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Best 5 Things to Do in Rwanda

Rwanda is among the smallest countries in East Africa that has made a big name in tourism. Nicknamed the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is famous for having the cleanest Capital city on the African continent as well as being the leading African country in international football partnerships. 

Whether you are into football or not, you must have seen the Visit Rwanda advert with PSG, Arsenal and now Bayern Munich. 

Though Rwanda existed before 1994; the current story of Rwanda has been founded upon the Rwanda genocide history. Many people think that after the genocide, the country just rose again from the ashes but there is a commonly untold story of the civil war that brought the current president of Rwanda into power. Their tagline “Visit Rwanda” fits well with the fact that there is a lot you can only get to know about Rwanda after visiting the country. 

Whether you are considering merely a popular gorilla trek, or an attempt to experience the Rwanda culture, landscapes and wildlife; here are the best five things to do in Rwanda. 

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking in the dense rain forests of the Volcanoes of Rwanda has become the main highlight for many adventure seekers. The Volcanoes National Park attracts visitors all year round. The park was the base of Dian Fossey, an American primatologist who spent almost twenty years studying the endangered mountain gorillas.

The mountain gorillas spend most of their time in the bamboo forests and meeting them in the wild is a luxury adventure that you should not miss. There are 12 habituated gorilla families in the Volcanoes Park Rwanda and every day up to a maximum of eight visitors are allowed to visit a particular family. Visitors to the park are allowed a maximum of only one hour to watch the great apes in their natural home. This is done in order to ensure that the apes do not get used to human presence within their domain.

The number of visitors going for gorilla safaris is steadily growing and the park is now the most popular gorilla sanctuary in not only Africa but also in the world.

Cultural tours

Cultural tours are one of the main ways to get a proper picture of Rwanda’s past and present. After tracking mountain gorillas, there is a chance to visit and explore the distinct traditions, cultures and norms of the Rwandan people. 

The best place to visit for a cultural experience is the Iby’Iwacu Village.  This ecotourism project was set to help former poachers within the Volcanoes Park Rwanda to transform them into guardians of the mountain gorillas. The project has paid off and the local people host tourists at the village every evening. During your visit, you can participate in traditional dances and dramas that focus on Rwandan culture.

Chimpanzee Tracking

The best places to encounter chimpanzees in Rwanda include Nyungwe Forest National Park (NFNP) and Gishwati-Mukura National Park.

Nyungwe National Park is a montane rain forest located within the Albertine Rift. In the land of a thousand hills, Nyungwe national park is one of those places where your trekking experience is rewarded with an encounter with the chimpanzees. 

The forest is a unique habitat for chimpanzees. At Nyungwe National Park, there are over 500 chimpanzees with two main areas for tourists to begin their trek to see these amazing primates : Cyamudongo and Uwinka.

The park also has troops of more than 300 colobus monkeys that are also a bonus attraction during your trek. The newly gazette Gishwati Mukura National Park is another amazing destination where you can track chimpanzees. This park was opened to visitors in December 2020 and it is one of the unique tropical rain forests where you can track chimpanzees on foot while in Africa. In addition to chimpanzee tracking, there are also several hiking trails that have been set up to experience the forest.

Boat Ride on Lake Kivu 

If you are looking for something recreational and exciting, then don’t miss the boat ride on Lake Kivu. The spectacular lake is situated on the border of Rwanda with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lake Kivu is the perfect area to visit for relaxation after you have tracked mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park.

Near Lake Kivu you can also explore the beautiful towns of Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gisenyi that offer spectacular views of the area that confirms that Rwanda is the land of a thousand hills.  

Birding 

Birding is not among the most advertised activities to do in Rwanda. Some people might not even consider Rwanda among the must visit destinations on the African continent for birding but the land of a thousand hills continues to surprise many!

There are plenty of birding opportunities in Rwanda. Over 708 bird species are still nested in Rwanda. Even if you are interested in merely birding tours, there is a chance for you to enjoy your activity. Most protected areas offer refuge to the majority of Albertine rift endemic species.

Even though this is not all there is to Rwanda, through these activities you will surely encounter the part of Rwanda that resonates with nature. Among the honorable mentions include the Genocide memorial and mountain biking in the hills of Rwanda. 

Last Updated on September 3, 2023

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