Rwanda: Gorilla Trekking & Volcanoes
Encounter majestic gorillas in their natural habitat, kayak on beautiful Lake Kivu and learn how to make traditional banana beer
Rwanda: Gorilla Trekking & Volcanoes
About your trip
Breathtaking equatorial landscapes, unique wildlife treks and immersive local experiences combine to make this Rwandan adventure extra special.
Known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’, this small but stunningly beautiful country has some of the best primate experiences in Africa. We’re talking close encounters with endangered mountain gorillas and rare golden monkeys on the slopes of the Virungas volcanoes, and hacking through the steamy Nyungwe rainforest in search of black-and-white colobus monkeys.
Over nine days, you’ll embrace rural village life, learning to make banana beer and discovering where some of the world’s best coffee comes from. You’ll kayak to uninhabited islands, hike to hidden waterfalls and sip sunset cocktails from a houseboat on beautiful Lake Kivu – all alongside a group of like-minded solo travellers.
NOTE: due to the limited number of gorilla and golden monkey tracking permits available, we strongly advise booking early for this adventure, especially if you’re planning to travel in the peak seasons of July, August and Christmas.
- Max 14 travellers per group
- Exclusively for people in their 30s & 40s
- Accommodation in twin rooms
- Stay in 3-4 star hotels
- 8 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners
- Arrival airport transfer
- Local transport
- All activities mentioned on the itinerary
- National park fees & Gorilla trekking permits priced at $1500
- Experienced Pack Leader with you throughout the trip
Flashpackers must provide evidence that they have purchased travel insurance for the duration of their adventure. Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.
DAY BY DAY
Day 01 TOUCH-DOWN IN KIGALI
Welcome to Kigali, one of Africa’s cleanest, greenest and most progressive cities. Take in the views of winding boulevards, flowering trees and lush hillsides as your private transfer escorts you from the airport to your boutique hotel in a peaceful residential area. After settling in, it’s time to meet your fellow Pack Leader and group and get to know each other over a special welcome dinner. With the lights of the city twinkling across the valley beneath you, raise a toast with your fellow Flashpackers to nine days of adventure to come.
Day 02 A day with local artisans
Spend your first day immersed in rural village life, gaining an insight into the beauty and rigour of Rwandan culture. Together with local artisans, you’ll learn traditional crafts such as basket weaving and cooking, as well as fetching water from the spring and mastering the technique for carrying loads on your head in true African style. You’ll even have a go at hoeing and planting the land. Share a simple home-cooked lunch with the villagers, while you listen to stories about their lives and ancestors, before continuing to your overnight stop in Huye (Batare).
Day 03 Rainforest monkeys & a canopy walkway
Today, you’ll travel west to Nyungwe Forest National Park, one of the most biodiverse places in Africa. Here, the characteristic Rwandan landscape of rolling tea plantations and terraced hills, gives way to a dense tangle of steep forested slopes thick with ancient rainforest. Led by a forest ranger, you’ll set off in search of black-and-white colobus monkeys, often seen in troops of up to 200 – a spectacular sight as they jump from tree to tree. After a picnic lunch overlooking the forest, you’ll gain an exhilarating treetop perspective from a canopy walkway suspended 70 metres over a ravine. Keep your eyes peeled for butterflies, orchids and colourful birds – even a chance encounter with an endangered chimpanzee.
Day 04 Kayak on Lake Kivu
Enjoy breakfast with a view from your hilltop hotel, as you prepare for your kayaking adventure. Ringed by beautiful mountains of Rwanda and the DRC, Kivu is the only African Great Lake that contains no hippos or crocodiles, making it a safe haven for watersports. Setting off across the deep turquoise water, you’ll paddle around an uninhabited island before a picnic lunch with your group. Soak up the blissful tranquillity, before this afternoon’s activity: hiking to the newly discovered Ndambarare waterfall. Deep in the valley and cradled by cliffs, the cascade tumbles 45 metres into a perfect pool below – a luxuriant sight within the forest.
