Rwanda is among countries that start with R listed on Countryaah.com. Although Rwanda is only about as big as the Austrian state of Tyrol, it has 12 million residents; around 1.2 million live in the capital Kigali in the Central Highlands. Kigali lies on approx. 1,500 m above sea level and is considered the cleanest capital in Africa.
- Day 1: Arrival in Kigali
- Day 2: Kigali – Kibuyé
- Day 3: Kibuyé – Musanze
- Day 4: golden monkeys or mountain gorillas?
- Day 5: On the beaten track and in a canoe
- Day 6: Face to face with the silverback
- Day 7: Nkuringo – Ishasha Sector / Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Day 8: Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Day 9: Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Day 10: Queen Elizabeth NP – Lake Mauro NP
- Day 11: The next few days by bike…
- Day 12: Uganda’s vegetable garden
- Day 13: Nabugabu – Sesse Islands / Kalangala
- Day 14: By ferry to Entebbe
After crossing settlements, banana forests and coffee plantations, we reach Lake Mutanda. Our guides help us in the dug-outs, the log canoes. We glide calmly over the mirror-smooth lake, through a mountainous backdrop of the shore. If you need action, you can take a paddle yourself. We are getting closer and closer to the Bwindi rainforest, home of the mountain gorillas. If you want, you can join a ranger the next day to get really close. With a hand signal, he suddenly commands silence – there, a family of gorillas right in front of us in the underbrush. The adults are lousy, the boys frolic. A silverback looks around, bored. He already knows the excited people with their boxes clicking.
With Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo we visit the most beautiful national parks. Near the Ishasha River, on the border with the Congo, a lion suddenly turns to face us: He is dozing off the midday heat on the branches of an old fig tree.
To go biking! A young man with a huge load of bananas on the luggage rack offers us a few for sale. A woman invites us to tea at her street vendor. In Lake Mburo National Park we roll through damp swamps and hackle on acacia-covered hills. A zebra, impala or buffalo can hide behind every bend, every bush. If you are not too tired yet, climb the steep Kazuma Hill Lookout: you will thank you with the greatest view over hills, valleys and lakes.
Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner
Arrival in Kigali
The flight is not included in this program.
Arrival at the airport. Transfer to the lodge.
Driving time / distance: 4 km
Overnight at Hotel Chez Lando
(- / – / -)
Kigali – Kibuyé
The capital Kigali (approx. 1 million residents) makes an astonishingly tidy and disciplined impression on every Africa expert. Dusty streets, honking vehicles and shacks in the shopping streets await us? Not even close! Kigali is the only African city that has no plastic bags and helmetless motorcyclists? We’ll be amazed!
After a short sightseeing tour on a serpentine tar road, we start our journey to the “land of a thousand hills”. The impression of a country that could also be called the “Switzerland of Africa” is immediately confirmed. From a bird’s eye view, river meanders glisten in deep valleys as they meander through bright green banana forests. Even dairy cows with black and white patterns graze in lush green meadows! The well-known aluminum milk cans from the Alpine republic are, however, transported on bicycles…. As a visitor, you ask yourself: are we here in Africa or in Switzerland?
About 40 kilometers before Kibuyé, our first stage destination, we undertake a short hike through the rural hinterland of Rwanda. The continuously sloping path offers a wonderful panorama of tea plantations that give the impression of a park landscape. Our vehicle is waiting in the valley and takes us to Kibuyé.
Hike: approx. 3–4 hours (9.2 km, + 9m / -293 m)
Travel time: 145 km
Overnight stay in Rwiza Village
(B / L / D)
Kibuyé – Musanze
From the breakfast table we can already see our approaching boat in the glittering waves of the morning sun. The local wooden boat with benches, sun canopy and outboard motor brings us to the Congo-Nile Trail after a one-hour drive. A wild network of lonely paths and slopes leads along an African fjord landscape through lonely villages and gives hikers a direct insight into the everyday life of Rwandan farmers and fishing families. 26 species of fish and 370 species of birds, including crowned crane, cormorant and kingfisher are at home here. Local fishermen fetch perch, catfish and carp fish from their nets that they have brought with them from their nightly excursion. The landscape is breathtaking. A lovely, fertile arable landscape stretches out on the east bank of Lake Kivu; in the west, on the Congo side of the lake (lake width 45 km), a mountain range over 3,000 meters high stands like a gray wall that blocks the view of the “mysterious Congo”. Idyllic bank spots are ideal for a refreshing swim in the clear, schistosomiasis-free waters of Lake Kivu. Although the lake is 480 meters deep, its volcanic springs guarantee a pleasant water temperature all year round!
