Side trip from Kigali Rwanda


Sep 21st, 2014, 12:54 PM
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Side trip from Kigali Rwanda

I am planning a 10 day trip to Rwanda in January beginning and ending in Kigali and would like to add another 3-5 day side trip on the front or back end of the trip. Does anyone have a suggestion for another destination that makes sense that I can add? We will have already seen the gorillas in Rwanda. Is it enough time to do any safari-type activities? Any suggestions on tour companies?
Cherieriesenberg is offline  
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Sep 22nd, 2014, 05:53 AM
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With 10 days, you may already be doing what I will suggest.

You could consider Akagera for savannas and plains species, along with interesting birds, perhaps even the shoebill. Three days is probably the max you'd want here. I stayed 2 but 3 would have be nice too.

Or Nyungwe for a variety of primates/monkeys. With the various hikes you can do for various species such as chimps in different locations, blue monkeys, Angolan Colobus in different locations, you could spend 5 nights. I stayed 4 but 5 would have been nice too.

These locations are discussed in the link to my trip report, here.

In the upper right corner of each post is a #. #s 1,5,6, and 9-13 pertain to Akagera and Nyungwe.

In Kigali is the Never Again Memorial, which may already be part of your plan.

In Butare (2.5 hours from Kigali) there is a National Museum and a Memorial another half hour away. These are described in post #9 in the attached.

Finally, there are other activities besides gorillas at PNV. You can track golden monkeys, such lovely and energetic creatures. Post #15 mentions these monkeys. There is the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, described in #16.

Now for companies. Here is an excerpt from my Fodors trip report -- -- that mentions some that I have used.

Accolades to my entourage of agents and guides:

In 2004 I went to Rwanda with Primate Tours, booked through The Africa Adventure Company and had Theogene as my guide. I had wanted to use him again for this trip, but to my disappointment, it did not work out.

During the planning stages of this trip when I was in contact with both Volcanoes Safaris and The Africa Adventure Co, they decided to team up with me being the guinea pig (or in this case, bush pig) client for their joint venture—a successful one indeed.

Even though he was not going to be my guide, Theo asked for my itinerary and emailed that he would meet me at the airport in Kigali. He wanted to be there just in case I had a problem when I arrived so that he could offer assistance. How impressive is that?! Later in the trip I would have the pleasure of his company again.

Between his offer to come to the airport and my arrival, I informed him my guide would somebody named Kirenga from Volcanoes. Theo told me that any concerns he had disappeared when he saw that name. They are good friends and founding members and President and Vice President of the Rwanda Safari Guides Association.

So Theo and Kirenga were there to meet me when I arrived for a reunion/introduction/get together or maybe an executive board meeting of the Rwanda Safari Guides Association before I got there.

Choosing your guide (and company):

Mix and match if you choose.

I discovered it is normal for Rwandan guides who are employed by one company to do safaris now and then for other companies, if they are specifically requested.

I’d highly recommend any combo of (in alphabetical order) Kirenga K, Primates Safaris, Theogene R, Volcanoes Safaris if you are going to Rwanda.

But don’t just take my word for it, take that of Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, or Joe Biden. Bill Gates and Bill Clinton used Primates and the others used Volcanoes for their visits. Sorry I don’t know who the Republicans used. All of the trips by the Democrats were done when they were not in the White House.

I’m not trying to name drop and usually cannot afford much in common with the rich famous or politicians. In this case, though, I think their choices emphasize the sound reputation of these two companies. For my trip, the price was reasonable, especially considering it was all private. I doubt either of the Clintons or Bill Gates stayed at Kinigi Guesthouse, though.

Despite my enthusiasm for companies I have used, I am aware that each morning there were about 56 people at the PNV ranger station going on gorilla treks who were having a fine trip, and who were brought there by a wide variety of companies represented by numerous guides. So there are many good choices.

I’d be careful about going too cheap, though. The safari guide mentoring roles that Theo (five years ago) and Kirenga took on gave me a peek into the calamities that can occur with inexperienced guides or guides working for shoddy companies, all of whom were seeking help when things went wrong. Such things as: guides getting lost (Theo had to head out in the dark one night after I’d been tucked in to escort a hapless guide and his guests to their PNV destination); breakdowns of poorly maintained vehicles; no chimp tracking permits because the company president never thought to acquire them; no gorilla permits due to oversight at best and fraud at worst; clients’ boots getting left behind in Uganda when the vehicle was cleaned requiring an all-night international journey by the guide via bus and motorbike to retrieve them, complete with diplomatic intervention when problems arose at the border. And that’s just what happened while I was there to hear about it in the last two trips.

One reason I was pleased The Africa Adventure Company became part of my plan is that my track record seeing the gorillas has been poor. Dating back to 1994, when I booked my first trip to Africa with AAC, which included the gorillas, there have been various security problems in both Rwanda and Uganda that have resulted in cancellations. Prior to this trip, I had gone on 3 gorilla safaris in 6 attempts. Now I am 4 for 7.

I appreciated how AAC had switched my itinerary (and sometimes that of my traveling companions) along with international flights for no extra cost when in the past it became evident that I would not be going to the gorillas, despite buying permits, airline tickets, and lodging to do so. I was confident if unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances arose for this trip that booking through AAC would mean they would offer a reasonable solution again.

As stability and security continue to increase in the region, I think fears of cancellation for safety reasons will no longer need to be a concern.

Fortunately, no problems on this trip, although Kenya Airways almost caused a disruption with their strike.

That brings up another plug from me for Volcanoes (and similar high quality companies). I commented that there would likely be guests who would miss their gorilla visits if their timing had been very unlucky to coincide with the Kenya Airways strike. I was told that no Volcanoes guests would miss the gorillas due to the strike because if needed, chartered planes would bring the guests in.

Pertinent to the strike, my Volcanoes guide got me onto a Rwanda Airways flight to my same destination when we found out that Kenya Airways was not flying out of Kigali. I may have been able to do that myself, but it was reassuring to have Kirenga directing the show and sending employees scurrying around with my ticket to enact the change. I don’t know that I could have directed any scurrying, which was necessary to make the change in time. (Volcanoes does not offer any air travel bookings, only ground services.)

And here’s another plug: If you are doing activities in both Rwanda and Uganda, Volcanoes is one of the few companies that handles both. This served me well because when I switched airlines at the last minute, it meant I arrived about 5 hours early into Entebbe. The change was communicated internally by Volcanoes and I was met at the airport upon arrival. Not that you couldn’t notify a second company of the changes yourself or just wait in the airport until the original arrival time, but the continuity worked out well for me.

One final note:
Some of the accommodations around PNV have gotten to be outrageously expensive. To combat that on my last trip I stayed at Kinigi Guesthouse in a private room. Just fine and where I'd go again. Previously I was at Gorilla Nest, nice and reasonable but chilly. I think Gorilla Mountain Lodge seems to be preferred over Nest as of late.

In Nyungwe I stayed at the reasonable ORTPN Guesthouse. I'd either go there or the plantation tea house should I return.

atravelynn is offline  
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Sep 22nd, 2014, 12:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2014
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If your are done with the gorillas and wants to add something different to your stay, how about crossing the border for 2-3 days and experience Burundi?

1. You can pay a visit to the Batwa villages alongside Kibira National Park (an extension of Nyungwe National Park)
2. Crocodiles and hippos in Rusizi river
3. Lake Tanganyika is worth seeing!

Please feel free to get back to us for more info about these
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