What do you know about Rwanda? Rwanda, nicknamed the “land of a thousand hills”, is a is a small landlocked country covering an area of 10,169 square miles (26,338 square kilometers/2,633,759 hectares) located in the heart of Africa with Uganda, Burundi and Congo as its main neighbors. With a very turbulent past of the 1994 genocide, the country now exhibits an array of hope and freedom and has attracted quite many travelers for tourism and exploration of the 1994 genocide reminiscences . With a great view and landscape, there is no doubt that Scenery seekers will not be disappointed here, with breathtaking vistas, wondrous wildlife and verdant greenery stunning at every turn; here’s our guide to the 10 best beautiful travel destinations in Rwanda.
In this travelogue, explore the most rated and top places to visit in Rwanda on a Rwanda safari.
1. Visit and Tour Kigali City;
One of the top places you should visit in Rwanda begins with the Kigali City Tour. Spanning several ridges and valleys, Kigali, with its lush hillsides, flowering trees, winding boulevards and bustling streets, is arguably one of the most attractive and gorgeous capital cities in Africa, as well as one of the cleanest and safest. Kigali is a starting point for every traveler to reach out to the most attractions (mountain gorillas, chimpanzees among others in National Parks). Kigali is one of the cleanest and safest places in Africa. On your visit and tour of Kigali, comes across different Arts, Crafts, delightful restaurants that serve excellent food, be sure to try some Goat Brochettes and try the superb Rwandan coffee at one of the coffee shops in Kigali. You can get a taste of history here by visiting the genocide memorials and learn about the turbulent past of the country.
The great weather of the city makes a relaxing place for tourists too. Kigali city tour offers an in-depth concept of Kigali and the history of Rwanda as a whole. While at Kigali city, you can visit Kandt House museum (oldest building), you will also visit the first modern building on which the city was first founded, Inema Arts center, Ivuka Arts center, Museum of National History, the Presidential Museum (where the death of the former Rwandan President sparkled the 1994 Rwandan Genocide), the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, State house museum and the Miyo Art Gallery. For movie lovers, you can go for 5-D movies in Kigali multiplex cinema.
During the genocide, victims fled to churches seeking refuge, only to find that some of the clergy was providing information to the Interahamwe. As a result of this lack of compassion, some of the most horrific massacres took place inside the sanctums of churches throughout Rwanda. All these memorials can be visited on a day trip from Kigali.
2. Visit and See the Beauty around Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is the largest fresh water lake in Rwanda, known to the whole world of one of the world’s only three known “exploding lakes.” Are you wondering what makes this lake an exploding lake? it is simply because the stretch of its water has, on occasion, been known to experience limnic eruptions, which are rare natural disasters involving carbon dioxide erupting from the deep lake water. Although tragically these explosions historically suffocate any living thing nearby, no eruption has been recorded in recent history, and visitors are more likely to experience a smelly warm vapor of combusting methane rather than anything deadly. The lake is one of the 20 largest lakes in the world, and the plush shores and picturesque, tropical vegetation elevate it as one of the most beautiful sites in Rwanda. Its outstanding Inland body of water together with the beach offers the best relaxation time for tourists. Water sports including canoeing, kayaking and windsurfing take place while at this Lake.
3. Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park, which runs along the border with the DRC and Uganda, taking number one spot of the places to visit on a Rwanda safari, is home to the Rwandan section of the Virungas. Comprising five volcanoes, the Virungas are utterly spellbinding and few would argue that this is not one of the most exciting national parks in Africa. We probably needn’t remind you, but of all the extraordinary sights and attractions around the Virungas, the one that really draws people here are the famous mountain gorillas.
The Volcanoes National Park is home to endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda one of the top leading attractions of Rwanda. Visiting this park will bring you face to face with these Giant Apes (mountain gorillas). A visit to the Land of a thousand Hills offers you fantastic Rwanda gorilla safaris in the Volcanoes national park, home to10 habituated gorilla families existing in different locations of the park. Besides the mountain gorilla, other attractions include over 75 species of mammals like Elephants, Buffaloes, and Giant forest Hogs, Bushbucks and spotted hyenas among others. The park is also a home of over 180 species of birds whereby 26 species are endemic to Virunga and Rwenzori mountains. Besides the wildlife species, other attractions include Dian Fossey grave, Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke.
