11 Days Combined Rwanda and Congo Safari

11 Days Combined Rwanda and Congo Safari: This 11 Days combined Rwanda and Congo Safari takes you to Rwanda’s main attractions and Congo’s most visited national park. It features visiting Volcanoes national park which is a home of the endangered mountain gorillas, Nyungwe forest national park on the other hand is a home to the wild chimpanzees and other primates of Nyungwe forest. Akagera national park is the only wildlife destination where we find the big 5 game. In Congo, the trip features visiting Mount Nyirangongo which is the active volcano on the Virunga Mountain with active boiling lave.  Kahuzi beiga national park on the other hand is home to the Lowland gorillas with 2 dormant volcanoes that is Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega. There are about 4,000 remaining lowland gorillas and these can only be found in Kahuzi beiga national park. Kahuzi Biega national park has only 3 guerrilla groups habituated for visit by the tourists however; the park doesn’t only have lowland gorillas but a number of other animals like the Forest Hog, the forest Elephant, Antelopes and the bush duikers. 

This 11 Days trip will start and end in Kigali Rwanda simply because Rwanda is the nearest place to access the Kahuzi beiga national park. It also requires an earlier arrival in Rwanda like a day before your transfer to Kahuzi Beiga national park given the time taken driving.  It’s important to note that the Democratic Republic of Congo is not an East African country and therefore note that your Rwanda Visa expires immediately you cross into Congo so you will have to reapply for another while at the border and find it ready after the tour.

Highlights of the 11 Days Combined Rwanda and Congo Safari 

  • Day 1: Arrival in Rwanda and transfer to Volcanoes national park
  • Day 2: Rwanda Gorilla Trekking
  • Day 3: Explore Lake Kivu and transfer to Goma – Congo
  • Day 4: Hike Mount Nyiragongo 
  • Day 5: Descend & Connect to Bukavu on afternoon speed boat
  • Day 6: Lowland Gorilla tracking tour in Kahuzi Biega – DR Congo
  • Day 7: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park – Rwanda
  • Day 8: Chimpanzee tracking and Canopy walk
  • Day 9: Transfer to Akagera national park
  • Day 10: Day Game drive and Ihema boat cruise.
  • Day 11: Early morning game drive and transfer to Kigali. 

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kigali and transfer to Volcanoes national park

Upon arrival at Kigali international airport (Ensure you arrive with a morning flight in Kigali)/ Depending on your location in Kigali, meet your safari guide who will welcome you, connect to Kigali city, explore a bit of Kigali depending on the time of arrival before you transfer to Volcanoes national park. This is Rwanda’s best tourist destination for primates especially for endangered mountain gorilla trekking. It is a 3 hours’ drive from Kigali driving through the rolling hills of Rwanda. Upon arrival at Musanze, connect to your booked accommodation where you will check-in, have lunch and spend your evening at leisure as you prepare for next day activity while you wait for dinner and overnight stay. 

  • Luxury option: 5 Volcanoes Gorilla Lodge/Mountain Gorilla View Hotel
  • Mid-range option: Le Bambou Gorilla lodge/Da Vinci Gorilla lodge 
  • Budget option: Hotel Muhabura/Kiningi Guesthouse

Day 2: Rwanda Gorilla Trekking

Wakeup to an early morning breakfast and connect to Kinigi park headquarters for a briefing and allocation of Gorilla trekking groups. With your trekking gears, head into the cold and misty forested slopes of Virunga national park on your Gorilla trekking experience. The trek can take between 2 to 6 hours depending on the movement of the Gorillas and on finding them, you will be allowed 1 hour to see and take photos after which you will exit the forest. Meet your driver / guide and transfer back to the lodge. If you still feel strong, you may opt for a village walk or a community tour in Ibya cuwa community village or return to relax at the lodge. Dinner and overnight stay at either lodge as above.

Day 3: Explore Lake Kivu and transfer to Goma – DR Congo 

After breakfast, explore Lake Kivu which is the only fresh water lake in Rwanda shared with Congo. Take a boat trip on the different islands on the lake with different activities. Have lunch in Gisenyi before you connect to DR. Congo via Gisenyi – Gome border of Rwanda and Congo respectively. Upon entering Gome, meet your Congo driver guide waiting to receive you, brief you about Congo then drive to your booked accommodation in Goma. The lodges are strategically located with great views of the Virunga Mountains and Lake Kivu. Dinner and overnight stay at;

  • Luxury option: Hotel Ihusi/Goma Serena Hotel
  • Mid-range: Lac Kivu Hotel/La Joie Plazza Hotel
  • Budget: Hotel Linda

Connect to check-in with the tourism office strategically located at the Grand Barrier border Post to receive your Hiking permit which you will be presented at the beginning of hike. Thereafter proceed to your accommodation to rest. Dinner and overnight stay

Day 4: Hike Mount Nyiragongo 

After early morning breakfast, you will meet your driver guide to connect to the Grande Barrier border post to check-in and receive your hiking permit to hike Mount Nyiragongo. Thereafter, drive to Kibati Ranger post where you will meet your rangers guide will first brief you about the activity before you start the experience. Hiking starts at 8:00 am taking about 4-6 hours climbing up the active volcano depending on your hiking speed level. Your posters will be there to help you with your luggage so that you climb with easy through the dense rainforest, until you reach the summit. You will spend the evening enjoying the views from the crater and later in the night, you watch the boiling lava since the boiling lava is best vividly in the night. You will spend the night at one of the shelters at the top.