We reach Gisenyi in the afternoon by boat and continue the journey by car. Foothills of the Virunga Mountains, a volcanic chain with a total of 8 peaks, lined up like a string of pearls, accompany us to Musanze. In the dry months of June to August, the highest of them, Mount Karisimbi, even gets a white cap of snow and can therefore be compared with the famous “Kili” in Tanzania.
Hike: approx. 6–7 hours (7 km, +/- 258 m)
Travel time: 130 km
Overnight stay in Hotel La Palme
(B / L / D)
Golden monkeys or mountain gorillas?
Today we have the choice of stalking golden monkeys, tracking mountain gorillas or hiking around the nearby Lake Ruhondo. All three activities are optional.
TRACKING OF THE GOLDEN MONASY (option US $ 100 pp)
, like mountain gorillas, are endemic in the Uganda-Rwanda-Congo triangle. They are a subspecies of the diademed monkey and are on the endangered species list. Bamboo forests at an altitude of over 1,500 meters are their habitat. The golden-yellow fur and blue face make the golden monkey a very popular motif for photo enthusiasts. The requirements for Golden Monkey Tracking are identical to those for Gorilla Tracking.
GORILLA TRACKING (option US $ 1500 pp plus US $ 100 group transfer)
The most famous track in Rwanda, perhaps even the most popular track on the African continent, leads to the endangered mountain gorillas in the misty rainforests of the Virunga National Park. Face to face with the silverback – this is the tourist highlight of every trip to Rwanda.
Depending on the position of the gorilla families, you can go from the accommodation via the briefing point directly into the forest or you can drive closer to the gorillas by car. In any case, you should be prepared for a four to six hour hike through the rainforest with a water bottle, packed lunch, long trousers and sturdy shoes. The terrain is steep, the track leads through dense rainforest and requires a healthy physical condition. The tracker should be able to master 600 meters in altitude within 3 hours. The following habituated (used to humans) gorilla families can be visited: Sabinyo, Group Thirteen, Susa, Amohoro, Umubano.
The chance of seeing the mountain gorillas: 95%.
RUHONDO LAKE – CIRCULAR HIKE (option US $ 25 pp)
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda will cost 1500 US $ per person from May 2017 – an impressive price, especially when you consider that two days later under completely equivalent conditions you can track gorillas in Uganda for “only” 600 US $! So if you can wait for this big event and don’t want to track the Golden Monkeys either, come with us on a wonderful hike around Lake Ruhondo (option)!
Today we also cross the border from Rwanda to Uganda. Cyanika border crossing.
Hike (Lake Ruhundo): approx. 3–4 hours (14 km, + 283m / -172 m)
Travel time: 45 km
Overnight at the Mucha Hotel
(B / L / D)
On the beaten track and in a canoe
Today we start a three-day hiking program that leads us from Kisoro to Buhoma. On the entire route (around 50 km) we are on foot – unaccompanied by vehicles – on footpaths and by canoe and should therefore carry our clothing and equipment with us in your backpack for the next 3 days. Optionally, you can rent a porter (US $ 10 per day).
