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  1. #1
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    Default Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Hey folks, reading about the game drives in the parks and looks like a guide is needed. Our vehicle is just 2 person, so no room for a guide. Does that preclude us from a self drive ?
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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Rwanda is called the Land of a Thousand Hills.

    There is only one savannah game park as you imagine game parks to be - Akagera where it is perfectly possible to self-drive. It is perfectly nice, but not on a par with the famous savannah parks of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

    The main point about Rwanda is the mountain gorillas and for them you need to get out your hiking boots and climb those mountains (with a guide). Mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, endemic birds, forests, lakes, and volcanoes.

    And the genocide.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Hi WW,
    I was trying to figure out if I could drive in or across Alegera Park. Their pricing guide says the following, but no room for a Guide, and wondered if I can I drive without, that was why I was asking. Not clear to me what the policy is. A guide in the vehicle need to get to a camp?

    Guides picked up from the reception before 9am and returned to the same reception within 5 hours will beconsidered as ½ day activity. Guides picked up from reception after 9am will be charged for a full day,unless the guide is returned before 12 midday. Guides picked up after midday will be charged ½ day.Guides picked up at the reception and travelling with guests through the park, exiting from the north, willbe charged for a full day, regardless of the time taken. If you wish to exit from the north with a guide,please drop the guide off at Kayonza, they will then catch public transport back to the park (transport feeswill be covered by the park for park guides). If you cannot drop the guide at Kayonza, please cover theirtransport fee from the north gate to Kayonza, this does not exceed 5,000 RWF. If a guide is requested toaccompany a visitor to Karenge Bush Camp overnight, an additional fee of 20,000 RWF is applied for theguides accommodation and food at Karenge.


    Re other activities, leaving the Gorillas for Uganda. Any hike in a Rwanda park needs a guide for even a plain vanilla trail walk ( no primate, skywalk, etc)at a high rate of $50 pp. I think same for Uganda. I's like to walk for a couple of hours a day if I stay in park (except when in parks where that is not allowed for safety reasons) , and not with a group of folks. But if it cost $100 (on top of the other fees) it seems like too much . Reconsidering how much to stay in these countries. Gorillas and a 8-10 Day Rwenzori's hike, Kivu Lake, but may otherwise avoid the parks expect when passing through assuming that doesn't need a guide cause I can't carry one. . Musing out loud.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    You seem to have hit on some hiking company’s website where they are promoting their walking tours in Rwanda. You need to get the Bradt guide to Rwanda.

    Here is the website for African Parks, a NGO, which manages and has rehabilitated Rwanda’s only savannah park, Akagera. https://www.africanparks.org/the-parks/akagera. There is no need to have a guide in your vehicle. We didn’t.

    I think Rwanda warrants 10 days to two weeks. Here are excerpts from our blog. https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-February-2014

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    You seem to have hit on some hiking company’s website where they are promoting their walking tours in Rwanda. You need to get the Bradt guide to Rwanda.

    Here is the website for African Parks, a NGO, which manages and has rehabilitated Rwanda’s only savannah park, Akagera. https://www.africanparks.org/the-parks/akagera. There is no need to have a guide in your vehicle. We didn’t.

    I think Rwanda warrants 10 days to two weeks. Here are excerpts from our blog. https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-February-2014

    Hi WW
    The section I cited is extracted is from page 2 of the pricing schedule obtained from that website you cited(attached). Not clear to me what I am allowed to do as a self driver that can't take a guide (maybe not much except the other guided items listed?). In your 2014 visit to Akegera you went off for the day was that a drive or a hike? Perhaps the policies have changed in the intervening years?. Appreciate some recent feedback on whether there are self guided activities in the park.

    Similar questions Re Nyungwe Park; I think that park would be interesting with all the biodiversity. In order to do any trail you need a guide. Is the guide just for us or do park management get as many people as they can for a hike up to some max number? I anticipate hiking with a group of strangers possibly distracting from setting our own pace and following our particular interests with the guide. If it's just Mary and I, are we also supposed to transport the guide? these type of logistical questions if anyone has obtained these guided hikes.

