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The biggest draw on any Rwanda itinerary has to be visiting the world’s last free-roaming mountain gorillas. But while small by African standards, Rwanda’s wonders don’t stop there. The incredible but little heard of Akagera National Park offers the quintessential safari Big Five experience, while chimps roam the forest floor of Nyungwe National Park. Then there’s Lake Kivu, whose beaches are the perfect destination for some rest and relaxation before taking in the sights and sounds of Kigali. Surrounded by hills, it’s mainland Africa’s cleanest, greenest and safest capital.
The average mountain gorilla trekking expedition lasts from two to three days, meaning that even with a long weekend it’s possible to glimpse one of the world’s most evocative yet endangered creatures. However, with so much else to experience, we recommend resisting the temptation of simply flying in and flying out having delved into the misty bamboo forests where these family groups live. Instead, a 10 day or two-week Rwanda itinerary will give you the time needed to better explore a country that has put the turmoil of the 1990s behind it to become one of Africa’s leading destinations.
Begin your 10 days in Kigali, where age-old cultural traditions rub shoulders with lively markets and an incredible modern art scene. Ensure you stay long enough to do a spot of shopping, which is a great way of interacting with its residents.
After a day or two make the short journey by road to Akagera National Park. With most game drives taking place in the late afternoon or early morning, you’ll want at least two days in the mix of savannah grassland and indigenous woodland.
Next head to Lake Kivu, whose freshwater beaches rival those anywhere in the world. But along the way, don’t miss the opportunity to first uncover the secrets of Nyungwe National Park, home to chimps and an impressive array of birds.
Saving the best till last, it will then be time to enter the legendary boundaries of Volcanoes National Park, for a walk in the woods like no other on Earth. There can be no better way to end a Rwanda itinerary than coming face to face with mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
With a 1 week Rwanda itinerary, you can tick off most of what you might experience with a 10-day trip but will have to say goodbye to at least one stop. It’s still worth spending at least a day in Kigali since its city sights are unmissable and its airport is likely to be your gateway to the country in any case.
Perhaps forego Akagera National Park instead, and travel directly to Nyungwe, a journey through the dramatic hill country of around five hours on good roads. Switch the tar for the forest trails with rangers expert at tracking down chimps, before tackling one of Africa’s only canopy walkways, suspended 50m above the forest floor.
Next swing by Lake Kivu, where all manner of water sports await, from windsurfing to jet skiing in astonishing natural beauty. Just be sure to reserve enough energy for the sheer joy of the gorilla encounters of Volcanoes National Park before returning to Kigali.
Extend your Rwanda itinerary by just a few days and you can see some of Rwanda’s lesser-known but still fascinating destinations. Once you’ve had your fill of Kigali, which should include its amazing central African cuisine, you’ll have plenty of time for two or even three days looking for lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and Cape buffalo in the plains of Akagera National Park.
Swapping the open grasslands for the forests, head on to Nyungwe in the hope of adding chimps to your species list. Traveling north, Lake Kivu has a number of different shoreline resort towns to choose between. A stay of a few days at any of them can be combined with a trip to Gishwati Mukuru National Park. Known as the Forêt de Gishwati in French, it is also home to chimp, as well as five other primate species, and more than 230 different types of bird.
Round off your 2 week Rwanda itinerary with gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, for memories that will last the rest of your life.
If you need any help planning a trip to Rwanda do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our Rwanda travel experts. They have the skills and knowledge to customize any trip to your exact desires. They can also explain anything you might need to know about booking a package trip or joining a group. Either way, don’t forget to check out our tours in Rwanda!
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