Rwanda is a a place that stirs the soul itself with the pull of the natural world. Welcome to Le Pays des Milles Collines – the Land of a Thousand Hills. Rwanda is a country of lush rain forests and endless mountains, fantastic flora and fauna, spectacular sights and unforgettable moments. Come and discover everything this land has to offer.

Dates: TBA (Summer 2018)
Tour leader: Karim Sahai
Price: 4500 € (twin share)
Single supplement: 700 €
Deposit: 700 €
Group size: 12 max
Arrive and Depart: Kigali, Rwanda
Accommodation: hotel, hostel, lodge
Meals: full board
Photography level: all levels

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Here, hidden among the thick bamboo and dense jungle of the Virunga Mountains are the world’s last surviving Mountain Gorillas. This adventure of a lifetime introduces us to our closest genetic cousins. Being at close quarters with these quiet creatures will be a transcendental encounter the photographer in you will never forget. This Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Encounter is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and diversity of the Nyungwe Forest, one of the largest remaining in Africa, and to lose yourself amidst the profusion of bird calls from high above the canopy. Become privy to a gathering of wild chimpanzees and even catch a glimpse of an elusive primate: the Golden Monkey. We will tour the sophisticated city of Kigali and visit the shores of Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s Great Lakes. Finally, we will sharpen our wildlife photography skills at Akagera National Park, where zebras, elephants, antelopes, impalas, leopards, hyenas, giraffes and more than 500 species of birds await. Rwanda is a land suffused with timeless vistas and magical moments. Feel its irresistible call and  avail yourself of timeless memories.

Rwanda mountain gorillas encounter itinerary

 

Day 1 Kigali. We arrive in Kigali and after completing customs and immigrations we journey to our hotel. There, we will have a short safari briefing and be introduced to our driver guide. Overnight at Hotel Mille Collines.

Day 2 Akagera National Park. After breakfast, we drive to Akagera National Park, the only protected savannah region in Rwanda. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands make for breathtaking scenic shots. Home to an extraordinary biodiversity of species, you will get the chance to see them on an afternoon game drive. Dinner will be provided at game lodge where we will spend the night.

Day 3 Akagera National Park. This morning we will go on a four hour morning game drive. This will be your chance for exceptional wildlife photo ops. Notable plains sightings include the savanna elephant, buffalo, zebra, and roan antelope. Olive baboons and vervet monkeys are common, and leopards and hyaena can also be found in the park. Akagera is a bird watcher’s paradise. As an important ornithological site, it is home to nearly 500 bird species. You may be rewarded by the sight of fish eagles hunting, as well as the rare shoebill stork and several other species of migratory birds. After driving back to the lodge, we will enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Take advantage of the time to review your pictures and enjoy the facilities provided by the lodge. Lunch will be followed by another game drive and a optional boat ride. Dinner will be provided for at the lodge and we will spend the night here.

Day 4 Nyungwe National Park. After breakfast, we drive to Kigali where we will have lunch. Then, it’s on to Nyungwe National Park. We’ll visit the National Museum before arriving at the Gisakura guest house. Dinner is provided for here and we sill spend the night at the guest house.

Day 5 Nyungwe National Park. Today, prepare to experience the beauty and diversity of the renowned rainforest of Nyungwe. This is the only place where you can see more than five primate species in a single location. Here, we will follow in the footsteps of a wildlife expert as we go in search for wild chimpanzees, mangabeys and large troops of colobus monkeys. Be sure to bring some long lenses as well, as there are a diverse variety of forest dwelling birds high above in the canopy. We will drive back to the guest house for lunch and you can spend the afternoon at your leisure. Dinner at the Gisakura guest house as well as spending the night. 

Day 6 Lake Kivu. After breakfast we’ll drive to Kibuye, located on the shore of Lake Kivu. Our journey will take us past rolling terrain and tea plantations overlooked by  the steeply terraced hills of eastern Rwanda. It is a panorama perfect landscape. We’ll have lunch and dinner at the Moriah Hill Resort.