    I think there is a reasonable #of culturally interesting self guided walks in Rwanda in that brochure that might be as rewarding as the parks and maybe more of a focus for us. Kind of depends on how self drives ( if any) or guided walks are conducted. Definitely need the waterproof items for the outdoors there. We ought to treat ourselves to a nice guesthouse in Kigali for a 3-4 day stay (perhaps the first after 100+ days straight of camping).
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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Hi Bud

    There is no need to take a guide in Akagera National Park. You are allowed to self-drive. It is a park for driving around although they may well conduct walking safaris with an armed guard. We drove ourselves around without a guide. Some people take a ranger/guide only because they know where the animals are. We don’t - even though we have room in our Land Rover.

    However, the fees for international visitors that I find from the African Parks website for 2021 states that international visitors pay USD100 per day including an overnight stay. Please see this https://www.africanparks.org/sites/d...ing%202021.pdf

    In my opinion, Akagera is not worth a visit, particularly at USD100 per person. We have been lucky to have been to most of the top parks in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Akagera is an interesting park to visit not least of all because of what African Parks has achieved, but it does not hold its head up against any of the other parks in other countries. We merely visited it because we wanted somewhere to camp between Kigali and the Rwanda-Tanzania border.



    Nyungwe is a forest. I would imagine most hiking trips start from the HQ and that is where you would leave your vehicle and start the walk with a guide. Or you could request to have a guided walk starting from the HQ. I see that African Parks have taken over the management of Nyungwe and here is the link to the website. https://www.africanparks.org/the-parks/nyungwe
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2021/02/14 at 12:22 PM.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    And another thing. If you wanted to go on a walk with a guide in Nyungwe on your own and not with a group of others, then I am sure you could request a private guided walk. The rangers/guides will be delighted to have more paid employment. Anything is possible in Africa.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    You might like to read Stan Weakley’s Rwandan trip report. Please note that the road along Lake Kivu which was under construction when Stan visited in 2015 is now finished and from Google Earth it looks like a wonderful new road.

    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...8&d=1595171749
    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...9&d=1595171749

    It seems as if Stan spent about 12 days in Rwanda including a trek to see the gorillas in Volcanoes NP. We spent about 10 days in Rwanda.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    We spent some time in Akagera and drove ourselves - no problem. As WW says, it's a good park, however not as prolific as some others. We enjoyed the views from the campsite at Muyumbu. You can take a boat out into the lake and the birdlife is interesting.

    When we went to Nyungwe we took a guided walk (actually more than one) and the guide was good - as suggested you can surely get a guide to yourself if you want. I don't recall whether a guide was mandatory, however I think a guide is worthwhile in terms of providing insight into the wildlife .

    If interested have a look at https://unochoenafrica.blogspot.com/...de-ruanda.html and the following 4 posts - we spent 2 weeks in Rwanda and it felt about right for us.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by alannymarce View Post
    We spent some time in Akagera and drove ourselves - no problem. As WW says, it's a good park, however not as prolific as some others. We enjoyed the views from the campsite at Muyumbu. You can take a boat out into the lake and the birdlife is interesting.

    When we went to Nyungwe we took a guided walk (actually more than one) and the guide was good - as suggested you can surely get a guide to yourself if you want. I don't recall whether a guide was mandatory, however I think a guide is worthwhile in terms of providing insight into the wildlife .

    If interested have a look at https://unochoenafrica.blogspot.com/...de-ruanda.html and the following 4 posts - we spent 2 weeks in Rwanda and it felt about right for us.
    Thank you Alan, enjoyed your report and writing very much. You have a gift for conveying much with relatively few words. I think I would enjoy traveling the way you do. Wonder how overlanders handle seeing such beautiful craftwork but with no place to put them for storage....take a picture and write about it. Hope to spend a week in the capital when we get there and enjoy the city and people.

