Much Better Adventures

Adventures / Adventure Tapas

Hike and Kayak Rwanda

Paddle one of Africa’s Great Lakes, sleep under the stars and summit Mt Karisimbi, Rwanda’s highest peak (4507m). Eyes peeled for gorillas.

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Trip Ref #9947

Adventures / Adventure Tapas

Hike and Kayak Rwanda

Paddle one of Africa’s Great Lakes, sleep under the stars and summit Mt Karisimbi, Rwanda’s highest peak (4507m). Eyes peeled for gorillas.

DURATION
8 nights
LOCATION
Rwanda
ANNUAL LEAVE
7 days off work
SEASON
Feb, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec
GROUP SIZE
Up to 12 people
MEETING POINT
Kigali International Airport, Rwanda
ACCOMMODATION
Hotel · Wild camping
DIFFICULTY
Challenging

No experience needed, but you'll be hiking on uneven ground up to a 4500m peak so good fitness is recommended.

Journey through the 'Land of a Thousand Hills' as you trek the misty mountains and lush rainforest of Virunga National Park

Cycle the back roads of Kigali and climb the flanks of Sabyinyo Volcano, with an optional visit to see the mountain gorillas - a once in a lifetime experience

Wild swim at sunrise, followed by a cup of some of the freshest coffee in the world

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking local guides

Accommodation

6 nights in a hotel or guesthouse, 2 nights camping.

Meals

Munch on tasty food throughout

Transfers

To and from the airport and everything in-between

Equipment

All your camping and kayaking equipment

Permits

All park permits and entry fees

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Tips for your guides

Personal expenses

The Area

Logistics

Starts

Kigali International Airport, Rwanda

Arrive before 06:50am on Day 1

Ends

Kigali International Airport, Rwanda

Catch any flight. We recommend the Rwandair flight at 08:00am on Day 9.

Transfers

Airport transfers are included if you arrive into Kigali any time on Wednesday or Day 1 (Thursday morning) up to 0650 and depart any time on Saturday - going to / from the Iris Guest House only. If airport transfers are needed outside those times, or going to alternative accommodation: the cost is $25 each way.

Travel options

The easiest way to the start point from Europe is via Rwanda Air. These flights do not apepar on most price comparison sites (Google Flights / Skyscanner etc,) so you'll need to book directly with the airline. There are several other major airlines which fly to Kigali as well. If you want to arrive into Kigali before Day 1, or stay longer at the end, your host can arrange additional accomodation for you.

What about all the carbon?

We mitigate 4x the carbon generated by all our customer flights annually through our partnership with Cool Earth.

Day 1 – Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Wild camping · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4 – 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?

Rwandan cuisine uses lots of local ingredients, with sweet potatoes, corn, beans, fruit and millet making up most diets. A typical breakfast consists of corn, millet or sorghum porridge and sweet potatoes. 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).

Vegetarian and vegan diets can be fully catered for. 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. Most additional dietary requests can also be accomodated but please check with your host.

What is the accommodation like?

Kigali

You'll stay at the Iris Guesthouse, a simple hotel surrounded by lush gardens.

Kibuye

You’ll stay in the lakeside Rwiza Village in lodge-style accommodation - the perfect way to start your journey as you watch lake life unfold from the balcony.

Gisenyi

You'll stay at the Hotel Paradis Malahide, located next to the lake and with its own private beach.

Musanze

You'll stay at the Isange Paradise Resort: each room has a private terrace overlooking the beautiful garden. Located near the National Park it has stunning mountain views.

On the island

You’ll wild camp on a private island in the middle of the lake, with everything you need brought over with you on your kayaks. There are no facilities at this low-impact location so everything must also leave with you afterwards.

On the mountain

You’ll camp on the flanks of Mt Karisimbi, with everything brought in and taken away afterwards to keep this spectacular location pristine.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for $130 USD per person. This will secure you a single room for hotel and guesthouse nights and a single tent on the island. Depending on the group size, it may not be possible to have a single tent at Karasimbi base camp as space is limited. Please request at the time of booking as all upgrades are subject to availability.

Day 1

Kigali

Meet your guide in Kigali and head to Question Coffee, one of the city's best coffee shops to see how the brew is transforming lives in Rwanda. Wander the streets, meet some of the locals and visit the Genocide Memorial to learn more about the countries recent and often tragic history. Return to the hotel for some downtime, before meeting up with the rest of your team for dinner.

Day 2

Kibuye

Cycling

15km

Drive to the summit of Mt Kigali and take in the views, before climbing onto your bike for the cruise downhill - the roads are mostly dirt track and quiet lanes so you’ll pretty much have them to yourself. After lunch, say goodbye to the city and head to Kibuye, reaching your lakeside hotel in time for sundowners and a spectacular view across Lake Kivu.

Day 3

Sunset paddling and stargazing

Kayaking

6 hours · 16km

Board your kayak and 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 to the backdrop of a raucous colony of thousands of fruit bats roosting in the trees and 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 the island tonight, so set up camp, buy some fish for dinner and sit down to a simple but delicious meal around an open fire before falling asleep beneath a blanket of stars.

Day 4

Bugarura Island Strait

Kayaking

6hrs · 18km

Start the day with the dawn chorus and then navigate the headlands and islands of this incredible, never-ending lake. Pass through the narrow channel that seperates Bugarura Island from the mainland, meeting families making the short journey by canoe - a great way to connect with the local communities that share the resources of the lake.

Spend the day island hopping and wild swimming - don't worry, Lake Kivu is the only Great Lake that doesn't have any crocodiles or hippos, so you can just enjoy the incredible views followed by another amazing sunset. As Rwandan coffee is considered some of the best in the world, visit a local cooperative and see how the beans are harvested, processed and roasted over an open fire - and of course sample some of the finished product.