Day 7 Lake Kivu – Rubavu Lake Resort. We will have breakfast and then drive to the Rubavu Lake Resort. Photo opportunities abound here: small towns and islands dot the lake, swarms of fruit bats fly over the area and fishermen man outrigger canoes after a long night of work.

We’ll have lunch at Kivu Serena Hotel restaurant. Afterwards, we’ll proceed to Musanze, where we will have dinner and spend the night. 

Day 8 Volcanoes National Park – Gorilla Trek. We’ll have breakfast and then it’s onward to Volcanoes National Park. We’ll report to park headquarters for a briefing on gorilla etiquette by the National Park’s guides. Afterwards, we’ll prepare to travel to the upper terraced slopes of the volcano. Depending on the gorilla group we’re assigned to, the trek will vary in length and height.

Prepare yourself for a once in a lifetime encounter. You will spend a hour in company with these quiet yet majestic creatures. We will be in close proximity to them so you will have the opportunity to capture the images you need. After our trek, we will drive back to the hotel for lunch. The rest of the day can be spent at your leisure. We suggest visiting the local villages and communities. If you’re still hungering for natural vistas though, there is a day jaunt to the beautiful twin lakes of Bulera and Ruhondo. We’ll have dinner and overnight here.

Day 9 Volcanoes National Park – Golden Monkeys. Breakfast is followed by a return to the National Park. Today will be spent in for the rare Golden Monkey. This elusive primate is endemic to the region. They can be found in and around the bamboo trees inside the National Park. Afterwards, we’ll have lunch at the lodge followed by a scenic drive to the city of Kigali. We will overnight here at Hotel Des Mille Collines.

Day 10 Kigali City Tour. Enjoy breakfast on us followed by a city tour of Kigali. Here, you can visit the Gisozu Genocide Memorial. It stands as a testament to the tragic events of the 1994 genocide.  Finally, we’ll transfer you back to the airport for your departure flight.

Hôtel Des Mille Collines, Kigali

Located in the Rwandan capital and made famous in the movie “Hotel Rwanda”, Hotel Des Mille Collines will be our home for the first and last night on our Rwanda Photo Adventure.

  • double room
  • private bathroom & shower
  • tv
  • wifi

Kempinski_Rwanda

 

Akagera Game Lodge, Akagera National Park

Akagera Game Lodge is the only accommodation option within Akagera National Park. More of a hotel than a traditional safari lodge, it has amazing views over Lake Ihema, with a large swimming pool perched on the edge of the savannah. The lodge is the perfect location from which to explore Akagera National Park’s wildlife bonanza.

  • double room
  • private shower & bathroom
  • wifi
  • swimming pool
  • restaurant & bar

Akagera_game_lodge

 

Gisakura Guest House

Gisakura Guest House is located in 2km outside the Nyungwe National Park close to the Gisakura Tea Estate. It is the perfect base for the photographic exploration of the wildlife of the remarkable Nyungwe Forest. Troops of vervet monkeys live on the nearby Gisakura Tea Estate and often pass through the Guest House’s gardens.

  • double room
  • shared bathroom and shower
  • bar & restaurant
  • gardens

Gisakura

 

Moriah Hill Resort, Kibuye

Moriah Hill Resort is a located in western province of Kibuye, near the shores of  Lake Kivu. Its 18 rooms all face the lake. A large variety of East African birds can often be seen in and around the resort.

  • double room
  • private bathroom & shower
  • bar & restaurant
  • internet

Moriah

Pricing & Dates

Dates: TBA (Summer 2018)
Tour leader: Karim Sahai
Price: 4500 € (twin share)
Single supplement: 700 €
Deposit: 700 €
Group size: 12 max
Arrive and Depart: Kigali, Rwanda
Lodging: hotel, hostel, lodge
Meals: full board
Photography level: all levels

