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The Ultimate Adventure Through Rwanda

An action-packed week among ancient rainforests and emerald lakes in the wild heart of Africa, home to the mountain gorillas

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Trip Ref #10786

The Ultimate Adventure Through Rwanda

An action-packed week among ancient rainforests and emerald lakes in the wild heart of Africa, home to the mountain gorillas

DURATION
8 nights
LOCATION
Rwanda
ANNUAL LEAVE
5 days off work
SEASON
Nov-Feb | Jun-Aug
GROUP SIZE
Up to 12 people
MEETING POINT
Kigali International Airport, Rwanda
ACCOMMODATION
Classic

Guesthouse · Hotel · Wild camping

OVERALL RATING

0.0

This trip is brand new
DIFFICULTY
Moderate

This is an adventurous trip filled with forest hikes, paddles and rides, but is manageable by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness

Trek in the lush Nyungwe National Park and embark on a thrilling canopy walk above treetops teeming with wildlife

Kayak the vast emerald waters of Lake Kivu in Africa's Great Rift Valley, camping under the stars on a remote island

Explore Rwanda's rich and vibrant culture, taste some of the world’s best coffee and cycle through Umusambi village

Want to meet Rwanda’s enigmatic mountain gorillas? You can opt to add on this once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience

Day 1

Welcome to Rwanda!

Rwanda landscape. Photo: Host/Kingfisher Journeys - Vysakh R Nambiar

Touch down in Kigali, where you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy some free time to recover from the journey, meet up with your fellow travellers and get a good night's sleep before the action starts tomorrow.

Day 2

Cycle the Umusambi Village Trail

Umusambi biking trail, Rwanda. Photo: Host/Kingfisher Journeys

Cycling

2-3hrs · 22km · 200m up · 200m down

Kickstart your Rwandan adventure with a scenic bike ride along the Umusambi village nature trail, followed by a visit to a beautifully restored wetland area, a sanctuary for endangered grey crowned cranes which have been saved from the illegal pet trade. Enjoy a welcome barbecue lunch, then head back to Kigali to visit the Genocide Memorial, an important place of remembrance where you can learn about the shocking events that led up to the 1994 genocide. Return to the hotel for some downtime and dinner, then rest up ahead of your long but scenic journey south tomorrow.

Day 3

Travel to the richly biodiverse Nyungwe Forest

Rwanda Landscape, Nyungwe. Photo: Shutterstock-1112578523.

Hiking

3hrs · 8km · 300m up · 300m down

Driving

6hrs

Wake early and embark on a scenic drive south, journeying through the undulating landscape dotted with colourful villages, famously nicknamed 'The Land of a Thousand Hills'. Make a stop in Nyanza – once the capital of the Kingdom of Rwanda – for an optional visit to the fascinating King’s Palace Museum, then hike up Mount Remera for 360-degree views over lush agricultural lands. Continue on to Nyungwe National Park, one of the oldest rainforests in Africa which is richly biodiverse and spectacularly beautiful with rushing streams, verdant valleys, tree-covered mountains, dappled savannahs and extensive swamps. This mountainous region is teaming with wildlife, including a small population of chimpanzees, twelve other species of primates and over 300 recorded species of birds. Check in to your simple but cosy guesthouse at the edge of the park and enjoy the peaceful vibes of your incredible natural surroundings.

Day 4

The Imbaraga Trail and an epic canopy walkway

Canopy Walkway, Rwanda. Photo: Host/Kingfisher Journeys

Hiking

6hrs · 10-12km · 600m up · 600m down

Rise early for a full immersion in Nyungwe Forest's primordial beauty. Today, you'll be following the wild Imbaraga Trail, which means ‘strength’ in the local dialect. You'll need a good dose of it to tackle the steady 2.5km climb, which will get your heart thumping. Every effort will be worth it though, as you'll be hiking among incredible scenery of dense forests, verdant valleys, majestic mahogany trees, giant tree ferns and rivers. Along the route, enjoy the thrilling experience of a canopy walkway, the only one of this kind in East Africa. Traverse the 160m long, 70m high suspension bridge – the feeling of being atop East Africa’s largest and oldest Afro-Montane forest is unparalleled! An expert park ranger will help you spot rare species of flora, there’s a good chance of seeing monkeys, and with luck, you may even come across the elusive chimpanzees.

Day 5

Waterfall hiking and Lake Kivu sundowners

Isumo Waterfall, Rwanda. Photo: Marta Marinelli

Hiking

4hrs · 10km · 400m up · 400m down

Continue exploring other beautiful trails in the park today as you set off along brilliant green tea fields and climb higher into the forest, before descending into one of the most densely vegetated and steep rainforest ravines on any trail at Nyungwe. Cool misty air and the murmur of a river rise from below whilst ferns, mosses, lichens and flowers thrive in this high humidity. With some luck, you may spot elusive black and white colobus monkeys and an array of bird species, such as the Rwenzori turaco. Reach the stunning Isumo Falls and be amazed by the spectacle of the water thundering down, full blast, nearly at your feet. This afternoon, say goodbye to Nyungwe and head to Kibuye, reaching your lakeside hotel in time for sundowners and a spectacular view across Lake Kivu.

