The places that you must visit in Rwanda
What best places can i visit in Rwanda? Rwanda as small as it is has several destinations but the most attractive and most visited are volcanoes national park, Akagera national park, Nyungwe forest national park, Kigali city, and Lake Kivu. of all places named above, the most visited is the volcanoes national park because it’s home to a population of remaining mountain gorillas that stay on the slopes of Virunga Volcanoes in the northeastern part of Rwanda. It’s the same park where Dian Fossey a great primatologist was buried after several years of conserving and protecting mountain gorillas in the park.
Dian Fossey was an American primatologist who came from Virunga national park after escaping prison and found her new home in volcanoes national park. Dian Fossey spent over 18 years doing research and conservation for mountain gorillas because of the love he had for these primates ever since she was a child. For the time she was in volcanoes national park she managed to set up Karisoke Researcher Centre, scare away poachers, burn poachers’ houses, removed trap snares, and taught the surrounding people about the good things of protecting mountain gorillas. she was later found dead in her cabin on 25th December 1985. She was later buried on the slopes of Mountain Karisimbi near her Research Centre near her favorite gorilla Digit.
Mountain gorillas in volcanoes national parks are Rwanda’s most tourism earner and these have kept Rwanda in the top countries to visit in Africa. When we compare Rwanda to other African countries, her tourism is growing at a faster speed compared to other African countries. Rwanda has several attractions among which include culture, gorilla trekking at volcanoes national park, game viewing in Akagera national park, chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda, and birding. The following are the top places you must visit in Rwanda on a holiday.
Volcanoes national park
Located in the northwestern part of Rwanda on the borders of Mgahinga gorilla national park of Uganda and Virunga national park of DR Congo. Volcanoes national park protects some of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world. These mountain gorillas have found their home on the slopes of the Virunga mountains- Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabyinyo, Gahinga, and Muhabura. Volcanoes national park attracts thousands of travelers every day who come to trek mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.
There are about 20 gorilla families in volcanoes national park and only 10 are available for gorilla trekking. Mountain trekking in volcanoes national park begins early in the morning with a briefing at Kinigi park headquarters where trekkers are taught about the dos and don’ts of trekking. After gorilla trekking, the trekkers are grouped not exceeding 8 and all these must be having valid gorilla permits issued out by Rwanda Development Board. The grouped are headed by ranger guides who well know different trails in the forest and these rangers lead you as you locate the gentle apes. After several hours of searching and locating mountain gorillas, trekkers are given a maximum of 1 hour to be around mountain gorillas learning about their behaviors and taking photos.
While trekking mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park, you have opportunities of coming across Dian Fossey grave on Mountain Karisimbi, different park animals such as golden monkeys, buffaloes, bush pigs, duikers, spotted hyenas, forest elephants, and giant forest hogs among others. There are also over 180 bird species in the park so if you are a bird lover you will see some of them. Trekking mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park costs $1500 per person per day.
Apart from mountain gorilla trekking, other activities that can be done in volcanoes national park include hiking any of the Virunga mountains that are in the park but the most famous are Mountain Karisimbi which happens to be the highest, and Mountain Bisoke. The other activity is golden monkey trekking as these are endangered living only in this park. There is also hiking to Dian Fossey grave which is between mountain Bisoke and mountain Karisimbi. The park being home to over 180 bird species makes it one of the best birding destinations in the country so birding activities can happen in volcanoes national park with opportunities of seeing birds such as Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, Rwenzori batis, African green broadbill, strange weaver, Kivu ground thrush, olive-bellied, bronzy sunbird, grey-headed bushrike, nirana trogon, lesser honeyguide, bat hawk, strange weaver, and red chested sunbird among others.
Nyungwe national park
Nyungwe forest national park is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda on the borders of Kibira national park of Burundi. The Park is home to more than 75 mammals, 13 primate species, and 300 bird species that live in the montane rain forests. What makes Nyungwe forest national park famous are the chimpanzees and the canopy walk one of its own in East Africa raised 50 meters about the ground.
The most done activity in Nyungwe forest national park is chimpanzee trekking and this starts with a briefing at the park headquarters where trekkers are taught about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity. After the briefing, the trekkers are grouped into 8 and a ranger guide leads them into the forest and starts looking for chimpanzees. After some hours when the chimpanzees are finally located, the trekkers are given a maximum of 1 hour to bed around mountain gorillas, and with this, they are allowed to take photos and record videos with flashless cameras. During trekking, you expect to see some of the birds and park animals such as L’Hoest’s monkeys, Hamlyn’s monkeys, Rwenzori colobus, silver monkeys, Dent’s Mona monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and olive baboons among others.
