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Rwanda Safaris: Gorilla Trekking Tours 2023-2024

Rwanda Safaris | Rwanda Gorilla Safaris

Rwanda is known for its mountain gorilla trekking adventure in Volcanoes National Park. But because of the country’s close geographical and ecological ties with neighbouring Uganda, many of Rwanda safaris/ Rwanda tours incorporate aspects of both countries. Rwanda is not just all about trekking with gorillas.

Other amazing wildlife destinations like the primate-filled Nyungwe Forest offer fantastic chimp treks, excellent hiking, spectacular canopy tours and birding safaris that combine well with a gorilla trek in Volcanoes. Furthermore, Lake Kivu and Akagera National Park offers everything from breathtaking views and boat cruises to safari game drives (all Big 5 can be seen in Akagera).

Our selection of Rwanda safaris also include combinations with some of Kenya & Tanzania’s most popular destinations. Why not combine a Rwanda gorilla tour with the Serengeti, Masai Mara or even Zanzibar?

Rwanda Safaris Packages | Best Rwanda Gorilla Tours

Major Rwanda Safaris Activities

The major activities during your Rwanda safaris include:-

  • Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park
  • Golden monkey tracking in Volcanoes National Park
  • Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe National Park
  • Forest Canopy walks in Nyungwe National Park
  • Game drives, nature walk and boat cruise at the Akagera National Park
  • Cycling tour along the Congo Nile Trail
  • Bird watching in Rwanda
  • Cultural and community visits
  • Visiting the genocide memorial centers
  • Volcano hiking; Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi
  • Visiting the grave of Dian Fossey and her former Karisoke Research Centre
  • Touring Kigali city
  • Relaxation, boat cruise, kayaking, and fishing at Lake Kivu
  • Read more about the best things to in Rwanda

Where To Go In Rwanda? | Best Rwanda Safaris Destinations

Rwanda is 4th smallest country on the African mainland after Gambia, Eswatini, and Djibouti.

Despite the country’s modest size, Rwanda’s breath-taking environment and kind, welcoming people provide one-of-a-kind experiences. With incredible species inhabiting its volcanoes, montane rainforests, and wide savannah plains, you will be sure to encounter many endemic animals on your Rwanda safaris and tours.

At 26,338 km², Rwanda is slightly larger than Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park (20,226 sq km) and and almost all points of interest are about a 4-hour drive from Kigali city. You can expect to walk with wild mountain gorillas, hike towering volcanoes, and relax by the beautiful Lake Kivu.

1. Volcanoes National Park

Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is well-known as one of the leading destinations for gorilla trekking in Africa. It is a place where, against so many odds, the highly endangered mountain gorilla has thrived.

And while the gorillas may be the stars, visitors are always blown away by this volcanic landscape’s magnificent scenery and astounding biodiversity. Situated in Rwanda’s northwest corner on the borders of Uganda and DR Congo, this 160km2 gem contains of 5 non-active volcanoes.

2. Nyungwe Forest National Park

The 1,019km2 Nyungwe National Park contains the most extensive protected tract of montane forest in both East and Central Africa. Part of the Albertine Rift with an altitude of 1,600 to 3,000m, this highland forest towers above Lake Kivu and encompasses the watershed between the Congo and Nile Rivers. Some people believe it is the most distant source of the Nile River.

In terms of wildlife, Nyungwe Forest is home a variety of birds, rare butterflies and beautiful orchids. However, the stars of the show are the 13-primate species – including chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s owl-faced and colobus monkeys – that make the park their playground. Besides spectacular hiking trails and breathtaking views, the Nyungwe Forest canopy walk is a perfect way to spotting blue monkeys living in the treetops.

3. Akagera National Park

Located in eastern Rwanda about 3-hour drive from Kigali, Akagera has established itself as a destination on the rise. It is Rwanda’s only park where you can see the Big 5. The park is also where the tropical forests of Central Africa give way to the dry savannahs of East Africa. In addition to guided game drives, Akagera National Park also offers private boat tours, sunset cruises, walking safaris and night drives.

4. Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is located on the western boarder of Rwanda. It is a massive expanse of water ringed by green hills that offer excellent hiking and bird watching. Lake Kivu has also become a benchmark for the unmatched scenery you’ll encounter at the top Rwanda safari destinations.

