Help with Rwanda trip

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Jan 26th, 2014, 06:20 PM
  #1
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Help with Rwanda trip

Hello,
We are planning a trip to Rwanda in August, 2014 after two weeks on safari in Kenya. We are thinking of perhaps another week or 10 days. Our daughter will be working in Kigali for the summer, so we will definitely want to visit her in the city. However, we would appreciate thoughts on other destinations in Rwanda. We know that gorilla sightings are a major draw, but after checking into pricing, we don't think we can manage that after the expense of the safari. We would also appreciate general advice about traveling in Rwanda; i.e. safety, etc. Is it better to hire drivers and guides? Go by tour? Generally not our first choice - but we recognize that in some locales it's the best way to travel. Alternatively, we could spend 4-5 days in Rwanda, and then perhaps 4-5 days in Uganda? All advice is appreciated. We are a couple in our late 50s, but in good physical shape, so interested in hiking and other active pursuits.

Thank you!
NancyLA is offline  
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Jan 27th, 2014, 05:32 AM
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Nancy - that is a shame you could not swing a trip to Parc des Volcans for a gorilla trek. That is something very special - personally I would shave days off Kenya in order to afford gorilla trekking. I think you will want to have a guide and driver in Rwanda. When in Kigali, check out two small art centers - Ivuka and Inema. They both get rave reviews on Trip Advisor and I really enjoyed them. They are community based, giving artists and children a place to work and make art. I bought a beautiful small water color of a crocodile at Ivuka. They are only a mile or two from one another, so easy to hit both within a short time. There is of course the Genocide Museum that most people visit, though I did not. My focus was gorillas and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
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Jan 27th, 2014, 06:38 AM
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To go to Rwanda and not see the gorillas when a good part of your trip is a safari is something I think you will regret--unless you will be returning to visit your daughter in the future and can include gorillas at that time.

I would stick with Kenya and Rwanda and not add a 3rd country, especially if cost is an issue.

Other Rwanda destinations: Akagera for savanna and plains. Nyungwe for chimps, colobus, and other monkeys, plus a waterfall. Lots of hiking to see animals, birds, or just to walk in Nyungwe. The ORTPN Guesthouse is an inexpensive, charming option for lodging. Also the tea house.

In addition to the memorial there is the National Museum in Butare and The Murambi Genocide Memorial in Nyamagabe District.

What is your Kenya itinerary? Since you indicate you are physically able to do the gorilla trip, I'm with Cateye in suggesting you swap time from Kenya for gorillas in Rwanda. You could cut down on your lodging cost by staying at the very comfortable Kinigi Guesthouse, close to the Ranger Station where in PNV.

I have always had a driver/guide in Rwanda. It can be important to have a vehicle at your disposal for the gorilla visits because from the ranger station you may drive, not walk, to the trailhead to begin your hike to the gorillas. Sometimes you can get a ride with others who have a vehicle, but I know the guides were not always thrilled about taking others who had not hired a guide and those without a vehicle, leaving the vehicle-less at the mercy of those with vehicles.

Here is my report on the places I mentioned above in Rwanda, the last part is Murchison Falls in Uganda.

http://safaritalk.net/topic/3984-hav...cs-will-track/

Good luck with your plans and your visit to your daughter.
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Jan 27th, 2014, 10:05 AM
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Thank you for your helpful information. It occurs to me that there may be less expensive ways to see the gorillas than we have been considering? We were quoted prices of nearly $5,000 ea. for a 3-day trek. (This was from a Kenya-based company, so perhaps a local company would be more affordable?) We want to be comfortable, and safe of course, but perhaps you can recommend an alternative?

