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Rwanda/Uganda Scheduled Group Safari

Gorillas in the Virungas & Bwindi

8 days, 7 nights | Safari from $6,498 per person
Overview

Last Stronghold of an Endangered Species

The borderland between Rwanda and Uganda is a breathtaking blend of stark alpine peaks and lush forested valleys—an untamed wild that forms the last refuge for the world’s endangered mountain gorillas. On this remarkable safari, you’ll visit national parks on both sides of the border, enjoying multiple opportunities to view these awe-inspiring creatures in their native habitat.

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Tracking mountain gorillas is a rare privilege that few will ever experience. With their numbers reduced to less than 1,000, these are among the world’s most endangered primates. Nothing can compare to the life-altering wonder that you’ll feel, after trekking through dense rainforest for a morning, when you’re greeted by the noble faces of these mighty giants wandering among the trees or foraging in the mist.

Other thrills await you on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Explore the Batwa Trail with indigenous Pygmies who still practice thousand-year-old herbalist medicine and can share their traditional hunting techniques and encyclopedic knowledge of plants and animals. Walk through forests alive with chirping birds and clambering monkeys in Mgahinga, Bwindi, and Volcanoes national parks. Witness the pageantry of whirling Intore dancers, who with their brightly colored garb and long, flowing white hairpieces once entertained Rwandan kings. Relax every evening at exclusive lodges whose decks command panoramic vistas of sapphire lakes, dormant volcanoes, and lush forested slopes.

Safari Style: Scheduled Group Safari
Activities: Gorilla tracking (minimum age 16), forest walks, bird-watching, volcano hikes, cultural visits
Accommodation: Safari Lodges
Getting Around: Private vans & 4x4 safari vehicles with guaranteed window seats
When to Visit: Jun–Mar Read More
Meeting & Departure Point: Kigali, Rwanda

Tour Highlights:

  • Thrill to close encounters with mountain gorillas in three distinct national park
  • Listen for birdcalls and rustling golden monkeys on nature walks through the bamboo forest
  • Discover local culture during village visits and a guided hike with Batwa elders
  • Enjoy some of Africa’s lushest landscapes: mist-shrouded green volcanoes, sparkling lakes, and dense forests
  • Trade stories over sundowners on the scenic terraces of three lovely eco-lodges
  • Experienced, friendly, and knowledgeable guide(s)
  • All meals and drinks included
  • One gorilla-tracking permit in Rwanda ($750)
  • Safari lodges (with private baths) while on tour
  • Post-gorilla-tracking massage
  • Airport meet-and-greet service
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • All park fees and special events as noted in the itinerary The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW Safaris staff
  • Guest Rating:

    Gorilla tracking. Gorgeous accommodations. Great logistics. CW Safaris did an excellent job of helping to select and arrange a true ‘bucket list’ trip!
    E. Loser, Virginia, March 2014

Dates & Prices

Scheduled Group Safari 2015 Pricing

2015 Dates
Per Person Single Supplement
Jun 9 - Jun 16 $6,498 $660
Jul 7 - Jul 14 $6,498 $660
Aug 4 - Aug 11 $6,498 $660
Sep 1 - Sep 8 $6,498 $660
Oct 6 - Oct 13 $6,498 $660
Dec 1 - Dec 8 $6,498 $660

*Pricing based on double occupancy. Reserve early for best pricing; prices and dates are subject to change.

Itinerary & Accommodations
Days 1, 2 & 3 Parc National des Volcans

Today you are welcomed by your expert guide and begin the three-hour journey to Virunga Lodge. This scenic drive takes you through the beautiful terraced hills that characterize much of Rwanda’s landscape. Climbing gradually to the base of the spectacular volcanoes of the Virunga range, the five nearest peaks rising high above the verdant countryside, you arrive at the magnificent Volcanoes Virunga Lodge – your home for the next three nights.

One of Virunga’s primary attractions is gorilla tracking in the Parc National des Volcans. Through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virunga range, this is a magical experience. Once you reach the gorillas, you can spend an hour with them and be back at base in time for a late lunch. Some gorilla families can be more elusive, and tracking can take a full day, especially if it is wet and muddy.

You can also enjoy a variety of activities, including a performance by traditional Intore dancers, a visit to Mwiko Primary School, a local institution of learning near the lodge that has over 800 children and 12 dedicated, hardworking teachers, track the endangered golden monkey, trek to Dian Fossey’s grave and the gorilla cemetery, visit the Roz Carr Imbabazi orphanage to meet some of the hundreds of children helped by this uplifting project, relax on the shores of Lake Kivu, home to some of the finest inland beaches in Africa, or take a guided walk to Lake Bulera and experience local village life.

