Rwanda

 

Tiny Rwanda's name may evoke memories of the horrific genocide that brutalised this country in 1994, but the country is better known today as one of Africa's most stable nations, a plucky survivor that has come together in the decades since the dark times to create a promising and dynamic future.

Tourism is once again a key contributor to the economy and the industry’s brightest star is the chance to track mountain gorillas through bamboo forests in the shadow of the Virunga volcanoes. These conical mountains are shrouded in equatorial jungles and helped earn Rwanda the moniker of ‘Le Pays des Mille Collines’ (Land of a Thousand Hills).

Volcanoes National Park

The "Parc National de Volcans" (or PNV as it's known by locals) lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a short two hour drive from Rwanda's capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences. While a visit to the mountain gorillas is often at the top of visitor, the dramatic landscape also offers thrilling hiking and visits to the fascinating golden monkeys.

PNV is also one of Rwanda's conservation epicenters, where many non-profit organizations base their operations. Visitors can pay homage to the legendary scientist and gorilla advocate Dian Fossey with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fosse Gorilla Fund that continues her legacy of research and advocacy to this day.

Near the park, the bustling and vibrant markets of Musanze are a place to immerse yourself into everyday Rwandan culture. Go deep into the earth with Musanze's caves - one of the area's newest attractions.

Location: Rwanda

Nyungwe National Park

Covering over 1000 square kilomtres, Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity.

Home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates species (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), it’s also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammal.

This majestic rainforest is filled with nature and wildlife experiences for you to emerge yourself in. Hiking or even biking the beautiful terrain, tracking the famous chimpanzees, experiencing the canopy walk, witnessing beautiful birds, relaxing by waterfalls are just a glimpse of activities that Nyungwe offers.

Sounds and views collaborate to create a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience. Exploring through the forest, travellers will witness the lush green mountains and cooling mist in a landscape that won’t be soon forgotten.

Location: Rwanda

Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Although founded in 1934, much of the park was re-allocated as farms and in 1997 the park was reduced in size from more than 2,500 sq km (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122 sq km. Since 2010, a joint venture with African Parks has seen Akagera return to its former glories.

It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.

Akagera combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP to offer a great safari element as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.

Of the larger predators  leopard, hyena,  side-striped jackal and lion, which was re-introduced last year are  present. Plans are underway for the reintroduction of the black rhino too, and this will restore Akagera’s ‘Big 5’ status

Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera is an important ornithological site with nearly 500 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities such as the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands in large numbers.

Lake Kivu / Rubavu

If you're surprised that Rwanda has a beach - you're not alone. Rubavu (also known as Gisenyi) is a waterfront town located on the shores of Lake Kivu, one Africa's great bodies of water. At only an hour away from Volcanoes National Park, Rubavu is a great way to unwind after trekking adventures.

Rubavu marks the beginning of the Congo Nile Trail, which extends 227 km to Rusizi, and has plenty of biking and hiking trails to fulfill those who crave the some more adventure. Rubavu is also known for its agrotourism experiences, with many tea and coffee plantations nearby.


Location: Lake Kivu

Kigali City Tour

Peacefully nestled along picturesque hilltops, Kigali is a thriving African city immediately notable for its cleanliness, orderliness, and hospitality.

Kigali is a great place to begin or end any Rwanda journey as it's conveniently located in the geographic center of the country. The city is clean and safe, with extremely welcoming people. Travelers will enjoy exploring the great cultural activities - including several award-winning museums, burgeoning music scene, and some of East Africa's most memorable dining experiences.

Location: Kigali

 

Kigali: Capital of Rwanda

A very unique city in the heart of Rwanda, Kigali is a gorgeous city with great weather.  You can get a taste of history here by visiting the genocide memorials and learn about the turbulent past of the country.  The internet is also reliable as I was able to day trade from the capital. Highly recommended for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events.

