from the lake shore or from se lf-made traditional canoes that consist of a single piece of wood. Visit an island, where you will get a boat or dugout canoe ride to the respective island in lakes Ruhondo and Burera. Enjoy the nice scenery and excellent birding opportunities. Bring a packed lunch and have a picnic on the island . Discover nature in traditional canoes, enjoy
6. Karisoke Research Center and Dianne Fosseys Grave
The Mountain Gorillas survive thanks to Dian Fossey, a researcher who was buried at her research center alongside these mountain gorillas to which she dedicated her life. The trail leading to her tomb and Karisoke Research Center is a beautiful yet challenging two hour hike up steep slopes where orchids, birdlife and even occasional mountain gorillas can be seen.