Combining Rwanda & Madagascar Trip Report

Karen Sheehy

09 Nov 2015

Starting with exploring Rwanda

You can call this our “primate” trip. I was finally able to live my lifelong dream of tracking gorillas, chimpanzees, several species of monkeys and lemurs all during a two-week long adventure to Rwanda and Madagascar.

Rwanda is an undiscovered jewel of Africa in my opinion. The people and wildlife are unforgettable. 

I had travelled to Rwanda about two years ago on a spiritual pilgrimage and have been helping five families improve their lives since then by providing housing and income source and education for one child in each family. The trip back was so rewarding as my husband and I were once again able to connect with our families, see just how far they had come and make sure that they were on the right track. The recovery of the entire nation, after the horrible effects of the 1990 genocide is truly amazing and one of the things that strikes you right away when you are there.

Natural World Safaris was very flexible in ensuring that we met with each of our families, despite the often remote locations.

After five days of cultural immersion, we were then able to enjoy the incredible wildlife this country has to offer, including gorilla trekking and chimpanzees. Bring your walking shoes, gloves and gators and this sometimes strenuous adventure is well worth the effort. The up close encounter with the two species from the “ape” family is truly an unforgettable experience.

One of our greatest surprises from this trip was the pure luxury and incredible food offered to us at the Nywunge Lodge in the southwestern part of Rwanda. I would highly recommend this side trip if you are making your way to Rwanda in combination with another country. This jewel is often left off as people seem to head straight to the north in search of gorillas. 

Of course Volcanoes National Park, home of Dian Fossey and the Gorillas in the Mist does not disappoint. The entire area is “in love” with their resident gorilla families and are thriving economically from the care of these amazing animals. Rwanda is a true inspiration for the way humanity and wildlife can live in harmony!

Madagascar

Our next destination was Madagascar, a totally different country from Rwanda. Unlike Rwanda’s single tribe and united language, Madagascar is a land of varying tribes, cultures and languages. It is a country where you feel you have stepped back in time to an earlier colonial era of big plantations. Wifi is scarce and so is electricity. Most of the lodges are on generators as the surrounding power source seem to go off frequently. The road system, which is poorly maintained, is the same road put in by the French government back in the 1920s, so half of the crazy adventure is arriving to your destination in one piece. A drive to Berenty, on the south side of the island from the city of Fort Dauphine for instance took us almost five hours, a trip that would have taken less than an hour in the US, or in any place with sufficient roads. I would highly recommend arranging a charter flight to avoid this situation. Apart from these issues, the wildlife on the island did not disappoint. The lemurs and chameleons were amazing and our local guides always took us to where the animals were located.

When you see a list of potential species at various parks, you can rest assured that your guide will ensure that you see them. Out of a possible eight lemur species in the areas that we travelled, including four nocturnal species, we saw all but one in our two locations, Andisibe NP and Berenty Nature Reserve. I would definitely recommend Madagascar for the heartier, wildlife adventurer but not to the faint of heart.

I hope my pictures help you get a sense for the people and wildlife that we encountered on our adventure and I am positive that Natural World Safaris will be able to also make your dreams come true! 

If you'd like us to help you plan the trip of a lifetime, please get in touch.

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