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Do you want to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

Jul 24 • 983 views • 7 Comments Adventure, Africa, African bus journeys, African food, East Africa, gorillas, How to...? Uganda travel tips, Lodge review, Road trip, Rwanda, tourism experience, Travel, Travel tips and advice

“Welcome to your home for the next few days” said Eunice, as we sat down for afternoon tea and gorilla trekking Rwanda travel advice at the outdoor reception of Le Bambou Gorilla Resort, Kinigi.

After 12 hours on the bus, 10 hours from Kampala to Kigali and another 2 hours onto Kinigi, we were delighted to be able to stretch our legs. (I think next time I’ll fly!)

A troupe of dancers from the local village welcomed us with singing and dancing and we watched as passers-by gathered in a neighbouring field to enjoy the singing. What a beautiful way to start our stay.

The music stayed with me as we were shown to our private cabin, set among pretty flower gardens. Made of solid volcanic rock, the cabins give you a feeling of total seclusion from the outside world. It felt like home right away, even more so when at dusk a man appeared at our door, his arms laden with firewood, to light a fire for us. It was cold up in the mountains. (Staying on the edge of the Park should have been a clue I guess!)

rwanda gorilla trekking travel advice

The late afternoon light cast long shadows across the Tarmac road as we approached Le Bambou Gorilla Village from Musanze (Ruhengeri), Rwanda. We fell in love with the grey outline of the volcanic peaks of the Virunga National Park.

What’s on the breakfast menu?

We ate well at Le Bambou Gorilla! Breakfast comprised freshly fried samosas, delicious omelettes and the tastiest yellow yolked eggs, the best passionfruit juice we’d ever tasted, local honey (crystallised in the cool mountain air), tea or coffee (Rwandese of course!) and more fabulous fresh fruit. There was, of course, the ubiquitous Blueband! – the favourite spread on many an East African breakfast table.

How much is gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

Many people only know Kinigi / Musanze for gorilla trekking, but there’s a variety of ways to spend your time. Enjoying the peace and the wonderful view should definitely not be underestimated however!

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda now costs $750 per person (prices increased June 2012). We didn’t trek the gorillas that week-end – although I’d love to. I’ve heard it’s quite a different experience to Diary of a Muzungu’s gorilla trekking in Uganda.

If you need assistance buying Rwanda gorilla permits or Uganda gorilla permits, please contact the Muzungu.

What tourist activities are there in the Kinigi area of Rwanda?

  • The local area, formerly known as Ruhengeri, is best known for being the Rwandan access point to see the Mountain Gorillas and so, on our first morning, we hitched a lift down to the entrance to the park, just for a nose. Here you can visit the site of Kwita Izina the annual Gorilla Naming Ceremony, see beautiful bamboo huts, read more about the life of the Mountain Gorilla and visit a good quality craft shop, whose profits all benefit the local community. I came back to Kampala laden with baskets and woven pots!

    rwanda gorilla trekking travel advice

    Spot the difference? Muzungu hanging out with relatives – mural at Le Bambou Gorilla

  • The Kinigi park entrance is also departure point for walking and hiking tours of the imposing Sabigno volcanic peak
  • A trip to see a group of habituated Golden Monkeys costs around 100 Rwandese francs.
  • ‘Birding’ – or birdwatching
  • The grave of world-famous primatologist Dian Fossey is within walking distance.
  • Gisenyi, on the shore of Lake Kivu, is two hour’s drive away and transport can be arranged through Le Bambou. Lake Kivu is the largest of Rwanda’s lakes and offers a wide range of beach and water sports.

    Boys in Musanze market. rwanda gorilla trekking travel advice

    Boys in Musanze market, Rwanda, are more reserved than Ugandan kids – but still always happy to have their photo taken!

  • To really get a feel for a place, a visit to the local market is an absolute must. As our hosts toured Musanze market doing their weekly shop, we caused quite a stir by trying the Yellow Passionfruit and the Tree Tomatoes (a cross between Passion fruit and Pomegranate) and sharing our fresh popcorn with the local kids.
  • Cultural village and village walk.
  • New for 2013: the Rwanda Development Board have been busy developing the caves of Musanze for tourists.

Any Rwanda travel tips to share?

  • The Rwandese speak Kinyarwanda, a Bantu language similar to those of Western Uganda and Burundi. Although English is now the official ‘lingua franca’ language, many people still only speak French – or speak neither English nor French! Travel with a phrase book or a local guide if you can.
  • Beware the Akabanga chilli oil! The small plastic bottle – on every dining table – of what looks like eyedrops is in fact a noxious equivalent of West Indian scotch bonnet sauce. Seek directions before use!
  • September 2013: Now is a great time to visit Rwanda: Ugandans pay only 5,000 shillings to enter the country and I (a British passport holder) didn’t pay a shilling / franc / dollar.

Travel tips: how do you travel from Uganda to Kinigi, Rwanda?

  • Public transport is available virtually all the way to the lodge. (We travelled from Kampala, through Kigali). It’s easy, safe and cheap.
  • Although many people would prefer to drive or fly, if you’re on a budget – or simply want to have a more African experience – there’s a good selection of bus services running several times a day from Kampala to Kigali. Smaller buses then go north to Musanze, from where you can take a car or motorbike taxi onto Le Bambou.
  • We chose to travel from Kampala with Jaguar Executive Coaches, recommended to us by Ugandans who have made the trip many times. The buses were clean, on time, comfortable (enough) and we and our luggage all arrived intact, both legs of the trip.

Le Bambou Gorilla Village, Kinigi, Rwanda is a small independent lodge owned by Jacky Gatera and Emmanuel Mujawayzu.

DISCLOSURE: This blog is based on my personal experience. I was lucky enough to be given a free night’s stay in return for this blog post. For more information, read the Muzungu’s Terms and Conditions. This is an edited version of a lodge review I wrote for The Eye Magazine Rwanda.

Have you been gorilla trekking in Rwanda? What are your Rwanda travel tips?

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7 Responses to Do you want to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

  1. Celestine says:

    I like your picture. And the article is quite factual.

    • the muzungu says:

      Thanks Celestine, I found Rwanda and the Rwandese very photogenic. I enjoyed my short trip and it makes an interesting change to write a lodge review and share my travel tips.

  2. [...] remember him on my previous bus from Kampala to Kigali (en route to Kinigi, home of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas): the man who insisted we keep the bus windows open all night – and later proceeded to sell us [...]

  3. [...] – a full day’s travelling across Uganda, through Kigali, and onto the fabulous  Volcanoes National Park (Parc Nationale des Virungas) to stay at Le Bambou Gorilla Lo…Rwanda’s reputation precedes it in many positive ways nowadays. The smooth tarmac made a [...]

  4. Kwita Izina says:

    […] an event that brings in everybody. When we held the first Kwita Izina, 94 nationalities had come to trek the gorillas in Rwanda. Now, I think you could say the whole world has been: someone from every country has trekked the […]

  5. […] an event that brings in everybody. When we held the first Kwita Izina, 94 nationalities had come to trek the gorillas in Rwanda. Now, I think you could say the whole world has been: someone from every country has trekked the […]

  6. […] have a Blue Monkey, huge butterflies and some new ticks for my Forest bird list please. (A gorilla sighting would be pretty cool […]

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