Here you can stay at Gisenyi, a small town on the northern shore from which you can enjoy kayaking or a boat cruise. Lake Kivu is a peaceful place to get over jetlag from a long-haul flight or to relax after the relatively difficult gorilla trek and the many other incredible Rwanda safaris tours.

5. Kigali City

Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda. It is also entry and exit point for gorilla trekking tours.

You‘ll fly in from East Africa’s logistics hubs such as Nairobi or Entebbe. And depending on your Rwanda safari itinerary, you will either transfer straight to the wildlife parks or overnight in this safe city for immersive and captivating Kigali city tours on offer. Kigali is both clean and safe.

Once a month on the ‘Umuganda Day’, residents engage in mandatory cleaning of all aspects of the city. As a means of combatting pollution and litter, all forms of plastic bags are prohibited in Rwanda. A full day in Kigali will allow you time to visit the Genocide Memorial, which is both moving and inspiring, and to see the ‘old’ and ‘new’ parts of the capital – a notable and rewarding, must-visit tourist Rwanda safari attractions.

FAQs About Rwanda Safaris

1. When is the best time to visit Rwanda?

Rwanda safaris are available throughout the year and the best time to visit Rwanda depends a bit on your specific interest and tolerance for wet weather. Most visitors come to Rwanda to do mountain gorilla trekking, which is available all year. However, the wet climate of Virunga Volcanoes can make trekking a challenge, particularly in the peaks of the rainy season: March, April, October and November.

The driest months, from June to August, are ideal for trekking with gorillas and hiking in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Most of the primates of Nyungwe Forest can be seen all year, although chimpanzees are easier to find during Wet Season, since they prefer to migrate deeper into the forest when food gets scarce.

Having said all that, if you have appropriated waterproof gear and don’t mind getting caught in the rain on occasion, the Wet season months have advantages in that they are less crowded and lodges often offer reduced prices. You can also easily obtain a gorilla permit in wet season.

2. Is Rwanda good for safari?

Yes, Rwanda is a good country for safari. And mountain gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is by far the prime tourist attraction in Rwanda and most visitors come to the country for that reason alone, often adding a few days in Rwanda to a safari in Kenya, Uganda, or Tanzania. However, there is several other things to see and do in Rwanda than gorilla trekking. Other attractions include:

  • Golden monkey treks
  • Climbing one of the volcanoes in Volcanoes National Park
  • Nyungwe National Park and its 13 primate species, including chimpanzees
  • Akagera National Park, the only of home of Big Five animals in Rwanda
  • History and cultural experiences

3. How much is a safari in Rwanda?

Traveling, on, or off-peak, trip duration, level of comfort, accommodation options, transportation, and group size, will all affect your Rwanda safari cost. Tracking mountain gorillas doesn’t come cheaply. Below is a quick breakdown of costs in Rwanda’s national parks, Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe, and Akagera.

Volcanoes National Park

  • Gorilla Trekking Permit: US$ 1500
  • Golden Monkey Tracking Permit: US$ 100
  • Dian Fossey Hike Permit: US$ 75
  • Kirisimbi Hike Permit (2 days excluding porter and chef): US$ 400
  • Buhanga Eco Park Visit: US$ 40
  • Musanze Cave Visit: US$ 50
  • Guided Nature Walk: US$ 55
  • Multiple Volcanoes Hike Permit: US$ 1500

Nyungwe National Park

  • Entry Fee: 1 night US$ 60 / 2 nights US$ 90 / 3 nights US$ 120
  • Chimpanzee Trekking: US$ 150 (minimum 2 pax)
  • Freelance Guide: half day US$ 15 / full day US$ 25
  • Porter: half day US$ 5 / full day US$ 10

Akagera National Park

  • Self-Drive Entry Fees: 1 night US$ 100 / 2 night US$ 150 / 3 nights US$ 200
  • Rwandan or EAC Registered Vehicle Fees: US$ 10 to US$ 20
  • Foreign Registered Vehicle Fees: US$ 40 to US$ 100
  • Guides for Self Drive: half day US$ 25 / full day US$ 40
  • Night Game Drive: US$ 40 per person (min 2, max 7)
  • Game Drive: half day US$ 180 / full day US$ 280
  • Boat Cruise: day-time US$ 35 / Sunset cruise US$ 45 / private US$ 180

4. Is Rwanda better than Uganda for gorilla trekking?

Both are great options, but which is best depends on your needs. However, here are some comparisons.

