Rwanda Safari Overview
Wake up to a golden glow in the sky, mountains unveiling their mists, the air sweet and cool as it brushes your cheeks. Walk through a primeval forest bathed in green, thrill to the sight of that rarest of beasts, the mountain gorilla. Discover a new place, a new adventure, new friends and unimaginable beauty. Rwanda sits at the hub of Africa. Here, at the center of the Albertine Rift, where deep volcanic forces are pressing the continental plates apart, you'll discover a world of exquisite beauty and unsurpassed biodiversity. Rwanda is the bridge between the forest ecosystems of the Congo basin and the great rift valleys of the east. It shares in the biological riches of both worlds, offering a concentration of biodiversity found nowhere else in Africa. See for yourself why Rwanda can be called "the place where Africa comes together".
Rwanda's Top Picks
Top 10 Amazing Experiences of Rwanda
- 1. Gorillas in the Mist: Botswana is home to one of the world's largest populations of African elephants. Nothing beats encountering a herd of these majestic beasts while out on safari. It's an iconic African travel moment to treasure! Trekking through the steamy jungle is well worth it once you set eyes upon a family of silverback gorillas. Watch them interact and play and marvel at how similar they are to humans. Watching these rare creatures is utterly captivating and engrossing - you won't want to leave.
- 2. National Treasures: Stop in at the Butare National Museum, considered one of the best museums in East Africa. Featuring tribal art, traditional housing, musical instruments and other artefacts, this museum offers visitors a great grounding in Rwandan history and culture.
- 3. Moving Memorial: Be touched by the spirit of the Rwandan people when visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. This place is dedicated to the people who lost their lives in the genocide of 1994, and provides a peaceful space for survivors to mourn and ultimately heal.
- 4. Chill Out Lakeside: Experience the serenity and beauty of Rwanda's Lake Kivu. Whether you're enjoying a relaxing walk on the shores or heading out on a boat, Lake Kivu provides a pocket of aquatic splendour in a landlocked country.
- 5. onkey Magic: Have fun finding chimps, baboons and monkeys in the trees of the Nyungwe National Park. The dense rainforest terrain offers the perfect environment for these amazing creatures to live in.
- 6. Home Sweet Home: Experience true Rwandan hospitality while spending time with a local family on a homestay. Enjoy home cooking and new friendships - something you just can't get when staying at a hotel.
- 7. To Market: Strolling through the markets of Kigali is a great way to get acquainted with this up-and-coming city. Buy some trinkets or fresh produce, chat with locals and watch market-life in action.
- 8. Beach Bliss: The small town of Gisenyi is home to unspoilt beaches where you won't have to fight for a spot to laze on them. Enjoy the isolation and make the most of the space in this pocket of paradise.
- 9. Small Town Charm: Known as the gateway town to the gorillas, Ruhengeri offers a change of pace to the crowds of Kigali. Be touched by the warmth and sincerity of the local people while staying in this town of about 80,000 people.
- 10. Feel the Beat: Soak up a bit of nightlife by getting your groove on to African and Western pop music in one of Kigali's busy nightspots. New Cadillac and Republika Lounge are popular with both locals and expats, so why not see how the city comes to life after dark.
Places to visit
Located at Rwanda's geographical heart, the rapidly growing city of Kigali is not only the national capital, but also the country's most important business centre and main port of entry. Serviced by an efficient international airport and connected to neighboring Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi by surfaced roads, Kigali boasts a range of hotels catering to all tastes and budgets, and an assortment of fine restaurants whose menus reflect the country's historical links with Belgium - while also embracing numerous other international cuisines. Despite such concessions to modernity, Kigali retains the feel of a garden city, with a satisfyingly organic shape dictated by the verdant slopes over which it sprawls. The compact, low-rise city centre surrounds a busy, colorful market, and is studded with souvenir stalls displaying a wide range of lovingly executed local crafts. The atmospheric Muslim quarter abutting the city centre is well worth a visit, and one can also explore the network of leafy avenues that wind out of the town centre into the surrounding residential suburbs. Among the safest and friendliest of African capitals, Kigali is blessed with a moderate high altitude climate that belies its tropical location, and is conveniently located within three hours' drive of the main tourist sites. The Rwandan capital provides both a comfortable and welcoming introduction to this land of a thousand hills and an ideal springboard from which to explore this magical country.
PARC NATIONAL DES VOLCANS:
"In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat," wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, "are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest - the Virungas". Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range - home of the rare mountain gorilla - and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath. An exhilarating trek through the cultivated foothills of the Virungas offers stirring views in all directions. Then, abruptly, the trail enters the national park, immersing trekkers in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colorful birds and chattering of the rare golden monkey, and littered with fresh spoor of the mountains' elusive populations of buffalo and elephant. Through gaps in the forest canopy, the magnificent peaks are glimpsed, easily accessible and among the highest in Africa, beckoning an ascent.
The bustling market town of Ruhengeri has a memorable setting at the base of the Virungas. On the outskirts of town, the natural bridge at Musanze - a solidified lava flow - is a fascinating relic of the volcanic activity that shaped this scenic area. Also within easy day tripping distance of Ruhengeri are the seldom visited but lovely Lakes Burera, Ruhondo and Karago. Ruhengeri offers a good selection of reasonably priced small hotels and guest houses, including the newly renovated hotel Gorilla's Nest. Visitors could also base themselves in Gisenyi or Kigali and - with an early start - head to the Parc des Volcans and Ruhengeri as a day trip.
The Virungas are the last outpost of the endangered mountain gorilla, and their lush slopes provide an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is perhaps the most poignant and thrilling wildlife experience to be had in Africa. Nothing can prepare the visitor for the impact of encountering a troop of gorillas munching bamboo in their unfenced natural habitat. The sheer physical presence of an adult male silverback - three times as bulky as the average man, yet remarkably peaceable and tolerant of human visitors - defies verbal description. Nor are there words to convey the thrill of recognition attached to staring deep into the liquid brown eyes of these gentle giants, who share some 97% of their genes with humans.
That mountain gorillas survive today is largely thanks to Dian Fossey, who is buried at Karisoke, her research centre in the Virungas, alongside some of the animals to which she dedicated her life. Fossey became a household name following the release of the biographical film Gorillas in the Mist, which was set in the Parc National des Volcans, and shot on location there. Critical and public acclaim ensured that Gorillas in the Mist also served to raise international awareness of the plight of the mountain gorilla, whose numbers have increased from an all-time low of 250 in the 1970s to almost 400 in 2001. Roughly half of the world's mountain gorillas are resident on the Rwandan slopes of the Virungas, where four habituated groups - ranging in size from seven to 37 individuals - can be visited by up to 32 tourists daily.
MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREKKING:
Moremi Game Reserve covers an area of approximately 1800 miles and contains within its borders 20% of the Okavango Delta. One of the attractions of Moremi is its diversity of habitats, from riparian woodland, flood plain, reed beds and permanent wetland through mopane forest to dry savannah woodland. Moremi is one of the most beautiful reserves in Africa. Elephants are numerous, particularly during the dry season, as well as a range of other wildlife species from buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, hyena, jackal and the full range of antelope, large and small, including the red lechwe. Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta is haven to a wide variety of bird life and many water dependent animals. For birding enthusiasts, not only does the woodland offer a wide range of species but also the chance to drive to the edges of large lagoons which offer fantastic birding. There are many species of ducks and geese, as well as an amazing variety of heron.