Included

  • 2x airport transfers
  • hotel accommodation (7 nights)
  • hostel accommodation (2 nights)
  • Akagera National Park entry fee
  • Nyungwe National Park entry fee
  • Mountain Gorilla trekking permit
  • Gisozu memorial entry fee
  • 4WD vehicles w/ English speaking driver
  • all meals
  • nightly photography review
  • wildlife photography tips and tricks

Not included

  • travel to and from start and end points of the tour
  • alcoholic beverages
  • gratuities
  • phone calls
  • gifts
  • airline baggage fees
  • airport and departure taxes
  • travel insurance

Wildlife Photography in Rwanda

Three important criteria must be considered when selecting equipment for wildlife photography: image quality, speed, and lenses whose ultimate goal is to bring your subject closer. Attention should also be paid to the speed and accuracy of the autofocus and metering systems of the cameras you end up choosing. While you can spend dozens of thousands of dollars in professional photography equipment, a more measured approach can be taken. Today, the equipment on offer is vast in capabilities and price. Generally speaking, a good compromise between expense and your photographic goals can be found in prosumer cameras with an APS-C size sensor, and also in mirrorless cameras also known as “micro 4/3 or MFT. A fast, high-quality APS-C camera like the Nikon D7100 or Canon have the advantage costing less than their full-frame counterparts as well as increasing by 50% the reach of telephoto lenses. A 400 mm lens on an APS-C camera will have the same field of view as a 600 mm lens used on a full-frame camera.

If you prefer shooting nature and landscapes, or if you spend more time photographing slower-moving animals from shorter distances, you should make sure your shorter focal length lenses are of optimum quality. You can then save some money by purchasing a mid-range telephoto zoom (a 70-300 mm). If at all possible, you suggest you also bring a second camera body.

 

Recommended photography equipment

To make the most of your Rwanda Photography Adventure, we highly recommend that you bring:

  • single Lens Reflex (SLR) or mirrorless digital camera body (ideally, two bodies)
  • camera charger & several camera batteries (at least 2)
  • wide angle lens or zoom (24 mm or wider)
  • medium range lens or zoom (24 to 85 mm)
  • telephoto lens or zoom (ideally, 70-200mm or 70-300mm)
  • mechanical or electronic shutter release
  • variable neutral density filter
  • sturdy tripod with adjustable head
  • several memory cards
  • memory card reader
  • laptop with photo editing software
  • portable hard drive(s) for backup
 (HyperDrive ColorSpace or equivalent)

We realize that making recommendations about what equipment to bring to Africa on your Photo Adventure is a function of budget and your goal as a photographer. For this reason, we invite you to contact us, and we’ll be happy to make specific recommendations.

What to wear

Rwanda has no strict dress code on what to wear, although women travelers are advised to dress sensibly. Avoid very short clothing especially for ladies. The emphasis should be on you wearing what you feel is comfortable. Rwanda’s altitudes and temperatures vary from one part of the country to another. However when going gorilla trekking, the elevation is are fairly high on both Volcanoes National Park and in Bwindi where the gorillas live. It does rain sporadically too any time of the day or night without warning. It could be sunny one minutes, but quickly followed by short showers the next. A rain jacket is thus essential, fleece and good sturdy walking shoes or boots.

Packing list

  • 1-2 long sleeved shirts
  • short sleeved t-shirts
  • 2 –3 pairs of light weight slacks/trousers – that can dry quickly (if wearing on treks)
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 sweater or sweatshirt
  • waterproof and windproof jacket
  • gloves – gardening or similar (for gorilla trekking)
  • strong waterproof walking boots
  • sports sandals like Tevas
  • hat or cap for sun protection
  • lightweight wool socks
  • swimsuit
  • sunscreen
  • quality sunglasses with uv protection
  • insect repellent with DEET
  • flashlight
  • binoculars

Adventure highlights

  • intimate encounter with the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas
  • amazing bird photography throughout the trip
  • photograph the wild chimpanzees of Nyungwe Forest
  • enjoy the shores of Lake Kivu
  • game drive at Akagera National Park
  • tour of Kigali
  • wildlife photography guidance from K. Sahai
  • nightly photography review and discussion