Starting from the hotel, we leave Kisoro in a northerly direction, crossing settlements, banana forests and coffee plantations. After 1.5 hours (5 km) we reach Lake Mutanda and board a dug-out canoe. Dug-outs are indigenous log canoes without sun protection and backrests with space for 2-4 people, so they’re not very comfortable. But the calm gliding on a mirror-smooth lake through a mountainous backdrop compensates for the loss of comfort, because only with a dug-out canoe can you enjoy this wonderful African lake landscape in peace and quiet. If you need some “action”, you can also take a paddle yourself…
When we arrive on the north shore of the lake, we grab your backpack and hike north on a panoramic path. Again and again we will linger and admire the view of a volcanic chain over four thousand meters high in the south. Since leaving the canoes, after three kilometers of travel, you have overcome an ascent from 1,790 m to 2006 meters (3rd stage ascent) and will gain another 130 meters in altitude over the next 8 kilometers before the beaten path ends and leads to a piste with little traffic (3rd stage Panoramaweg). From now on we hike parallel to the green spotted ridge of the 25,000 year old Bwindi rainforest – the home of the mountain gorillas! 6 kilometers later we will reach your accommodation in Nkuringo. After dinner we will be shown a suitable point of view,
Hike: Kisoro – Lake Mutanda: 1.5 hours (5 km)
Nkuringo short trail: 4 hours (11 km, + 617m / -377 m)
Nkuringo village trail: 2 hours (6 km, + 230m / -101 m)
Driving time: Lake Mutanda Dug-out-canoe 2.5 hours (5 km)
Overnight at Gorilla Camp
(B / L / D)
Face to face with the silverback
Face to face with the silverback – the highlight of your trip awaits us today (optional). It is not like the day before on a hiking trail through open cultural landscape, but “cross-forest-in” – always following the ranger and his trail through the dense forest. Ankle-high mountain boots with non-slip soles, long trousers, rain protection, lunch snack and enough drinking water are essential. A hiking stick and possibly gloves for thorny bushes to hold on to on slippery ground are an advantage.
The gorilla track begins with an intensive briefing by the rangers on the correct behavior when visiting gorillas. Then we descend to the Kashasha River and back up into the Bwindi NP (430 m). After a distance and time that cannot be named, the ranger suddenly commands absolute calm and standstill with a hand signal – he points to a gorilla family in the undergrowth in front of us. The adults are licking, the boys frolic with each other. A silverback looks around, bored. He already knows the strangely excited visitors with their boxes clicking in front of their faces, so no reason for him to get excited! You can feel that the silverback controls the sudden appearance of its weak conspecifics quite calmly and confidently and leaves the visitors in peace.
For US $ 25, as an alternative to gorilla tracking, we can also entrust ourselves to a local bird lover who will show us some of the 350 bird species, 23 of which are endemic, on a 3-hour round tour (9: 00 – 12: 00, lunch at the lodge) can show (warbler with short tail, African, emerald green cuckoo, white-tailed crested flycatcher, gray bulbul, etc.).
Hike / distance: The walking times and distances of the game walks to the mountain gorillas in the Bwindi National Park depend on the current location of the animals and can therefore not be determined.
Overnight in Gorilla Camp
(B / L / D)
Nkuringo – Ishasha Sector / Queen Elizabeth National Park
A hike through the “Bwindi Impenetrable Forest” is something very special. Not many people on our globe can consider themselves lucky to be allowed to visit this natural paradise! “Bwindi” means darkness, “impenetrable” impenetrable. We will soon find out that this dense, untouched jungle has truly earned its name and has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1994 for good reason. It could well happen that we happen to meet a gorilla family, because we are here in the home of the mountain gorillas. Forest elephants, brush-eared pigs, several types of duiker, striped jackfish and civet cats are also native here. There are also nine other primate species such as chimpanzees, baboons, monkeys, nocturnal monkeys, 350 species of birds, 14 species of snakes, and over 200 species of trees, ten of which are endemic. Fortunately, vehicles can only cover the connection from Kisoro to the north by a long detour. In this way, the unspoilt region and the gorilla reserve will be preserved for the hiker for a while. In the afternoon we will reach the small town of Buhoma at the northern exit of the Bwindi National Park. In order to use the early morning hours of the coming day for a game drive in the Ishasha sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, we drive about 2 hours (55 km) to our hostel.
Hike: Short route: 4 hours (9.5 km)
Long route: 7 hours (19 km) Driving
time: approx. 2 hours (60 km)
Overnight at Enjojo Lodge
(B / L / D)
Queen Elizabeth National Park
From our accommodation we only have 5 km to go until the park gates of the Ishasha Sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park open in front of us. On the “Northern Track” we will soon meet buffalo, elephants, antelopes, warthogs and baboons. After about an hour we come across the Ishasha River, which forms the border to the Congo (DRC) and where numerous hippos relax from their nightly tour in the cooling water. Finally we stalk the main attraction of the park on the “Southern Trail”: tree-climbing lions that doze off in the midday heat on the sprawling branches of old fig trees during the hot midday hours of the day. We are at 900 meters above sea level and one of the driest and hottest places in Uganda!
