Kigali to PNV - HOW?

Old Oct 15th, 2006, 08:44 AM
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Kigali to PNV - HOW?

We have plans to add a trek to the Rwanda gorillas (PNV) to our Tanzania safari in summer '07. How do we get from Kigali to Gorilla's Nest and back? Do we hire a driver, if so how and through whom? Are there tour agents to arrange this? Help!
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Old Oct 15th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Though I can't speak from experience because our trip is not until December, we arranged our trip through R & N Explorer.

http://www.gorillasafaris.netfirms.com/

They arranged our permits, accommodations and transfers from Kigali. Others on the board have used them and seem to be pleased. Fingers crossed
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Old Oct 16th, 2006, 07:07 AM
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Hi Jill,

You don't actually need to book a tour operator to do this trip - you can travel by bus to Rhuengeri and then hire a guy to take you the rest of the way and to and from the treck. The bus costs only $2 each way. Lucia here on the boards did this and she has posted a trip report which I think you might find useful (just do a search on her name).
I visited the gorillas in July and I took the 'luxury' option of hisirn a driver for our trip. This isn't the cheapest way to do things but I am SO SO glad that I did. We had a FANTASTIC guy called Richard and with some flight trouble before we got to Rwanda, we were VERY glad that we arranded it this way. I have posted a trip report which details our journey - just do a search under my name. If you have any questions please ask

Imelda
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Old Oct 16th, 2006, 08:36 AM
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As Imelda mentioned, I took the bus from Kigali to Ruhengeri for $2 (Virunga Bus). But we were staying at the Hotel Murahabura which is in town. Gorillas Nest is closer to the PNV, so you'd need to take a taxi from where the bus drops you off. You would also need to arrange transport from Gorillas Nest to the PNV.

If you're only going to be in Rwanda for a short time, you might be better off just using a tour operator who can arrange all this for you--transport from Kigali airport to Gorillas Nest and then the PNV and back. They can also get you your gorilla permits.

You can find a list of tour operators on the Rwandan Tourism site as well as in the Bradt guide. There are also recommended ones here.

I would recommend that you spend at least one night in Rwanda (preferably in the PNV) before your trek in order to acclimitize. It's not crazy important, but make sure you request a group that's closer. Doing the Susa group at 18,000 feet is a little hard if you've just gotten off a plane

If you have a little more time, try to visit Kibuye or Gisenyi on Lake Kivu. Rwanda is stunning!
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Old Oct 16th, 2006, 09:19 AM
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Thanks everyone! This is just the info I am looking for. I am sure we will stay in Kigali for 1-3 nights and PNV the night before the trek. I'm not much of a morning person so need to be close to PNV in order to be there on time. Can you tell me more about the bus - how long is the ride, how comfortable is the bus? I'm not sure it will work for me, but I'm checking all options. My hubby has done the gorillas twice, but was doing mission work in Kigali so had access to drivers, etc. while there. We will be on a pleasure trip, so won't have the same access to drivers. We will definitely do a gorilla group that is close (I am NOT in shape). Hubby, son and BIL did the SUSA group summer 2006 and BIL had trouble with dehydration even though he is very fit.
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Old Oct 16th, 2006, 11:23 AM
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Hi Jill,
Here is a list of tour operators and travel agents in Rwanda:
http://www.rwandatourism.com/guide.htm#5

We arranged everything through Amahoro Tours and had a wonderful experience.

Darren
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Old Oct 16th, 2006, 01:14 PM
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Well my boyfriend was in Rwanda for 3 weeks before I got there so he scouted out the bus companies. Basically there are matatus that fill themselves to the brim...and then there are matatus that only sell tickets for the number of seats they have. We took that one. It's called the Virunga Bus and it's about a 2 minute walk from the Milles Collines. Kind of hard to describe how to get there...but just ask anyone when you get to Kigali. It's $2 roundtrip, I think...definitely no more than $4 roundtrip.

I found it comfortable, clean (they are minibuses, so no bathrooms). Also, if you have a lot of luggage get there early as they don't have much of a trunk, but you can put bags under the seat in front of you.

It took about 2 hours from Kigali to Ruhengeri. This bus goes direct and does not pick up people on the way.

I actually enjoyed the bus a lot as I got to meet and talk to more Rwandans...and get more a sense of what life is like.

While it's definitely the cheapest route, I can imagine it's not for everyone. We were on a pleasure trip...but were on a major budget in Rwanda (spending most of our money on airfare and safari in Kenya).

But if you don't want to deal with any hassles (ie. bus tickets, hauling your luggage, etc.) then just go with a TA.
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Old Jan 1st, 2007, 08:38 AM
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Toshi, what was your experience with R&N Explorer? We plan on a June safari and want to visit the gorillas and need a way to get from Kigali to PNV.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 05:31 PM
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We just got back and everything was just wonderful. I plan to post a trip report and some pictures soon but thought I'd answer your question.
(here are the pics we posted while traveling)
http://tinyurl.com/y76p2b

Our driver was Vicky and he seemed to know just about everyone in Rwanda. A lot of guides have a strict schedule or itinerary, but Vicky was flexible and eager to please.

I'd recommend R&N Xplorer too. They always respond to email within 24 hours and there were no surprises. The ground operator in Rwanda was Mercator Assistance - not sure of the relationship between them and R&N Xplorer but you could try to contact them directly
http://www.mercatorassistance.com/ (si vous parlez Francais)
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 08:01 PM
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Toshi sounds like you had a great trip. Like the couple of photos you have on your link! Excellent! You said you took some video also. Was there and extra charge for using a video. I read that there is but I have only read it in one place so don't know how acurate that info is. We will be there next month!!
Thaks J
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Old Jan 3rd, 2007, 02:58 AM
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We weren't charged an additional fee for video. The only place I have run into that was Egypt.

Have a great trip!
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Old Jan 7th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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Toshi, as a means of comparison, did you check out other companies than just RN Explorer? If so, which ones?
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Old Jan 7th, 2007, 12:58 PM
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I checked with Great Lakes Safaris when we were thinking of going to both Uganda and Rwanda. I did check with a US-based operator (and saw our exact trip listed in several other operator's brochures) for way more than what we paid. I got a very good vibe from Rose and Nyagah at R&N, so I didn't do too much shopping around. Respond to my emails, offer me a fair price, and I'm happy.
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Old Jan 7th, 2007, 01:38 PM
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Toshi:

I love your website! I used one of your flow chart packing lists to help prepare for my trip last summer, thanks!

jill_h:

When I was at the Gorilla’s Nest last July I was on my own with Great Lakes Safaris and each day we went to the park and back we brought along folks who needed a ride. If your budget does not allow for the tour guide route once you get to the GN I am sure you can get a ride the same way as this seems like business as usual.

If you go the tour guide route make sure they take you the scenic route to the Gorilla's Nest each way, it is truly lovely.


jules39:

Definitely no charge for using a video camera, I took video both days in the Parc.

Den
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Old Jan 7th, 2007, 01:40 PM
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>If you go the tour guide route make sure they take you the scenic route to the Gorilla's Nest each way, it is truly lovely.<

Each way from KIGALI that is....

Den
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