Rwanda - Culture, Primates & Nature
Intore dancers  
The sacred Ankole cattle each respond to their own tunes when called!  
Baby Mountain gorilla  
Silverback gorilla at Parc National des Volcans  
Beautiful Nyungwe Forest National Park  
Tea plantations near Nyungwe Forest National Park  
Scenic high-altitude Lake Kivu  
Canopy walkway in Nyungwe - wonderful but you need a head for heights!  
L'Hoest's monkey in Nyungwe Forest National Park  
Golden monkey in Parc National des Volcans  
11 day tour
Including flights
Prices from
£4630 - £5060
I'm enquiring about: Rwanda - Culture, Primates & Nature
I'm enquiring about: Rwanda - Culture, Primates & Nature

Rwanda - Culture, Primates & Nature


This comprehensive 10-day tailor-made tour encompasses the highlights of Rwanda: Mountain gorillas, Chimpanzees, the exquisite Nyungwe Forest National Park, scenic high altitude Lake Kivu and the lakeside towns of Kibuye and Gisenyi, as well as the two main urban centres of Butare - the cultural centre in the south - and the bustling capital Kigali.

Day 1
Depart from London Heathrow on the Kenya Airways overnight flight to Nairobi.
Day 2
On arrival at Nairobi, transfer onto the Kenya Airways flight to Kigali. On arrival, you will be met by your private driver/guide and taken to the Kigali Serena to stay overnight, dinner and breakfast included. During the day, you will be taken on a guided city tour of Kigali and also have the opportunity to change money and relax by the hotel pool.
Built on a hillside, Kigali is a small capital city, without many landmark buildings, the city tour takes a couple of hours and includes the old town (Nyamirambo) and Muslim quarter, the new handicraft village and other shops and the Gisozi Genocide Memorial. The memorial is very moving, but we suggest that you visit it later in your tour.
Accommodation: Kigali Serena
Day 3
Day 3
After breakfast, travel by road to Nyungwe Forest National Park and stay two nights at the lovely Nyungwe Forest Lodge on the edge of the forest. All meals are included.
On the way, you stop in Butare (2½ hours from Kigali) to see the National Museum, and for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch you will be taken to see a performance by the astonishing Intore dancers and musicians. You may also want to see the near sacred Ankole cattle which here, are trained to respond individually to different, special tunes created for them (!). When you leave Butare, inform the driver if you wish to stop at the Murambi Genocide site on the road to Nyungwe. Otherwise, the drive from Butare to Nyungwe is 2½ hours.
Extending for nearly one thousand kilometers square over the mountains of southwest Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park protects the largest single tract of montane forest remaining in Africa. This very beautiful forest is a remarkably rich centre of biodiversity: species lists include 86 mammals, 280 birds, 120 butterflies and about 100 orchids. It is the most important birding site in Rwanda and during forest walks you are sure to see a variety of Albertine Rift Endemics including Alethes, Akalats, Ant-thushes and even sought-after gems like Dusky and Shelley's crimsonwings.
Accommodation: Nyungwe Forest Lodge
Day 4
Day 4
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Day for guided forest walks in search of primates, birds and to enjoy the stunning scenery in the forest. The main attractions in Nyungwe are its various species of monkey and of course, the resident Chimps. Experienced guides lead you through the forest in search of these elusive apes. Rainbow Tours' specialists Chania and Derek observed the Chimps high up in the canopy during a three-hour early morning walk. Other primates seen during the same walk were Grey-cheeked mangabey and many l'Hoest's monkeys. Birding was fantastic with highlights including the enormous Great blue turacou and even a pair of Dusky crimsonwing.
The national park was recently gazetted - not a moment too soon - to spare the forest from the depredations of agriculture. Fields of maize, beans and bananas are intensively cultivated right up to the forest edge.
In the afternoon, you can be taken to a different spot to seek what is the largest known barrel of Rwenzori colobus, which usually allow a reasonably close approach (pictured).
Day 5
Day 5
A long and very scenic drive (about 5 hours) on unmade roads to Kibuye, on the shores of Lake Kivu. Stay overnight at Cormoran Lodge. All meals are included.
