Rwanda is a country of a ”Thousand Hills”. With its lush mountainous landscape and colourful culture, you will fall in love with this friendly, vibrant and diverse country.
This small country is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the DRC. Situated in the ”African Great Lakes” region, it is highly elevated and is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna in the east. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.
For a small country, it is highly populated throughout – the population is approximately 12 million within 26338 square metres. Kigali, the capital, has a population of approximately 1.5 million and sits at an altitude of approximately 1500m above sea level. The majority of the population are in in rural areas.
Rwanda suffered terrible tragedy with the genocide of 1994. The Genocide memorial in Kigali is well worth a visit, it is extremely moving, but at the same time uplifting, particularly seeing and experiencing how the people of Rwanda have moved together positively and are a success story in peace and reconciliation.
Tea and Coffee plantations are scattered throughout the country and are one of the biggest exports for the country.
Rwanda is well known for the magnificent Mountain Gorillas which can be found in the Volcanoes National Park – a scenic 3 hour drive from Kigali. There are several well recommended hotels and lodges in the area that offer all the facilities that are needed – to name a couple are the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge and the luxury Wilderness Safaris Lodge, Bisate.
In addition to the Mountain Gorillas, travellers can experience much more in Rwanda – wildlife, primates, culture and diversity. In the Southwestern region is Nyungwe National Park. The park has a variety of ecosystems from rainforest, grassland and swamp habitats. Home to chimpanzees, colobus monkeys and several other primates, it also hosts incredible flora and birdlife (with over 310 species including the endemic Ruwenzori Turaco, Ruwenzori double-collared sunbird and Grauer’s swamp warbler). The forest has walking trails, canopy walks and offers treks to see the Chimpanzees and other primates.
To the northeast lies Akagera National Park and is the largest protected wetland in central Africa, with an area of 2500 square kms. The park is home to lion, leopard, serval, hyena, giraffe, buffalo, zebra and rhinoceros to name a few. Morning and afternoon safaris are offered, along with boat rides on the lakes offering great diversity in landscape and habitat.
Lake Kivu – in the west – is a massive lake covering 2700 square kms – and offers a relaxing place to combine with the wildlife experience of Rwanda. One can relax on the beaches of the lake, or be active with canoeing, hiking or mountain biking.
Rwanda truly offers incredible diversity and can definitely be a ”stand-alone” holiday – wildlife, primates, forest, savanna, culture, vibrancy, safety. Of course it can also be combined with other African destinations and fits particularly well with Tanzania and/or Kenya. If you are wanting to add on only a gorilla experience, then this is done easily in Rwanda as it is only a short distance to Volcanoes National Park – so a gorilla ”add-on” can easily be achieved in 3-4 nights.