Apart from chimpanzee trekking there is also birding in Nyungwe forest national park the fact that the forest is home to over 300 bird species. during birding activities in Rwanda, there are several birds you can see among which include Eastern Mountain Greenbul, handsome francolin, Great Blue Turaco, doherty’s bush-shrike, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Purple Breasted Sunbirds, Montane Oriole, Regal Sunbird, black-headed waxbill, Mountain Illadopsis, Mountain Sooty Boubou, grauer’s warbler, Pink-footed Puff back, Red-chested Owlet, barred long-tailed cuckoo, Regal Sunbird, Ruwenzori Batis, Ruwenzori Blue-headed Sunbird, White-starred Robin, swamp warbler, archer’s robin-chat, Sharpe’s Starling, Slender-billed Starling, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Striped-breasted Tit, Rwenzori Nightjar, Stuhlmann’s Double-collared Sunbird, regal sunbird, Stuhlmann’s Starling, Rwenzori Batis, blued headed sunbird, Thick-billed Seedeater, and the Red-collared babblers among others.
The canopy walk in Nyungwe forest way is the best way to explore the park walking 50 meters above the ground for about 2 hours. The canopy walk passes above the treetops giving you an opportunity of seeing most of the park animals, the park surroundings, birds, and the Virunga volcanoes. The canopy walk is done in the morning at 8 am and afternoon at 3 pm and it begins with a briefing at the Uwinka Visitors Centre and is done by children above the age of 6 years.
Akagera national park
Akagera national park is the only savannah national park in Rwanda located in the northeastern part of the country on the borders of Tanzania. Akagera national park is made up of savannah grasslands, swamps, and woodlands. The Park has several lakes but Lake Ihema is the famous one where boat cruises are done in the park. There are several activities to do in Akagera national park among which include game drives, birding, and boat cruises among others.
Game viewing is the most done activity in Akagera national park. The Park is home to several animals most of which can be seen during the game drives. Animals in Akagera national park include lions, elephants, zebras, rhinos, hyenas, oribis, buffaloes, leopards, olive baboons, cape elands, duikers, topis, impalas, hippos, crocodiles, bush babies, and klipspringer among others. The game drives are done in the morning, evening, and nighttime.
Akagera national park is home to about 480 bird species making the park one of the best birding destinations in Rwanda. The bird species in Akagera national park include red-faced barbets, papyrus ganolek, African jacana, ring-necked francolin, white-winged swamp warbler, white collared olive back, lilac-breasted roller, northern brown-throated weaver, bateleur, squacco heron, papyrus gonolek, grey crowned crane, African fish eagle, crested barbet, shoebill stork, black-headed weaver, fork-tailed drongo, Caruthers’s cisticola and grey hornbill among others.
A boat cruise on Lake Ihema is another activity that can be done in Akagera national park. The boat cruise on Lake Ihema can be done in the morning or evening hours. The boat cruise on Lake Ihema gives you an opportunity to see some of the water animals such as hippos, crocodiles, and some of the park animals like elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, zebras on the shores of the lakes drinking water most especially in the dry season. During the boat cruise, you can as well see birds like shoebill stork, herons, sandpipers, African jacana, malachite kingfisher, papyrus gonolek, and much more.
Covering a total area of 2730 sq. km, Lake Kivu is one of the most attractive larges located in the Albertine rift on the borders of DR Congo, and Rwanda. Lake Kivu is the largest lake in Rwanda making it one of the destinations you shouldn’t miss out on when you visit the country. Lake Kivu is the best place for romantic travelers, and adventures most especially those from volcanoes national park after trekking mountain gorillas. there are so many activities on Lake Kivu and these include a boat cruise, sport fishing, birding, swimming, visiting islands, biking, and visiting the Imbabazi orphanage.
Located just next to the main airport, Kigali city in Rwanda is one of the cleanest cities in Africa that one shouldn’t miss out on visiting in a safari in Rwanda. The city is a business center, leisure place, and one of the places to do art and culture in Rwanda. Kigali has so many attractions but most of the tourists use it as a transit point to the country’s national parks. Some of the things to do in Kigali include hiking mount Kigali, visiting art centers, craft shops, art galleries, shopping malls, sport fishing on lake Muhazi, local markets, worship centers, and visiting the main city museums such as the Kigali Genocide memorial.
What is the best time to visit Rwanda?
You can visit Rwanda at any time of the year but the drier months are the best times to visit the country. The dry months happen in June to September and December to February and with this season there is little or no rainfall. During the dry season, the roads leading to the parks are passable, the vegetation is thin for clear views of the park animals and the tracks/trekking trails in the park are not muddy or slippery. You can as well visit Rwanda in the rani season of October to November and march to May but the tracks and trekking trails are muddy and slippery, the vegetation is very thick but the accommodation facilities are very cheap due to fewer visitors.