The Republic of Rwanda is a tiny landlocked east African nation nestled in a spot where the western rift valley meets the African Great Lakes. Found a few degrees south of the equator and bordered by rich tourism countries like Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, Rwanda has also a great package to offer its guests from wildlife, culture, landscape to mention a few.
Rwanda is known by many as the "land of a thousand hills" due to its mountainous geography and also because ofbeing one of the 3 countries in the whole world where you can encounter endangered mountain gorillas. The other countries are Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda is also blessed with numerous beautiful lakes not forgetting the outstanding savanna plains in the east.
Though Rwanda is a tiny nation, it is home to a striking diverse wildlife population from the magnificent mountain gorillas to the national park with the largest schools of hippos. Over 20,000 mammals are believed to reside in this park. Though the country is still developing, great effort has been invested in creating the best accommodation, transport, and auxiliary services like banking making Rwanda a favored destination compared to its neighbors.
Volcanoes National Park which belongs to the shared Virunga Conservation Area is a hotspot for all Rwandan safaris since it's the only refuge you can encounter mountain gorillas in the nation. The park is the easiest national park to access for gorilla trekking with a two hours’ drive from Kigali International airport.
With approximately 240-250 mountain gorillas, Volcanoes National park is also a haven for the adorable golden monkeys, different birds, reptiles, insects and amphibians among other intriguing species. The Park is named after the string of dormant volcanoes Bisoke, Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Muhabura that make part of the Virunga Massif.
One of the ancient rainforests in Africa, Nyungwe, has incredibly diverse biodiversity with over 1,068 plant species, 322 bird species on top of over 75 mammal species including the elusive leopard, serval cat, Congo clawless otter and mongoose to list a few. The prime attraction in Nyungwe is the primates headed by the chimpanzees, L'Hoest’s monkeys and Albertine Rift endemic amongst others.
The park boasts of the sole canopy walk in East Africa, where visitors undertake a 90-minute walk across a 91-meter suspended bridge-dangling 50 meters above the beautiful forest. This offers you a breath-snatching view of the dazzling green rainforest with beautiful melodies of songbirds.
Located in the eastern part of Rwanda, Akagera National Park is the only savannah national park with 2500 km2 of land area,2 and half hours’ drive from the capital city. The park gets its beautiful name from Akagera River that snakes along the eastern border with Tanzania. The river empties its waters into Lake Ihema and a couple of smaller lakes in and outside the park, until it joins R. Nile in Uganda. Akagera Park is a refuge for elephants, zebras, buffalo, leopards, lions, giraffes and hyenas.
Several antelope species including the largest antelope - cape eland, bushbucks, impala, water-buck, klipspringer, roan antelope and duikers can be easily found in the park. Guests can view a huge number of schools of hippos and Nile crocodiles relishing the sun rays around Lake Ihema.
Lake Kivu is the country’s largest lake and is listed as the sixth biggest in Africa with an area coverage of 2,700 km2. The picturesque lake is surrounded by steep terraced hills and the touristic towns of Gisenyi and Kibuye. These tiny towns offer comfortable resting services for guests returning from the strenuous mountain gorillas and chimpanzees trekking in Volcanoes and Nyungwe Forest National Parks. Lake Kivu is recognized as one of the safest water bodies in Africa (lacks the presence of any dangerousaquatic species like crocodiles or hippos).
Kigali Genocide Memorial site in the suburb of Gisozi marks the spot where over 250,000 genocide victims were buried. Set up to mark the 10th anniversary of this tragic event, the museum / center acts as a memorial ground thatrelays detailed information about how the genocide took shape and in addition examines other genocide occurrences that occurred during the 20th century.
The memorial gardens provide a peaceful spot for contemplation about the genocide. Even though the largest monument is in Kigali, the genocide stretches to all corners of the country and many other similar though smaller places are spread throughout the country. Some memorial grounds are simple as peaceful gardens for meditation about the event, while others are bigger and hold exhibits and store some of the relics and remains from the genocide victims.
Rwanda is increasingly becoming a celebrated African safari destination. This beautiful country of a thousand hills may at first sight not seem to offer the glamour of a typical African safari but offers some of the most coveted packages in the world.
Gorilla trekking is the renowned tourism activity preferred by almost 90% of visitors to the country. Travelers get to encounter the endangered protected mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park where Dian Fossey started the campaign to save these magnificent creatures. Her works and book which were documented in a movie later "Gorillas in the mist" attracted world’s attention to the mountain gorillas even after her death. This has made it one of the most sought activities in the world.
Though Rwanda gorilla permits are the most expensive among countries where you can track mountain gorillas, most visitors still opt for Rwanda and forego the other cheaper options. This is because the country offers easier mountain gorilla trekking compared to Dr. Congo and Uganda due to its faster and seamless accessibility, not as it is in other countries.
Mountain gorilla trekking gifts guests with a golden unforgettable experience of encountering a few of the only remaining gorillas in the world. This one-hour moment is described by most as one of the experiences a human being must have in their lifetime.
Rwanda may not be the best African destination for safaris, but equally has a lot to offer in form of scenery and beautiful setting. Akagera National Park offers guests high-notch safaris a few hours from the airport a feat you can't pull off in countries like Tanzania due to their huge size and long driving distances.
While in this park, you easily encounter the African big five leopards, Buffaloes, Elephants, Rhinos and lions in the wild. Other animals you will meet include hippos, giraffes, various antelopes and zebras.
The best spots for birding in Rwanda are Nyungwe Forest National Park, followed by Akagera National Park and Volcanoes National Park respectively. Numerous great spots outside these parks also exist and can be accessed easily. Rwanda is regarded as a top destination for montane birding in Africa and also harbors over 29 Albertine rift endemics. This tiny country has almost 510 resident species, 183 migratory birds bringing a total to close to 702 bird species.
Rwanda is recommended for birding since its modest size allows birders to cover many species over a limited time, presenting better facilities like transport and accommodation compared to its neighbors, and great climate all year round.
Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park has the best and only canopy adventure experience in the region. The 90 minutes’ walk across the beautifully suspended bridge-dangling 50 meters above the amazing forest offers guests one of a few not easily forgettable memories. It sets you in a position to view several bird species at close range, unbeatable aerial views of the surrounding green forest while hearing the melodies of different birds and primates that call Nyungwe home.
The best option of getting the most from a Rwanda cultural tour is by visiting some of the local communities and interacting with friendly people and guides. Though the country was hugely affected by the tragic genocide in 1994, the government chose to share her comeback story from the dark times to the beautiful lovely country it is now. This is through several museums all over Rwanda that portray historic events that transpired in the genocide era.
Rwandan Genocide Memorial Museum in Kigali has all the information about genocide while other smaller museums provide chances to interact and learn about the history plus a myriad of other Rwandan traditions.
Rwanda is a lovely scenic country with amazing, classy tourism spots. Rwanda Development Board has directed a lot of effort to guarantee that the tourism industry is best in the region. With all the magnificence, Rwanda is one country that strives to offer the best satisfaction to its guests. On your next safari, integrate a Rwanda safari and have a taste of one of Africa’s best destinations.