A Couple’s Private Getaway to Rwanda: Luxury Lodges, Gorilla Trekking & More

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Total Trip:

11 Days
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Countries Visited:

Rwanda
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Places Visited:

Kigali, Nyamirambo, Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Lake Kivu, Gisenyi
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Rwanda’s natural rhythm evokes a romantic poetry. Volcanic hills seduce the eyes, gorillas enchant like rhyming couplets, and mystical forests capture the soul. In the heart of Africa, this Land of 1000 Hills is written just for two, providing seclusion and serenity while offering experiences that jump off the page. It’s where you can enjoy some of the world’s most famous and unique travel experiences, and yet still easily escape the beaten track. Welcome to 11 days of amorous bliss.

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Day 1

Kigali – Boutique Beauty in the Capital

Touch down in Kigali and you can immediately sense the remoteness of Rwanda. Nestled in the heart of Africa and blanketed by a rainbow of green, the Land of 1000 Hills is very easy on the eyes. Rolling valleys extend beneath the wingtips and even in the capital there are wisps of exotic forest. The words pleasant and charming spring to mind, especially as the poetry of the country begins to make its mark. You’re greeted at the airport by a private guide and transferred to Hotel des Mille Collines, a luxury hotel you might recognize from the film Hotel Rwanda. It’s been restored to its decadent best and there’s a wonderful garden and swimming pool where the luminaries of local city life come to sip on cocktails. Kigali doesn’t feel like a city and already you’ll be enjoying the sense of a country untouched by over-commercialism. Plastic bags are outlawed; nature flourishes, and the grand boulevards of Kigali are an easy place to start your romantic getaway.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

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Day 2

Kigali to Volcanoes National Park – Cultural Rwanda and a Luxury Lodge on the Volcanic Hills

Calls of “never again” ring out around Rwanda and there’s no doubt that the 1994 genocide has shaped the country in an irrefutable manner. But with a visit to the National Genocide Memorial, you realize that this isn’t just a nation that is mourning the past; rather it’s one that has overcome hardship and celebrates the future. While haunting, visiting the memorial is an unmissable part of the Rwanda experience. With harrowing tales fresh in the memory, you then head to Nyamirambo, a vibrant Kigali neighborhood that seems to be painted by an artist’s flamboyant palate. Bright colors swirl and the energy is infectious, especially in the markets. A local women’s group offers community tours, a non-obtrusive way to explore the urban Rwanda of today. Take the tour and you’ll have deep admiration for the people’s positivity and ability to shake off the past.

After a local lunch, you’re driven out to the volcanic hills, where mist swirls amongst the forests and monkey troops are spotted along the road. Now the seclusion of a Rwanda getaway starts to come into its own. Volcanoes National Park is really tucked away and the luxurious Virunga Lodge offers supreme views over the rainforest. Lounge on the four-poster bed, sit on the verandah and soak up the vistas, lose yourself in the atmosphere of the wilderness, and discover the escapism of Rwanda. For the next four days, all meals are included and they can be enjoyed as a roaring fire crackles in your private lounge.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 3

Volcanoes National Park – Walking Hand in Hand to the Gorillas

There are many places to take a romantic hand-in-hard stroll, but few can rival the intimacy of the indigenous rainforest. As you wander beneath the canopy, you enter a world that hasn’t been interrupted by man. Although you start on a relatively recognizable trail, you’re soon foraging a new path through dense undergrowth, the guide using a machete to slice a fresh trail. As the canopy closes, there are flutters of the heart and you can sense the proximity of the gorillas. A few more steps, a few more corners, a few more moments and then you meet head on, you and your partner facing a troop of gorillas.

They return your gaze with an air of curiosity. A couple turn away and continue their feeding, but some maintain the pose and the youngsters may even start coming closer to you. Gradually the heartbeat settles and you take in the scene. There are 12 gorillas in this family, including two blackback males and a domineering silverback, which is making strange guttural sounds. Make that 14, as you’ve only just spotted the two youngsters swinging in the trees above your head. It’s as if time is standing still as you admire the emotion in every gorilla expression, while trying to decipher what’s being thought behind the deep-set black eyes.

