Rwanda is one of the top upcoming destinations in Africa. Featured and successfully its tour products on the world known travel markets; WTM London, WTM Berlin, Rwanda is a growing tourism destination offering unique opportunities. No wonder the country has won several accolades as the number one exhibitor on several world travel markets. Though this country has been known more because of its dark past which involved horrible events like the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, the country is a blossoming tourist destination which is not only safe and secure but also attractive to prospective travelers looking for primates tours.
Rwanda is truly a country of wonder and is slowly making a name for itself on the safari circuit, and for more than just primates, though spending time with our cousins is, of course, an incredible draw. Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda has vistas to die for with lush, green mountains climbing into the clouds and neat, rowed terraces of tea and paddy fields drawing lines into the hillsides.
RWANDA COUNTRY FACTS
Kinyarwanda, French, English
Major Wildlife Areas/Areas of Interest
Lake Kivu, Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Kigali.
Photographic Safaris, Pure Wildlife Safaris, Hiking & Climbing, Gorilla Safaris.
We suggest going on a gorilla trek in northern Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills.
All About Rwanda – The land of a thousand hills
Geography and Location
Rwanda is located in Central Africa though politically it is under the East African Community and it can therefore be counted as part of East Africa. The country is located a few degrees south of the Equator. It is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On African standards, Rwanda is one of the smallest countries. The country lies on a high elavation and is characterised with several mountains. No wonder it is also refered to as the land of a thousand hills!
History of Rwanda
For most people, one when mentions Rwanda, it inevitably conjures up images of the dreadful genocide of 1994. Almost a million people died within just 100 days. The country has since returned to moderate stability and peace. Presidential elections were held in 2003 and were won by current President Paul Kagame, former leader of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).
Whilst the genocide is a massive part of its history, twenty years on Rwanda has evolved into a united, proud and optimistic country that warmly welcomes its visitors and provides a truly memorable and inspiring holiday. Though it would be naïve to suggest that the entire nation has moved on, a holiday here leaves you with an overwhelming sense of the people’s optimism and national pride, and their determination that genocide must never happen again.
Today, people call themselves Rwandans, with no distinctions between Tutsis and Hutus. Yet remembrance is as much a part of the country’s progress as reconciliation. Each year, from April to July, commemorations called Kwibuka take place as part of the country’s healing process. And at any time of year, a visit to Kigali’s Genocide Memorial is important in understanding Rwanda’s history and the events leading up to the genocide. It may seem an unlikely holiday attraction but it is in fact a beautiful, peaceful place that is testament to Rwanda’s strength and spirit of reconciliation.
Traveling to Rwanda
It is very easy today to travel to Rwanda. There are several airlines that fly to the Kigali International Airport including SN Brussels, British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airline, Ethiopian Airlines, South Africa Airways, Kenya Airways, RwandAir and more.
If you prefer traveling to Rwanda by land,it is very easy to connect to Rwanda from Uganda via Katuna Border and Cyanika Border, from Congo via Goma, and from Burundi and Tanzania. You can travel to Rwanda using a rental car or public buses that commute from Nairobi, Kampala, Mbarara, and more.
Things to Do in Rwanda
There are lots of things to do in Rwanda. However the most popular adventure activity attracting tourists is gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, one of the four parks that are the only homes to the mountain gorillas in the world. Other things to do in Rwanda include
- Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe Forest
- Game Viewing in Akagera National Park
- Tour the Genocide Memorial Sites
- Birding in various places including following the Congo Nile Trail
- Visits to the local museums, former Kingdom palace
- Leisurely holidays at the Lake Kivu Beaches
- Agritourism on local plantations
Planning a Gorilla Trek
Whilst a Rwanda gorilla safari is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you, the staff at Volcanoes National Park have been doing this for several years and run a very smooth operation, hence treks to the mountain gorillas are well-organized and clearly structured. On the day of your gorilla trekking, you’ll set off very early in the morning to track to the apes from the edge of the forest. Your driver/guide will take you from your lodge (see places to stay in Volcanoes National Park) to the park headquarters in Kinigi village. The guides here speak excellent English and are very good. They will be taking you to a specific group of ‘habituated’ mountain gorillas, which they know well and are used to human visitors.
You’ll be divided into parties of 8 and after a briefing on safety and gorilla trekking etiquette, you’ll be driven to the start of the trail to reach your mountain gorilla group. Your guide will then lead you along generally clear paths up into the forest, in radio communication with the trackers that stay with the group so that they can be located. The altitude is over 2,500m, so although the pace is unhurried, the hike is tiring and can be steep in parts, taking from 30 minutes to a few hours. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit breathless at this altitude – this is perfectly normal.
Quick Travel Tips
- Driving in Rwanda is on the right
- Remember to dress well and avoid short pants and skirts during your trip.
- Don’t take pictures of people without asking permission from them.