Rwanda has long been seen as the premiere destination for gorilla tracking, but today more than ever there are dozens of reasons to extend your stay, starting with the 13 species of primates and East Africa’s only canopy walk, all to be found in the dense rain forests of Nyungwe Forest National Park. Still, it’s hardly a surprise that Rwanda developed its reputation for Gorillas; experts estimate that there are only 780 mountain gorillas still in existence anywhere on earth, and one third of these majestic creatures can be found in Volcanoes National Park alone. With the recent re-introduction of lions to Akagera National Park in the east, Rwanda has truly come into its own as a full-fledged safari destination, and to top it all off, it’s not even a day’s drive between each of these world-class attractions.

Why Visit Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking – Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing” and with good reason. With only an estimated 780 Gorillas left in the world, to see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unique and unbeatable experience.
Primate Tracking – Chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus monkeys and the endangered golden monkey.
Birding – Rwanda is amongst Africa’s most exciting birding destinations.
Within this relatively small and compact country, there are over 1450 bird species, of which 27 are Albertine Rift endemics.

Congo Nile Trail – Lose time along the lake in Rwanda’s wildest corner.
Cultural experiences – Centuries of music, dance, history and hospitality are awaiting you in Rwanda.
Delve into some natural and cultural lore at the Musanze Caves.
Safaris – Experience a classic African Safari in beautiful Akagera National Park.


Area: Rwanda is a landlocked East African country. Its green, mountainous landscape has earned it the nickname “Land of a Thousand Hills.” The renowned Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Bordering Congo and Uganda, the park encompasses 4,507m Mt. Karisimbi and four other forested volcanoes. Kigali, the nation’s sprawling capital, has vibrant restaurants and nightlife.
Population: 11.78 million
Language: Kinyarwanda, English, French
Capital: Kigali
Currency: Rwandan franc


Climate: Rwanda can be visited and enjoyed any time of the year. Temperatures average around 24°C (75°F), except for in the higher mountain areas where it ranges from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 60°F)

Dry Season: The dry season which lasts from mid-May to mid-October, is the best time to track, hike and mountain climb, however, it is not as “green” as the wet season, which spans the other half of the year.
Wet Season: Mid-October to mid-May.
The Northeast has a lot more rain due to the volcanoes being covered in rain forest. Karisimbi (the highest peak in Rwanda at 2,507 meters) is usually covered with snow.

When to go:

Gorilla Trekking:

This is during the short dry season from mid-December to early February or over the long dry season months of June to September. These periods offer by far the easiest hiking conditions and the lowest malaria risk.
Chimpanzee trekking:

In Nyungwe during the two rainy seasons – mid-February to early June and mid-September to mid-December – as the apes are easier to locate. Food is harder to find in the dry season and the chimp families often range far into the forest interior.


Rwanda’s International Airports: The main airport in Rwanda is Kigali International Airport. It is located 10 km east of central Rwanda.
Getting to Rwanda: Kigali currently receives direct flights from Nairobi, London, Entebbe, Bujumbura, Addis Ababa, Kilimanjaro, Brazzaville, Douala, Libreville, Mombasa, Mwanza, Brussels, Amsterdam, Dar es Salaam, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Juba, Lagos, Lusaka, Doha and Dubai.


Volcanoes National Park:

It runs along the border with the DRC and Uganda, is home to the Rwandan section of the Virungas. Comprising five volcanoes, the Virungas are utterly spellbinding and few would argue that this is not one of the most exciting national parks in Africa. We probably needn’t remind you, but of all the extraordinary sights and attractions around the Virungas, the one that really draws people here are the famous mountain gorillas.

While most tourists to the park are understandably driven by the desire to have a face-to-face encounter with real gorillas in the mist, there is good reason to stay in the area once you’ve finished tracking: the gorillas share the park with rare golden monkeys, a troop of which has also been habituated to human contact. The Virungas, which tower over Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC, also present a variety of rewarding climbing and trekking options. To get the most from the Virungas give yourself as much time as you possibly can as this is absolutely a park that rewards those who linger.

Akagera National Park:

Akagera is Rwanda’s answer to the savannah parks of Kenya and Tanzania, and is utterly different in landscape to anywhere else in the country. Prior to the genocide, when much of the wildlife was slaughtered or driven over the border, this was considered one of the better parks in East Africa. Today, thanks to outside investment, wildlife numbers are increasing and most people get to see zebras, impalas, topis, giraffes, masses of hippos and crocodiles and even elephants, lions and rhinos.

There are three distinct environments in the park: standard savannah as seen in much of the region; an immense swampy area along the border with Tanzania that contains six lakes and numerous islands, some of which are covered with forest; and a chain of low mountains on the flanks of the park with variable vegetation, ranging from short grasses on the summits to wooded savannah and dense thickets of forest.

