The Best of Rwanda
Rwanda really is a true gem of a nation. It is ranked the 3rd most competitive country in Africa and is a safe and clean destination, filled with plenty of things to see and experience.
Whilst the mountain gorillas attract many, there is so much more to Rwanda that one should experience – it really is a complete holiday destination. Rwanda offers delicious local cuisine, unique culture, interesting arts, along with the spectacular natural beauty of the ”land of a thousand hills”.
Rwanda’s people are warm and highly hospitable – one of the many highlights of a visit.
Some of wonderful areas of Rwanda to add to your travels….
Kigali – the capital city
Kigali is a bustling and vibrant city and well worth at least an overnight stay. It is modern, busy – but clean and safe. One of the great things about Kigali is that it’s safe to wander the streets and explore the city by foot. There is an array of local art, fashion, souvenirs available and brings through a wonderful cultural theme. There are a variety of accommodation options available, along with many different restaurant and cuisine options.
It is impossible not to see and learn about the impact of the 1994 genocide, and a visit to the Genocide Memorial in Kigali is a must. Whilst it is a very moving experience, it is also quite an uplifting experience as you learn how the people of Rwanda have moved forward, together, in such a positive way and made Rwanda the success story that it is.
Volcanoes National Park – gateway to the Gorillas
In the northwest of Rwanda – about a 3 hour drive from Kigali – is the Volcanoes National Park, which is home to the endangered mountain gorillas. Steep slopes and lush volcanic mountain ranges are home to a rich mosaic of ecosystems, from bamboo forests to open grasslands. Volcanoes Nation Park is named after the range of dormant volcanoes – the highest being Karisimbi, at 4,507 metres, with Bisoke, Sabinyo and Gahinga also a part of the Virunga Massif.
Trekking to and spending time with the gorillas (limited to 1 hour) is truly magnificent and should be pre-arranged as permit numbers are limited per day. Not only do you get to enjoy visually the lush rainforest, you can also hear the calls of numerous birds, or maybe see the rare Golden Monkey. Hiking and mountain biking are activities that are also enjoyed, along with walks through the villages and communities.
Akagera National Park – home to the ”Big 5” and more
Akagera National Park is in the north-eastern part of Rwanda and is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundry. the river feeds into a series of lakes, with the largest being Lake Ihema. The national park has an area of 2,500km2 and is home to the largest protected wetlands in central Africa, but also home to the last remaining savannah-adapted animals and plants in Rwanda.
Akagera is a true wildlife safari destination. It is home to lion, leopard, hyena, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, elephant and rhino. The waterways are inhabited by hippo as well as Nile crocodile. Day and night safari drives area available, as well as boat rides along the forest fringed lakes. Akagera is also an important birding area, with nearly 500 species – of which 99 species are not found in any other national park in Rwanda – with the elusive Shoebill and Papyrus Gonolek being sought after by birding enthusiasts.
Nyungwe National Park – primate paradise
Nyungwe Forest is known for its rich biodiversity and endemic species. It is located in the south-western region of Rwanda at an elevation of 1600m. The national park feeds the Congo River in the west and Nile river in the east and has a diversity of ecosystems from rainforest, grasslands and swamps. The park is home to chimpanzee along with twelve other primates – Black Colobus monkey, White Colobus monkey, Red-tailed monkey to name a few – along with 75 different species of mammals.
The flora is spectacular, where orchids and nearly 1,000 other plan species grow. Like Akagera, Nyungwe is a birders paradise with over 310 species, including the endemic Ruwenzori Turaco and Ruwenzori double-collard Sunbird. There is a canopy walk reaching 70 metres above the forest floor and spans over 200m in length, allowing incredible birds-eye views of the rainforest, along with other beautiful walking trails as well as learning about the tea plantations and communities in the area.
Lake Kivu – sixth largest lake in Africa
Lake Kivu is about an hours drive from Volcanoes and is a great place to visit after your gorilla trekking. Lake Kivu is in the western part of Rwanda and is part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake – covering a surface area of 2700 km2! It’s the sixth largest lake in Africa, and is surrounded by magnificent mountains and terraced hills.
The two main towns on the lake are Rubavu to the north, and Rusizi to the south. Whether you want to relax on the sandy beaches of the lakeshore, or be more adventurous and kayak on the lake, or take a mountain bike ride through the weaving trails – it is a great break point on your Rwanda journey.
Other points of interest
If you’re a tea or coffee lover, then you won’t be disappointed. Rwanda produces some of the best tea and coffee in the world, with plantations in the high mountains with cooler climates and rich volcanic soils. Explore these areas from nursery to plantations, pruning, washing and drying – and finish off with some great tastings to find your match.
Being in a volcanic region, there are many caves to explore, many with easy hiking options that showcase stunning rock formations dating back millions of years.
In the southern areas of Rwanda you’ll find incredible historical and cultural sites known as the ”Cultural Heritage Corridor” which showcases the rich history of the country and area. Musanze is a living museum of Rwanda’s ancient ways supporting the local community – here you can see a traditional healer, shoot arrows and be mesmerised by traditional drumming and dancing. There are many religious sites, churches, art galleries and museums in the area.
Rwanda is really an incredible destination, and one can easily enjoy a 10-14 day holiday in this incredible country. Please contact us for a suitable custom-made itinerary for you. Click HERE for a sample 12 day itinerary (please contact us for 2021 rates)
*Note – Rwanda is due to open up for tourism post Covid-19 on 17th July 2020
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