Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
For those interested in seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat Rwanda offers one of the best locations for Gorilla trekking. In the Park National des Volcans in Rwanda there are eight families of Mountain Gorilla living on the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes that you can trek to see. For many, seeing gorillas in the wild offers a wildlife experience of a lifetime.
Gorilla treks take place in the morning and depart from the Park Headquarters at around 07:30am. Prior to departure you are given a briefing by park staff, assigned a gorilla family to visit and rangers to guide you. The treks take place on the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes and clients should be in good physical condition as some of the trek can be physically demanding. The treks normally start in the cultivated land on the base of the volcanoes and then you are guided up into the beautiful dense misty forests. The trek normally lasts between 2 and 5 hours depending on the location of the gorilla family and a maximum of eight visitors is allowed per gorilla family. Once you reach the gorillas you are permitted to stay for one hour to view them. The minimum age for gorilla trekking in Rwanda is 15 years. A maximum of 80 gorilla permits are issued per day and during high season these sell out far in advance, it is therefore important to book gorilla permits as early as possible. Gorilla Permits currently cost USD$ 1500 per person per trek.
For those interested in seeing the Mountain Gorilla in its natural habitat, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Rwanda offers the perfect location to base yourself. Sabyinyo Silverback lodge is located only 15 minutes drive from the Volcanoes National Park headquarters, the starting point for the Gorilla treks.
Golden Monkey Trekking
Trekking to see the golden monkeys is another highlight of Volcanoes National Park. The Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus Mitis Kandti) is a local subspecies of the widespread Sykes Monkey, also known as the “Blue Monkey” and is endemic to the high altitude forests of the Volcanoes National Park area. The monkeys are playful and inquisitive and often spend their time leaping from bamboo branches or frolicking on the forest floor.
There are two habituated groups of Golden Monkey, one group comprises around 80 - 100 members and has its home at the foot of Mt Sabyinyo. As with treks to see the Mountain Gorillas, treks to see the Golden Monkeys take place in the mornings and visitors are permitted to stay for 1 hour with the monkeys. Departure for the Golden Monkey trek is from the Park’s Kinigi Headquarters at 07:00am. The number of visitors is not limited and the fee for a Golden Monkey permit is currently USD$100 per person per trek. Permits can either be arranged in advance or booked at the park headquarters on the morning of the trek. Porters can be hired at the entry point of the park.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is conveniently located 15 minutes drive from the park headquarters and is the perfect base to trek to see both the Mountain Gorilla and Golden Monkeys.
Escorted Bird Watching Walks
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge property extends over some 7 hectares (about 17 acres) and is a heaven for all kinds of local birds that do not easily thrive in the surrounding agricultural plots, where natural shelter is rare and disturbance by human activity high. Over 40 species of birds (of which a few species and or subspecies are endemic to the Albertine Rift forests) have been identified on and around Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge.
Some of our staff members are interested in birds and will be pleased to escort you around the lodge’s property to observe the local birdlife. The staff members speak English and have a genuine knowledge of the birdlife around Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge.
If you have a special interest in birds and would like a more professional guiding service, we can arrange the service of a professional, ornithologist who is resident in the area and has an excellent knowledge of the local birdlife. There is a small charge for this service and our receptionists will be happy to advise you of rates and book the bird walk for you.
Binoculars are a must! Birds are especially active in the morning between 7am and 9.30am and in the afternoon between 4pm and 6pm.
Escorted Mountain Bike Rides
We have four good quality and well serviced mountain bikes available at the lodge for guests to use. We can arrange for one of our staff members to take guests on an escorted mountain bike ride to explore the local area. The staff members are keen mountain bikers and share their enthusiasm and knowledge of the local area during the excursion. The biking excursions take between one and two hours, and this activity is offered free of charge to all guests staying at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. Please note that due to the very hilly terrain and the poor general conditions of most local tracks, biking in the area can be tough and physically demanding and as it is easy to lose ones way on the small rural tracks in the area, all bike rides must be accompanied by a member of the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge staff.
Escorted Cultural Walks
While staying at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, we recommend enjoying a guided community walk, which offers fascinating insight into Rwandan rural life today, as well as a glimpse into life in the historical past. An enriching experience, guests are invited to understand the agricultural lifestyle of Rwanda, including how crops are grown, how milling and processing is done by hand, traditional medicines, as well as enjoying the frenetic activity of traditional Rwandan dancing, which is an aspect of the culture still very alive today. A walk is from 1 to 3 hours.
Iby Iwacu Cultural Village
Iby’iwacu cultural village is located 15 minutes drive from Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge and is an interesting cultural excursion. The village convinced ex poachers to turn their back on poaching and instead perform for visitors.
Visiting the village you can discover the traditional house of a local king, watch an authentic medicine man prepare herbal mixtures, try your hand at bow and arrow shooting or enjoy cultural dances and drumming performed by people from the local area.
The guided walk of the village takes around an hour and you can freely take photographs. A tip of USD$ 20 minimum is normally expected.
It is also possible to walk to the village from Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. The walk is downhill all the way, takes around an hour.