Day 6

Paddle Lake Kivu and wild camp on a deserted island

Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Photo: Host/Kingfisher Journeys

Kayaking

4-5hrs · 12km

Tuck into breakfast, then get into your kayak to paddle across the clear waters of Rwanda’s ‘Bay of Islands’. The numerous islands of Lake Kivu are covered in lush vegetation and rich in flora and fauna, so keep an eye out for monkeys, fish eagles and Congo otters. Have lunch on Munini Island (also known as Napoleon Island) to the backdrop of a raucous colony of thousands of fruit bats roosting in the trees, then continue paddling as the sun starts to set. If you’re lucky, the local fishermen might join you, singing to help them paddle in unison. You’ll have exclusive access to Gishayu Island tonight, one of the most beautiful and unspoilt locations on Lake Kivu, where you'll set up camp and sit down to a simple but delicious meal around an open fire, before falling asleep beneath a blanket of stars.

Day 7

From Lake Kivu to Volcanoes National Park

Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Photo: Much Better Adventures/Marta Marinelli

Kayaking

3hrs · 8km

Wake up early to continue your exploration of Lake Kivu by kayak, paddling along the shores of one of Africa’s Great Lakes until reaching Kinini. Here you'll have a chance to join a fascinating tour of a thriving coffee station and learn about the process of harvesting, washing, roasting, grinding and preparing some of the best coffee in Rwanda (and the world). Next, hop on a boat and enjoy the spectacular views as you journey across Lake Kivu heading to Gisenyi, where you'll switch to a vehicle for a final two-hour drive to Ruhengeri, the gateway to the famous Volcanoes National Park within the Virunga Mountains. Enjoy a well-deserved hot shower and a good night's sleep after a long day, and get ready for a final day of special wildlife encounters tomorrow.

Day 8

Wildlife encounters and sunset canoeing

Mountain Gorilla, Rwanda. Photo: Much Better Adventures/Marta Marinelli

Wildlife Tracking

3-6hrs · 7-10km · 500-700m up · 500-700m down

Canoeing

2hrs · 6km

Meet at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters at 07:00 to begin hiking through the forests to spend an hour with a troop of up to 100 playful golden monkeys. This rare species is listed as endangered with just over 1000 left in the world. They are very sprightly creatures, leaping from tree to tree as they get on with their daily activities. Alternatively, you can opt to visit the mountain gorillas instead – a wildlife encounter like no other which is worth the high permit fee. Walking amongst these gentle primates and witnessing their lives up close is arguably one of the best wildlife experiences on earth. You can find more information about permit fees for this Optional Extra in the FAQ section below. Later this afternoon, enjoy a sunset canoeing trip surrounded by the sights and sounds of rural Rwanda. Soak up impressive views, spot abundant birds, look out for the otters and meet friendly communities along the way, before celebrating the end of your adventure over a final dinner with your group.

Day 9

Goodbye Rwanda

Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Photo: Much Better Adventures/Marta Marinelli

Driving

3hrs

After a last Rwandan breakfast, check out and hop into your transfer back to the airport in Kigali, where you'll be dropped off around noon for your flight home.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking local guides

Accommodation

7 nights in hotels or local guesthouses, and 1 night wild camping

Meals

All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners

Transfers

To and from the airport and everything in between

Equipment

All your camping and kayaking equipment

Permits

All park permits and entry fees, with the exception of the gorilla permit (this is an optional add-on)

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Tips for your guides

Personal expenses

Visas where required

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 4

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Wild camping · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7 – Day 8

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Market in Kigali, Rwanda

Rwandan cuisine uses lots of local ingredients, with sweet potatoes, corn, beans, fruit and millet making up most diets. A typical Rwandan breakfast consists of corn, millet or sorghum porridge and sweet potatoes. Reflecting Western cultures, breakfasts usually include eggs, toast and occasionally pancakes; however, traditional soups, beans and rice and other vegetables (locally known as dodo) are also common. The biggest meal of the day is dinner and this is usually made up of dishes like isombe (cassava leaves with eggplant and spinach), umutsima (a dish of cassava and corn) as well as mizuzu (fried plantains). You’ll also find plenty of chips and rice, squash, peas and other vegetables made into a traditional stew.

Vegetarian diets can be fully catered for. Vegan diets and other dietary requirements can usually be catered for, but please make sure to contact your host about it, and be prepared to bring your own snacks. Whilst meals containing meat are the norm at most restaurants, packed lunches and cooked meals are made using tasty vegetarian ingredients to ensure that everything is fresh and healthy.