Longish drives on un-made roads may not appeal to everyone, but they do offer the opportunity to see life as it has been lived for centuries, virtually unchanged. This is a scenic route and provides the opportunity to see the people at work - cultivating bananas, cassava, sorghum, beans, rice, potatoes, and even coffee in their steep, tiny fields. In addition there are several massive tea plantations (pictured), villages, innumerable tiny brickworks, and surprises around every corner.
Lake Kivu forms the border between Rwanda and the Congo. It's a beautiful and mysterious lake, alive with traders and fishermen in their dugout canoes.
Day 6
Day 6
Today you head north-east, parallel to Lake Kivu, to Gisenyi to overnight at the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel, all meals included. This beautiful drive (3-4 hours) is largely on unmade roads and takes you through an area of intensive subsistence farming, as well as the remains of the Gishwati Forest. Gisenyi is a somewhat faded lakeside resort - and also a border crossing point into the Congo. The shoreside is lined with crumbling colonial villas. Today, it is enjoying a renaissance as it boasts its first international standard hotel - the Kivu Serena It is a pleasant hotel, right on the lakeside, with its own private pool.
Accommodation: Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
Day 7
Day 7
Relax at your hotel or explore some of the town of Gisenyi (pictured), before the 3 hour afternoon drive to Musanze at Parc National des Volcans. Stay two nights at Mountain Gorilla View lodge, all meals included.
Gorilla Mountain View is a fairly simple lodge, although each room has en-suite facilities, and for gorilla tracking purposes, this hotel is well-located.
Accommodation: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 8
Day 8
Parc National des Volcans
Make an early start for the Parc National des Volcans, where you will make your first gorilla trek. On arrival at 07h00, you are met by staff from ORTPN Park Headquarters who brief you on conduct during gorilla tracking. The trackers then lead you into the forested slopes to seek one of the resident and habituated family groups of Mountain gorillas. Reaching the gorillas can be quick, or it can take a few hours.
Accommodation: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 9
Day 9
Parc National des Volcans - Kigali
Today you can either do a second gorilla trek*, or choose one of the following activities: visiting the golden monkeys, a nature walk (birding in PNV is excellent), climbing Mt Bisoke or visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey. The latter two activities are suited for those who are reasonably fit. I n the afternoon, you will be driven to Kigali (2½ hours) to stay overnight at Kigali Serena, breakfast included.
*We personally highly recommend a second gorilla trek for the following reasons: a) The experience is so intense that the hour you are permitted to spend with the Gorillas, feels like 5 minutes. b) Although chances of seeing the Gorillas exceed 90%, nature cannot ever be guaranteed. So its wise to have a backup day to avoid disappointment, rare as that may be. c) Just in case you have any communicable human illness (eg colds or flu) on your first day, you will not be allowed to visit the Gorillas since they have no resistance to human illnesses. However you may be better the following day so again, a second permit (which costs US$750) is a wise investment.
Accommodation: Kigali Serena
Day 10
Return to Kigali and departure
Today you could visit to the Genocide Memorial Museum before you transfer to the airport for your flight to Nairobi, where you connect with the overnight flight to London.
Day 11
Arrive London early morning.

Pricing Information & Dates

11 day tour, from £4630 - £5060 per person
Price Includes:
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
Price Includes
* Return international fights on Kenya Airways from London via Nairobi to Kigali
* Airport taxes
* All accommodation based on double or twin room occupancy
* Meals as indicated
* Private transportation in your 4WD vehicle
* Services of your dedicated, professional driver-guide
* Activities and excursions as per the itinerary
* Park ranger fees and park permits
* 1 Gorilla permit per person.
* 1 Chimp tracking permit per person
* 1 Golden monkeys permit per person
Price Excludes
* Personal items (drinks, tips, phone calls, laundry & travel insurance).
Price Notes
Rates for additional activities:

A second gorilla permit would be US$750

Tour Route Map

  1.   Lake Kivu
  2.   Kigali

Accommodation on this Tour

Kigali Serena
Kigali Serena
Kigali Serena The Kigali Serena was officially opened in January 2004. It is Rwanda’s first luxury five-star hotel. Built on the site of the former Diplomates Hotel, on the stylish Rue de......
Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
Lake Kivu Serena Hotel Lake Kivu Serena Hotel is a 5-star hotel in Gisenyi, on the shores of Lake Kivu in western Rwanda. The hotel is right on the lake with wonderful views across the water. Run by......
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge Situated fifteen minutes drive from the Volcanoes National Park this is the ideal lodge to base yourself for your gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda. Set on a large......
Nyungwe Forest Lodge
Nyungwe Forest Lodge
Nyungwe Forest Lodge Built to blend in with the surrounding environment, this luxury lodge is situated in a lush tea plantation along the edges of the Nyungwe rain forest, home to 13 species of......

Image Gallery


'Hi Craig

The trip was very good.  We were really fortunate with the weather and had a dry morning for the gorillas, and the group were only 10 minutes in from the edge of the forest so was really easy for me.  The group were magical and very funny and we were so close.

The afternoon for the views was not quite so good as it rained, but it was OK.

The trip to the monkeys was also dry and the guides were really excellent both times in looking after me.

The cultural village was really funny.  We laughed all afternoon – as we did much of the trip.

Gisenyi was much as expected, with little to do, made worse owing to genocide week.  Although we couldn’t have gone another week it would be good to bear this in mind for other clients as everything shuts at lunch time all week.

However, Moussa arranged a lake trip which included the coffee plantation and that was wonderful.  The cost was $100 each, same as a lake tour, but we ended up giving locals a lift which made the trip more interesting and had a wonderful tour of the coffee plantation.  John and his staff were excellent and in no hurry to end the tour.  We ended up being out for 6 hrs, and again lots of laughs.

Moussa was excellent and took the 4x4 into all sorts of placed to reduce my walking.  He found us fabric in a local market and a really good craft shop.  Shopping was really difficult owing to the trips being mornings and the shops closed in the afternoon.

Had lots of fun.  The Gorilla mountain view lodge was 5* and the service above and beyond – our every need was anticipated.

Thank you for a lovely trip.  