Trek to Dian Fossey Research Camp and Grave
For those interested visiting Dian Fossey’s original scientific base Karisoke, a trek is available from the Volcanoes National Park headquarters. Karisoke scientific base was established by Dian Fossey in the saddle area between two volcanoes; Mt Visoke and Mt Karisimbi (from which the name Karisoke is derived). The camp site stands at an altitude of around 3000m (over 9000 ft) and was abandoned during the unrest of the 1990’s. All that remains today is the graveyard where several of Dian Fossey’s favourite gorillas were buried. Dian Fossey is also buried near the graves of her beloved gorillas.
The trek to the Karisoke research camp takes around 3 - 4 hours and takes you through some of the most beautiful stretches of Hagenia - Hypericum forest in the Volcanoes National Park.
The Park fee for this Karisoke Trek is currently USD$ 75 per person, which includes the fee for the guide. The trek starts at 07:00am from the Park Headquarters in Kinigi, from where visitors will have to drive / be driven to the start point for the trek. Permits can be purchased on the day of the trek at the Park headquarters and porters can be hired at the start point for the trek.
Trip to Twin Lakes
Between Musanze and the Ugandan border are two scenic lakes usually referred to as the twin lakes; Lake Bulera and Lake Ruhondo. They are fed by rivers and a lake in Uganda. The twin lakes area is very scenic, with steep and intensively farmed hills surrounding the pristine dark blue waters. They offer magnificent views over the whole of the Virunga Volcanoes (weather permitting). Walking and birdwatching are possible in the hills and at some points around the lakes, but due to the very steep character of the landscape most visitors prefer to drive up the small track leading to a lodge situated on the top of the hill overlooking both lakes to enjoy the scenery and have a refreshing drink.
The twin lakes are located about 45 minutes by car from Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. They can be reached by driving on good tarmac roads south to Musanze and then back north towards Cyanika or alternatively along a picturesque small dirt road that follows the contour of the Volcanoes Range.
Buhanga Sacred Forest
Buhanga Sacred Forest is a true hidden gem. Despite its small size (around 31 hectares) the forest is a site of tremendous ecological importance and astonishing beauty. The forest takes on a different dimension depending on the time of day, season of year and weather conditions. Visitors walk beneath the cover of tall majestic trees and are rewarded by the sights of many different birds and colourful butterflies. A surprising network of trails made entirely from cut lava stones crisscrosses the forest and leads to various observation platforms and enables visitors to easily discover what the forest has to offer. The patches of open and closed forest provide excellent opportunities for watching the usually secretive birds and enjoying the almost magical atmosphere.
The best time to visit the forest is in the early morning or late afternoon when the birds are at their most active and the birdsong fills the air. Visitors are requested to book the trip the day before at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge as permits need to be obtained through the Park’s Headquarters at Kinigi. If you would like to visit the Forest then please advise the manager who will make the necessary arrangements.
Long ago the mid altitude mountain range that extends in a North - South orientation all along Lake Kivu (generally referred to as the Congo - Nile divide) was covered with dense forests, most of which have now vanished. Around 30km outside the lakeside town of Gisenyi a remnant of this great forest still survives; Gishwati Forest. An ambitious project has been approved by the Rwandan authorities, aiming at re-foresting a much larger area of the Congo - Nile divide around Gishwati and in the longer run at re-connecting Gishwati forest with the Nyungwe Forest National Park through a natural forest corridor of more than 50km.
A small relict population of Chimpanzees still survives in the Gishwati forest and is the focus of the most urgent conservation efforts. Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is suporting the Gishwati Forest Conservation project in the development and promotion of nature orientated eco-tourism in the forest.
Two very scenic hiking trails are now open to visitors. They give the opportunity to discover the forest habitats; primary forest, degraded forest, and regenerating forest and to understand better the formidable challenge at stake. And for the lucky visitors there is the chance of observing wild chimpanzees in their natural environment.
Located at around 80 km from Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge (2 hours by car), the lakeside resort of Gisenyi offers a pleasant contrast to the high altitudes of the Virunga Volcanoes. The atmosphere is tropical and the climate is mild, making it seem like the never ending springtime. Gisenyi rests in the nostalgia of its opulent past. Rich colonial mansions, surrounded by lush tropical gardens fringe the lake shore. With Lake Kivu as an ever present back drop and the impressive Nyiarongo Volcano (one of the most active volcanoes in the world) as a sentinel, Gisenyi offers a scenic day out. Visitors can enjoy a pleasant and relaxing day strolling down the palm-tree fringed lakeside promenade, enjoy the sunshine on the sandy beach on the lakeshore or take an energetic swim in the lakes cool waters.
Musanze Town (formerly know as Ruhengeri, but still widely used) is the most important town in Rwanda’s Northern Province and in the Volcanoes area. Musanze serves as the area’s administrative, commercial and service capital. It is a bustling town with plenty of local character. A daily market is held in the new market compound in the centre of town. All kinds of goods essential to the daily life of the local residents are sold or exchanged here and you can also find interesting souvenirs and handicrafts as well. Of particular note is the vast array of dazzling fabrics - traditional Kitenge fabric - that are on show and available to buy.