    Cheers
    bud

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Apologies for chiming in so late. Much to agree with.

    Agree that Akagera NP did not seem worth the time and money it would have required. We had just come from all the wonderful Tanzanian savannah NPs and felt it would have been an anticlimax. I was not under the impression that guides were needed to drive and camp there at all.

    Nyungwe is lovely and we regret not walking there. When you see how dense this forest is you will understand why it is required that any hikes be done with guides. I am sure that we would have got lost.

    If you are not going to visit the gorillas in Rwanda I find it difficult to imagine how you are going to keep yourselves amused for much more than a fortnight in Rwanda, as interesting as it is. This is a very small country and my focus there would be on Nyungwe, Lake Kivu, Kigali (a lovely African city), the genocide memorials; the one in Kigali and the two churches to the south of Kigali as in our trip report. We loved the area around the Volcanos NP and this provides a nice stopover to the border with Uganda.

    Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia would be far more rewarding countries for prolonged stays in my opinion. In fact it is hard to imagine finding enough time to do those diverse countries justice. There is such a thing as travel fatigue and your resilience will probably not be limitless, I would think that too long in Rwanda might result in a loss of momentum and enthusiasm. Decide at the time, it is your trip and yours only, no need to cast anything in stone.
    Stanley Weakley.
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    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud3 View Post
    Thank you Alan, enjoyed your report and writing very much. You have a gift for conveying much with relatively few words. I think I would enjoy traveling the way you do. Wonder how overlanders handle seeing such beautiful craftwork but with no place to put them for storage....take a picture and write about it. Hope to spend a week in the capital when we get there and enjoy the city and people.

    Cheers
    bud
    Thanks for the compliment! You make a great point re storage - we look for fabrics/weavings, which take up little space while reflecting local art; we buy paintings which take up little space and weigh very little, rolled up in a tube; we also look for basketware, which although it takes up more space, is light. Even so, we do accumulate stuff - here's a photo of our luggage when we left Africa after 9 months (the four bags inside the yellow line are what we arrived with). The second photo is the basket display at home.

    In Perú we bought a beautiful ceramic vase, made in the traditional way, wrapped it in a traditional woven fabric and it survived the next 9 months around South America!

    However, as you say it's impossible to take everything you see.
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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Nice display of items Alan, and a nice display of luggage, a lot!. We might consider shipping products like that as family gifts. We are not sure when we will have a home again, so doubt it makes much sense for us to accumulate items when it could many years to see them again.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud3 View Post
    Nice display of items Alan, and a nice display of luggage, a lot!. We might consider shipping products like that as family gifts. We are not sure when we will have a home again, so doubt it makes much sense for us to accumulate items when it could many years to see them again.
    Thanks!

    Yes, I can see the challenge. We have a home base, and can hence accumulate stuff, although a lot less than previously - we finally got all of our stuff onto one continent, in fact into one city (well there are three items still in Canada, to be brought here in due course). In addition, by dint of spending many hours in the "U-storage" place over several trips to visit family, we reduced the volume down to a sensible amount before bringing it here. Still have some stuff in storage here though...

    We're now capable of a 2 or 3 month trip with hand-carry only, when flying to get there; for our "big trips" of 10-12 months overall, we take the two smaller roller bags, the two bigger roller bags, and a daypack each. It's still a lot, although this includes sleeping bags, winter jackets, a "top blanket", the cameras and lenses, one laptop... With more focus we can perhaps get down to no more than hand carry and one checked bag (we'll always need one for the Leatherman and knives...

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by alannymarce View Post
    Even so, we do accumulate stuff - here's a photo of our luggage when we left Africa after 9 months (the four bags inside the yellow line are what we arrived with).
    Very impressive! I presume, like us, your major overlanding kit is stored with your vehicle?

    Friends joined us for three weeks from Entebbe, Uganda to Kigali, Rwanda. We were somewhat disconcerted when they arrived with two enormous bags and two smaller rucksacks - and that was without sleeping bags and towels which we already had for them in our already pretty heavily-laden Land Rover.

