Called the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is a mountainous country which sets a pleasantly warm climate with cool nights year around.
Often referred to as the Singapore of Africa, Rwanda has a lot of surprises for you - the horrific past marred in genocide, bloodshed, pain and pity has been transformed into an incredible gem and becoming an increasingly premier eco-friendly tourist destination with some of the friendliest people you will ever find.
Located in the geographic centre of the country, Kigali is one of the Africa’s cleanest and safest cities nestled along scenic hilltops.
These are the other incredible achievements worth noting: Rwanda’s parliament has more female members than any other parliament in the world; successful complete ban on used of plastic bags, a nationwide community service day on the last Saturday of every month called Umuganda where roads are closed and cleaning begins.
Rwanda is endowed with remarkable attractions ranging from the-must-visit endemic mountain gorillas plus other thirteen species of primates living throughout her volcanoes, bird diversity representing a third of Africa’s bird species, hiking, cycling, water sports, scenic landscapes, to a unique cultural heritage which guarantee a once-in-a-lifetime safari experience.
With a population of over 1 million, sprawling attractively across a several of hills and valleys, the now modern-looking city of Kigali is widely regarded to be Africa’s safest and cleanest city.
Kigali presents a mishmash of bittersweet encounters due to a range of memorial sites, museums, and centres including The Kigali Genocide Memorial with some more vibrant neighbourhoods around the city where tourists can experience the culture, hospitality, beautiful scenery and tastes of the Rwanda’s local dishes.
Volcanoes National Park
The Volcanoes National Park covers 160 km2 of rainforest and encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Massif, extending across the borders of Uganda and DRC. It is Africa’s oldest national park, first gazetted in 1925 to help protect the highly endangered mountain gorilla.
Apart from gorilla tracking, there are plenty of other adventurous activities such as nature walks and mountain climbing, tracking the endangered golden monkeys, visiting an ex-poacher’s village, engaging in educational and fun experiences, shown cultural dances as well as learning about traditional skills.
Nyungwe National Park
Rwanda is also home to the 1,015km² Nyungwe Forest National Park, one of the oldest rainforests in Africa, where there are chimpanzees as well as 12 other species of primate, including the L’Hoest’s monkey endemic to the Albertine Rift and fantastic bird-watching opportunities.
Known to have the remotest source of the Nile, the World’s longest river, primate tracking is the major attraction to most of the visitors considering Nyungwe National Park, however with 15 trails along with other various activities, there is so much to indulge in once here.
After all the adventurous and exhilarating activities such as gorilla trekking safari, chimpanzee trekking, Big Five hunt, cultural immersion among others, the beautiful Lake Kivu, one of African great lakes, provides the perfect place to relax and unwind.
For the adventurous travellers, there are a number of water sport options like kayaking tour on Lake Kivu, mountain biking or hiking one of the 6 off-the-beaten path stages of the spectacular Congo Nile Trail; or enjoying a sundowner cocktail while catching the sunset through the swaying palms on one of the captivating lakeside colonial-era hotels.
Akagera National Park
Named after the Kagera River that flows along the eastern border, Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s Big Five i.e. lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and cape buffalo) safari destination, made of diverse vegetation zones including savanna, woodland, wetland with several lakes and swamps that make this park Eastern-Central Africa’s largest protected wetland.
There are a variety of activities including birdwatching, boat trips, guide walks, night drives making Akagera a must add-on to a weekend out of Kigali or gorilla tracking in the Virungas Forest, home to some of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.
Home to Rwanda’s cultural and historic heritage, the National Ethnographic Museum, Huye (formerly Butare) is one of the Rwanda’s most distinguished towns having served as the most prominent intellectual centre during the colonial era.
A must-visit to the fascinating former royal capital of Nyanza currently housing the monumental traditional palace and museum, the significant institutions, Murambi Genocide Memorial, Rwanda’s largest cathedral or even the bustling local market will be a worthwhile experience to appreciate the distinctive cultural attributes of Rwanda and her people.