Included: Land transfer, cultural activities, one gorilla-tracking experience (permit included), optional hikes / breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Approximate Travel Time: 3 hours

Days 4 & 5 Mgahinga National Park

After saying goodbye to Parc National des Volcans, you set off for Mgahinga National Park and Mount Gahinga Lodge in Uganda. The area, because of its varied habitats, is famous for birding with about 180 bird species and for tracking the endangered golden monkey. During your stay at the lodge, you have many activities from which to choose. Be sure to experience the lives of the Batwa Pygmies and walk the Batwa Trail. Accompanied by Batwa elders, this is an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the unique cultural heritage of the forest’s indigenous people. While you walk through the forest, the Batwa will demonstrate their traditional hunting techniques and knowledge of medicinal plants. You will also visit the sacred Ngarama Cave and enjoy the traditional music and dance of this rich and fading culture.

Included: Land transfer, cultural activities, Batwa experience, easy-to-moderate hikes, track the golden monkey (additional expense), gorilla tracking (permit not included) / breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Approximate Travel Time: 3 hours

Days 6 & 7 Bwindi National Park

The breathtaking drive to Bwindi, sometimes referred to as the “Switzerland of Africa,” is along winding mountain roads and through thick forests. The long journey through the rapidly changing landscape takes you to Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, which looks across to the towering trees of the forest. Depending on when you arrive, there may be time before dinner to explore the lodge grounds with its clear mountain stream or visit the local village. The walk to the river through regenerated bush that has been carefully nurtured as a buffer zone is magical. It is a favorite haunt for the gorillas and they often sleep at the lodge!

While staying at Bwindi Lodge, you may once again go gorilla tracking. Trekking through the steep, densely forested hills and then finally coming across the gorillas camouflaged in the vegetation is an inspiring and privileged moment. Tracking in the Bwindi forest requires stamina and can often take most of the day. Alternatively, there are other activities and excursions on offer in and around the national park.

Take a guided walk in the rainforest, home to several endemic bird species, clouds of butterflies, and rare plant life. This walk offers excellent photographic opportunities, and your knowledgeable guide will provide great insight into this globally important habitat.

Walk through the local village, and learn about community projects, such as the Amagara Project that assists local farmers and their communities, and Bwindi Community Hospital, which started as a health clinic under a tree and now provides vital medical and educational services to over 60,000 people. The hospital runs maternity and pediatric wards as well as outpatient programs for conditions including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, epilepsy, and diabetes. The hospital works extensively with the Batwa community, helping to address their specific health needs. Amagara is a nonprofit community organization that helps its members to increase crop yield and manage natural resources by employing natural pest controls and fertilizers. Amagara helps keep the revenue that tourism brings to the area in the locality. In turn, this raises their household income and reduces encroachment on the forest. It gives the community a greater incentive to conserve the forest’s resources.

Included: Land transfer, internal flight, cultural activities, gorilla tracking (permit not included), easy-to-moderate hikes, birding / breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Approximate Travel Time: 2 hours by road and 30 minute flight

Day 8 Departure, Kigali

Your safari ends with your journey to Kigali. Before transferring to the airport, there may be time to tour the city and visit the genocide memorial, a moving testimony to this country’s past that it has courageously overcome. Return to your hotel or transfer to the airport in time for your return flight.

Included: Land transfer, museum visit (time permitting) / breakfast and lunch

Approximate Travel Time: 5-6 hours (Bwindi to Kigali by road)

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Guides

Our Guides

Guests who travel frequently with CW Safaris know that our guides truly set us apart from other adventure-travel companies. All CW Safaris guides are locally based and fluent in English, with exceptional knowledge of the region where you’ll be traveling. Their expertise in wildlife and natural history and their keen, deeply rooted understanding of life in the African bush will ensure your safety, well-being, and enjoyment throughout every safari. You could not be in better hands!

Here is a sampling of our extraordinary guides in Rwanda and Uganda:

Paul Ruganitwali

Paul is Rwandan and has been a safari guide for nine years. He speaks French and English, among other languages. His most memorable encounter on safari was seeing a silverback and a female “flirting” before the male pretended not to be interested. The female wandered out of his sight and started playing with another male. When the silverback heard her grunts of delight, he ran down to find out what the noise was about and, boy, was he jealous!

Charles Kawooya

Charles is from Uganda and has been a safari guide for 16 years. He speaks four languages (English, Luganda, Runyankole, and Swahili). He loves spending time in the rainforest in the company of rare gorillas, whose remarkably human behavior he finds fascinating. His favorite location is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, not only for the gorillas but also because it’s one of the best bird-watching sites in the whole of Uganda.

Francis Kiwanuka

Francis grew up in Masaka, Uganda and has been a guide for over 20 years. He speaks a number of languages including English, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, and Luganda. Francis’ favorite place to take guests is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where he enjoys seeing the gorillas hanging around Bwindi Lodge and eating the lush vegetation that surrounds the bandas.

Vincent Katwire

Vincent is from the Bushenyi District in western Uganda, but he is most at home in the rich, green rainforest of the towering Virunga Mountains, the natural habitat of the mighty mountain gorilla. He has been a guide for 10 years and loves how mountain gorillas seem to care for each other like humans do. Although he can’t speak gorilla (at least, not yet), Vincent does speak five languages (English, Runyankole, Luganda, Kinyarwanda, and Swahili) that he regularly uses on safari. His most precious memory is escorting a visually impaired guest on an incredible journey to visit the mountain gorillas.

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