The endangered mountain gorilla – with an estimated population of just 1,000 – can be found in the African countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Seeing these primates on a gorilla trekking tour is without doubt one of the greatest travel experiences in the book. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a wildlife enthusiast or not, the mountain gorillas (and the dense forests they inhabit) will captivate you.
While many travelers fly straight into Rwanda and straight out on a short three or four day trip, there is actually so much more to discover in this beautiful region of Africa including Uganda to the north and the often overlooked Burundi to the south. Coming all the way to East Africa on a gorilla trekking tour is absolutely worth the time, money and effort but why not make the most of it and explore the area on a 15-day tour?
Augustine Tours are known for their tailor-made options in this part of the world and can combine the countries of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda into a unique 15-day itinerary that you will absolutely love. This trip is a mix of wildlife and cultural activities ideally suited for individuals, couples or small groups who have an adventurous spirit. After all, it’s not everyday you get the chance to see the pulsating drummers of Gishora in Burundi!
The tour kicks off at the Bujumbura International Airport in Burundi and ends at the Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. By booking with Augustine Tours, you can enjoy a flexible arrival and departure date as the journey can be executed any day of the year. Having no fixed travel dates or rigid itinerary gives customers the freedom to pick and choose experiences and take their time going from one destination to the next.
And the possibilities are truly endless when you give yourself a decent time frame of 15 days. Want to go gorilla trekking in Uganda? That can be done at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. How about meeting ex-poachers who became gorilla guardians? Augustine Tours can incorporate that into the itinerary in Rwanda, no stress. There are so many incredible experiences to enjoy on a 15-day tour in Africa. Below we outline a few of the very best.
Top Activities on a 15-Day Gorilla Trekking Tour
1. Watch a Traditional Burundian Drum Ceremony
Burundi might not be at the top of your wish list but spending a few days in this underrated country is worth it just to pay a visit to the Gishora Drum Sanctuary, if nothing else. This sanctuary practices the art of Burundian drumming which integrates combat dance, rhythmic drumming, religious rituals and elaborate poetry into one impressive spectacle. The site is run by a local community who are descendants of the Abanyigisaka lineage.
Located close to Gitega, the Gishora Drum Sanctuary is nestled in a lush hillside setting with landscapes just as spectacular as the drum show itself. Once you arrive at the site, transported by Augustine Tours, you will get the rare opportunity to meet the locals and learn about their unique way of life. When the ceremony commences, it’s hard not to be enthralled by the various rhythms and enchanting performances on display.
2. Stay at Hotel des Mille Collines (Hotel Rwanda)
If you haven’t already, watch the heart-breaking but brilliant film Hotel Rwanda which tells the story of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and how the manager of Hotel des Mille Collines provided a place of refuge for over a thousand Tutsi people who were being slaughtered during this awful event. The manager at the time, a Hutu named Paul Rusesabagina, bribed the Hutu militias in order to keep the refugees at the hotel safe.
The Rwandan Genocide was a dark chapter in the country’s history, however Rwanda has come a long way since that aberration and has drawn many lessons from inspiring people like Paul Rusesabagina. On your 15-day gorilla trekking tour with Augustine Tours, you can request to stay at this historic hotel. It is equipped with 112 rooms, a bar/cafe, a restaurant and a swimming pool. This is easily the most famous hotel in all of Rwanda.
3. Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda
No trip to Kigali is complete without visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial – a sobering reminder of the country’s troubled past. The memorial is the final resting place of over 250,000 souls who lost their lives in 1994. While this number might seem massive, the total number of victims estimated by the UN is north of 800,000 – a staggering and frightening figure. Victims of the genocide are honored here in a moving and respectful way.
Not only does the memorial honor the victims but it also teaches about peace and reconciliation – two vital components to ensuring history never repeats. There are several exhibitions which you can explore as well as stopping by the burial places and gardens to pay your respects. If you are feeling generous, you can even make a small donation to the Kigali Genocide Memorial to help them continue their important work.
4. Golden Monkey Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
Along with the mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park, you can also find cheeky golden monkeys roaming around the lush landscapes of the Virunga Mountains. The high altitude forests of the park make it the perfect habitat for a species such as this. They thrive in the trees and on the forest floor, raising families and foraging for food. Permits are required to go monkey tracking and they usually incur a fee of $100 USD.
Allow Augustine Tours to get that permit sorted for you so all you have to worry about is the trek itself! Treks usually leave early in the morning and can take anywhere between half a day and a full day, depending on how long it takes to locate the monkeys. Another cool experience in this area is meeting ex-poachers who have become gorilla guardians. Hearing their stories shows just how far Rwanda has come on the conservation front.
5. Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Africa. The mountain gorillas are the highlight, yet the rainforest itself (with its never-ending greenery) is just as remarkable. Trekking through this forest makes you feel so small in comparison to nature. Gorilla trekking tours at Bwindi can be done in groups of up to eight people and again they incur a fee, which is a little steeper this time at $700 USD per person.
The permit fees are used to help conservation efforts at the park, both for the protection of wildlife and the forest. With only a certain number of permits allocated per day, it would be silly not to get in touch with Augustine Tours because they can secure one for you as part of their 15-day gorilla trekking tour. You will be able to spend 60 minutes with these gentle giants, observe their movements and take photos along the way.
6. Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale National Park
Another fantastic park to explore in Uganda is Kibale. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, none more fascinating than chimpanzees. It’s estimated that 1,500 chimpanzees live in Kibale, which is over a quarter of the total chimpanzee population in Uganda. Prices range from $100 – $150 USD for the permits depending on the time of year you visit. This gives you approximately an hour to spend with the primates.
Kibale is the best place in Africa to see chimpanzees as the treks are relatively easy and the forest is open in a way which makes spotting these animals a breeze. Rangers know the location of chimpanzees at all times, due to the habituation process, and so it’s all but guaranteed that you will see many of them. Augustine Tours have been organizing chimpanzee treks for years and so you can trust them to deliver a superior experience.
7. Wildlife Game Drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park offers some of the best wildlife viewing on the continent including: chimpanzees, elephants, buffalo, hippos, lions, leopards, warthogs, birds and more. Game drives enable travelers to slowly traverse the park, stopping every time a wildlife opportunity appears. Each season offers a different wildlife experience at Queen Elizabeth, due to the weather conditions, so you might want to plan your trip accordingly.
January to February and June to September are the best times to go. October to December and March to May are when the rains come in and wildlife spotting can be more difficult during these periods. Animals change their behavior when it rains and seek shelter instead of being out in the open where tourists can see them. All of these factors can be discussed with Augustine Tours to ensure you arrive on the appropriate date.
Why a Gorilla Trekking Tour with Augustine Tours?
As you can see from the experiences above, booking a gorilla trekking tour with Augustine Tours can be packed with as much adventure and culture as you would like. By no means are these the only activities on offer. Each trip can be tailored to suit preferences, time frames and budgets – creating the ultimate East Africa journey perfect for you and your travel companions. All you need to do is get in touch with Augustine for the details.
With 12 years of exceptional service in the heart of Africa, for over 2,500 clients, there is no better way to experience the three countries of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda than by booking with Augustine Tours. Their small and friendly team of travel consultants are ready to answer questions, give tips and advice on where to go and where to stay, and take all of your requests into consideration so you can live out your Africa travel dreams!