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Rwanda Safaris

Land of a thousand hills

Rwanda is a landlocked country in Central Africa’s Great Rift Valley, where the African Great Lakes region and Southeast Africa meet. It is located a few degrees south of the equator and is bordered by Uganda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. Rwanda is also referred to as a land of a thousand hills due to its terrain which is dominated by hills, mountains and other geological features like savannah grassland, rain forests, Lakes and rivers.

Rwanda has 4 National Parks with Gishwati Mukura National Park being the newest park, safaris are conducted in 3 parks the main activities being gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, wildlife viewing in Akagera National Park and Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Rwanda has a population of over 12.6 million people, its capital city is Kigali which is the largest city in the country. Rwanda has positioned itself among the top destination for African safaris due to its promotion of sustainable tourism, several luxury resorts and lodges have been constructed near or around tourism sites and this has drawn thousands of tourists to visit Rwanda annually.

Our Popular Safaris To rwanda

3 Days Gorilla Trekking

5 Days Primates safari

7 Days Best of Rwanda Safari

Activities to do on safaris in Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking is the highlight activity done on a safari in Rwanda, trekking the endangered mountain gorillas is done at Volcanoes National Park which is located along the Virunga Mountains. Travelers are required to purchase a trekking permit which costs $1,500 before they can participate in trekking, the permit is issued by the Rwanda Tourism Board. Travelers who are out of the country can acquire the permit through a travel company.

 Volcanoes National Park has 10 habituated gorilla families which can be trekked by travelers above 15 years, only a group of eight induvial are allowed to trek each family in a single day. Trekking begins early at around 7 a.m. with a briefing at the park headquarters where you are given guidelines to follow and allocated a group to trek according to your age and level of fitness.

Chimpanzee Trekking

Chimpanzee trekking is done at Nyungwe Forest National Park which has the highest concetration of primates with over 500 chimpanzees, other primates that callthis park home include Rwenzori colobus, black-faced ververt monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others.

Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda can be done in three areas which are Nyungwe Forest National Park, Gishwati Mukura National Park, and Cyamudongo Forest. Chimpanzees have 98.7% similar DNA with humans making them our closest cousins among other primates. Travelers get an opportunity to see other species like birds, butterflies, plants and trees while trekking the chimpanzees.

Once travelers allocate the chimpanzees you spend an hour observing them as they feed, groom each other, play and you may take pictures but always remember to keep the flash light off.

Game drives and Wildlife Viewing

Travelers interested in game drives and animal viewing can visit Akagera National Park which is the only savannah park in Rwanda. The big 5( rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, buffalo and elephants) are all present in this park just like Masai Mara and Serengeti National Parks which are the most visited parks for game drives in East Africa. Other wildlife species that can be seen in Akagera National Park include warthogs, giraffes, zebra, hippos, waterbucks, topi, impala, and many more.

Game drives are conducted in the morning and evenings when the temperatures are cooler, with the help of an experienced guide you will be able to see most of the wild species as they feed in the open savannah grasslands or on water bodies as they quench their thirst.

Nocturnal game drives are the highlight as the carnivores such as leopard, hyenas and lions are hunting and active. Game drives usually last up to 4 hours with a chance of a picnic breakfast or sunset snack.

Hiking

Rwanda has the biggest portion of the Virunga Mountains making it an excellent destination for mountain climbing. The Virunga Mountains are a range of eight volcanoes that stretch through Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga and Mount Muhavura are five of the eight volcanoes that share Rwanda’s border.

Travelers interested in hiking can visit Volcanoes National Park which is commonly known for gorilla trekking however, hiking can be combined with trekking since the gorillas are found on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains.

Hiking can also be done at Nyungwe Forest National Park where travelers get to participate in hiking to enjoy the canopy walk, this is one of the most adventurous activity to do when Visiting Rwanda.

Cultural Encounter

 Travelers may visit the gorilla gurdians village which was formerly known as Iby’iwacu Cultural Village, it is one of the best cultural villages in Rwanda located in Musanze district.   The locals staying in this village were formerly poachers but now transformed to guard gorillas. Visiting the village will give you an opportunity to interact with locals and participate in activities like milking cows, preparing local cuisines, and weave baskets among others. 

Tourists from around the globe can experience what life is like in a typical African Rwandan village setting including the lifestyle, houses, traditional dances, dress code, food, herbs, and how old kingdoms were managed in general. It’s also a great place to relax while shopping for local crafts, presents, and souvenirs to show friends back home after a gorilla trek at Volcanoes National Park.

Visiting Genocide memorial sites

Rwanda’s genocide happened in 1994 when over a million people lost their lives. Many sites and historical landmarks have been set up where travelers can visit to learn about the country’s history and rich culture. The different sites to visit are;

Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre where all of the war victims’ names are engraved on the wall. The site also holds the remains of around 250,000 persons who were ruthlessly slaughtered by the Interahamwe (Hutu fanatics). Gisenyi Memorial Site is where over 12000 bones are housed. It also includes the Nyarubuye Memorial Site, which was originally a school and where 2,000 people were slain

 

Murambi Genocide Memorial Site was a school where over 2700 people were massacred and are currently being rebuilt as an exhibition site. Gisozi Memorial Site is where about 300,000 people were buried in 2000 both Hutu and Tutsi victims. The site is also a museum, a cemetery, a photo gallery and a library.

 Nyamata memorial site was once a church in the Bugerera area, around 10,000 people who sought safety in the church were killed and about 50,000 were buried in a mass grave outside the church.  Bisesero memorial site in Karongi district, where 30,000 people were slain, is now also known as the ‘Hill of Resistance’ due to the strong front shown by the people of this region despite having fewer superior armaments during the genocide.

Nyanza Memorial site, where the United Nations erected a school called ETO. Ntarama Memorial Site near Bugesera, about an hour’s drive from Kigali town, was previously a chapel where people sought refuge during times of violence. 5000 people died in this church, which has subsequently been kept as a memorial and museum.

Visiting Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake and is located in the Albertine Rift Valley at country’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The lake has islands and travelers who visit can also have views of the Virunga Mountains, adventurous travelers may visit to relax and engage in some adventurous activities like kayaking, swimming since this lake has no hippos and crocodiles.Tourists visiting Lake Kivu should expect to explore, discover, and journey along its fascinating coastline.

 

When to go for a safari in Rwanda

Rwanda can be visited at any time of the year but the best time to visit is duribg the dry season from June to August and from December to February. During these months most activities are easy to do like gorilla trekking, animal viewing and many more.

Rwanda is located a few degrees below the Equator making temperatures stable where they  rarely fluctuate throughout the year, the days are warm with temperatures ranging from 190C to 290C.

How to get around Rwanda

Most travelers use Kigali International Airport (KGL) as the main point of entry, RwandAir operates the only domestic route between Kigali and Kamembe Airport (KME) in Rusizi, at the southern end of Lake Kivu. Travelers usually use the help of local tour operators pick you up from the airport or your hotel and arrange for additional transportation as you begin your safari.

The most used form of transport is road, the roads are in good condition. Finding a taxi or cab is not difficult however, the best way to avoid any challenge is get to hire a travel company or tour operator.