My husband and I just finished a month long tour of Rwanda and wanted to give you some feedback about the tour companies we used.
Via your guidebook, we selected Rwanda Ecotours and Bizidanny to write about our interests and desires, physical capabilities, the fact that we are vegetarian, that we prefer local types of places to resorts, etc. Both responded quickly and provided detailed itineraries for us to go through, with costs. We had our hearts set on going to Virunga for the gorilla trekking and Bizidanny does not design trips to the DRC. So, we split the tour.
We used Bizidanny for Kigali and surrounding sites, and from Gisenyi to Kibuye to Cyangugu (Nyungwe) to Huye to Akagera and back to Kigali. We used Rwanda Ecotours for Volcanoes National Park and Virunga. Everything went smoothly with both agencies. Both had wonderful drivers who acted as guides. Both were able to schedule the balanced mix of activities to match our desires. We trekked golden monkeys, visited the caves of Musanze and canoed the Ruhando with a birding guide. We climbed Bisoke. We did the gorilla trekking.
Also, I would recommend two things for future travelers to the DRC…
One, the Goma border extorts money for yellow fever compliance from unsuspecting people. They do not admit to a lifetime vaccination. It must be within 10 years. Or, one can bring a letter from one’s doctor that says the shot can no longer be administered due to age. But any excuse to reject the vaccination will do. Otherwise, depending on their whims, it is $30-$70 extortion money. This is well known to the park officials, for nearly everyone on our trek had to pay something. The park people say they are trying to remedy the problem, but are fighting entrenched interests.
Two, for a half day trek it is not worth driving the distance to Mikeno Lodge and staying there. It requires too much backtracking on the road. And, the lodge forces full board, but has few options for vegetarians. The food was not very good, in fact. The lodges themselves were superb with fireplaces and the setting is lovely, but we met people who had opted to stay in Goma and save all the drive time. Similarly, the tented camp for one night makes for a better option than the Lodge. After the trekking one can just drive back to Goma and over the border. Obviously this is personal, but we would definitely have chosen Goma for the one and only night.
With Bizidanny we also did boating on Lake Kivu in two locations, we did chimp trekking and 10 hours of birding in Nyungwe. We visited the King’s Palace and Murambi and the National Museum. We spent three days on safari in Akagera, more birding there as well.
Our interests are many and varied. We do not like just one thing and we are physically active. Both agencies were able to accommodate this with ease and our month was fantastic as a result.