Rwanda the ‘land of a thousand hills’ is a unique part of Africa. Lesser-visited than its East Coast neighbours, this only adds to its appeal. Most holidays to Rwanda are arranged in the hope of catching a glimpse of the incredible mountain gorilla; the dramatic landscape of Volcanoes National Park is one of the best places in the world for gorilla trekking safaris. For the ultimate experience of Rwanda’s wildlife, combine chimpanzee and gorilla treks.
Rwanda’s attractive hillside capital, Kigali, will be the start and end point of your holiday. During your time in the city be sure to visit the sombre and thought-provoking Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which was built as a memorial to the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Here you can discover how the country has recovered and is educating its younger generation to ensure the atrocity should not be forgotten and that, instead, lessons should be learnt from the past.
Mist hovers over the ancient towering peaks of Volcanoes National Park, housing five of the Virunga Mountains’ eight volcanoes. This incredible natural environment is Africa’s oldest national park, dominated by lush rainforest, bamboo forest, grasslands and giant lobelias, and is the main region where celebrated naturalist Dian Fossey carried out her research into gorillas. The Rwandan side of the national park – which straddles the border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda – is home to ten gorilla families ranging in size from nine to 37. In total there are around 480 habituated mountain gorillas here. The opportunity to get up-close with endangered mountain gorillas is one of nature’s most magical offerings. Totally different to any other safari experience, an exhilarating trek with knowledgeable rangers will lead you in search of a gorilla family. Gorillas are more like man than any other creature, and it’s perhaps this that makes them so intriguing and this experience so unlike any other.
The mountainous rain forest reserve of Nyungwe National Park sits an altitude of 1600-2950m above sea level and is rich in flora and fauna, with over 260 species of trees and shrubs and over 100 types of orchid and giant lobelia alone. The Rwandan chimpanzee population is thought to consist of approx. 400-500 individuals, which are confined to the Nyungwe National Park, including a small community in the Cyamudongo Forest. You may get to witness young chimps playing; adults feeding high up in the fig trees; others swinging effortlessly between the vines. As well as chimpanzee trekking, there’s a range of optional activities in the park, including a visit to a local tea factory and a colobus and mangabey monkey trek. Nyungwe’s rainy season is September to May, with the main dry season during June to August, and some dry weeks in December and January. Our Chimps of the Nyungwe Forest can be combined with Volcanoes & Gorillas itinerary for the ultimate experience of Rwanda’s wildlife.
Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes and covers almost half of Rwanda’s western border. Around halfway down the lake shore lies the ‘beach city’ of Kibuye, offering beautiful views across the palm-fringed lake, small rocky beaches and peaceful islands.