Bid goodbye to your kayaks and then hop onto a boat for the transfer to Gisenyi where you’ll spend the night.

Day 5

Summit Mt Muhungwe (2990m)

Hiking

4-5hrs · 11km

Pull on your hiking boots and explore The Congo Nile Divide trail - the watershed that seperates two of the world's great rivers. Pass through the dense forest as you make your way to the summit of Muhungwe (2990m). This peak is set apart from the Virunga Volcanoes and provides a spectacular viewpoint of the challenge ahead - you can even see Mt Karisimbi looming on the horizon.

Day 6

Vurunga Volcanoes National Park

Hiking

8hrs · 10km · 1200m up

Set off early and hike up the lower slopes of Mt Bisoke, crossing the shoulder of Mt Karisimbi before pushing on to your campsite at 3750m. There's a lot of ascending today but the pace will be steady and the drop in temperature much appreciated! Enjoy the views over the other volcanoes, including Nyiragongo and Mikeno in the Democratic Republic of Congo and sleep with that amazing view just moments away.

Day 7

Summit Mt Karisimbi (4507m)

Hiking

8hrs · 14km · 800m up

Depart at first light for the final push to the summit of Mt Karisimbi - at 4507m it's the highest of all the Virungas and occasionally even sees snow. As you ascend you’ll notice the landscape change from tropical rainforest to huge volcanic vistas. Bag the summit, take in the incredible panorama over a rejuvenating brew and then descend to Musanze in time for for a celebratory beer and a hot shower!

Day 8

Visit the Mountain Gorillas (Optional) or Bike and Canoe

Cycling

17km

Time to choose: Gorillas or Bike / Canoe.

Hop into your canoe and paddle down the Mukungwa River through a fertile valley filled with birds and friendly farmers - a unique view of rural Rwandan life. Cycle along the flanks of Sabyinyo Volcano and follow quiet, dirt roads through local villages to Lake Ruhondo. Having worked up an appetite, jump on a boat to a lakeside restaurant with a view of all five Rwandan volcanoes.

Or, visit the mountain gorillas – a wildlife encounter like no other. You’ll walk amongst these gentle primates and witness their lives up close. You can find more information about permit fees for this optional extra in the FAQ section.

Journey back to Kigali for a final night and a farewell meal in the capital.

Day 9

Goodbye Rwanda

Enjoy a last Rwandan breakfast, before checking-out and heading back to the airport in time for your flight home, or continue exploring this beautiful country.

Please Note

All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.

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?

Personal items

  • Medical kit & toiletries
  • Insect repellent
  • Waterproof sunscreen (SPF 50 recommended)
  • Sun glasses with strap

Clothing

  • Sun hat (suitable for use on the water)
  • Short sleeve shirts/t-shirts
  • Short trousers/long shorts
  • Long trousers (for village visits / cultural sites)
  • Lightweight fleece for cooler mornings/evenings
  • Thermal base layers for trekking
  • Light down jacket and thick fleece for the night on Karisimbi
  • Hat, gloves and scarf/snood for the Karisimbi trek
  • Waterproof trousers and jacket
  • Swimwear
  • Strap on sandals or flip flops (ideally waterproof for kayaking)
  • Walking boots
  • Gaiters
  • Lightweight shoes (for the evening and to guard against mosquitos)

Accessories

  • 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 minibus while hiking.
  • Sleeping bag liner (sleeping bag will be provided)
  • Dry bag (for important documents)
  • Day pack for hiking (big enough for your lunch, water camera and waterproofs etc.)
  • Large backpack to which a tent can be strapped rather than a suitcase for your main luggage so that the porters can carry it to the campsite

No previous experience is needed, but you'll be spending long days on Lake Kivu so you should have reasonable upper body strength to enjoy it to the full. The trekking, while not technically difficult, is at altitude and the Karisimbi summit trek involves a lot of climbing. You should feel comfortable walking for up to 9 hours in a day across steep and uneven ground. The cycling is largely downhill with no technical sections, so while you should be confident riding, you don't need any previous experience.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

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 January are the most popular as there's lots of sunshine and the landscape is lush and green.

During the trek you'll only need to carry your day pack containing lunch, waterproofs, camera, water etc. Your larger backpack will be carried by your porters.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so if you want to see these incredible animals in the wild this can be arranged for you on Day 8. Gorilla viewing permits are limited and the price is set by the Rwandan Government.

Gorilla permits are non-refundable and to secure one a 50% deposit is needed upfront to be paid to the government at the time of booking. Please let your host know in advance if you would like to arrange this experience.

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 will need to try and claim this on your travel insurance (please check that you are covered for such an eventuality).

Adventure tourism is relatively new to Rwanda and the government is keen to ensure that it develops in the right way - i.e with maximum benefit to the local communities and minimum impact on the environment.

To support this a permit system has been put in place; visitor numbers are restricted, conservation is funded so that the park is protected and travellers must hire local government guides to guarantee employment. Trekking in the Volcanoes National Park comes with a permit fee of $300 per person (included in the trip price), but you can rest assured that you are creating a positive impact as you go!

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

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.

We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

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

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 folllowing as a guideline per person:

Guide: approx $25-50pp Driver: approx $15-30pp National park guide: approx $8pp Porters: approx $2pp 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.

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.

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Transferrable Deposits

Cancel up to 60 days before departure and we'll transfer your deposit into credit for a future booking.

Free Date Changes

Free date changes up to 60 days before departure.

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