Unleash the Wonders of Rwanda: Unforgettable Rwanda Safaris
Rwanda is a landlocked country in East Africa’s western rift valley where the African Great Lakes area and Southeast Africa meet. Rwanda is surrounded by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is located a few degrees south of the equator. The country's topography is characterized by mountains in the west and savanna in the southeast, with various lakes dispersed throughout, earning it the moniker "land of a thousand hills." Rwanda's climate varies from temperate to subtropical throughout the year, with two wet seasons and two dry seasons.
Rwanda safaris are conducted in three major national parks to allow you to experience this beautiful country and all that it has to offer, including the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, the African big five in Akagera National Park, and the opportunity to get close to Chimpanzees trekking in Rwanda's Nyungwe Forest National Park. The "land of a thousand hills" is Africa's most densely populated country, with over 12.6 million people living on only 26,338 km2 of land. Rwanda is the world's fifth most densely inhabited country among countries larger than 10,000 km2.
The government has gone to great efforts to advertise its tourist advantages, offering a range of safaris to the thousands of visitors that visit the country each year. Most visitors to Rwanda on safari are enticed by the possibility of seeing mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. This park rose to prominence as a consequence of research efforts that resulted in the film "Gorillas in the Mist." The Volcanoes National Park is a lush green oasis abounding with primates, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Nevertheless, gorilla trekking is also available in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in addition to Rwanda.
Yet, the high level of service and the park's closeness to Kigali city tempt visitors to select Rwanda as their destination for safari. Additionally, Rwanda has transformed itself from a country scarred by one of the bloodiest genocides in recent history to an African model of hope, peace, and excellent administration. While the city, Kigali, has clean downtown areas, five-star hotels, and decent road networks, the countryside has lovely rolling hills and lush plantations, as well as several safari sites. They include mountain gorillas and golden monkeys at Volcanoes National Park, as well as chimps in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
This little landlocked country also has the African big five, as well as other intriguing animals in Akagera National Park. Other tourist attractions in Rwanda include the Butare National Museum, genocide memorial sites, Nyanza's King’s palace, craft villages, Lake Kivu, and the surrounding cities of Gisenyi and Kibuye. The country's wealth has grown since it embraced industrialization, agricultural modernization, mining, and tourism.
Key Safari Destinations in Rwanda for Your Safaris
Volcanoes National Park Gorilla Trekking
The highlight of every Rwanda safari is gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. The Volcanoes National Park, also known as Parc Nacional de Volcans, is located along the Virunga Mountains, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda, and DR Congo. The park is a great site to learn about Rwandan gorillas and is only a two-hour drive from Kigali, Rwanda's city. While viewing the mountain gorillas is usually at the top of the agenda for Rwanda safari visitors, the breathtaking terrain also provides exhilarating climbing and trekking of the fascinating golden monkeys.
Thousands of international travelers visit the Volcanoes each year to see mountain gorillas and partake in other popular activities. There are over ten habituated gorilla groups in the park, and only eight people can hike each group in a single day. The Volcanoes National Park gorilla hike begins with a briefing from the park office between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Tourists on Rwanda safaris are then taken out to trek several gorilla groups alongside armed Rangers. One of the most incredible African experiences is gorilla trekking, which involves seeing an endangered primate that looks and acts just like humans. Visitors must be at least 15 years old to hike mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.
A gorilla trekking permit in Rwanda costs US$ 1500 per trip. 80 permits are available each day for tourists to trek the park's ten habituated gorilla groups. Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda are the most expensive of any African gorilla safari location. Yet, visitors have opted to visit Rwanda since trekking gorillas in Rwanda is said to be simpler than everywhere else.
The Volcanoes National Park, on the other hand, is one of Rwanda's conservation epicenters, with various non-profit organizations established there. Visitors may also pay their respects to Dian Fossey, the legendary scientist and gorilla advocate by hiking to her tomb or visiting the Dian Fosse Gorilla Foundation. Rwanda is also home to a research center and museum courtesy of the Ellen de Generes campus of Dian Fossey, which has made one year now to continue with conservation.
This foundation continues her legacy of study and campaigning to this day. Furthermore, Musanze's lively and colorful marketplaces provide an excellent opportunity to immerse oneself in everyday Rwandan culture. The caverns are one of the area's newest attractions, taking you deep below the Park. Hiking, bird viewing, and other activities are available at the Park.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park takes place in the park's Cyamudongo sector. Nyungwe National Park, located in the southwest corner of Rwanda, is an untouched natural rainforest teeming with wildlife. Nyungwe, at 1019 square kilometers, is one of the world's most beautiful and pure alpine rainforests. As a result, it is regarded to be one of Africa's oldest forests, having stayed green even during the Ice Age.
The Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to roughly 500 chimps. 2 chimp troops have been habituated for chimp trekking. One troop of habituated chimps resides in the main Nyungwe forest, while the other in Cyamudongo, a tiny woodland section in the park's east. Apart from chimps, the Park also has 12 other primates and is a birder's paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and 75 diverse animal species. Other activities in Nyungwe include hiking or cycling through the gorgeous scenery, taking in the canopy walk, bird-watching, and resting by the waterfalls.
Encounter the Big 5 in Akagera National Park
With so much focus on mountain gorillas, it's easy to ignore Rwanda's magnificent and traditional wildlife safaris. The nation is home to the African big five and they can be found in Akagera National Park (buffaloes, rhinos, leopards, lions, and elephants). Akagera is a lot more desirable since it is one of the nearest wildlife parks to the country's national airport—Kigali International Airport. The park is approximately a three-hour drive from the airport. Akagera National Park, Rwanda's sole savanna park, covers 1,085 square kilometers. Nonetheless, one cannot underestimate how rich this safari location is. The park was founded in 1934, but during the 1994 genocide, it lost a significant number of animals as thousands of fleeing inhabitants used it as a safe haven. Proceeding the genocide, many individuals opted to reside in the park, resulting in rampant poaching and encroachment. But, when the African Parks Network worked with the government to rehabilitate the park, the number of animals increased, and missing species were reintroduced.
Akagera National Park is made up of a range of ecosystems, including marshes, savanna plains, woodlands, lakes, rivers, and hills, all of which provide a natural habitat for the different wildlife that live there. Akagera currently contains all five of Africa's big five, allowing visitors to combine complete Rwanda safaris with activities such as gorilla trekking, chimp tracking, golden monkey trekking, cultural interactions, and mountain climbing, among others. Apart from the big five, Akagera is home to giraffes, and antelopes, olive baboons, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, hyenas, zebras, bushbucks, and hippos.
Traditional game drives, bird viewing, outdoor treks, and sport fishing at Lake Shakani are all popular activities in Akagera. More specifically, the afternoon boat ride around Lake Ihema is popular, providing visitors with beautiful views as well as interactions with aquatic birds, hippos, crocodiles, and antelopes drinking by the lake.
Kigali, selected by the United Nations as the most beautiful city in Africa, is the cleanest city in East Africa and Rwanda's capital city. A Kigali city tour while on a Rwanda safari will give you a thorough understanding of the culture and people. Visit various historical sites such as the Handt House Museum, the National History Museum, the Statehouse Kigali Genocide Memorial Center Museum, and the Camp Kigali Memorial - also the city's first modern structure.
When in Kigali, visit the Kimironko market, the city's largest and busiest market, for a look into the daily life of the Rwandese. You may also buy souvenirs from the Nyamirambo women's center if you want to bring a bit of Africa home with you. Furthermore, Kigali's evening is as active as the day, with several hangouts and five-star hotels where you may hang out, relax, and rejuvenate.
Visit the Genocide Memorial Sites in Rwanda
Rwanda has a dark history, most notably the 1994 genocide. A million people lost their lives in ethnic clashes. As a result, there are several historical places and landmarks where you may learn about the country's past and become a part of its culture. Among these are the following sites.
• The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, where the names of all conflict victims are inscribed on the wall.
• Gisenyi Memorial Site, which has about 12000 bones, includes the remains of over 250,000 people who were cruelly massacred by the Interahamwe (Hutu extremists). It also encompasses the Nyarubuye Memorial Site, which was formerly a school and where 2000 people were killed. The Murambi Genocide Memorial Site, which was formerly a school and is presently being reconstructed as an exhibition site.
• Gisozi Memorial Site is where Hutu and Tutsi victims were interred in 2000. Over 300,000 people were buried here. There is also a museum, a cemetery, a picture gallery, and a library on the property.
• Nyamata memorial site, formerly a church in the Bugerera region is where around 10,000 people who took refuge in the church were massacred there, and another 50,000 were buried in a mass grave just outside of the church.
• The Bisesero memorial site located in Karongi district where 30,000 people were killed, is today known as the 'Hill of Resistance' due to the inhabitants of this region's heroic resistance despite having fewer firearms during the genocide.
• Nyanza Memorial Site is where the United Nations built the ETO School.
The Ntarama Memorial Monument, approximately an hour's drive from Kigali, was originally a church where people took safety during times of unrest. 5000 people were killed in this church, which has since been preserved as a monument and museum.
Explore Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is Rwanda's biggest lake. It is located in the Albertine Rift Valley on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The emerald-green lake is dotted with islands and reflects the nearby Virunga mountains. The journey to the lake is scenic, winding past hills and agricultural highlands. Lake Kivu is a stunningly beautiful lake that is an incredible place to come and relax on your Rwanda safaris. It is also one of Africa's safest lakes, with no hippos or crocodiles and crystal clear pure water.
