Trek, Kayak and Wild Camp in Rwanda
Paddle one of Africa’s Great Lakes, kip under the stars on a remote island and summit Mt Karisimbi, Rwanda’s highest peak (4507m). Eyes peeled for gorillas.
Kigali International Airport
Intrepid travellers looking for a true off the beaten track experience in a country where adventure tourism is in its infancy. Previous kayaking experience isn’t necessary but you should be in good physical fitness.
Lap up the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’, as you kayak your way across the biodiverse islands of Lake Kivu and trek through the misty mountains and lush rainforest of the Virunga Mountains. You’ll climb volcanoes, wild swim at sunset and sample some of the freshest coffee on the planet. Your peepers may even get a rare glimpse of the endangered mountain gorillas that make the Virunga National Park their home.
- Airport transfers
- All meals (excluding dinner on day 4 and lunch on day 6)
- 3 nights camping
- 2 nights hotel accommodation
- 2 nights guesthouse accommodation
- Qualified English speaking and government-registered guides
- Volcano National Park permits and National Park guides (legally required, $400pp)
- Single modern kayaks and all kayaking equipment
- All camping equipment
Day 1: Arrive in Kigali
An early morning arrival, you’ll meet your local guide and head to a hotel for a quick freshen up. You'll pay Kigali a quick visit to get a taste of the city before heading to the hills. Stopping off at the women's cooperative, Question Coffee, you'll learn a little about coffee and how it's transforming lives before visiting the downtown market to pick up any last minute pieces you might need for the adventure ahead. Lunch will be taken overlooking the city before driving to your lakeside hotel in Kibuye for the full briefing about the journey to come.
Day 2: Kayaking, sunset paddling and star-gazing
Setting off in your single-kayak, you’ll start paddling through the crystal blue waters of Rwanda’s ‘Bay of Islands’. The numerous islands of Lake Kivu are covered in lush vegetation and rich in flora and fauna; keep an eye out for monkeys in the trees, fish eagles and Congo otters sharing the waterways with you.
Lunch is served on Munini Island to the backdrop of a raucous colony of thousands of fruit bats that roost here. You'll end the day cruising along at sunset and if lucky join locals in the water as they fish, singing as they go to help them paddle in unison.
With exclusive access on the island, you'll set up camp, buy fish for dinner from a local fisherman and sit down to a simple but delicious meal around a small open fire before falling asleep under a blanket of stars.
16km kayaking / approx 6 hours with breaks
Day 3: Bugarura Island Strait, lakeside camping
Start the day with the dawn chorus and a hearty breakfast before setting off to navigate the headlands and islands of this incredible never-ending lake.
Passing through a narrow channel between Bugarura Island and the mainland you’ll meet many canoes and the families that make the short journey back and forth to the island. It’s a great way to connect with the communities who share the resources of the lake.
A day of island hopping will provide you with the chance for some wild swimming in the lake's cool waters. And 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 and sunset.
As coffee is grown next to the guesthouse, our local guides will show us how the beans are harvested and processed. Later you'll set up camp on the peaceful shores here and soak up the sounds of the lake at night.
18km kayaking / approx 6 hours with breaks
Day 4: Freshest coffee in the World, summit Mt Muhungwe (2990m)
Staying so close to where some of the best coffee in the world is grown, sampling it really is a must. Your morning coffee will be freshly roasted just before breakfast using beans from the bushes around the village.
Today’s kayaking provides you with a spectacular view of the active Nyiragongo Volcano just over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo (if the weather is clear). With steam rising from its crater, it contains the world’s largest permanent lava lake and dominates the skyline ahead of you all day.
Next, you'll bid goodbye to your kayak and start hiking through dense forest to reach the peak of Muhungwe Mountain (2990m). This peak is set apart from the Virunga Volcanoes and provides a spectacular view of the challenge that lies ahead - you can see Mt Karisimbi looming on the horizon. You'll spend the night either in a guesthouse in Musanze or safari tents.
12km kayaking /approx 3 hours. Approx 4 hours walking / 612m ascent
Day 5: Virunga Volcanoes National Park and Bisoke crater lake (3711m)
Setting off early this morning you'll meet your rangers at Volcanoes National Park. You'll have a short drive to the trailhead and then you're off to hike to the summit of Bisoke. This is mountain gorilla territory so although very rare, there is the chance you may come across these magnificent great apes in the wild.
As you ascend the equatorial rainforest – with occasional sightings of antelope – the views give way to more open meadows near the summit filled by a spectacular crater lake. You’ll continue onto the campsite for an early night.
Approx 8 hours walking / 1327m ascent
Day 6: Summit Mt Karisimbi (4507m)
Leaving early in the morning, it’s a steep climb up this iconic conical volcano to the summit so we'll take it slow and steady.
At 4,507m it is the highest of all the Virunga's and occasionally sees snow. With impressive views over the other Virunga volcanoes, including Nyiragongo and Mikeno in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the arc of volcanoes in Rwanda to Muhabura.
Heading back down the trail, you’ll make it to Musanze for a late lunch before driving back to Kigali for your last night and a final group dinner.
Approx 8 hours walking / 1072m ascent
Day 7: Head home or stay on to spot gorillas
It's home time or you can extend your adventure for a better chance of seeing the mountain gorillas. Permits are tightly controlled in order to limit visitor numbers, but if you'd like to add on a few extra nights to do this you can. You can find more information about this in the FAQ section.
If you're choosing to go home, an early morning transfer will take you to the airport to catch your flights back.
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.
In Kibuye you will be staying in the lakeside Rwiza Village. This individual lodge-style accommodation is the perfect way to start your journey as you watch lake life unfold from the balcony. In Musanze you’ll stay in a basic guesthouse that has a mixture or simple rooms and safari-style tents that we will use. In Kigali you'll be staying at the Iris Guesthouse, a simple hotel surrounded by lush gardens.
Rooms for all hotel/guesthouse nights will be same sex, twin-share by default.
On the island, you’ll be wild camping, having taken everything we need for the night in our kayaks. There are no facilities and everything that you bring in for the night leaves the island the next day so is very low impact. Our second night, camping is in the ground of a small guesthouse so some limited facilities will be available. The final campsite on Mt Karisimbi may have other trekkers staying but again you'll take all of your own kit in and out as there are also no facilities. Tents will also be same sex, twin-share by default.
If you would like to upgrade to a private room and tent throughout, please let your host know. The cost for this will be £105 and is subject to availability.
Known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’, this tiny yet beautiful African nation, is home to some of the most dramatic scenery in Africa. Sandwiched into the Great African Rift, Rwanda owes its mountainous terrain and lush green landscape to the volcanic activity murmuring below the surface. It’s warm constant ‘spring-like’ climate means it never gets too hot or cold, perfect for exploring volcano summits and lake islands.
Kigali Airport - 07.00am
Your adventure begins at Kigali Airport (KGL) with your airport transfer at 07:00.
Please schedule your flight to arrive more than 30 minutes before this time, your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals area.
Kigali Airport - 06.00am
At the end of your adventure, you will be dropped back at Kigali Airport (KGL) at 06.00am.
The trip has been planned around London/Brussels return flights to Kigali with Rwanda Air. For those arriving on these flights, airport transfers are included. If you would like to arrive early or stay on, your host can arrange airport transfers for an extra cost.
Dates & Prices
Bespoke trips only
There are currently no planned group departures. Please contact this host to request a quote for a custom trip.Request a Quote
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