Day 1: Cross into Rwanda to the Cyanika Border
Today you will make the estimated 2.5 hour drive from Bwindi, in Uganda, across the border to Ruhengeri, Rwanda. Along the way, there are amazing views of the area's scenery, referred to as the "Switzerland of Africa." Arrive at your lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge (or similar) located on the edge of Volcanoes National Park at the foothills of Mt. Karisimbi, one of the volcanic mountains that make up the Virunga Massif. This eco-lodge consists of 30 spacious chalets constructed of local materials and supports the surrounding rural community by purchasing farm-fresh produce, which is served in the lodge's restaurant.
Day 2: Mountain Gorilla Tracking
Mt. Visoke (also called Bisoke) is an active volcano that straddles the border of Rwanda and the Congo, with the summit in Rwanda. This 12,175-foot mountain is located within Rwandan Volcanoes National Park and contains the largest crater lake in the range. Visoke is habitat for the mountain gorilla and the location of Karisoke Research Center founded by Dian Fossey. Dian Fossey was an American zoologist, primatologist, and anthropologist who studied and helped protect the mountain gorillas from about 1967 until her death in 1985. She wrote the book Gorillas in the Mist, which was turned into a film in 1988. The area is also protected from logging, farming, and mining.
You'll choose from a variety of activities today (at varying costs, depending on the activity) such as a Mt. Visoke volcano hike, Dian Fossey tomb hike, or a visit to Ruhondo and Bulera Lakes. Mountain gorilla tracking can also be included today with an additional gorilla trekking permit. Note: Gorilla tracking permits must be reserved at time of booking, pending availability. Gorilla Tracking permit is $1500.
Day 3: Ibya Wachu Culture
In the morning, explore the cultural village of Iby'iwacu, a demonstration village started up by one of the park wardens to showcase how the Rwandan kings once lived. The overseeing organization has also helped many former poachers appreciate conservation of the nearby gorillas. This is a great opportunity to meet the local people and learn about their culture and traditions. You'll see a replica of the king's house, visit traditional clinics and local schools, and learn traditional dances. If you like, learn how to prepare the cuisine and have dinner with the locals. See the unique process of making banana beer, and even try it!
Overnight at the village in a traditional grass-thatched mud house designed in the king’s style of ancient architecture.
Day 4: Kigali City & Depart Rwanda
After breakfast, you will depart for Kigali. Along the way, marvel at the energy and industriousness of the Rwandan people. Roads are in good condition, streets are clean, schools are open (depending on time of year), and construction seems to be taking place everywhere. While the terrible experience of the genocide has not been and will not be forgotten, you will get the sense that Rwandan people want to move forward to create a society that learns from mistakes. In Kigali, you'll have a brief tour of the city including a visit to the market, a pottery project, handicraft shops, the Franco-Rwandan cultural center, and the very impressive and moving Genocide Memorial.
Afterwards, transfer to the airport in time for your evening flight home or on to other regions of Africa.