Days 1 - 2
One of Africa’s great lakes, Kivu is the sixth-largest and eighteenth-deepest lake in the world, covering a whopping surface area of roughly 2,700 square kilometres and reaching to almost 500 metres at its maximum depth. Three vibrant resort towns – Kibuye, Gisenyi and Cyangugu – located on its shores provide an array of lodging options, while the steep hills that surround it are peppered with forests and waterfalls. Water sports enthusiasts will have a field day at Lake Kivu, and bird watchers are likely to be equally thrilled by the lake’s diverse menagerie of avian species.
Virunga National Park
Days 2 - 3
Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga is Africa’s oldest national park and is also the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area. The park’s 7,800 square kilometers includes forests, savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, active volcanoes, and the glaciated peaks of the Rwenzori mountains.
Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. The park’s two other Great Ape species, eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorillas and chimpanzees, make Virunga the only park in the world to host three taxa of great apes. Another prominent inhabitant of the park is the okapi, an endangered species that resembles a zebra but is more closely related to the giraffe. Large colonies of hippos, forest and savanna elephants, lions, and numerous rare bird species can also be found in the park.
Virunga National Park is comprised of three sectors. The northern sector’s defining feature is the Rwenzori Mountains that border Uganda. At over 5,000 meters, the summits of the Rwenzoris are permanently snow-capped. Snowmelt from the Rwenzoris is one of the primary sources of the Nile River. Okapis can be found living along the Semliki River valley below.
Lake Edward, the Ishasha river valley, and the Rwindi plains are the dominant geographical features that define the park’s central sector. Lake Edward contains over 50 species of fish, as well as numerous bird species. The lake and the adjacent Ishasha river valley are home to the park’s recovering hippo population – once the world’s largest. The park’s highest concentrations of elephant, buffalo, warthogs, and topi are found on the Rwindi plains of the central sector.
Virunga’s southern sector is best known for the mountain gorillas that live on the flanks on the dormant Mikeno volcano. Dense forests cover most of southern Virunga, which also make it ideal habitat for chimpanzees and numerous species of monkey. Another highlight in the south is the active Nyiragongo Volcano, which is home to the largest lava lake in the world.
Virunga National Park
Days 3 - 5
Virunga National Park
Days 5 - 6
Days 7 - 8
Rwanda’s capital and biggest city stretches across undulating lush hills surrounded by towering mountains, the largest of which is Mount Kigali, rising 1850 metres above sea level. Kigali is the country’s financial, commercial and cultural hub, served by an international airport and featuring a wide range of accommodation options, restaurants and points of interest, including the Kigali Genocide Centre, an atmospheric market and numerous craft shops. With its interesting architecture, busy streets, meandering boulevards, and green hillsides, Kigali is said to be one of the most attractive cities in Africa and is definitely worth a visit.
Days 8 - 10
Known as one of Africa’s ‘Great Lakes’, Lake Victoria is world-renowned as the source of the Nile. This massive 6.5 million-hectare lake is three times the size of Wales and is shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It is both Africa’s largest lake and the source of its biggest river, the Nile. Its waters are rich in fish life with shimmering shoals of colourful cichlids and large Nile Perch which is sought after by fishermen. It boasts an impressive 3440 kilometre stretch of shoreline and is dotted with over 3000 inhabited islets. Visitors can look forward to a variety of activities including: excellent fishing; wildlife viewing; visiting Ukerewe, the lake's largest island and enjoying the picturesque island beaches and spectacular scenery.
Days 10 - 13
Situated in the heart of Tanzania, the Central Serengeti encompasses the world-famous Seronera Valley which is known for its prime wildlife-viewing opportunities. This picture-perfect landscape is characterised by endless stretches of savannah-covered open plains, interspersed by rocky outcrops of granite, scattered with acacia woodlands and covered in a network of rivers and streams. The Central Serengeti forms part of the great wildebeest and zebra migration and provides an ideal habitat for a variety of wildlife such as giraffe, impala, waterbuck, hippo, elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, hyena, jackal, serval and much more. Popular activities include: game viewing, cultural tours, horse riding safaris, and hot air ballooning over the spectacularly scenic terrain.
Ruaha National Park
Days 13 - 16
Following its recent expansion, Ruaha is currently East Africa’s biggest national park and the second-largest on the African continent. It is also Tanzania’s most sizeable elephant haven and home to a profusion of bird species, including kingfishers, plovers, egrets, hornbills and sunbirds. Crocodiles and hippos thrive in the Great Ruaha River, which flows along the sanctuary’s eastern border and in the dry season between July and November, animals flock to the last remaining water sources, presenting an exceptional wildlife spectacle. There are a number of accommodation options available but some close for the wet season in March and April.
Selous Game Reserve
Days 16 - 19
The remote and little-visited Selous Game Reserve covers more than 5% of Tanzania’s total area and is the largest of its kind in Africa. At an unbelievable 55,000 sq km it is almost twice the size of Belgium and four times larger than the famous Serengeti in the North. The landscape here has remained almost as it was before tourism began and the massive park has only a few accommodation options.
The Great Rufiji River and its tributaries are the lifeblood of the reserve, creating a network of forests and woodlands around the lagoons, sandbanks and lakes with tall palm trees adding to the scenic splendour. Because of its size and remoteness, the reserve has over 2,100 species of plants, 350 species of birds, 60,000 elephant, 108,000 buffalos and an estimated 1,300 of the worlds’ roughly 4,000 remaining rare wild dogs, giving guests an opportunity to glimpse all of these exotic animals in true unspoilt wilderness. Boating, walking safaris and fly camping are all available in the Selous.