Rwanda

Animal Conservation

We’re building a community of “backpacktivists” that are socially, environmentally, and politically aware of their impact in the communities they travel to and live in. We work with our local partners on community-requested projects to uncover the intricacies of each place we go to.

Join us as we backpack across Rwanda to understand what animal conservation looks like in theory and live in action! We’ll hike through the Land of a Thousand Hills, kayak on lakes near gorilla habitats, and camp under the stars – all to connect and work alongside our community partners. Animal conservation is far more complex than you might imagine – it can act as a country unifier, tourist trap, and economic stimulant. And we’re about to embark on a journey to get to the heart of it all!

Currency:

14-DAY ↑

Fees + Community Contribution  

$2,140 USD + $145 USD NOW $1,670 USD + $145 USD
$2,230 CAD + $150 CAD NOW $1,730 CAD + $150 CAD

Program Dates

August 19 – September 1, 2018

  • Explore Rwanda’s iconic capital of Kigali nestled in the land of a thousand hills.
  • Wander the bustling markets of this burgeoning metropolis while learning about its troubled past and the environmental initiatives igniting hope for the future.
  • Camp under the stars (and near the lions!) in Akagera National Park alongside community members building sustainable and community-oriented tourist initiatives.
  • Hike Mt. Bisoke – a freestanding extinct volcano with a crater lake at its summit! – for the chance to see mountain gorillas in Musanze, Rwanda.
  • Kick back and relax on the shores of one of Africa’s great lakes and learn to kayak alongside local fisherman on Lake Kivu.
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Sample Itinerary

Orientation in the Land of a Thousand Hills

Welcome to Kigali! Straddling several ridges with green hillsides, flowering trees, winding boulevards, and bustling streets, Rwanda’s capital is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the region. Upon our arrivals at Kigali International Airport, we’re going to team up with Go Kigali to explore this incredible city on the backs of boda bodas, taking time to acquaint ourselves with the city’s colourful markets, fresh produce, vibrant art scene, and surrounding hills. Of course, we’ll also eat some delicious brochettes!

Before jetting off to the next stop, we’ll visit the genocide museum and memorial to better understand this country’s intense history, contextualize our experience, and pay our respect. We’ll also meet with local grassroots organizations to begin learning about Rwanda’s unique take on conservation.

The Big Five of Community Conservation

Next, we’ll all head to the Eastern Province and Akagera National Park! We’ll begin our time here outside of the fences of the park, partnering with locally-based tourism initiatives that are aimed at providing sustainable incomes to the communities situated all around this famous wildlife reserve. We’ll spend our days engaging in water collection activities, tree planting, and possibly bee keeping, while also learning about what successful and community-oriented animal conservation actually looks like in practice.

Then, safari! Our team will head into this famed park to check out some beautiful scenery and animals, camp under the stars, and meet with administration at the park to discuss conservation initiatives, community involvement, and the key challenges facing the movement.

Gorillas in the Mist

Just a couple of hours’ ride from Kigali is Musanze, a place best known as a staging ground for gorilla trackers. But we’re digging deeper than that, and in no time we’ll find that there’s so much more to this area than meets the eye!

To start, we’ll meet with the Dian Fossey Foundation to talk about gorilla conservation – from its progress in protecting these majestic animals to the pitfalls of ape tourism and the vital role it plays in Rwanda. With new insights in hand, we’ll hit the trail and stretch our legs with a challenging hike to Mt. Bisoke’s beautiful crater lake. If we’re super lucky, we may even get a glimpse of one of the local gorilla packs – but there are no guarantees!

Finally, it’s off to the twin lakes and a community-run island where birds will play our soundtrack for a couple of days! Get ready to experience some serious sustainable living as we camp in the foothills of volcanos and fall asleep to the easy movements of the lakeshore.

Disorientation & Departures

We’ll finish our journey on the shores of Lake Kivu to regroup and share what we’ve seen, thought, and felt. This is a time to both relax and reflect, while still taking in some of the sights and sounds of Rwanda’s biggest lake. We can kayak alongside local fishermen setting out for sunset fishing trips, laze on isolated beaches, eat grilled lake fish, and soak in our last few days together. We’ll also revisit our conversation around animal conservation, discuss what we’ve learned and talk about how to apply it to life at home. Then, we’ll return to Kigali for some hug-filled farewells and our outgoing flights!

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What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it

Accommodations

With OG, you live like the locals.
We will be sleeping and eating as a team in locally-run hostels, family homestays, and community guesthouses that reflect a backpacker’s ethos. Grassroots travel and homestays will allow us to immerse in the local culture but life on the trail means living without some of the comforts to which we’re accustomed. Comfy beds can’t always be guaranteed and creepy crawlies sometimes come for a visit. Get ready for cozy conditions, cold-water bucket showers, and the occasional squat toilet or outhouse! But wherever we are, we’ll make it home in no time!

Meet Our Regional Director

Samira has always been interested in learning about, and from, different cultures and life experiences. Her inquisitive nature continued to evolve as she grew older so when she learned about sociocultural anthropology, everything changed. She considers herself an anthropologist, and has conducted research in Germany, Madagascar, and Tanzania. She thoroughly believes in immersive and educational travel, and is beyond excited to be working with OG in a region that is near and dear to her heart. She is eager to help bring backpacktivists to this wonderful region!

If Not Now, Then When?

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