Day 05 Houseboat sundowners
Wake up to spectacular views of dawn breaking over immense Lake Kivu. Boarding your air-conditioned minibus, you’ll wind your way north to the beautiful Kumbya Peninsula, a pristine natural habitat home to sea otters, vervet monkeys and over a hundred species of bird. After lunch – and an optional swim – you’ll take a gentle hike through rice fields and native forest. Here, you’ll hop aboard a houseboat and sip cocktails as you bask in the balmy late afternoon sun. Gliding across the tranquil water, you’ll see fisherfolk and villagers going about their daily lives, before arriving at your lakeside resort in time for dinner.
Day 06 Hand-roasted coffee
After breakfast, a motorboat will pick you up from the hotel and transfer you across the bay to Munini Island. This emerald hill jutting out of the water is known for its large colonies of straw-coloured fruit bats, and you’ll soon spot clusters of these raucous flying mammals hanging upside down in the trees. Your next stop is a coffee plantation, where you’ll see how the beans are processed from crop to cup, using both traditional and modern methods, before sampling a delicious brew. Enjoy lunch on the terrace before transferring to a speedboat for the next leg of your journey to the legendary Virunga volcanoes.
Day 07 Golden monkeys & banana beer
The five conical volcanoes on Rwanda’s northern border form one of Africa’s most exciting national parks. Hidden among the bamboo forests are some of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas. Sharing the park are rare golden monkeys, endemic to the Virungas, and it’s these cheeky primates that you’ll be going in search of today. Playful and inquisitive, the troops are likely to come up close as they chase each other round in circles. Later, you’ll have the chance to visit the excellent Ellen DeGeneres Campus – a world-class visitor centre full of interactive displays on conservation – before finishing your day with a banana beer workshop.
Day 08 WALKING WITH GORILLAS
Expect an early start this morning, as you prepare for a very special experience: trekking into the forest to encounter Rwanda’s majestic mountain gorillas in the flesh. You’ll come face to face with these incredible primates in their natural habitat, observing their gentle human-like nature and family interaction. From the playful mischief of the youngsters to the watchful concern of their mothers, the boisterous energy of adolescents to the authority of the imposing silverback, encountering these creatures is an experience like no other. Feeling profoundly moved and privileged, you’ll return to Kigali for your final farewell dinner.
Day 09 UNTIL NEXT TIME, RWANDA
Your journey has come to an end and it’s now over to you to make your own way to your next destination. It’s been an incredible nine days exploring one of Africa’s most charismatic countries and you’ve created memories – and friendships – to last a lifetime. To help stave off those post-trip blues, why not start planning your next wildlife adventure in Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa? Our trip experts are ready and waiting for your call.
Our Favourite Hotels
Here's a taste of the hotels we sometimes use on this adventure. The hotels you'll stay in for your departure will be shared with you one month before you go.
Heaven Boutique Hotel, Kigali
Set on a leafy residential street, this ethical hotel features sustainable teak furniture, a solar-powered pool and an outdoor yoga deck. Dine in the African fusion restaurant overlooking the city or sip cocktails made from Rwandan honey and local banana wine.
Mantis Kivu Marina Bay Hotel, Cyangugu
An upscale hilltop resort overlooking Lake Kivu. Interiors are comfortable and spacious, with a touch of vibrant Rwandan design, while the large outdoor pool area is the perfect spot for sundowners with a view after exploring nearby Nyungwe National Park.
Ingagi Park View Lodge, Kinigi
This boutique eco-lodge, close to the entrance of Volcanoes National Park, offers 12 terracotta bungalows nestled in 5 hectares of exotic gardens. Enjoy elegant meals and creative cocktails in the conical thatched buildings, plus a panoramic view of the mountains.
- Which airport should I fly into and out of (include airport code)?
Fly into and out of Kigali International Airport (KGL).
- What time should I arrive (in time for the welcome meeting)?
Please try to arrive before 3 pm on Day 1, although we will arrange an airport transfer for you at whichever time you arrive. The welcome meeting is at 5 pm, starting at the hotel in Kigali.
- What time should I leave on the final day?
There are no planned activities on Day 9, so you are free to depart at your own leisure.
- Do you include airport transfers?