Kind regards


Ms Swift and Ms George
May 12, 2016
'Dear Fiona,
Further to our telephone conversation please find attached some comments that I hope you may be able to use in your reviews.
Flame Tree Village is one of the 3B Group of Hotels. Our accommodation was listed as a double room which in actuality is a villa with an open plan lounge with balcony, dining room and kitchen accessed from the entrance. Downstairs is a very large bedroom with doors leading to a small private garden, also a large en-suite bathroom with a large corner bath and separate shower stall. Great service from the friendly staff and a good meal made us appreciate that Rwanda really welcomes visitors.
Our arrival at Nyungwe Forest Lodge was after sunset and to see it with thunder and lightning crashing around the surrounding mountains was spectacular. The lodge itself is very luxurious with a large comfortable lounge, bar area and restaurant. Each area has access to outside seating and dining tables if required. The Lodge lounge is the best place to access the free wi-fi and relax before another excellent dinner and very good and comfortable night’s sleep.
If only we had had time to relax and appreciate all of the Nyungwe Forest Lodge’s facilities – maybe next time.
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge was the second of the 3B Group of Hotels in which we stayed. The lodge benefits from having very extensive grounds offering impressive views from the open areas and well maintained planted areas. The cottages are of a good size and very comfortable. Seating outside allows you to appreciate the great variety of birds that use the gardens. Inside the fireplace will be tended and a fire lit on cooler evenings.
All meals offered were buffet style with some of the meat dishes being finished on a BBQ. Possibly one of the reasons for this style of meal is that the lodge suffered a number of short power failures none of which affected our enjoyment of the location and facilities.
The services offered by the lodge included cleaning your hiking boots on your return from any activity and hot water bottles in your bed on cooler nights. The lounge and reception area is very comfortable and provides access to free wi-fi.
When we had read the itinerary and saw that our first activity was a visit to the Genocide Memorial Centre at Gisozi we found it rather discomforting but the brief film and visual presentation through the museum provides a really moving display of the recent history of Rwanda. The centre also symbolises the starting point for the integrated nation and future development of the country.
The drive to Nyungwe Forest included a stop at the King’s Palace Museum including an opportunity to see the Ankole cattle, such amazing horns. After a good lunch in a fairly large restaurant in Butare we drove to the National Museum and were given a guided tour. We were then lead outside to where the Intore Dancers gave an energetic performance for just five visitors, outstanding.
Chimpanzee tracking is very strenuous requiring a lot of energy. The terrain is such that you will be generally either ascending or descending slopes where there is no actual path. When you can find them the view can be quite restricted as the chimpanzees live generally in the canopy.
The Uwinka visitor centre has a map displaying the various walks they cover and the time required for each. The Canopy walk is part of a 2.1km hike and requires a descent of 204 metres at the start which, of course, requires an ascent of 204 metres to complete the hike. The actual canopy walk was constructed in 2010 by the Green Heart NGO with support from USAID. The amount of flex in the walk means that a firm grip is required on the narrow metal plates. The views can be spectacular if the weather is clear and sunny but regretfully not for our visit.
We were assigned to an easy access group of Gorillas, the Hirwa group. Our trip started with a 15 minute drive to the start point of the walk, followed by a kilometre walk to the park wall. Once inside the park we followed our guides up and up for about an hour until the trackers reported that the group had gone down to the river bed over 25m below our current position. Our guides then proceeded to hack a path to traverse the very steep slope down to the river bed. Leaving our bags with the porters at this point and climbing up the river bed we quickly got our first sight of a gorilla. This was immediately followed by spotting many others around us in the vegetation on each side of the river bed. While the other six visitors climbed out of the river bed in search of more gorillas we stayed and enjoyed the company of those nearest us but with views of the rest of the group.
Kenya Airways on-line check in 30 hour before take-off was particularly useful and the allocated seats were so good that I did not need to try to change our seating. It has been quite a few years since we have used Terminal 4 at Heathrow and we were surprised to find so few flights using this facility making our wait with no crowds comfortable.
The onward connection at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport went very smoothly and after being bussed to the plane it was very gratifying to watch our baggage being loaded onto the same plane.
Kigali immigration was efficient with photos and thumb prints being recorded followed by a slight delay waiting for the baggage at the carousel.  To then see the card for “Rainbow Tours” being held by our driver, Moses, reinforced the view that we were embarking on an exciting tour beyond our expectations.
Moses is an excellent guide and driver with whom we were always comfortable. Our journey times may have been slightly longer than shown on our itinerary but were appreciated when viewing the number accidents and hazards observed on the roads.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge very kindly supplied us with packed lunches for our long drive to Mountain Gorilla View Lodge in Musanze near Volcanoes National Park.  It would probably have been preferred to have stopped at an hotel or restaurant somewhere in or near Kibuye where a Western standard toilet break could be taken.
Once again Dianne and I wish to thank you and Derek for organising our fabulous trip'.
Mr and Mrs Passmore
March 18, 2016

'Joel was probably the best guide I have ever had on a holiday. He was well informed, helpful - absolutely the best. I would recommend him widely. He gets 4 stars from all of us. 

Cormoran Lodge: We absolutely loved this polace and wanted to stay forever.  Breakfast at Kivu Serena was excellent but we would have liked to have stayed somewhere smaller or with more atmosphere. It could have been anywhere in the world.

Gorilla Mountain View Lodge: excellent in all respects. The best meals we had anywhere.'

Hindle party
January 4, 2016
Call our experts now 0203 553 0004
Send An Enquiry Fill out our online enquiry form Request Callback Enter a time for us to call you Send An Enquiry Fill out our online enquiry form Request Callback Enter a time for us to call you
Calling from one of the countries below?
If so use the toll-free number listed.
USA611 3001 4894
Australia184 4332 5169
New Zealand184 4332 5137