Note that park fees are valid for one night – in other words, if you arrive when the park opens at 6am and leave the next day at 6pm, you’ll still pay US$40 (and not US$80).


This attractive city and its central location makes it a great base from which to explore the rest of the country. Built across several of Rwanda’s thousand hills, Kigali is a modern and scrupulously clean city with many fine cafes, bars and restaurants as well as markets and handicrafts shops.
Nyungwe Forest: This forest covers some 1000 km² in the southwest of Rwanda and is an area of huge biodiversity.

Traditional Rwandan Dance Troupe:

There is a traditional Rwandan dance troupe based in Huye, and its show is spectacular. The Intore dance originated in Burundi and involves elaborate costumes and superb drumming routines. Performances can be organized through the Ethnographic Museum, and the larger the group size, the cheaper it will be per person. Note that prices substantially increase on weekends and during the evening.

Kigali Genocide Memorial:

In the span of 100 days, an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically butchered by the Interahamwe army. This memorial honours the estimated 250,000 people buried here in mass graves and also has an excellent exhibition that tries to explain how it was that the world watched as the 1994 genocide unfolded. This is an intensely powerful and moving memorial for which you should dedicate at least half a day.

The informative audio tour (US$15) includes background on the divisive colonial experience in Rwanda. As the visit progresses, the exhibits become steadily more powerful, as you are confronted with the crimes that took place here and moving video testimony from survivors. If you have remained dispassionate until this point, you’ll find that it will all catch up with you at the section that remembers the children who fell victim to the killers’ machetes. Life-sized photos are accompanied by intimate details about their favourite toys, their last words and the manner in which they were killed.

The memorial concludes with sections on the search for justice through the international tribunal in Arusha as well as the local gacaca courts (traditional tribunals headed by village elders).

Upstairs is a moving section dedicated to informing visitors about other genocides that have taken place around the world and helping to set Rwanda’s nightmare in a historical context.

After you’ve absorbed the museum displays, take a rose (by donation) to leave on one of the vast concrete slabs outside that cover the mass graves. There’s also a wall of names, a rose garden, a gift shop and a pleasant cafe serving good coffee, lunch buffets (RFr2500), snacks and juices that is an ideal place to reflect and gather yourself before facing the outside world again.

Ntarama Church:

Some of the most horrific massacres during the genocide took place inside the sanctums of churches throughout Rwanda, including inside Ntarama church, about 25km south of Kigali, where more than 5000 perished. The church has almost not been touched since the genocide ended and the bodies were removed. Today, there are many bits of clothing scraps as well as skulls on shelves, and three mass graves next to the church.

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund InternationalKarisoke Research Centre.

Right in the centre of Musanze, this high-quality research centre features an exhibit that comprises interpretive panels about mountain gorillas and the conservation efforts that Dian Fossey pioneered. It also shelters Dian Fossey artefacts, a 3D interactive model of the Virunga mountains and casts of real gorilla noseprints. Overall it makes a perfect introduction to a visit to the gorillas.

Nyanzi Genocide Memorial:

Located in Kicukiro, a suburb southeast of the city centre towards the airport, there is little to see at this memorial other than the tiled tops of four mass graves believed to contain the remains of the 4000 Tutsis who took refuge in the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) grounds, and numerous unmarked wooden crosses. Following the assassination of 10 Belgian soldiers at Camp Kigali and the subsequent withdrawal of Belgian troops, the Tutsis here were left unprotected and ultimately taken to Nyanza and massacred.

Gisenyi Public Beach:

The strip of sand beneath the main town is a justifiably popular place to take a dip. That said, some travellers imagining Caribbean sands are disappointed to discover the waters are grey-green and the sand coarse and yellowish. There is, however, plenty of it and, after days on the road, Lake Kivu represents a welcome opportunity to throw down a beach towel or do as the locals do and spread a picnic blanket under one of the many shade trees.

Musanze Caves:

These four caves, 2km from the town centre along the road to Gisenyi, were created when different lava flows joined to create the Albertine Rift Valley. Bat roosts are a significant feature of the caves, as are huge roof collapses that create vast arrays of coloured light shafts.

Unfortunately, few people visit the caves due to the high entry price, which includes a compulsory guide. Buy the entry ticket from the RDB office in Musanze.


Rwanda’s International Airports: The main airport in Rwanda is Kigali International Airport. It is located 10 km east of central Rwanda.

Getting to Rwanda: Kigali currently receives direct flights from Nairobi, Entebbe, Bujumbura, Addis Ababa, Kilimanjaro, Brazzaville, Douala, Libreville, Mombasa, Mwanza, Brussels, Amsterdam, Dar es Salaam, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Juba, Lagos, Lusaka, Doha and Dubai.

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