The morning is free to relax from our journey and to freshen up. In the afternoon there is a city tour of this small but fascinating city. There will be an opportunity to visit the Rwanda Genocide Museum, an enlightening and educational excursion.
After breakfast we transfer to Akagera National Park; we will arrive in time for lunch and an afternoon game drive. This is a small park in comparison to others in East Africa, and did suffer somewhat in the 1990's. However, the Rwandan Government has invested in the park, and there are small populations of lion as well as hippos, buffaloes, zebras, giraffe and elephant. The park is excellent for bird life and provides a gentle introduction to the wildlife of East Africa and Rwanda itself.
We have an early start this morning for our drive to Huye (Butare), stopping for a visit to the ancient Kings' Palace, the pre European capital of the country. Arriving in Huye for lunch, the 'intellectual capital' of Rwanda with the National University and Institute of Scientific Research. After lunch we will visit the National Museum, which has really interesting archaeological artefacts.
Today we travel to Nyungwe Forest, the oldest rainforest Africa. This forest offers some great walking and amazing scenery over Lake Kivu and out to Parc National des Volcans. We will spend the afternoon walking in the forest past towering hardwood trees, and flowing waterfalls; there should even be a start to our primate spotting, as there is a large population of Colobus monkeys in the forest.
After breakfast we head out, with our tracker, into the forest again for our guided chimp trek. The terrain may be slippery and at times there are some steep ascents and descents over muddy slopes, so strong footwear is essential, but we will hopefully be rewarded with a wonderful sighting of these smaller primates in their natural habitat.
We drive to Kibuye alongside Lake Kivu, check in and lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon we have time to visit the town or to relax on the shores of the lake.
Today we drive to Gisenyi, a holiday resort town on the shores of Lake Kivu. Here we have the rest of the day free to relax on the shores of the lake or to enjoy some of the water sports or boat trips on offer. In the late afternoon we drive to Ruhengeri, our base for the next couple of days. Ruhengeri itself is not a major town; most visitors are staying here as a staging post for visiting the mountain gorillas in Parc National des Volcans.
Today is a highlight of our trip, a day of tracking to find a family of Mountain gorillas. Owing to the very nature of the terrain and the need to explore in order to find the gorillas, there are no paths to follow and our guides will occasionally need to cut a way through the undergrowth. At times there are some steep ascents and descents over muddy slopes, so strong footwear is essential. You must expect a minimum of three hours walking to find the gorillas. Despite the challenging terrain, the rain forest scenery makes the walking very interesting, and to be close to the gorillas in their natural habitat is an experience you will never forget. An adult male can weigh up to 195kg, a female up to 100kg, and a male can reach 1.7m in height. The gorillas are almost exclusively vegetarian and are quite destructive eaters, which makes them unpopular with the farmers lower down the mountain slopes - they have been known to wreck a whole field of crops just to eat one plant. For this reason, and also because of poaching, the gorillas are very carefully protected. We can venture to within eight metres of the gorilla families with reasonable safety as, in spite of their reputation, they are gentle creatures and are not known to attack unless very severely provoked. Also, we do not venture any closer because the gorillas are very susceptible to human disease - please note that anyone with a cold or any similar ailment may not be allowed near to the gorillas.
We head into the park again today to track the Golden Monkey, another endangered member of the primate family. Very little is known of the Golden Monkey and it is only in recent years that researchers have started to collate more information. The only population of these monkeys is in Parc National des Volcans; previously there were families found in Nyungwe Forest. They mainly live in the bamboo and so are harder to spot, but this is what our tracker is there to do. After our trek we head back to Kigali.
This morning is free for some last minute sightseeing and souvenir shopping, before heading to the airport for our flight home.