You’ll spend an hour with the gorilla troop and the maximum group size for treks is eight. It usually takes less than two hours to reach the troop although you should be prepared for longer treks and you might get lucky when the gorillas are just 30 minutes away. Each trek is unique and there are a handful of different troops that can be visited. From a distance of just seven meters, you see the gorillas going about their day. Almost always this is going to include a lot of social interaction within the troop; mothers caring for infants, the silverback showcasing his authority, gorillas playfully exploring the trees. It’s an adorable experience and you return to the lodge with tired legs, but excited hearts.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 4

Volcanoes National Park – Private Golden Monkey Safari

Gorillas aren’t the only enigmatic primates in this rainforest. Lively golden monkeys flitter about the trees and they’re quite a sight, their faded blue faces alive with animation, their shimmering fur catching javelins of light that pierce the canopy. Today’s trek is private and you head out with a local guide in search of the endangered golden monkey troops. You’ll hear them first, the calls echoing about the trees. And little can prepare you for the quantity of monkeys you’ll see. It’s not just a handful of mysterious creatures; this is a whole troop, some scampering on the ground and others jumping between branches directly above your head. Like yesterday, the experience isn’t just about the primates. It’s about the mystique of the rainforest and the opportunity to explore a landscape that has hardly been seen by the outside world.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 5

Volcanoes National Park – Another Intimate Hour With Wild Mountains Gorillas

This is your third morning in Volcanoes National Park and you’ll have settled into the rhythm. Tranquility reigns in these remote forests and you can easily go half a day without seeing another person, especially given the spaciousness of Virunga Lodge. Time is measured by the sky, the resplendent tones of sunrise giving way to the heat of the day and then the beauty of dusk. When the sun disappears, it’s astonishingly dark, allowing for a supreme view of the night’s sky. There’s also something wonderful about snuggling up as the fire crackles and the mist rolls over the forest. If you’re seeking a getaway, Volcanoes National Park is about as far away from anywhere as you can get.

Head out this morning on a second gorilla trek, following the scent of a different troop. A first trek is exhilarating, the tension rising as the gorillas stare back at you for the first time. On a second experience, you know what to expect and there’s a lovely calm that accompanies the journey through the trees. With this troop, there are two silverbacks, leading a troop that numbers over 20 individuals. You can witness a divide that’s formed, the gorillas’ behavior suggesting a family that isn’t completely happy. Perhaps in a couple of years they will split and the next generation will start to flourish. You follow a baby and it swings from the branches, grasping for something to grab hold of before crashing to the forest floor. It’s all part of the learning process and soon the baby is back in the trees, a mischievous grin returned to its face.

With so many gorillas, it’s hard to know which way to look. Suddenly there’s a crash and a small branch comes tumbling down, courtesy of two roguish infants in the trees above. A little later and the shells of nuts come tumbling down; you’re that close to the gorillas. A second trek also enhances the chance of spotting the most revered behavior, such as the silverback beating on his chest or babies clinging onto a mother’s bosom. It’s also much better for getting great photos. With two treks, you can snap away for the first 20 minutes or so, and then put the camera away and focus on the intimacy of the experience. Like earlier, the trek is complemented by the luxury of the lodge, where you recount the day as the fire roars and dinner is served.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 6

Volcanoes National Park to Nyungwe Forest – Private Aerial Safari Across the Land of 1000 Hills

The Congo Basin looks resplendent from the air. Down on the ground, you’re entangled in the green, exploring the subtle details of the landscape. But in a light aircraft, you’re soaring above the landscape’s scale, admiring the volcanic hills and seemingly endless swathes of mist-ridden forest. So many green shades collide and the forests evoke a supreme sense of exoticism, especially when they rise behind the shores of Lake Kivu. Through the opposite window, you’ll also see the sweeps of rural Rwanda, the coffee plantations and rice paddies that wind along the hills. Following this short flight south, you settle into Nyungwe Forest Lodge, which is usually surrounded by Rwenzori colobus monkeys and gray-cheeked mangabeys.

This forest is home to a quarter of Africa’s primate species and an afternoon forest hike helps to unravel its beauty. It looks and feels like Central Africa, which is why it’s such a unique destination. You have the bounty and enchantment of the Congo Basin, but can still enjoy opulent accommodation and the atmosphere of a relaxed couple’s getaway. With a skilled guide, the trek doesn’t just seek out monkeys. It seeks out the huge troops, particularly troops of Rwenzori colobus monkeys that number a few hundred individuals. Sounds guide you and the cacophony can be deafening, hundreds of mouths yelping in surprising harmony. The sight of these monkeys can be as unique an experience as encountering the gorillas.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 7

Nyungwe Forest – Walking Hand in Hand to Chimpanzee Troops

Perhaps the most special of Nyungwe’s residents are the chimpanzees, adorable characters that hold your eye and speak through evocative faces. The similarities are quite remarkable and you don’t need the guide to inform you that this species are genetically closer to humans than anything else. You can see it, in the way the fingers curl and the faces reveal emotion. And you can feel it, through the mannerisms and intimacies of the family troop. Mostly you find chimpanzees high in the canopy, although they’re comfortable at all heights, so some visitors will see them along the forest floor. If you’re lucky, the chimpanzees will be walking upright, a scene that takes the breath away.

