Rwanda - Primates, Nature & Landscapes
Mountain gorilla family chilling out in Parc National des Volcans  
Rwenzori colobus is easy to see at Nyungwe NP  
Baby Mountain gorilla, PNV - we called this one 'Elvis' (Derek S)  
This tank-like silverback mock-charged us at PNV (Derek)  
Most birders hope to tick off Dusky crimsonwing at Nyungwe Forest  
Chimpanzees as one usually sees them in Nyungwe - high up in the trees  
See clouds of Straw-coloured bats flying overhead to Congo each dusk  
Canopy walkway in Nyungwe - wonderful but you need a head for heights!  
L'Hoest's monkey in Nyungwe Forest National Park  
Tea plantations border dense rainforest at Nyungwe NP  
Black-fronted duiker, Nyungwe Forest NP  
Equatorial akalat, a sought-after denizen of Nyungwe for twitchers  
Boehm's bush squirrel, one of various squirrels present in Nyungwe  
Grey-cheeked mangabey is found in Nyungwe forest  
Rwenzori sun squirrel can be seen in Nyungwe forest.  
11 day tour
Including flights
Prices from
£16085 - £16325

Tour Highlights

  • Time with the Mountain gorillas at PNV
  • Chimp tracking at Nyungwe National Park
  • Albertine Rift Endemics (AREs) and other wonderful birds in both parks
  • Scenic, high-altitude Lake Kivu
  • Learning about Rwandese culture and history
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I'm enquiring about: Rwanda - Primates, Nature & Landscapes

Rwanda - Primates, Nature & Landscapes


This itinerary is for people who wish to explore Rwanda's forested sites of biological importance; track its great apes and explore some of the countryside to learn about everyday Rwandan life

You first head to Nyungwe National Park, where visitors come to seek wild Chimpanzees and a variety of monkeys, along with many of the sought-after 'ARE' birds (Albertine Rift Endemics) which can be encountered along a well-mapped network of trails through Tolkinesque scenery.

One of the attractions at Nyungwe Forest is the canopy walkway, which allows one the chance to seek forest wildilfe and birdlife at canopy level. Do bear in mind though, that you're looking for rainforest wildlife in dense foliage, so it is not to be compared with the standard savannah experience. Here, your accommodation is the stylish One&Only Nyungwe House

Continue to Lake Kivu where you stay first for a night at Kibuye and then travel northwards to Gisenyi which is not too far from the Congolese border. One of the marvellous natural spectacles you can oftentimes see here at dusk, happens when clouds of Straw-coloured fruit bats fly overhead as they head for the Congolese rainforests in search of food.

Finally, travel to Volcanoes National Park where you visit the utterly magnificent Mountain gorillas, and if you wish, also take an excursion in search of either Albertine Rift Endemic birdlife, or smaller mammals such as Golden monkey. For this sample itinerary, we include two wonderful Gorilla treks in Rwanda, a really worthwhile idea.  Accommodation at Volcanos National Park, will be One&Only Mountain Gorilla's Nest.

At the end of the trip, travel to Kigali for your flight home.

Note: we recommend that ardent nature enthusiasts add a two-night stay in Akagera National Park onto this sample itinerary, as it allows for exploration of a much more open savannah and lakeland ecosystem