    However, we strapped their bags on the roof rack and hoped it wouldn’t rain until we got to our first overnight camp (in Murchison Falls). We then got them to sort out their luggage into two waterproof boxes. After about two weeks, I eventually asked how many shirts he had packed: the answer was he was away for 21 days so had 21 shirts! We all laugh about it now and are still friends, but the maxim is less is more. They have since been on safari with us - with very much smaller bags.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2021/03/12 at 02:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    Very impressive! I presume, like us, your major overlanding kit is stored with your vehicle?

    Friends joined us for three weeks from Entebbe, Uganda to Kigali, Rwanda. We were somewhat disconcerted when they arrived with two enormous bags and two smaller rucksacks - and that was without sleeping bags and towels which we already had for them in our already pretty heavily-laden Land Rover.

    However, we strapped their bags on the roof rack and hoped it wouldn’t rain until we got to our first overnight camp (in Murchison Falls). We then got them to sort out their luggage into two waterproof boxes. After about two weeks, I eventually asked how many shirts he had packed: the answer was he was away for 21 days so had 21 shirts! We all laugh about it now and are still friends, but the maxim is less is more. They have since been on safari with us - with very much smaller bags.
    Part of (built in to) the vehicle are things like the winch, roof rack, snorkel, bed, storage, fridge, drawers, potable water tank, awnings, UHF radio.

    In/on the vehicle (after our last big trip - 10 months) as shipped home were:

    - Sand flag,
    - Second spare wheel/tyre (we're not going to take this again)
    - compressor
    - tool kit, safety triangles, first aid kit
    - slings & shackles
    - sand ladders and shovel
    - Window covers and mosquito nets
    - camp chairs and table
    - 1 folding cooking pan, 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 cups, 2 x knife/fork/spoon, Coleman Powerpack single burner propane stove, large and small ceramic knives, cooking spoon, Aeropress, Handpresso, and miscellaneous small items

    In terms of clothing, for that last big trip we had (for two of us):

    - 1 pair Merrell Moab and 1 pair Courteney Patrol boots, 1 pair Tevas, 2 pairs flip-flops
    - 2 MEC Hydrofoil waterproof shells
    - 1 Craghoppers and 1 North Face light jackets
    - 2 Lippi sweaters
    - 4 Craghoppers fast-dry nosilife shirts (2 each)
    - 4 Craghoppers fast-dry trousers (2 each)
    - 1 Craghoppers shorts
    - fast-dry underwear (3 changes)
    - Icebreaker socks (2 pairs each)
    - swimwear
    - hats
    - 2 RB Sellars workshirts & 1 Didgeridoona vest (acquired while travelling - couldn't resist)





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    Default Re: Self drives in the Rwanda parks without a guide?

    Hi guys! Just wanted to clarify some things about Rwanda for those who are interested in going.

    Akegera is definitely worth a visit. You can drive yourself and don’t need a guide. Especially if you are bush savvy and can read a map. The park runs more or less similarly to the Kruger NP as in its narrow and you can’t really get lost as the road goes south to North. It’s well sign posted.

    I’ve seen Leopard several times, Lions are around and there are good populations of Elephant and Buff. Several Black Rhino were reintroduced but you have a better chance seeing them up north.

    For me the highlight of Akegera is the Birdlife. It has over 600 species packed into an area about a 10th of the size of KNP. It’s incredible if you give it a chance.

    The main entrance gate is in the south and you have to enter through this area. There are several lodges you can stay in the south. Most are reasonably priced.

    The eastern parts of the park are made up of several lakes that are great for hippo and Croc, there is also boat cruises you can do you bird watching.

    If it’s mammals you are after then I would book the rustic camp up north. It’s up on a hill and overlooks Kilala Plains. This is the best game viewing in the park for cats, Hyena and general game. Especially early morning and late afternoon and the camp seems quite relaxed with times getting back from self drives.

    - every national park is worth visiting. Just depends on what you make if it.

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