The chimpanzee trek is usually a morning activity although, like the gorillas, it can take longer dependent on the troop’s location. Chimpanzee families are also loosely connections into larger troops, so you may get a sight of 70 to 80 of the primates covering a large area of the forest. Even if it’s only a few chimpanzees, you’ll be lost in the details, especially when mothers cradle infants or you admire the sense of affection between siblings. Dependent on what time you return from the trek, there might be time to take the self-guided forest canopy walk, a beautiful journey on platforms above the forest.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 8 - 10

Gisenyi – Barefoot Getaway on the Shores of Lake Kivu

After a week of adventure, this couple’s getaway concludes with three tranquil days along the shores of Lake Kivu. The Lake Kivu Serena Hotel is your serene waterfront base and is just a few meters to the sandy beach. It’s possible to swim here and there are some magical colors at dawn and dusk as the sun bounces off the water – unlike many of Africa’s lakes, Kivu isn’t infected with bilharzia bugs, so it’s very safe to swim. These three days offer a classic waterside getaway. Relax around the pool, lounge in your secluded suite, and settle into the serene rhythm along the lake. A boat is available for romantic trips along the water, perhaps with a stop at a nearby market to taste the famous Sambaza sardines.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 11

Gisenyi to Kigali – Departure

You fly out of Kigali late in the evening, so there’s time to discover a final side of Rwanda in the morning. Take a boat out to Nyamirundi Island on a crop-to-cup coffee voyage. This tour of a working farm allows you to discover Rwanda’s most expensive bean; if you’ve seen boutique Rwandan coffee at Starbucks before then it’s likely to have come from here. Follow the process from fields to washing to roasting, and then enjoy lunch at the farm with some a guided coffee tasting. From Gisenyi, it’s a two-hour drive to Kigali and your departing flight.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast, Lunch

expand/close
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Trip Highlights

  • Walk hand in hand through Rwanda’s mystical forests, following the trail of the world’s rarest primates
  • Settle into the luxury of Rwanda’s romantic lodges, perched above the forest canopy or gazing out across the serene waters of Lake Kivu
  • Savor the seclusion of the Land of 1000 Hills, a country that is escapist in nature and enhanced by exquisite natural landscapes
  • Celebrate together on one of the world’s most unique travel experiences, gorilla trekking in the misty Volcanoes National Park
  • Discover a whole world of rare primates as you go on enchanting chimpanzee and golden monkeys treks
  • Remove the shoes and enjoy three days of barefoot luxury on Lake Kivu, where a secluded lodge fulfills classic notions of a romantic getaway
  • Cruise across Rwanda in a chartered light aircraft on a private aerial safari just for two
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Detailed Description

Perhaps Rwanda feels like romantic poetry because the landscape evokes so many flowery superlatives. Every angle can have a couple gasping, yet nothing you see resembles a typical postcard. This is a land of mystique, of forests untamed and volcanic mountains rising exquisitely along the horizon. Or perhaps Rwanda’s poetry stems from its narratives. This is where you’ll encounter gorillas in the mist, lively golden monkeys swinging through the trees, and wild chimpanzee troops returning your gaze. While the country has a famous story from 1994, it’s the ebullient atmosphere of the present that jumps off the page. But perhaps Rwanda feels like romantic poetry because it’s a destination made so perfectly for two. Welcome to a country of unique wildlife experiences, exceptional lodges, a perpetual ambience of seclusion, and a beautiful sense of getting off the beaten track.

This 11-day safari celebrates the romance of Rwanda. Using the finest lodges and offering mostly private activities, it’s a vacation that journeys into the heart of the country and leaves you mesmerized by the tales. After a night in Kigali, you’ll spend four days in Volcanoes National Park, one of only two places in the world you can go gorilla trekking. Settle into the rhythm of this remote rainforest and you’ll find it to be a charming place of escapism. Each full day features a primate trek – two gorilla excursions and one focused on golden monkeys – that also leaves lots of private time to savor the wilderness.

From here, you fly across Rwanda on a chartered light aircraft, a once in a lifetime-type experience that provides dreamy vistas of the Congo Basin and rolling Rwandan hills. The aerial safari touches down in Nyungwe Rainforest, another exquisitely untouched slice of nature that very few people have been privileged to experience. Charming monkey troops surround the lodge and you’ll walk hand in hand to an experience with a wild chimpanzee family. Complete the romantic getaway with three days of barefoot bliss on the shores of Lake Kivu, a timeless place to soak up the peace and tranquility of Central Africa. Like the other stops, Lake Kivu is where nature defies the eyes and the ambience is as inviting as it comes. 

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Starting Price

$6595 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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