  • Uganda is home to more than 50% of the world’s mountain gorilla population, most of which reside in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Bwindi is an 8 hour drive from Entebbe, or a handy 1 ½ hour flight from Entebbe.
  • Gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park promises an adventure through thick forest, giving visitors the opportunity to experience the ‘African jungle feel’ firsthand. Depending on the family of gorillas you visit, you may have to trek to steep areas of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, meaning some level of physical fitness is important. A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda costs $700.
  • Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is 3 hour drive from Kigali, or 35 minutes by helicopter. The gorilla trekking experience here takes place in slightly less dense vegetation than Bwindi, but offers similar surroundings to Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla Park as both are located in the Virunga Mountains. A gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costs around $1500 in Rwanda.

Read more about gorilla trekking Rwanda vs Uganda

5. What wildlife can I expect to see when on a Rwanda safari?

A safari in Rwanda is quite different from most classic East African safari holidays.

Most of the safari activities in Rwanda need hiking in rainforests. Aside from mountain gorillas, other primates can be tracked, such as golden monkeys and chimpanzees. Encountering any of these primates is a very rewarding experience but difficult to compare to a safari in the Masai Mara, for example.

Longer Rwanda safari holidays can include a tour trip to Akagera for a more conventional safari. Akagera NP suffered hugely from human encroachment and poaching in the past, but this is now mostly under control thanks to the commitment of African Parks. Animals are still quite skittish and you have to work a bit harder for your sightings than in some other iconic savannah game parks, but a safari to Akagera shouldn’t be missed.

6. How safe is Rwanda for tourists?

Rwanda is a safe destination for tourists. Unfortunately, the country is still stained by the memory of the horrific genocide, which happened as a result of historical conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu peoples.

The genocide occurred in 1994 and there have been no incidents since. Today, Rwanda feels like quite a well-run country and the people are very gracious and friendly. Many have returned after years of exile, which gives Rwanda quite a cosmopolitan feel as many of the returnees have studied abroad.

As in any country, most crime occurs in cities and urban centers and visitors should take normal safety precautions in these places. You are unlikely to encounter any problems on guided activities if you have booked with a reputable tour operator.

7. What type of accommodation can I expect?

Rwanda has come a long way since its early days of safari tourism a few decades ago. There are now top-notch accommodation options in all the main tourist destinations.

Where once there were only a handful of local guesthouses available, there are now tourist-class hotels in or around Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe Forest and Akagera National Parks. In recent years, many small, high-class safari lodges (so popular in more mainstream safari countries) have opened as well. This should help put Rwanda on the map for the repeat African visitor who loves the classic Africa safari holiday.

8. What can I expect from a safari in Rwanda?

While Akagera is developing as a great savannah safari park, Rwanda safaris are not on the same level as classic safaris offered in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana.

So, the word ‘safari’ might be somewhat misleading. Most people visit Rwanda for rainforest activities like gorilla and chimpanzee trekking, volcano hikes and birding. Trekking wild mountain gorillas is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and most people walk away in awe of these wonderful gentle giants living their life in this stunning rainforest setting. Spending an hour with them is an absolute privilege.

Because of this, and since gorilla trekking has been publicized more in recent years, it has become a bucket-list activity for many general tourists. The other safari activities will mostly appeal to the more active traveler. Rwanda has high rainfall throughout the year, so you will be walking a lot on slippery forest trails and you might well get wet on a few occasions.

The daily limit on the gorilla trekking permits implies that visitor numbers tend to be low wherever you go, and you will enjoy a feeling of exclusivity and discovery. The people of Rwanda are exceptionally proud of their country and very welcoming to guests.

Ready to Plan an unforgettable Rwanda safari

Our curated safaris in Rwanda offer you a taste of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. They are filled with intimate wildlife encounters, cultural tours and dramatic landscapes in pristine regions of the country.

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