Rwanda has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, rising from the turmoil of the 1990s to become a top tourist destination in Africa. Visitors from all over the world are drawn to the country to experience its stunning natural beauty, including the diverse array of birds, gorillas, chimpanzees and Big 5 safari animals.
Despite its small size compared to many other African countries, Rwanda boasts an incredible variety of landscapes and ecosystems, including majestic mountains, tranquil lakes, winding rivers, vast savannahs, picturesque swamps, and lush forests. These diverse environments provide a home for an abundance of wildlife, primates, and birds.
Located just below the equator, Rwanda enjoys warm and sunny weather all year round, making it an ideal destination for a safari holiday. Whether you’re interested in tracking gorillas through the misty forests, observing the rich diversity of birds, or taking a game drive to see the big 5, there are plenty of unforgettable experiences to be had in Rwanda.
Rwanda is one of only three countries in the world where visitors have the opportunity to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking is an exhilarating experience that involves hiking through dense rainforests in search of these magnificent creatures.
The park authorities in Volcanoes National Park have habituated several gorilla families to human presence, making it possible to safely track and observe these gorillas. After a guided hike through the forest, visitors will have the chance to spend around one hour with the gorillas before returning to the starting point.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is often described as a “life-changing” experience, and it is easy to understand why. Being in the presence of these gentle giants in their natural habitat is a truly unique and unforgettable moment that will stay with you for a lifetime.
In addition to gorillas, Rwanda is home to a wide variety of other primate species, including chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus monkeys, and the endangered golden monkey.
Visitors interested in tracking chimpanzees can head to Nyungwe Forest National Park, where they can observe these intelligent primates in their natural habitat. The park also offers opportunities to see black-and-white colobus monkeys. On the other hand, for those interested in tracking golden monkeys, Volcanoes National Park is the place to go. These primates, known for their striking golden fur, are a rare sight and can only be found in a few locations in the world, making it all the more special to have the opportunity to see them in the wild.
For those looking to experience African wildlife safaris, the Akagera National Park, located 110 km northeast of Kigali town, offers a unique and unforgettable adventure. The park is situated in the background of Lake Ihema and has cooler temperatures compared to other parts of Rwanda, making it a perfect destination for a safari.
The Akagera National Park, is home to many large plains game species, as well as species that are restricted to the papyrus swamps, such as the Sitatunga and the highly sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game species include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope, and eland. The park is also home to a variety of primates, such as olive baboons, vervets, and the secretive blue monkey, that can be spotted during the day, while bushbabies are often seen on night drives. Combining a safari at Akagera National Park with trips to Nyungwe and the Volcanoes National Park, offers a great safari experience that showcases the best of Rwanda’s natural beauty and wildlife diversity.
Rwanda is home to over 700 bird species, making it a paradise for birding enthusiasts. With its diverse landscapes and rich ecosystems, the country is an ideal destination for bird-watching.
Rwanda’s location in the Albertine Rift, with its stunning landscapes and unique habitats, makes it an ideal destination for birders of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner who’s interested in seeing a few birds or a seasoned birder searching for specific species, Rwanda has something for everyone.
Birding can be enjoyed throughout the year in Rwanda, with the peak season for migratory birds being from December to February. This is an ideal time to observe a wide variety of species and to catch a glimpse of some of the more elusive birds that are not commonly seen during other times of the year.
The Canopy Walk is a popular activity for visitors to Rwanda’s national parks. This unique experience offers breathtaking views of the forest from 60 meters above the ground, and is considered one of the top 10 things to do before you die.
Opened in 2010, the Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park is the only one of its kind in East Africa, and the third on the continent. The walk takes about two hours from the starting point at the Uwinka Visitors center. The 90-meter-long Canopy walkway is suspended between huge trees, giving visitors a feeling of fresh air and an awe-inspiring view of the forest floor.
Please note that the minimum age for the canopy walk is 6 years old, and children must be accompanied by an adult. It is also worth mentioning that this activity is available throughout the year.
Rwanda is a country steeped in rich and unique cultural traditions, and the people are proud of their heritage and are more than happy to welcome visitors and share their customs with them. Hospitality and honor are deeply ingrained in the culture and are evident in the warm welcome that visitors receive.
Music and dance are an integral part of everyday life in Rwanda, and performances range from demonstrations of bravery and skill to humorous songs, light-hearted dances, and traditional rural artistry rooted in agriculture.
There are countless cultural experiences to be had in Rwanda, including dancing performances, participation in the community service tradition of Umuganda, exploring local crafts, visiting genocide memorials and museums, and more. These experiences offer a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country’s rich culture and history.
Located just outside of Musanze town, a one and a half-hour drive from Kigali city, the Musanze caves are an impressive natural wonder. With an enormous opening and a length of 2km, the caves are home to a large number of bats.
During the early war times, the caves were used as a shelter by the local people, and it holds great historical significance. As a result, access to the caves is limited to guided tours led by expert guides who have a deep understanding of the history and formation of the caves.
A visit to the Musanze Caves can be done at any time of the year and typically takes about 2 and a half hours. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the local history and explore an unique natural wonder.
Rwanda is known for its high-quality tea, which is the country’s largest export. The rich volcanic soil and temperate climate of the country provide the perfect conditions for growing the plants that create this popular beverage. Visitors can see tea leaves covering the mountains, creating a beautiful contrast to the blue skies, dirt roads, and sunshine.
Tourists can learn about the process of tea harvesting and processing and even have the opportunity to taste the final product. Additionally, Rwanda is home to hundreds of thousands of small coffee growers, with visits primarily centered around Gisenyi. Farmer’s cooperatives and washing stations in the area offer tours throughout the year that explain the coffee process, and each tour includes a generous tasting of the local coffee.
It’s worth mentioning that tours to the plantations can be set up by tour agencies as the plantations themselves do not deal directly with tourists.
The Congo Nile Trail is a scenic trail that runs along the shores of Lake Kivu, starting in Rubavu and passing through the districts of Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyamasheke and ending in Rusizi district, covering a distance of 227 km of breathtaking landscapes including rolling hills and crystal-clear water.
The trail offers spectacular views of the Lake Kivu coastline and is an exciting way for adventurous travelers to discover Rwanda. Biking the Congo Nile Trail can be completed in 5 days, with the opportunity to experience the rich views and immerse in the local culture along the way.
This trail is perfect for adventure seekers and is a great way to experience the beauty and diversity of Rwanda.
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Rwanda’s landscapes is to take a helicopter tour above the country’s rolling green hills and pristine water banks, also known as the land of a thousand hills. This will give you a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking natural beauty of the country, and it is one of the top 10 things to do in Rwanda.
In addition to providing a unique perspective of the country, taking a helicopter tour is also an efficient way to travel between attractions. It’s a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, ensuring you can make the most of your time in the country.
Rwanda, despite its small size, offers a wealth of experiences and activities for visitors to enjoy. The country is renowned for its gorilla trekking experiences, where tourists can witness mountain gorillas in their natural habitat in the tropical rainforests.
The above-mentioned activities are a selection of some of the top-rated experiences by travelers. We hope that this list inspires you to explore and discover the beauty and diversity of Rwanda. You can also consider pre-made safari packages to get an idea of how most safaris flow or alternatively, you can speak to us about planning a safari that is tailored to your schedule, budget, and interests. With so much to see and do, Rwanda is a destination that promises to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.