4. Top Places You Should Visit in Rwanda, The Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is one of Africa’s oldest national parks, first gazetted in 1934, to protect animals and vegetation in three ecoregions: savannah, mountain and swamp. The park is named for the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into several lakes the largest of which is Lake Ihema. The complex system of lakes and linking papyrus swamps makes up over 1/3 of the park and is the largest protected wetland in central Africa spanning about 1,120km² (from the original 2,500 km²). This savanna park is widely known for game viewing because of the variety of wildlife species which include Savanna elephants, buffaloes, antelope species for example waterbucks, topi, Oribis, roan antelope, elands among others. The zebras, giraffes, leopards and spotted hyenas are also spotted in this marvelous National Park.
Learn More about the park here:
5. Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe National Park lies in south-west corner of Rwanda, at the border with Burundi to the south and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. Nyungwe National Park is an untouched natural rain forest that is filled with exciting biodiversity The Nyungwe Forest probably is one of the best preserved montane rain forest in Central Africa. The Canopy Walkway, part of the Igishigishigi Trail, is a high suspension bridge with views over the valley and surrounding forests. The Park is about 4-5 hours drive from Kigali town. 75 species of mammals are inhabited in this park including 13 primate species for example the Chimpanzees (over 400 in this Park), Black and white colobus monkeys, and the park is a home of over 300 species of birds out of which 16 species are Albertine Rift endemics. You surely have a reason to include Nyungwe on the top places you should visit in Rwanda
6. Visit Rwanda’s Genocide Memorial Centers
After the tragic and turbulent 1994 Rwandan genocide whereby nearly a million people lost their dear lives, several genocide memorial centers were set up in memory of the tragic that befell the Land of Thousand Hills. Today, these sites have turned into a MUST visit tourist center. There are currently eight (8) Genocide Memorial Sites to visit in Rwanda, namely; Genocide memorial site in Nyamagabe district, Gisozi Memorial site in Gasabo district, Gisenyi Memorial Site, Nyamata Memorial Site in Bugesera district, Bisesero Memorial site in Karongi district, Nyarubuye Memorial Site, Nyanza Memorial Site and Ntarama Memorial Site. These sites include the bones, clothes of the victims of the Rwandan genocide. The memorial sites act as a remembrance to the history of the country. Visit here and explore more about Rwanda’s historical experience of the Genocide.
7. Visit and Experience in the Iby’iwacu cultural village
This cultural village is located in Musanze district around Volcanoes National Park. Iby’iwacu is a Kinyarwanda word meaning “Treasure of our home” the cultural village exhibits cultural practices of the three tribes of Rwanda that is Hutu, Tutsi and the Batwa. They have several tourists’ activities that tourists can enjoy and these include learning how to prepare traditional foods, 8 different traditional dances are presented (Intore, Ikembe, Amakondera and Ingoma among others). Visiting the village you can discover the traditional house of a local king, watch an authentic medicine man prepare herbal mixtures, try your hand at bow and arrow shooting or enjoy cultural dances and drumming performed by people from the local area.
Iby’iwacu cultural village is surely one of the top place you should visit in Rwanda.
8. Explore More in the Musanze Caves
A Rwanda safari without a tour to Musanze caves is undeniably incomplete. Situated in the heart of Volcanoes national park north western Rwanda, Musanze caves are surely worth visiting. With a very wide and attractive opening and a huge number of bats inside the caves, the greenery outside spilling over into the twilight within makes for a fantastic photo op. Today, the caves have been turned into a tourist attraction, but previously were used as a shelter during wartime for many centuries leading right up into the modern era, and as such, it’s an important site to local people. Thus, out of respect for the area’s residents, access is limited to guided visits. Expert guides lead every tour, and they can explain the history of the caves from their formation to present day. The tour experience to Musanze therefore make an excellent add-on activity for the afternoon after you’ve seen the gorillas, take about 2.5 hours, and can be done at any time throughout the year.
Are you planning a visit to Rwanda? Get the insights here about the land of thousand hills, a country that is blessed with fascinating attractions ranging from the natural attractions (mountain gorillas, chimpanzees) to the man-made attractions (museums) which create the interest for tourists to visit the country. We believe you’ve now made a choice and decision to visit Rwanda, perhaps today or tomorrow, do not miss the top places you should visit as mentioned above.