Day 5: Descend & Connect to Bukavu on an afternoon speed boat

After an early breakfast at the summit and viewing the crater lava in the morning, start descending from the Nyiragongo volcano back to the starting point. The time reached at the end is around 11:00 am depending on your speed level. Upon arrival at the bottom, drive to Kituku port where you will board your boat to connect to Bukavu. The boat trip takes about 3 hours to reach Bukavu and upon arrival to Bukavu, you will be met to drive to your booked hotel in Bukavu for check in. You will relax until it is time for dinner and overnight at 

  • Luxury option; Orchids’ Safari Club Hotel 
  • Mid-range option: Panaroma Hotel 
  • Budget option; Hotel Elizabeth 

Day 6: Lowland Gorilla tracking in Kahuzi Biega – DR Congo

After early morning breakfast, you will head for your incredible and memorable adventure of trekking the lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi Biega National park which is a home to the lowland gorillas. Lowland Gorillas are different from the Mountain gorillas, because they are smaller than the mountain gorillas. Upon reaching the park, get a briefing about the experience then start the hike. Trekking usually takes 1-4 hours in search of the lowland gorillas and on finding them, you will spend time with them while taking pictures and videos. The lowland Gorillas stay in bigger families as compared to mountain gorillas. After trekking, return to drive back to your hotel for relaxation, dinner and overnight at lodge as above

Day 7: Transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park – Rwanda 

In the morning after enjoying your breakfast, check-out of the lodge and meet your driver to transfer back to Rwanda. Drive eastwards and cross to Rwanda via the Rusisi border. After crossing, meet your safari guide and transfer to Nyungwe forest National park which is home to 13 species of primates including the chimpanzee. Connect to your booked lodge for check-in, have lunch and spend the rest of your day relaxing at the hotel. Alternatively, take an optional village visit to the Gisakura tea farms. Dinner and overnight at 

  • Luxury option: One and Only Nyungwe House
  • Mid-range: Nyungwe Top Hill View Hotel 
  • Budget option: Gisakura Visitor Centre

Day 8: Chimpanzee tracking and Canopy walk

After breakfast, drive to the park head office for briefing about the endangered Chimpanzees. With your trekking gears, enter Nyungwe forest to search of the active and playful fellows in Nyungwe forest. Trekking chimpanzees takes about 2-5 hours depending in their location/movements. The Chimpanzees quite difficult to find given that they are not habituated however, you are guaranteed to see them with great efforts from the tracking team of Nyungwe. On finding them, you will enjoy seeing them as they jump from one tree to another, chattering and laughing. Spend an hour with them while taking pictures and videos.  You will then return to your accommodation for lunch.

Later afternoon, you will go on a walking trail that will take you to the Canopy Walk-a swing bridge 50 meters in length that is suspended from large trees. You will be able to see the amazing rainforest with a bird’s eye view, spotting wildlife moving about below you. Before night fall, you will return to the lodge for dinner as above. Dinner and overnight at hotel as above

Day 9: Transfer to Akagera national park 

After breakfast, check-out of the hotel and embark on your journey to Akagera national park. Drive via Butare to connect to Kigali where you will have your lunch before you connect to Akagera national park which is the only wildlife park in Rwanda. It is about 7-8 hours’ drive from Nyungwe forest national park. Upon arrival in the park late afternoon, proceed to your bokked accommodation for dinner and overnight stay. 

  • Luxury option: Ruzizi Safari Camp 
  • Mid-range option: Akagera Game lodge
  • Budget option: Akegara Game lodge 

Day 10: Day Game drive and Ihema boat cruise.

Early in the morning after your breakfast, you will go for the Northern circuit game drive to search for animals found in the park especially those that you most desire to see. Search for the early risers and other animals such as the lions, leopards, hyenas, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, and antelopes. After your game drive of about 2-3 hours, drive back to the lodge for your lunch break.

Day Game drive
Day Game drive

After lunch, connect for an afternoon boat cruise on Lake Ihema where you will see game like hippopotamuses, Crocodiles and many bird species that live around the lake and the surrounding swamps. Return back to the lodge for dinner and overnight stay at lodge as above

Day 11: Early morning game drive and transfer to Kigali

Wake up for a delicious breakfast, check-out of the lodge, and go for a game drive with great anticipation of seeing the different animals which rise early to graze and predators looking for their early morning kill. After the game drive, drive out of the park and connect back to Kigali city. Upon arrival and if you didn’t have a city tour on the first day, you may have done it before you are dropped off at your own booked hotel in Kigali or at the airport for your flight as you may advise.

End of the 11 Days Combined Rwanda and Congo Safari

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