Rwanda is famous for the silver back mountain gorillas that have captured the world’s imagination since Dian Fossey came to study the mountain gorilla families. Rwanda is a largely undiscovered Eden, she promises unrivaled biodiversity, dramatic mountains and volcanoes, some of the oldest and most precious rain forests on earth, a glittering skein of lakes, rivers and waterfalls and three stunning national parks. As to wildlife, Rwanda boats of 13 species of primates and a remarkable 670 species of birds, many of which are globally endangered.
Tours in Rwanda are packaged in a form of gorilla trekking safaris, mountain gorilla safari packages, tracking primates, chimpanzee tours in Nyungwe Forest, and game safaris to Akagera National Park.
Besides Rwanda’s gorillas, a holiday in Rwanda could include the primates in the forests of Nyungwe; the country’s magnificent scenery; Akagera National Park’s more conventional African wildlife; and the beautiful shore of Lake Kivu. Travel in Rwanda is very easy and we’ll arrange a 4WD and driver/guide for your safari.
Volcanoes National Park
Known as a home for the rare mountain gorillas, the Volcanoes National Park protects the steep slopes of the Rwandan section of the Virunga Mountains, a range of 6 extinct and three active volcanoes that straddle the border between Uganda and Democratic Republic Congo.
Volcanoes National Park is Africa’s oldest national park and the focus of most visitors to Rwanda. Trekking through the park in far northwest Rwanda, one will find a tapestry of sensory delights. The visitor in the rain forest can hear the calls of birds and monkeys, and through the forest see the peaks of the ancient volcanoes.
This chain of volcanoes is home to the world’s few remaining mountain gorillas. Rwanda has approximately 250 mountain gorillas, 11 families of which have been habituated for tourism. Many visitors have to book their gorilla tracking permit years in advance.
Gorilla trekking at the Volcanoes National Park involves hiking through dense bamboo forests and Steep Mountain slopes in search of one of the gorilla families in Rwanda. The final encounter with the primates is considered one of the most exciting and memorable Wildlife encounters in Africa.
Gorilla permits in Rwanda currently go for $1500 – but that is only a fraction of the overall price of gorilla trekking. It is important to note that part of the money collected from gorilla permits go to support gorilla conservation efforts and community programs.
Gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park starts with a briefing from the park authorities and Rangers at around 7:30am. During the briefing, participants are divided into groups and assigned to a particular gorilla family. The less fit hikers are assigned groups which are closer to the park offices. At 8:00am, the park Rangers lead the group to search for the gorillas.
Volcanoes National Park offers you 10 habituated groups/families to choose from. Regardless of which group you eventually get, you will find that watching mountain gorillas is breath-taking. You could spend hours just watching the little ones roll around and play. Mountain gorillas are always playful and quite curious.
Nyungwe Forest National Park – The Oldest Forest on Earth. Tucked away in the south-west corner of Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest is one of the oldest forests on earth, dating back before the last Ice Age. Ranked as Africa’s most important area of forest conservation, it is one of the largest remaining block of montane forests in Africa.
Most famous for its 13 species of primates, Nyungwe is the best place to see chimpanzees in Rwanda. Extending your Rwanda visit beyond a gorilla safari to Nyungwe will usher you to a unique biosphere of chimpanzees, forest hogs, otters, duikers, civets, elephants, and over 300 bird species.
Akagera National Park
If it is big game you are looking for, Akagera will be the best park in Rwanda to visit. Named after the river which bounds it, Akagera lies at a lower altitude than Rwanda’s other parks, located just 75km east of Kigali City.
This natural savannah environment is reminiscent of Africa’s better-known safari reserves in Tanzania and Kenya – and the game can be good, but doesn’t quite match the best of them.
Akagera National Park is dominated by a labyrinth of hippo filled swamps and crocodile – patrolled lakes, which follow the meandering, course of the Akagera River, the (probably) most remote source of the Nile.
Across the savannah plains and tangle acacia forest range great plains game, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, and impalas, while predators include the lions, leopard, jackals and hyenas.
As for the birds, this stunning realm offers 525 species including 40 raptors. The lakes and swamps add variety, and the birding can be excellent.
Kigali, the City That Never Sleeps. Rwanda’s attractive capital, Kigali, spreads out over several hills; it’s a pleasant place to stop overnight at the start or end of a holiday if you need to. Because Kigali is in the centre of Rwanda, which is a fairly small country, traveling to anywhere from here is fairly quick.
Also in the city is the word-famous and exceptionally moving Genocide Memorial Centre, a permanent exhibition documenting the tragedy of the 1984 Rwandan Genocide. Our guides know the uniqueness of Kigali’s tourist attractions more than anyone else. Your excursion shall be more rewarding touring Kigali’s tourist historical sites with them.
Lake Kivu and its Shore
After the exciting but perhaps also tiring mountain gorilla trekking safari, chimpanzee trekking and extensive game driving in Akagera National Park, Lake Kivu provides the ideal place for rest and recuperation.
Lake Kivu forms Rwanda’s eastern border, and the scenery of wooded hillsides plunging into the lake is often stunning. The white sandy beaches and sultry hot springs offer fabulous lakeside resorts, water sports, canoe island tours, exciting village tours, boating and fishing tours, also offered on many of Rwanda’s other 22 lakes.
Visit to relax and explore: in the north is the town of Gisenyi; Kibuye stands in the middle; and Cyangugu is furthest south.
It is the largest of Rwanda’s many freshwater lakes and the 6th largest, the 15th deepest lake in the world and one of its only three ‘exploding lakes’.