Can I go now – Rwanda
Rwanda reopened mid-August which is very good news for the mountain gorillas since much of their conservation is funded from tourist revenue. Gorillas are without question the main draw here but, as our ideas show, Rwanda is a more of complete safari country than it might seem at first glance.
To start our itinerary, it’s definitely the gorillas. Nobody ever forgets the first time they met a mountain gorilla face to face. The world’s largest primate is massively powerful yet amazingly gentle and caring, and remarkably we share more than 97% of our DNA with them. Even old safari hands, who have seen every country, and enough lions to last a lifetime, tell us that this is the best, most memorable adventure of all their African travels. It’s a trip to book well in advance as you’ll need a tracking permit in order to spend time with the gorillas and these are strictly limited.
Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans is home to around half the world’s 700 remaining mountain gorillas. It’s a stunning park where the lush tropical rainforest supports a range mammals, birds and reptiles alongside the mountain gorillas. There are a number of accommodation options but if you’re after a luxurious offering in the wilderness then Bisate Lodge would be a great choice.
Inspired by a former king’s palace this six room sanctuary sits in the natural amphitheatre of an extinct volcanic cone. The spherical thatched forest villas echo the thousands of hills that dot the Rwanda countryside, each with spectacular views over the Virunga Massif. Colourful textiles and pieces from local artisans give the luxurious interiors a vibrant Rwandan flair.
Allow two days with the gorillas as the first will more than likely go in a whirr with most of the time spent behind the viewfinder of your camera. The second gives a chance to simply sit and absorb all that’s going on.
Tick the gorilla box and there’s plenty else to see and do in Rwanda. For a real primate fest you could head to Nyungwe National Park and track chimpanzees and colobus monkeys. In fact, the rugged terrain and diverse eco-system supports 13 primate species and more than 275 bird species. Though the wilderness is rugged and remote you will be cocooned in luxury at One&Only Nyungwe House where striking wooden villas border one of Africa’s oldest rainforests. With ecological adventure and wildlife encounters aplenty you could easily spend three nights here.
Then there’s Akagera National Park which contains some of the most scenic savannah in East Africa. It is home to one of Africa’s highest hippo densities, some very large crocodiles, rare sitatunga and over 500 bird species. Teeming with plains wildlife, Akagera now also boasts a healthy population of lion, reintroduced into the park in 2015 after a 20 year absence, as well as black rhino which were reintroduced in 2017.
Magashi Camp – with its six spacious tents – overlooks beautiful Lake Rwanyakazinga. Not long opened and one of just three camps in the park it’s a lovely spot where the architecture and interiors pay homage to traditional Rwandan culture. When not out wildlife viewing, the main area which comprises a luxurious lounge, dining and bar area, pool and expansive viewing deck make convivial places to sit and relax. A three to four night stay here would round off a superb – and very definitely not run-of-the-mill – safari.
Visitors combining Parc National des Volcanos with one other Rwanda park between November and May benefit from reduced price gorilla permits ($1,050 vs $1,500), so Magashi Camp is a welcome addition to the safari circuit in this fascinating country.
Update 15 September
The UK Foreign Office’s current advice for Rwanda is similar to much of the globe and ‘against all but essential travel’. The US State department’s advice isn’t quite as forthright, but at Level 3 where they suggest travellers ‘reconsider travel’. We have arranged for clients to travel in such circumstances, but understanding the situation and having the right travel insurance in place is key. Please do talk to us if you’d like to:
- Know more about travelling now
- Have us contact you when the travel advice changes
Let us know if you would like further itinerary ideas and we’ll put something together for you. Email is probably the best way to contact us right now and we’ll respond as quickly as we can – usually on the same day. We very much look forward to talking to you.