What to see and do on your Rwanda-Uganda safari holiday
A Rwanda-Uganda safari tour has got more than enough to offer with plenty of exciting items on the menu including gorilla trekking, safari drive, primates tour, volcano hike, cultural and historical tour, community visits, among others.
The tour starts in Rwanda with a Kigali city tour that includes visiting several places in the city including the Nyamirambo Women’s Center, Genocide Memorials, local market, among others as time may allow you.
From Kigali, you proceed northwards to Volcanoes national park for the rest of your safari activities in Rwanda.
Your detailed itinerary
Upon your arrival, you can take some time to explore the city of Kigali, one of the most beautiful cities on the African continent. The city is well known for its pleasant, friendly and clean environment.
There are several interesting and historical sites within and outside the city.
From Kigali, you can now head northwards to Volcanoes national park. The park shares a border with other two national parks though each of the three is located in a different country but gazetted within one major conservation region known as the Virunga Conservation Area or the Virunga Mountains. The other two parks in the area include Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The major uniting factor for all these three parks are the mountain gorillas that are found in each of the parks.
The Rwanda side where Volcanoes National Park is found has also got five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains. The park is covered by mountain forests with bamboo which is a favorite snack for the gorillas.
In addition to mountain gorillas, there are several other wildlife species that can be seen within Volcanoes National Park. they include; golden monkeys, numerous bird species, buffaloes, bushbucks, hyenas, forest elephants, among others.
Golden Monkey-trekking and Karisoke hike
The afternoon arrival at the park may subject you to lighter activities like golden monkey tracking where you can watch these playful and lively primates enjoying their natural habitat. A visit to Karisoke Research Center, founded by American Primatologist Dr. Dian Fossey in 1967. At this point, a resident researcher takes you through a tour to learn about the ongoing work in the protection and conservation of mountain gorillas.
Later in the evening, you can expand your knowledge of mountain gorillas by attending an in-depth lecture about the life of mountain gorillas by one of the wardens of Volcanoes National Park.
Note that golden monkeys are also found within the same jungle with mountain gorillas and therefore proper hiking attire must be worn. The trekking takes place in a rainforest with dense vegetation, nettles, and undergrowth and sometimes in muddy terrain.
Just like with mountain gorillas, one is spent with the golden monkeys as par the trekking rules and regulation to ensure their protection and conservation. Visitors with any contagious infection including common colds are not allowed to trek the golden monkeys to ensure their safety.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
There are currently approximately 1000 mountain gorillas that live within their habitats in Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC. The gorillas found within this area are known as highland gorillas.
There are up to ten habituated gorilla families that can be visited at Volcanoes National Park. Each habituated gorilla family is visited once per day by a group of 8 trekkers who must be above 15 years each.
Trekkers are allowed to spend a maximum of 1 hour in the presence of gorillas for conservation reasons and also to enable these apes to enjoy their natural habitat without any human interference.
Gorilla trekkers are always advised to be well prepared in terms of the hiking gear, snacks, and drinking water as treks to the gorilla family may take between 2-4 hours depending on where the gorillas may be.
Some of the major gorilla trekking dos and don’ts include not touching the gorillas however nearer they come towards you, avoid making noise and sudden movements. Keeping a distance of at least 7 meters away from the gorillas is always recommended and you are advised to move away slowly as a gorilla may try to get close.
Elderly and less energetic trekkers are advised to hire a porter who is available at $15-$20. A porter can help you not only carry your day pack but also can help you with a helping hand where the trek may get difficult.
Hiring a porter also a source of employment and support to the local community.
Mountain gorillas share 98% of the human DNA and therefore they can easily catch human infections. Due to this, trekkers who are unwell with contagious illnesses like a common cold are not allowed to trek as a way of protecting the mountain gorillas.
More wildlife experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda
After the gorilla trekking encounter in Volcanoes National Park, you will cross the border into Uganda and head northwest to Queen Elizabeth National Park for another unique wildlife experience.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is dominated by an open savannah plain, a large swamp area around Lakes George and Edward, surrounded by the extensive Maramagambo forest in the southeast and the Kyambura Gorge forest at the border with Kyambura Game Reserve.
Before exploring the wonders of Queen Elizabeth National Park, you may first go chimpanzee tracking in the morning in the primate-rich area of Kalinzu Forest Reserve that hosts thousands of these close relatives.
After your chimpanzee tracking adventure in Kalizu, you will head straight into Queen Elizabeth National Park for an afternoon game drive. Meet both large and small game that reside in the park including elephants, buffaloes, leopard, lions, hyenas, giant forest hogs, warthogs, and several antelope species.
Don’t miss out on seeing one of the wonders of the park, the tree-climbing lions that spend their day while resting high up in the tree branches in the Ishasha sector of the park
Later in the afternoon go for a boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel within the park where you view several hippos, birds, elephants, and some big cats.
The following morning you set off to Entebbe International Airport for your return flight but you will have a stopover at the equator crossing for photographs and lunch.
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