Rwanda is a landlocked republic in Equatorial Africa, situated on the eastern rim of the Albertine Rift, a western arm of the Great Rift Valley, on the watershed between Africa’s two largest river systems: the Nile and the Congo. Much of the country’s 26,338 km2 is impressively mountainous, the highest peak being Karisimbi (4,507m) in the volcanic Virunga chain protected by the Volcanoes National Park. The largest body of water is Lake Kivu, but there are other numerous lakes around the country, notably Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi and Mugesera, some of which have erratic shapes following the contours of the steep mountains that enclose them.
Deep jungles on the slopes of the wild Virunga’s play home to the endearing mountain gorillas. In Rwanda, you can track these human-like animals and spend time with them as they eat, play and get on with their daily life.
Discover The ‘Must Do’s Of Rwanda
Unfairly, Rwanda is still remembered for its devastating genocide in 1994. The fact is this tragic incident took place over 20 years ago, nowadays, Rwanda portrays a remarkable story of recovery with warm welcoming people, one of the fastest growing economies on the African continent, and some jaw dropping things to see and do. Throughout this page, we hope to excite you to what one of the smallest African countries has to offer from its patch worked landscape to its dramatic volcanic peaks.
The mountain gorillas of Central Africa (Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC) are one of the resounding success stories of tourism and conservation working hand in hand. Over ten years ago the mountain gorilla population had decreased to only 620 individuals, whereas now, due to concerted efforts and well-structured eco-tourism models, the mountain gorilla populations have grown to over 800 individuals. The base for this breath-taking experience is the stunning Volcanoes National Park where you can stay at one of a number of properties from the eco-friendly Virunga Lodge to the luxurious Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. Contra to people’s beliefs, gorilla safaris can be undertaken at any time of the year, although the more rainy months of March – May and October – November do make it slightly slipper underfoot.
Best place in Rwanda for gorilla trekking: Volcanoes National Park
Best time for gorilla tracking in Rwanda: June -March (excluding November)
Climbing The Virunga Volcanoes
Possibly for the more adventurous amongst us, but nonetheless a thoroughly under estimated experience! Climbing one of the volcanic peaks that makes up the Virunga Volcano chain is a great way to fill the day(s) and to make your visit to this area about more than just the gorillas. Mt Muhavura is one of the most accessible peaks with its summit reaching a grand 4,127m high – a feat that is possible to conquer on a long day out. Mt Karisimbi is a slightly more technical climb making an overnight or two a requirement. If not wishing to over-extend yourselves then day visits are also a possibility.
Not as easy as in other parts of Africa, Rwanda’s chimp tracking experience is still great fun. To make the most of this, head southwest towards the border and the beautiful rainforest of Nyungwe Forest National Park. Nyungwe is one of the best preserved montane rainforests in Central Africa and also home to some rather elusive chimps. Whilst the Mahale mountains chimp experience can be tricky depending on the chimps location, Nyungwe is more so. These chimps are fast moving and it is impossible to keep up with them on the steep terrain, so be sure that you are ready for a decent workout. For those with a head for heights there is also now a dramatic canopy walkway which affords stunning views over the forest, and if you are lucky you may even catch a glimpse of those cheeky primates.
Best place in Rwanda for chimpanzee tracking: Nyungwe Forest
Best time for chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda: June to March (exc. November)
Parks & Attractions In Rwanda
What to see and do in Rwanda’s safari parks. Natural World Safaris guide to the best gorilla safaris, chimpanzee tracking and volcano climbs
Discover The Best Parks & Attractions In Rwanda
One of the beauties of visiting Rwanda is the close proximity of its main attractions, of which most are located between one and five hours from the capital city of Kigali. This allows for unique combinations of rainforests, volcanoes, savannah, city and lakes across its key attractions, which might be fewer but are no less impressive. The variety you can enjoy across Rwanda’s attractions is stark, from the low-lying savannah of Akagera National Park which is more reminiscent of East Africa’s more traditional safari, to the undulating primate trekking centres of Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park, where incredible encounters with endangered mountain gorillas and chimpanzees can be experienced. Below is a list of the main attractions with details of each one.
- Akagera National Park
- Gishwati-Mukura National Park
- Lake Kivu
- Nyungwe Forest National Park
- Volcanoes National Park