Three major cities are located around the lake, including Rubavu, which is located on Kivu's shores. Rubavu (also known as Gisenyi) is a beach town on Lake Kivu approximately an hour from Volcanoes National Park that is a great spot to unwind after a day of hiking or gorilla trekking. In addition, Rubavu represents the start of the Congo Nile Trail, which spans 227 kilometers to Rusizi and offers lots of riding and hiking opportunities for those seeking more adventure. Rubavu is particularly well-known for its agritourism potential due to the adjacent tea and coffee farms.
Visitors should anticipate exploring, learning, and trekking around Lake Kivu's magnificent shoreline. See the odd fishing boats that cruise the lake, as well as intriguing communities and lovely birds in the midst of pristine quiet and tranquility.
Visit the Burera and Ruhondo Lakes
These beautiful twin lakes may be seen near Volcanoes National Park. The lakes are located at the foot of the Sabyinyo, Muhabura, Bisoke, and Gahinga mountains. The twin lakes are so named because they are joined at a point where one lake flows into the other. The lakes are breathtakingly beautiful, surrounded by mountains and thick vegetation. Because the lakes serve as fishing grounds, they are vital not just to Rwanda safari visitors but also to the neighboring residents. The lakes are usually visited in the afternoon/evening after partaking in park activities such as gorilla trekking. The lakes are surrounded by a stunning landscape that is home to several exquisite bird and plant species. Nature hikes, kayaking, birdwatching, camping, cycling, and visiting local fishermen are all possibilities in this region.
Furthermore, the lakes provide a wonderful view that is both serene and stimulating for honeymooners and couples
Mount Karisimbi and Bisoke Hike
Mount Bisoke, sometimes known as "Visoke," is an active volcano in the Albertine Rift, the Western Rift Valley. The volcano is located on the border between Rwanda and DR Congo. However, its summit is located in Rwanda. It is located around 35 kilometers northeast of Goma, adjacent to Lake Kivu. Mount Bisoke, at 3,711 meters, is Rwanda's most accessible volcano and consequently the most popular trek. The climb to the volcano's top and back takes only one day, and once there, hikers may explore a vast crater as well as observe the other Virunga volcanoes and the Volcanoes National Park. When you climb the mountain's lower slopes, you can stumble upon a group of mountain gorillas or golden monkeys.
Mount Karisimbi, at 4,507 meters above sea level, is one of Africa's highest mountains and the tallest of the Virunga volcanoes. The active volcano is located in Volcanoes National Park and is one of 8 volcanoes in the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda's Virunga mountains. Mount Karisimbi is a two-day trek with breathtaking views of the Virunga massif, Nyiragongo volcano, Uganda's Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, and Congo's Virunga National Park.
Climbing Mount Karisimbi is a popular safari activity on Rwanda safaris, and it is frequently paired with gorilla and golden monkey trekking excursions in Volcanoes National Park.
Pay a visit to the Gorilla Guardians Village.
This facility, formerly known as the Iby'iwacu Cultural Village, is one of Rwanda's top cultural villages. The Iby'iwacu cultural hamlet is located in the Musanze District and is a new significant addition to the country's attractions for potential visitors. The gorilla guardian village is a must-see when on Rwanda safaris, in addition to the beautiful scenery and numerous green hills that make Rwanda such an attractive nation.
The village is one of Rwanda's most important cultural sites. It puts all of Rwanda's well-known cultural practices, people, and history together in one place for display and personal experience. Visitors from all around the world may learn about living in a typical African Rwandan village, including the culture, dwellings, traditional dances, food, herbs, dress code, and how past kingdoms were handled in general. Visitors may also learn medieval hunting practices, basket weaving, and woodworking, to name a few.
Many visitors desire to indulge themselves in Rwandan culture after visiting mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes and wildlife in Akagera because of this one-of-a-kind cultural experience. It's also a terrific spot to unwind while shopping for local crafts, gifts, and souvenirs to take back to friends and family.
What is the best time to visit Rwanda for a safari?
Rwanda is open to tourists all year round. However, the dry seasons of June-September and December-February offer more enjoyable wildlife interactions. For those interested in trekking primates will enjoy dry hikes in the tropical forests. Please note that tropical forests receive rainfall at any time of the year. Remember to carry a rain jacket or a poncho. On the savanna plains of Akagera, the grass is shorter, and the tracks are less slippery during the dry season. More to that, the wildlife congregates on the various watering holes during the dry season, offering excellent game viewing.
The wet seasons have their advantages too. In these months, there are fewer visitors and this leads to exclusive encounters. Local tour operators offer great deals on safari packages.
How to Travel to and From Rwanda
Kigali International Airport, located on the outskirts of Kigali, will most likely be your point of entry into Rwanda. Rwandair has daily flights from Kigali to Entebbe, Nairobi to Kigali, Kilimanjaro (near Arusha, Tanzania), and Johannesburg. RwandAir also runs the sole domestic service between Kigali and Rusizi's Kamembe Airport near Lake Kivu's southern end. Nevertheless, this flight is seldom used by tourists. Your tour operator will pick you up from the airport or hotel and arrange for further travel as part of your safaris packages.