Please note that we cannot guarantee the safe consumption of food in the case of strict food allergies: we recommend you discuss any such conditions with your host before booking your trip to Rwanda.

What is the accommodation like?

Photo: hotel's website
Kigali

You'll spend the first two nights at Iris Guesthouse, a simple hotel surrounded by lush gardens and only a ten-minute walk from downtown. Accommodation is in twin-shared rooms with ensuite toilets and free WiFi.

Nyungwe Forest National Park

You’ll spend two nights at the simple but cosy Ear Ken Barham Guesthouse, located right next to Nyungwe Forest. The property comprises a lush and peaceful garden overlooking the green tea plantations, a bar and a good restaurant serving hearty Rwandan dishes. Accommodation is in twin-shared rooms, all ensuite and some including a small balcony.

Lake Kivu

Whilst on Lake Kivu you'll spend one night in Kibuye at the Hotel Delta Resort, overlooking the lake and featuring a garden, a shared lounge, a terrace, and a restaurant. The air-conditioned rooms come with free WiFi, a private bathroom with a shower, and a balcony.

host
Gishayu Island

For one night during your kayaking expedition, you will have the unique opportunity to wild camp on a private island in the middle of the lake. Everything you’ll need will be brought over for you in a motorboat, but on this one night only, you won’t have access to your main luggage. All your camping equipment is included, and your guides will prepare meals at the campsite.

Musanze

For the last two nights of the adventure, you'll usually stay at the Isange Paradise Resort. Located near the Volcanoes National Park, it has stunning mountain views, and each room has a private terrace overlooking the beautiful garden. Depending on availability, some departures may instead stay at the Karisimbi Cave Resort, which is just a 10-minute drive away in Ruhengeri. This is a similar standard accommodation with gardens, a restaurant, a lounge, a terrace and free WiFi.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for an extra charge, please see Optional Extras for the price. This will secure you a single room for the nights spent in hotels and guesthouses, and a single tent on Gishayu Island. Please request this at the time of booking, as all upgrades are subject to availability.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Kigali International Airport, Rwanda

Any time on Day 1

Ends

Kigali International Airport, Rwanda

12:00 on Day 9

Transfers

Airport transfers are included to and from the hotel if you arrive on Day 1. On Day 9, a single airport transfer will be arranged from Ruhengeri to Kigali, with an expected drop off at the airport around 12:00 midday – so we recommend booking a flight departing no earlier than 14:00. If you need a transfer outside of Days 1 and 9, your host can arrange one for you at an extra cost: please see Optional Extras for details.

Travel options

There are regular flights in and out of Kigali from the UK, Europe and the US. These are generally with KLM and Brussels Airlines. If you are flying from London, there are also some direct RwandAir flights, and these should generally align with the trip dates. Day 1 will only involve a meet and greet with the group, so if your flight arrives late on this day, it's not a problem. If you arrive into Kigali before Day 1, or stay longer at the end, your host can arrange additional accommodation for you; please see Optional Extras for more info.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

You host will provide all your camping equipment (sleeping bags, sleeping mats, small pillow and all cooking equipment), kayaking equipment and cycling equipment (including a helmet)

What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • Main luggage or duffel bag
  • Day pack for hiking (waterproof or with a waterproof cover and big enough for your lunch, water camera and waterproofs etc.)

Clothing

  • Sun hat (suitable for use on the water)
  • Short sleeved shirts/t-shirts (including technical/quick drying for when hiking)
  • Short trousers/long hiking trousers
  • Long trousers (for village visits/cultural sites)
  • Lightweight fleece for cooler mornings/evenings
  • Waterproof trousers and jacket
  • Swimwear
  • Strap on sandals or flip flops (ideally waterproof for kayaking)
  • Walking boots (well broken-in and waterproof)
  • Lightweight shoes (for the evening and to guard against mosquitos)

Personal items

  • Medical kit and toiletries
  • Insect repellent
  • Waterproof sunscreen (SPF 50 recommended)
  • Sun glasses

Accessories

  • Sleeping bag liner (a sleeping bag will be provided). Please note that if you don’t bring your own, you will be asked to buy a locally-made liner for your sleeping bag.
  • Electrical adaptors (Rwanda uses a seemingly random combination of 230V UK and European plugs!)
  • Refillable water bottles (2 litres total)
  • Head torch/flashlight and spare batteries
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Reusable stuff sacks and containers for any equipment you want to leave on the support vehicles while hiking or kayaking
  • Drybag for kayaking and canoeing
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Mountain Gorillas Trekking Permit

Payable Before Departure

Mountain Gorillas Trekking Permit

Additional Night in Kigali Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Kigali Single Room

Additional Night in Kigali Twin/Double Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Kigali Twin/Double Room

Optional Private Room and Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room and Tent Upgrade

Airport Transfer (each way)

Payable Before Departure

Airport Transfer (each way)

Per Person

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 288kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

This trip is designed for those with good fitness, but none of the activities are hugely strenuous or require previous experience.

