Arrive at any time and transfer to the hotel. If you arrive early, take some time to explore the city, known for its pleasant, friendly atmosphere. Kigali also has some interesting and historic sites outside of the city. If you want more time to explore, we recommend booking a pre-night.
Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and learn about the somber history of Rwanda. Later, embark on a community walk in the Nyamirambo township and enjoy a local lunch at the G Adventures-supported Nyamirambo Women's Centre. Travel to northern Rwanda in the afternoon to the lodge, located just outside the national park. The lodge provides stunning volcano views. Volcanoes National Park borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains can be found here. The volcanoes and highlands of the park are covered in lush rainforest and bamboo (a favourite snack of the gorillas). While the most famous resident is the mountain gorilla, there's plenty of other wildlife roaming around: buffaloes, bushbucks, golden monkeys, hyenas, numerous bird species, and some elephants call this place home.
Enjoy a trek into the national park with a ranger/guide to view a unique and endangered species ?? the golden monkey. Watch these playful and lively creatures in their natural habitat. After, visit the Karisoke Research Center, which was founded by Dr. Dian Fossey in 1967. Meet with a resident researcher and enjoy a tour to learn about their ongoing work in the protection of mountain gorillas. In the evening, expand your understanding of gorillas through an in-depth lecture from one of the head wardens of Volcanoes National Park.
Depart early and transfer to the national park to meet the park ranger/guide for orientation. Embark on a gorilla trek, which can vary in length and difficulty, depending on the location of the gorilla family that's being visited. Spend an hour observing these beautiful and endangered creatures. After, return to the lodge for lunch then visit a local village to catch a glimpse of daily rural life. Approximately 800 mountain gorillas exist globally in the wild today. They are found in Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda. In DRC and Rwanda, gorillas live in similar ecosystems/areas. The gorilla species found in these three areas are called highland gorillas.
In Rwanda there are ten habituated gorilla families that are open to visits – the visit to a gorilla family is done once per day, with a maximum 8 trekkers per group and the duration of a visit is limited to one (1) hour with the gorilla family. The time spent with them is limited due to conservation considerations and to minimize impact on the day-to-day life of the gorilla family you are visiting. It is important to be well prepared for the trek ?? you never know if your total trek will be short or long. The total duration of a trek can vary and be anything between 4 and 9 hrs in length depending on the location of the gorillas, which are constantly moving. You will mainly walk where there are no paths apart from the occasional buffalo or elephant trail.
Touching the gorillas is not allowed (although in some cases they may touch you). Making loud noises or sudden movements is also not allowed. You should attempt to keep a distance of 7m from the gorillas, however the gorillas themselves are unaware of this and will often get very close, in which case you should try to slowly move away. At all times you must abide by the instructions of the trackers and rangers.
Please note that porters are available at approx. $10USD per person. The porters are all hired from local villages and not only can carry your day pack, but assist you with a welcome hand over difficult spots. Regardless of your fitness level, we highly recommend hiring a porter as some tracks can be very muddy and elevation can affect even the most fit person. It also provides employment and supports the local community.
After breakfast, cross into Uganda, arriving at the Queen Elizabeth National Park area in the late afternoon. Queen Elizabeth National Park is characterized by open savannah, large areas of swamp around Lake George, the extensive Maramagambo Forest in the southeast, and the forested Kyambura Gorge along the border with Kyambura Game Reserve.
Explore the lush Kalinzu Forest Reserve with a ranger on a trek in search of chimpanzees who call this protected area home. This afternoon drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park for a wildlife drive with possible sightings of buffalo, elephants, giant forest hogs, hyenas, leopards, lions, and warthogs.
Embark on a morning wildlife safari drive for more wildlife viewing inside the park. In the afternoon, take a boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel to view birds, hippos, and, with a bit of luck, elephants or big cats.
After breakfast, head to Entebbe with a stop at the Equator for lunch at the G Adventures-supported AidChild Equation Cafe & Gallery, and a visit to a royal drum maker's workshop.