Rwanda is part of the scenic countries in which the Great Rift Valley escarpment stretches and is bordered by Uganda, DR Congo, Burundi and Tanzania. Rwanda is popularly referred to as the land of a thousand hills as seen from its mountainous landscape with the most prominent from being the volcanic mountains from North western area. Other mountains include amongst others still active Mountains Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo. Although it is a small country, it is rated as one of the most beautiful safari destinations not only in Africa but also in the world!
Tours in Rwanda
The small country is part of the East and Central Africa great lakes region and has a number of celebrated crater lakes that attract many visitors from all over the world. They include Lake Ruhondo, Lake Burera, Lake Mugesera, Lake Kivu, Lake Muhazi and Lake Ihema, all making a border with DR Congo. Popular activities on the lake include swimming, canoeing and fishing. Enjoy and relax at the beach with family and friends under the setting sun and cool breeze from the lakes.
Kigali city tours are part of many Rwanda safari and tour packages. The city is compared to any European metropolis because of its clean and picturesque streets and building. It is notably nothing like a typical African capital city. The Genocide Memorial Centre and museum in Kigali commemorates the 100 days of genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and is surely a site that will hold the Rwanda people together for the next decades. Other memorial sites include Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre, Gisozi Genocide Memorial Centre and Nyamata Genocide Memorial. Other interesting sites in Kigali, Rwanda include parliamentary building, Franco-Rwanda cultural centre, crafts and gifts shops.
Rwanda National Parks are possibly the most visited tourist destinations compared to other attractions. Although few, the parks lie on the slopes of the mountain ranges and are enclosed in lush beauty of dense bamboo rain forests, untouched for several decades. Sights from these parks include mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, giant elephants, impalas, deer, zebras, buffaloes and giraffes. Parc National des Volcanoes in North West, Nyungwe Forest National park from the south west and Akagera are the most popular national parks. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is particularly the main draw for tourists, researchers and naturalist from around the world.
Akagera National Park is a beautiful wildlife park bordering Rwanda and Tanzania and is crossed by the Kagera River. The low altitude park is embedded in dense acacia woods, lush savannah and a big swamp on the banks of the river. Common sights here include elephants, hyenas, buffalos, zebras, lions, giraffes, leopards and other animals.
Nyungwe Forest National Park in south western region is a lush rainforest park commonly visited by chimpanzee tracking tourists. Other types of monkeys in Nyungwe national park are the L’hoest’s monkey, bush baby, silver monkey, golden monkey, owl faced monkey, red tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabeys, dent’s Mona monkey, galagos, crowned monkey, vervet monkey, and olive baboons. Its one of the best bird watching destinations in Rwanda with more than 300 species of forest birds
and 26 of the Albertine endemic birds. Some of the birds include strip-breasted tit, red-collared babbler, red throated alethe, archer’s ground robin, Kivu ground thrush, woodland warbler and many others.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
About 60% of the surviving population of mountain gorillas in the world stays in the volcanic mountain forests that border Uganda, DR Congo and Rwanda to the North west. More than 6 families are found in the Virunga mountains of Volcanoes National Park. They're within the 3 main dormant volcanoes of Visoke, Mikeno and Karisimbi. These slopes are engrossed in dense vegetation and thick forest which gives sufficient foods to the endangered animals. They reside in secure family groups precisely where the silverback (males) will be the head from the members of the family. These apes have long, darker hair as compared to other species from the primate’s family. Tracking gorillas in Rwanda will require that you look for these giant apes as they continue on their trails for food throughout the forests. You are however required to have Gorilla trekking permit if you intend to partake of this adventure.
Rwanda is a gorilla friendly environment and is known for the annual gorilla naming ceremony ‘Kwita Izina’ where the new born apes that way up to 1.8kg on birth are given special names. This is one way to raise awareness, fundraise for protection and conservation of the mountain gorilla and their habitat that have been threatened with extinction from poaching and political conflict over the years (1992-94). Witness the rich Rwanda culture as these ceremonies have dancing and celebration, attracting many renowned international artists, celebrities, donors and conservationists.
The gorilla tracking experience is often strenuous and long with 2-6 hours of fruitless trekking. Expert ranger guides lead and cut through the overhanging plants on the trail but finding the silverback family or black family can be something worthwhile and thrilling. You are often required to keep 7m away from the gorilla as you stare and take their pictures for utmost 1 Hour. Follow each and every instruction from your guide to prevent confrontation and attacks from the agitated gorillas.
Attractions in Rwanda
Rwanda is quite a small landlocked country which numerous tourist attractions, that lies in central Africa. It is also known as the land of a thousand hills. It has wide spreading mountain ranges which extend from the south up to the northern part of the country. Rwanda has a wealth of wildlife, birdlife, memorials, and museum which can all best be toured through the various safari packages that the country has to offer. Listed below are the top tourist attractions in Rwanda worth visiting
Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
With about 700 mountain Gorillas remaining in the world, Rwanda holds some of this very impressive yet tranquil giants. These giants are found in the Volcanoes National Park where tourist are charges an affordable amount to track the gorillas and spend an hour observing them as they feed, play and take care of their young ones. The hiking takes about four hours before finally meeting these wonderful giants. It is quite a memorable experience spending some time with our ’cousins’.
The Genocide Memorial Centers
Following the 1994 Rwanda Genocide in which hundreds of thousands of people died, a number of burial sites were established in form of Meomorial Centers. Among them are Gisozi Genocide Memorial center found in Kigali in which 250000 people were buriedge colony , Murambi Genocide Memorial Center found 2 kilometers north from Gikongoro and the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center where most victims were buried and the center hold 10 mass graves.
The Musanze caves are located two kilometer off the Gisenyi road in Ruhengeri. These huge legendary caves are the size of the Cathedral and today are only inhabited by a large colony of bats. The enormous ditch from which the Musanze cave opens is well marked by volcanic rubber black in color which give the cave a very attractive feature. Whereas the other end is a natural bridge that resulted from lava flow from the nearby Virunga Volcanoes.
Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda. The city that lays on a hilly landscape is comprised of a blend of the rural and modern day lifestyle. Kigali is among the cleanest cities in the whole of Africa and for most safaris taken in this country, they usually begin here. Some of the major attractions in Kigali include the crafts market that sells a variety of good quality African crafts, the Kigali Memorial Center a large burial ground and the Muslim Quarter, and not to forget is the spectacular Amahoro Stadium.
The Rusoma Falls are found on river Kagera along Rwanda’s border with Tanzania. These falls became popular during the Genocide in Rwanda when hundreds and hundreds of water bodies were seen flowing beneath the bridge by the refugees who were crossing into Tanzania to flee the fighting.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in south western Rwanda on the southern shore of lake Kivu close to Rwanda’s border with the neighboring Burundi. The forest has several tree species with over 13 different species of primates among which are chimpanzees, Angola Colobus, the L’Hoest monkeys and many others. There are more than 280 different types of birds in this park.