Also, any recommendations about where to stay in Kigali?
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Jan 27th, 2014, 01:03 PM
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Nancy - the gorilla permits are $750 for each day's trek. You'll want to secure these as far in advance as possible. The other expenses would be for guide/hotel/flight to get there etc, so I'm sure there are lots of options. I ended up staying in a very low end place in Ruhengeri (the town closest to Parc des Volcans) called Le Bambou lodge. I'm not actually recommending it ;-) a bit too low end for me, but it does show that not all lodgings are high end (and expense) like Sabinyo. In Kigali I stayed at Ole Sereni - the opposite of Le Bambou, a very nice high end 5 star hotel. I do recommend this place.
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Jan 27th, 2014, 01:12 PM
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ps - if you click on my user name you can find 2 trip reports, one for Rwanda and one for Kenya. Even though the trip reports are separate the trip was one 14 day period. I bought my own Kenya Air ticket for round trip between Nairobi and Kigali and it was only about $140.
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Jan 27th, 2014, 05:36 PM
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People seem to get good pricing with R & N Explorer, though I have not used them. Churchill also seems to give good pricing but no personal experience. The $5k may have to do with very expensive lodging. I've used Volcanoes Safaris but stayed at low end places (still plenty good, rather charming), not their own extremely lovely lodges. Also used Primate Safaris.

In Kigali I have stayed at Laico Umubano (formerly Novotel).
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Jan 28th, 2014, 05:16 AM
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I've spent about 2 weeks in Kigali for my job. It's very safe and easy to navigate. Taxis and drivers are easy to find. I hired a guy to drive me to a couple of the genocide memorial sites outside the city, and he provided some very personal insights into the memorials--something I don't think a tour group would provide. Personally I would not do the tour company thing in Rwanda, unless it's to arrange a gorilla permit or to go to Akagera NP.

I would think that your daughter might be able to help you with arranging your stay in Rwanda, since she will be working in Kigali. She will most likely get to know lots of ex-pats and locals who know how to get around economically. All she needs to do is go to Sol e Luna on Monday nights and play trivia with the ex-pat community there. She'll make tons of connections.

I have not seen the gorillas yet, but I know that there are much cheaper options than $5K for 3 days. That's crazy expensive (probably high-end lodging as others are suggesting).

There should also be options of seeing Uganda gorillas from Kigali--gorilla permits in Uganda are cheaper ($500) than Rwanda.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 01:49 PM
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These comments have been very helpful. Thank you! I wonder if anyone has a local Rwanda operator for Gorilla treks they can recommend? I reached out to an individual recommended on an earlier forum, but no response, alas. And this is probably a stupid question, but is the gorilla permit ($750pp) charged for each day in the park? Or just the day(s) spent actually viewing the gorillas.
Many thanks!
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Jan 29th, 2014, 05:08 PM
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When $750 is involved, there is no stupid question. The $750 gorilla permit is for the hike to search for the gorillas and then spend one hour with them.


Primate Safaris in Kigali is a local operator I used and all went perfectly.
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Apr 18th, 2014, 06:53 AM
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This is the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan massacre. I posted "Remembering Rwanda" on Fodorite Forum and also some comments on "Rwanda trip report" but don't think colin is active on Fodors anymore. Anyway his picts and commentary are wonderful: www.colin-julie.com/rwanzibarindex.htm.

Of special interest is their experience going through the Genocide Museum in Kigali. I was moved indeed. As you will note in my comments son Dr. Tim Longman is quoted in a recent documentary "Coexist" which has been shown recently on PBS World channels. (www.coexistdocumentary.org) His own report in a book "Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda" (publ. Cambridge University Press and available in paperback).

Interesting, Gritty, that you were two weeks in Kigali. It might be noted that many would never feel safe returning to Rwanda given the restrictive politics. However seems that many people do travel for the gorilla trek and other nature preserves (Tim's research guide/translator was once Diane Fossey's assistant). atravelynn and Cateyes555 are evidentally among those intrepid African explorers!

And good luck to NancyLA. All I'm saying here is let us never forget the countless victims slaughtered in that beautiful land.
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Apr 19th, 2014, 08:14 AM
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I agree with others that to skip the Gorilla trek would be a shame. We used a local operator, Herbert Gato, with Umubano Tours last September and loved him. His pricing was very good compared to other companies. They have a website.
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