If you arrive on Day 1 of your adventure, or you book pre-tour accommodation with us, your airport arrival transfer will be included. If you book alternative pre-tour accommodation or are arriving by another mode of transport you must arrange your own arrival transfer.
Arrival transfers are private to Flash Pack and will be in groups depending on flight times. Sometimes this means waiting in the airport for a short while until other flights have arrived.
We don’t offer a departure transfer as Flashpackers leave at different times of the day and many stay for extra nights. We will offer you support with finding a local taxi.
- Are tips included?
Please note that tips are not included in the cost of this adventure. Suggested amounts per person are:
- Pack Leader: 10 USD per day
- Drivers: 5 USD per day
- National park guide: 5 USD per day
- Ranger: 2-3 USD per day
- Hotel/lodge staff: 5 USD per day
Some Pack Leaders will collect a tipping kitty at the welcome meeting to take care of local tips. However, all tips are at your discretion depending on what you feel comfortable with.
- Do I need a visa?
Yes, all travellers to Rwanda will need a visa and these can be obtained on arrival at Kigali airport. Visas are free for citizens of La Francophonie (an organization of French-speaking countries), the Commonwealth and African Union. For all other nationalities, visas on arrival cost 50 USD.
- How much should I budget per day for extras?
Most meals are included in this trip. However, we recommend budgeting around 50 USD per day for extra drinks or souvenir shopping.
- Will we visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial?
We don’t include the Genocide Memorial as part of this itinerary, but we highly recommend arriving a day or two early so you can visit this intensely powerful and moving exhibit before your Flash Pack trip begins.
- What level of fitness do I need for this trip?
A moderate fitness level is required for this trip to take part in activities, such as hiking and kayaking.
- The most challenging hike is the gorilla tracking on Day 8, however this can be adapted according to the fitness level of the group.
- On Day 4, the kayak excursion is 8 kilometres. If you don’t wish to take part in the kayaking, your Pack Leader will arrange for you to do a guided walk along the lakeshore, re-joining your group for the picnic lunch.
We recommend having a read-through of the itinerary above, and getting in touch if you have specific questions on fitness.
- Why is this trip so expensive?
Permits to track mountain gorillas cost up to 1500 USD in Rwanda. The number of permits is limited to reduce their interaction with big crowds. The high cost of the permit fees goes directly into conservation initiatives to protect this endangered species.
- Can I still go gorilla trekking if I'm sick?
If you are feeling sick – especially with flu, cold, pneumonia, diarrhoea or fever – you should not take part in the gorilla trekking or go into the national park.
There are only about 1060 mountain gorillas surviving in the wild and they are prone to many human contagious diseases. It’s vital that we help protect this endangered species by taking every possible precaution.
More information is available on the national park website: www.volcanoesnationalpark.org/advice/do-not-visit-gorillas-while-sick.
- Is Rwanda safe to visit?
Despite its turbulent past, Rwanda is one of the safest countries in Africa with very low crime rates and a stable political environment. However, we recommend taking the usual sensible precautions, such as not leaving valuables lying around and taking care when walking at night in Kigali.
- I have a food allergy. Can my dietary requirements be met?
If you have a severe food allergy, please get in touch to discuss your dietary requirements, as it may not be possible to meet your needs in Rwanda.
- What standard of hotel should I expect?
The hotels we use on this adventure have been carefully selected for their character and offer a high standard of comfort. However, one of the hotels is a more functional stopover, with fairly basic facilities but a wonderful level of service.
- Will this itinerary change?
Please be aware that the itinerary, activities, and hotels are subject to change. These changes are rare but can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control – but we’ll always do our best to ensure it has little impact on your experience. From time to time, we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh and exciting which we will always try to communicate to you.
Joining the Flash Pack comes with a few special guarantees
Our mission is to create 1 million friendships, so we obsess over the group dynamic. Everyone is aged 30-49, 98% travel solo & 80% stay friends.
Want to know more about your group?
Get in touch.
We operate using a 3rd party trust bank account, meaning we guarantee refunds in 14 days if your trip has to be cancelled.
Book with confidence.
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