You should be able to trek for up to six hours across uneven terrain or dense jungle. The hiking, while not technically difficult, can involve some steep sections, sometimes on muddy and slippery paths or under humid forest canopies, so a sense of adventure and decent stamina is important. You should also feel comfortable riding a bike for a couple of hours, but no technical skills are required. No previous experience is needed for the kayaking, but you'll be spending some hours paddling on Lake Kivu so you should have reasonable upper body strength to enjoy it to the full.

There are a couple of long drives (up to four hours) but these will be a great chance to rest your legs while taking in dazzling views of Rwanda the way. There will also be several early starts in order to avoid the heat and maximise the wildlife-spotting opportunities, so a willingness here is key to enjoying the experience.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience, so if you want to see these incredible animals in the wild this can be arranged for you on Day 8 (in replacement of visiting the golden monkeys). Gorilla viewing permits are limited and the price is set by the Rwandan Government, so if you wish to book this excursion we recommend planning it as early in advance as possible.

The total price payable for the permit is $1442 per person, inclusive of some booking fees (this is calculated as the full standard permit fee, minus the cost of the golden monkey activity, which is included in the full trip cost but you'll need to skip this if you choose to visit the mountain gorillas instead). In order to book a gorilla permit, please request this from your host after booking the adventure and provide your passport details. Your host will process the permit request for you and collect a deposit of $600, if the request is made before your final trip balance is due. Alternatively, the full amount will be collected.

If you change your mind and need to cancel or postpone your trip, the $600 permit deposit is not usually refundable. Within 30 days from arrival, no changes are possible and no refunds are available. Standard cancellation terms and fees apply for the remaining cost of the trip, which you can try to claim back via your insurance.

Gorilla health is taken very seriously in Rwanda. This means that if you are ill (even the slightest of colds), you will be unable to visit them. The government does not offer refunds, so if this was to occur you would need to try and claim this on your travel insurance (please check that you are covered for such an eventuality).

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

While tap water is unsafe for drinking, please bring a refillable water bottle with you as a plentiful supply of filtered/treated water will be available during the trip.

Rwanda is warm and spring-like all year round. Temperatures average 24-34°C in the daytime and 17-20°C at night. Short thunderstorms that usually pass within an hour or so can occur at any time of year, but the main wet seasons are March to mid-May and September to mid-November.

Rain is unlikely in the main dry season (from the start of July to mid-August) but it can be a little more hazy due to the dust in the air. Rwanda is a great place to visit at any time of year; however, December to February are the most popular as there's lots of sunshine and the landscape is lush and green.

During the activities you'll only need to carry your day pack containing lunch, waterproofs, camera, water etc. During the two-day kayaking expedition on Lake Kivu you will need to bring with you an overnight kit with only the essential items you need for those two days. Your main luggage will be transferred by vehicle throughout the trip.

We recommend checking out the country specific information and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling in Rwanda, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however, we'd suggest the following as a guideline per person:

  • Guide: approx. $25-50pp
  • Driver: approx. $15-30pp
  • National park guide: approx. $8pp
  • Total: $50-90pp

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality – a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

All foreign nationalities entering Rwanda require a valid visa. This can be obtained upon arrival in Kigali and in many cases, is free. The Visit Rwanda website provides more information. Please check the regulations for your nationality.

Weather conditions should be pretty favourable in the season when this trip is scheduled to run, but as always Mother Nature is unpredictable so the best you can do is to be prepared for anything and come equipped with sunscreen, a hat and waterproofs. Your host will be monitoring the weather conditions during the course of the trip and may suggest alternative, safer activities should the weather get particularly bad, or change the order and timings of them.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

November 2024

Saturday • 23rd November 2024

to Sunday • 1st December 2024
12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run
Only 2 spots left at 10% off

Saturday • 28th December 2024

to Sunday • 5th January 2025
12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run
Only 2 spots left at 10% off

Saturday • 1st February 2025

to Sunday • 9th February 2025
12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 7th June 2025

to Sunday • 15th June 2025
12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 12th July 2025

to Sunday • 20th July 2025
12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 16th August 2025

to Sunday • 24th August 2025
12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Saturday • 22nd November 2025

to Sunday • 30th November 2025
12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Sunday • 28th December 2025

to Monday • 5th January 2026
12 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Pay In Installments

You can choose to pay for this trip in as many installments as you like, with no interest or fees.

Full Financial Protection

Your money is safe. Every booking is fully financially protected.

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