Coffee and Tea:

Tea is Rwanda's largest export. The fertile volcanic soil and temperate climate are perfect for growing the plants that create this popular drink. Tea leaves can be seen covering the mountains – creating a stunning contrast to the blue skies, dirt roads and sunshine. Visitors can discover how tea is harvested, processed, and even get to taste the results. Tea plantation tours take 
place in a variety of locations 
across Rwanda, with the major
 ones being around Nyungwe 
National park: Gisovu and 
Gisakura. This is a great family 
trip and travelers of all ages are
 welcome.

Tea may be Rwanda’s number one export, but the lush, rolling hills of the Rwandan countryside are equally suited to coffee production, and the beans coming out of Rwanda today are in serious demand all around the world. The coffee-covered hillsides shimmer bright green all throughout the year, but when the harvest is ready (usually between February and May), the coffee cherries themselves blush a deep cranberry red to say they’re ready to be plucked. A patchwork of hundreds of thousands of small growers produce coffee all across Rwanda, but visits are primarily centred around Gisenyi, and a number of farmer’s cooperatives and washing stations near here offer tours explaining the coffee process throughout the year, and each one naturally comes with a generous tasting. The plantations themselves don’t liaise with tourists directly, so set up your visit with Affable Tours.

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing” and with good reason. With only an estimated 880 Gorillas left in the world, to see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unique moment.

Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Trek to see them and you’ll be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to one of the fully-habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away, whilst the gorillas go about their daily lives.

Hikes in the mountains can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours + depending on the family allocated to your group and their location. The journey back can take just as long, but you are often carried along by the euphoria you feel at seeing the gorillas!

Expert guides give a pre-trek briefing on specific protocols and rules for visiting the gorillas that live within an altitude of 2500 and 4000m. Porters are available to help carry backpacks and cameras, as well as helping you with your footing along your hike which can be hard work, but well worth it.

National Parks

A Rwanda tourist attractions list wouldn’t be right without adding the list of national parks in the country.  Rwanda is a host to a great variation of animals aside from gorillas including chimpanzees and a variety of birds as well.  Some of the popular parks are Akagera and Nyungwe.

Experience a classic African Safari in beautiful Akagera National Park. With Lake Ihema in the background and cooler temperatures, this is a safari experience unlike any of Rwanda’s neighbors.

Akagera is located approximately 110 km from Kigali. The majority of the way is paved, and the last 28km are on a dirt road, therefore it is recommended to have a 4x4. For self-drive safaris, there is no need to book. Cars are available for hire, there is one 7-seater game viewing vehicle which can be hired out for either a half or full day, all which includes the vehicle, driver and guide.

Guides are available for hire from the reception and can join visitors on their self-drives. Booking a guide a head of time is not necessary, unless for special groups such as school trips. An information center to assist with activities is also available.

Boat Safaris:

Akagera National Park also offers boat safaris on Lake Ihema. Boat safaris take one hour at any time of the day. This may change as scheduled boat trips are being implemented, so it’s best to check beforehand. Boat safaris can be booked on arrival or in advance by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lake Kivu

Part of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Kivu is the border between Rwanda & DR Congo.  A great relaxing region where tourists are safe to visit and swim (ask locals where) and its also extremely picturesque.  Make sure that you try to visit cities like Kibuye and Gisenye near the DR Congo border.

Butare (Huye)

This is the cultural hub for the country and was once the most important city before 1965.  Here you will find a great national museum that will show the great history of Rwanda and also it’s entrance into the modern world.  Visit the nearby Nyabisindu (Nayanza) where you can find the impressive royal palace of Rwanda’s fuedal monarchy.

If you're researching when to go to Rwanda then the chances are that it's for a gorilla trekking adventure. Although it's regarded as a year-round activity, the best time to visit Rwanda for a gorilla trek is during the short dry season from mid-December to early February or over the long dry season months of June to September. These periods offer by far the easiest hiking conditions and the lowest malaria risk.

You can visit Rwanda and trek gorillas outside these optimum times of year but bear in mind that the going will be more difficult in the rain as paths are steep and maybe muddy. It pays to be as fit as possible before you commence your trek.

The best time to go to Rwanda for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe, however, is during the two rainy seasons - mid-February to early June and mid-September to mid-December - as the apes are easier to locate. Food is harder to find in the dry seasons and the chimp families often range far into the forest interior