Read more about this tour

Day 1
Day 1
Fly to Rwanda
Take a daytime flight on KLM or Brussels Airlines to Kigali. (If you prefer other carriers, we'll be delighted to quote based on them).
On arrival into Kigali, will be welcomed by your experienced, private, English-speaking driver/guide and taken to the Kigali Serena to stay overnight.
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 and something we recommend all visitors to see.
Accommodation: Kigali Serena
Day 2
Day 2
Road journey to Nyungwe National Park
After breakfast, travel by road to Nyungwe Forest National Park and stay three nights in lovely One&Only Nyungwe House, all meals 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 about 2½ hours.
Extending for nearly one thousand kilometers square over the mountains of southwest Rwanda, beautiful Nyungwe Forest National Park protects the largest single tract of montane forest remaining in Africa. This 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: One&Only Nyungwe House
Day 3
Day 3
Nyungwe National Park
Activities today include Chimpanzee tracking in the early morning and a guided nature walk into the rainforest. You will also be able to enjoy Africa's highest canopy-walk, which is at this national park.
Accommodation: One&Only Nyungwe House
Day 4
Day 4
Nyungwe National Park
This morning, enjoy another 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 Derek and Craig have both observed the Chimps high up in the canopy during three-hour early morning walks.
Other primates seen during the same walk were Grey-cheeked mangabey and many l'Hoest's monkeys. Birding is generally very rewarding.
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).
Accommodation: One&Only Nyungwe House
Day 5
Day 5
Road journey to Kibuye, Lake Kivu
A very scenic drive takes you to Kibuye, on the shores of Lake Kivu. Stay overnight at the rustic but charming 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.
Accommodation: Cormoran Lodge
Day 6
Day 6
Road journey to Gisenyi, northern Lake Kivu
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
Lake Kivu to Parc National Des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park / 'PNV')
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 three nights at One&Only Gorillas Nest lodge, all meals included.
Well located for the main activity which draws tourists to PNV, Gorilla tracking, this lodge provided top notch accommodation and superb service.
Accommodation: One&Only Gorilla's Nest
Day 8
Day 8
Parc National des Volcans -Gorilla tracking!
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: One&Only Gorilla's Nest
Day 9
Day 9
Parc National des Volcans - second Gorilla tracking!
Your second excursion to seek and spend time with one of the resident, habituated family groups of Mountain gorilla.
*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.
Accommodation: One&Only Gorilla's Nest
Day 10
Day 10
Parc National des Volcans - Kigali and departure
Today you can either do a third 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. In the afternoon, you will be driven to Kigali (2½ hours) where you will be taken to the airport to check in for your late night flight home.
Accommodation: Kigali Serena
Day 11
Arrival back home
Early morning arrival back into London Heathrow or selected other airports, if you are flying to UK

Pricing Information & Dates

11 day tour, from £16085 - £16325 per person
Price Includes:
  • Flights
  • Accommodation
Price Includes
* Return international flights from London (or selected other UK airports) 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
* Two Rwanda Gorilla permits per person.
Price Excludes
* Personal items (drinks, tips, phone calls, laundry & travel insurance).
Price Notes
* This itinerary is focused on One&Only's two lodges in Rwanda. For other accommodation alternatives at PNV, do contact us - we'll be happy to advise and quote.

Tour Route Map

  1.   Kigali
  2.   Nyungwe National Park
  3.   Volcanoes National Park
  4.   Lake Kivu

Accommodation on this Tour

Cormoran Lodge
Cormoran Lodge
Lake Kivu, Rwanda
Cormoran Lodge This rustic lodge is set on a slope overlooking scenic Lake Kivu. It has only seven bedrooms in five cabins, built out of wood and supported on stilts. The cosy rooms have en-suite......
Kigali Serena
Kigali Serena
Kigali, Rwanda
Kigali Serena The Kigali Serena is Rwanda’s first luxury five-star hotel. Built on the site of the former Diplomates Hotel, on the stylish Rue de Revolution in central Kigali, it is ideally......
Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
Lake Kivu, Rwanda
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......
One&Only Gorilla's Nest
One&Only Gorilla's Nest
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
One&Only Gorilla's Nest At this exquisite destination resort, 21 luxurious jungle chic lodges stand on stilts amongst beautifully landscaped gardens surrounded by eucalypt forest. As if that......
One&Only Nyungwe House
One&Only Nyungwe House
Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
One&Only Nyungwe House At long last, a wonderful accommodation option for discerning travellers. Designed to blend in with the surrounding environment, this luxury establishment is situated in a lush......

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
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