Rwanda holiday: gorillas, chimpanzees & the Big 5

Tailor-made holidays
Duration (in days): 12

From: UK - Kigali

To: Kigali - UK



Inc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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On this epic Rwanda holiday, you'll come face to face with wild gorillas in the Virunga Mountains and track chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest. Start in the capital of Kigali, where you’ll learn about the recent history of this tiny African nation, before heading to Akagera National Park. In the far east of the country, this lush marshland is a great place to spot elephants, lions and hippos splashing in the rivers. Head west to Nyungwe Forest Reserve, where you’ll track chimps through the thick canopies before climbing into the vast Virunga Mountains on the border of the Congo. Here, you’ll experience a magical hour with mountain gorillas, after a lengthy trek to meet these fascinating creatures. This is the ultimate Rwanda holiday.

This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements; please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.

This holiday includes

  • International flights
  • All transfers
  • All accommodation in Rwanda  
  • Excursions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary        

You’ll remember…

  • Your first glimpse of mountain gorillas in the thick undergrowth
  • Tracking wild chimpanzees through the forest   
  • Looking for the Big 5 in Akagera National Park    
  • Meeting friendly local Rwandans throughout the country             



Itinerary in brief:

  • 1 night Kigali
  • 2 nights Akagera National Park
  • 1 night Kigali
  • 2 nights Nyungwe Forest National Park 
  • 1 night Lake Kivu
  • 2 nights Volcanoes National Park

Day 1: Depart UK

Depart the UK from your chosen airport.

Included: International flights 

Day 2: Arrive Kigali

On arrival in Kigali, you will be met at the airport and driven to your hotel in the city. Here, you will check-in for one night. 

Included: Transfers, 4* hotel

Day 3: Kigali to Akagera National Park 

After breakfast, you’ll head out on a city tour of Kigali. First, you’ll confront the terrible history of this country at the Genocide Memorial site, a grim reminder of the senseless massacre in 1994. Learn about Rwanda’s history, from pre-colonial times to the modern-day. After this you’ll head to see the rest of the city – it’s a bright and bustling place, bouncing back from its past with passion and positivity for the future. 

After lunch, you’ll be driven to Akagera National Park in the east of the country, on the border with Tanzania. This area is dominated by a labyrinth of marshes and lakes that surround the Akagera River. The journey will take around two hours, although if you are interested in bird watching along the way, it might take a little longer. On arrival, you’ll check into your lodge for two nights. 

In the late afternoon, you’ll go on a game drive in the park before returning for dinner. 

Included: Breakfast, dinner, transfers, game drive, 4* lodge       

Day 4: Akagera National Park

Today you’ll head off on a full day game drive throughout the national park. Akagera is one of the most beautiful areas of Rwanda, with lush mountains and marshlands for miles around. Keep an eye out for elephants and buffalo in the grasslands, as well as impala and bushbuck drinking at the edge of the lake. Hippos lounge in the rivers, while giraffes and zebra roam the acacia dotted plains. If you’re lucky you might even spot the bizarre-looking shoebill storks that make their home here.

Included: All meals, full-day game drive, 4* lodge             

Day 5: Travel to Kigali

After breakfast, you will enjoy the scenic drive back to Kigali. Spend the rest of your day exploring the city.

Included: Breakfast, transfers. 4* hotel                 

Day 6: Travel to Nyungwe Forest National Park

Enjoy an early breakfast before departing on the scenic drive to Nyungwe National Park via Butare, the second largest city in Rwanda. Here you’ll stop for a tour of the Butare National Museum, one of the finest ethnographic museums of East Africa. It’s a great place to learn about the cultural history of the country. Enjoy lunch in Butare before heading onwards towards the rainforest reserve of Nyungwe. On arrival you’ll check into your lodge for two nights.

Included: All meals, transfers,4* lodge

Day 7: Nyungwe Forest National Park

It’s an early start today – enjoy breakfast and head out to the trailhead at around 5 am, before embarking on a thrilling hike to see the chimpanzees. The Rwanda chimpanzee population is approximately 500 individuals, all within the Nyungwe National Park. You’ll head these excitable primates before you see them, their hooting calls echoing through the trees. You might also spot some spectacular birdlife, including regal sunbirds and grey-cheeked hornbills.

After lunch, you’ll depart for your canopy walk. Suspended above the lush rainforest, canopy walkways will provide a unique view over the treetops, and a fascinating perspective of the wildlife below. Spend your afternoon and evening back at the lodge, recounting on stories from your day.

Included: All meals, guided chimpanzee trek with permit,4* lodge         

Day 8: Travel to Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast, you will head off for the scenic drive to Lake Kivu. Part of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Kivu is one of the largest lakes in the country. On arrival at your hotel, you will spend the afternoon at your leisure.

Included: All meals, transfers,4* lodge  

Day 9: Travel to Volcanoes National Park

Today, you’ll head off on a scenic drive towards the beautiful, terraced hillsides that show of Rwanda’s mountainous landscape. You’ll arrive at Ruhengeri, the base for all gorilla trekking in the Parc National des Volcans. The town is located close to the Ugandan border, with a constant flow of people passing through. Here, you'll check into your lodge for two nights.

Included: All meals, transfers, 4* lodge

Day 10: Volcanoes National Park & Gorilla trek

Another early start, you’ll be driven over to Volcanoes National Park where you’ll register for your gorilla trek. Here, the park staff will determine which group of gorillas you will visit. You will be put into groups and receive a trekking time, based on the gorilla’s location within the park the previous evening. There is a maximum of 96 gorilla permits available each day, with 8 trekkers in each group.

You’ll receive a briefing from your guide, learning of all of the ‘do’s and don’ts’ while in the presence of gorillas, before heading up into the mountains to begin the hike. Trekking can take from two to six hours, as the gorillas sometimes move before the park rangers locate them the next morning. You’ll be able to stop frequently for a chance to rest and take photos as you go.

Your encounter with the gorillas will be so special – coming so close to these magnificent animals is a joy. Whether you meet the majestic silverback or see some baby gorillas playing in the jungle, it will be an hour you’ll never forget.

After your experience, you’ll meet with a driver who will return you to the lodge for dinner.       

Included: All meals, guided gorilla trek with permit, 4* lodge     

Day 11: Depart Kigali

After breakfast at your lodge, you’ll take a scenic drive back to Kigali from the Virunga Volcanoes, being driven over to the airport for your flight home.

Included: Transfers, breakfast, international flights       

Day 12: Arrive UK


The lush nation of Rwanda is nestled in the heart of Africa, with high altitudes and plenty of rain. The long rainy seasons comes between March and May, with dry weather following from June to the end of September. Another short rainy spell hits in October and November before a shorter dry season from December to February. Dry seasons are often characterised by light cloud and warmer temperatures, although in a nation this lush, rain is always possible. There are discounts on gorilla permits if you travel outside of the peak months, please ask our consultants if you are interested in learning about travelling to Rwanda between November and May.

We've made a similar trip

If you'd like to get a feel for this trip, read our blog post ‘Why Rwanda travel is on the rise: gorillas are just the beginning’ - written by one of our consultants who has been there.

This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.           

What's included: 

  • International flights
  • Return airport transfers
  • Gorilla tracking permits 
  • Accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary   
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Excursions as mentioned in the itinerary

Not included: 

  • Any meals not mentioned
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips & gratuities               
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