The enjoyment of the packed lunch comes at the right time before we arrive at the Kazinga Canal between Lake Edward and Lake George after a 2 hour drive (80 km). A wonderfully situated tent – lodge with a wonderful view invites you to reflect in peace, to review the pictures of the previous days and to listen carefully to the call of the screaming sea eagle or the roar of the hippopotamus. But we can also go on an afternoon safari to the Kazinga Plains, where elephants, buffalo, lions and antelopes are waiting for us.
Travel time: 80 km
overnight at the Bush Lodge
(B / L / D)
Queen Elizabeth National Park
In the 150 meter deep Kyamboura Gorge a moist biotope with dense primary forest has been preserved, which is home to hippos, elephants and 24 chimpanzees. The probability of the primates being seen is 60%. On the morning nature walk in the intact primary forest, you get a real “Tarzan jungle feeling”!
Then in the morning the Channel Trail goes over to the mooring of a boat, which is ideal for wildlife observation. Elephant, lion, African buffalo, hyena, serval, African wildcat, leopard, warthog, topi, waterbuck, Uganda Kob, hippopotamus, crocodile, waterbuck, osprey, cormorant, pelican, crowned crane, hammerkog, ibis, kingfisher, kingfisher, Great egrets, marabou etc.
Overnight in the Bush Lodge
(B / L / D)
Queen Elizabeth NP – Lake Mauro NP
A quick overland drive through central Uganda (170 km) brings us to the Mburo National Park. On arrival the sun is already quite low. From an eagle’s nest we enjoy the wonderful view over the African savannah landscape in the evening sun.
Travel time: 170 km
overnight stay in the Eagles Nest
(B / L / D)
The next few days by bike…
The following 3 days are bike days! We start on a bike safari through Lake Mburo National Park. Warukiri Track, Kazuma Track and Ruroko Track are mysterious names for winding paths through wet marshland, acacia-covered hills up to magnificent hilltops with a fascinating all-round panorama. The animal-human encounter is full of tension and intensity for both sides. A zebra, an impala or a topi can hide behind every bend, behind every bush. A giraffe family with 8 animals has even been settled there since 2015. Those who are in good shape can climb the Kazuma Hill Lookout and find themselves in one of the most fascinating places in Uganda. In the afternoon we leave the park on a winding slope through acacia bush towards the north.
Driving time Lake Mburo Bike Safari (round trip): 5 hours (30 km, + 319m / -298 m)
Overnight at Hotel Skyblue
(B / L / D)
The vegetable garden of Uganda
A hard, little-traveled road leads us through Uganda’s vegetable garden. Corn, bananas, pineapples, sweet potatoes, coffee, tomatoes, cabbage and avocado grow along the way. Away from the hustle and bustle and traffic, today we can let the bikes run well on gently sloping and rising terrain. As cyclists, laughing people ask us to get off the saddle, buy a few bananas and talk to the young man in an Obama T-shirt or to a middle-aged lady who invites us to tea at her street vendor. Such hospitality and friendliness can only be found in these marginal areas! After lunch we charge the bikes so that we can reach Lake Nabugabo in time for a swim. The lake free of schistosomiasis, without drainage and only 4.5 meters deep
Travel time Country Bike Trail part 1: 3–4 hours (40 km, + 532m / -662 m)
Overnight at Hotel Nabisere
(B / L / D)
Nabugabu – Sesse Islands / Kalangala
With our bikes charged, we reach the ferry after about 30 km that takes us over to Ssese Island. The slope leads through small villages, primary forest and through freshly created oil palm plantations, all of which are located on the heights of the island. Deep down, the waves of Lake Victoria glitter in the sun and we get a foretaste of a refreshing swim on the beach at our hostel. Idyllic dinner on the shores of Lake Victoria.
Travel time Island Bike Trail: 4–5 hours (35 km + 387m / -393 m)
Overnight at Brovad Sands Lodge
(B / L / D)
With the ferry to Entebbe
In the morning we cross over from the Ssese Islands with a car ferry to Entebbe during a 4-5 hour crossing. What would a travel program to Uganda be without Lake Victoria, the largest inland lake in Africa and the third largest lake in the world? The size of Bavaria and a catchment area of over 30 million residents, the lake mainly serves as the “source” of the Nile for water supply up to Sudan and Egypt. This immense supraregional importance of the lake up to the Mediterranean should definitely be recalled on the crossing.
Transfer Entebbe port – hotel
Hike / travel time: approx. 4–5 hours
(B / – / -)