The national parks of Rwanda are protected ecosystems and wildlife reserves located within the borders of Rwanda in east central Africa. In 2012, these protected natural zones include the Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest. Maintenance of the national park system, as well as tourism infrastructure and promotion of the parks, is managed by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) with assistance from government ministries.
Each park protects a distinct ecosystem and variety of species. Bordering Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, into which the Virungas volcanic mountain chain extends, Volcanoes National Park is the most heavily patrolled park in the world and the oldest in Africa. In combination with adjoining parks in the neighbouring countries, it serves as the world's only habitat of the mountain gorillas, whose numbers have been increasing here over the past decade. Visitor numbers to the gorillas are strictly limited and passes must be purchased, often well in advance, from RDB. Golden monkeys also inhabit a separate portion of the park.
To the south-east along the Burundian border, Nyungwe National Park hosts a large number of chimpanzees and a variety of other primate species in a highland rainforest environment.
The eastern border of Rwanda, along Lake Victoria and Tanzania, is the location of Akagera National Park and protects a variety of African fauna in a savannah ecosystem, including giraffes, elephant, buffalo, baboons, gazelles and zebra. Lions originally inhabited the park but were exterminated by poisoning during and after the genocide. The park is currently being fenced in to allow the reintroduction of lions to be imported from South Africa in 2014.
1. Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans Kinyarwanda: Pariki y’Igihugu y’Ibirunga) lies in north-western Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorilla and golden monkeys. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), and spans 160 sq. km covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.Flora Vegetation varies considerably due to the large altitude range within the park. There is some lower montane forest (now mainly lost to agriculture). Between 2400 and 2500 m, there is Neoboutonia forest. From 2500 to 3200 m Arundinaria alpina (bamboo) forest occurs, covering about 30% of the park area. From 2600 to 3600 m, mainly on the more humid slopes in the south and west, is Hagenia-Hypericum forest, which covers about 30% of the park. This is one of the largest forests of Hagenia abyssinica. The vegetation from 3500 to 4200 m is characterised by Lobelia wollastonii, L. lanurensis, and Senecio erici-rosenii and covers about 25% of the park. From 4300 to 4500 m grassland occurs. Secondary thicket, meadows, marshes, swamps and small lakes also occur, but their total area is relatively small.FaunaThe park is best known for the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). Other mammals include: golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus). The bushbuck population is estimated to be between 1760–7040 animals. There are also reported to be some elephants in the park, though these are now very rare. There are 178 recorded bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
TOURISM IN THIS PARK
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) runs several activities for tourists, including: Gorilla visits – as of January 2015, there are ten habituated gorilla groups open to tourists, allowing for a total of 80 permits per day. Each permit costs $1500. Tourists report at the park head office by 7:00 for a pre-tracking briefing. Once tourists meet the gorillas they spend an hour with them,Golden monkey visits,Climbing of Karisimbi volcano – this is a two-day trek with overnight camping at an altitude of 3,800 m,Climbing of Bisoke volcano – one day,Tour of the lakes and caves,Visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey,Iby’Iwacu cultural village tour.The majority of revenue from tourism goes towards maintaining the park and conserving the wildlife. The remainder goes to the government and (around 10%) to local projects in the area to help local people benefit from the large revenue stream generated by the park.
he park was first gazetted in 1925, as a small area bounded by Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno, intended to protect the gorillas from poachers. It was the very first National Park to be created in Africa. Subsequently, in 1929, the borders of the park were extended further into Rwanda and into the Belgian Congo, to form the Albert National Park, a huge area of 8090 sq. km, run by the Belgian colonial authorities who were in charge of both colonies. In 1958, 700 hectares of the park were cleared for a human settlement. After the Congo gained independence in 1765, the park was split into two, and upon Rwandan independence in 1962 the new government agreed to maintain the park as a conservation and tourist area, despite the fact that the new republic was already suffering from overpopulation problems. The park was halved in area in 1969. Between 1969 and 1973, 1,050 hectares of the park were cleared to grow pyrethrum. The park later became the base for the American naturalist Dian Fossey to carry out her research into the gorillas. She arrived in 1967 and set up the Karisoke Research Centre between Karisimbi and Visoke. From then on she spent most of her time in the park, and is widely credited with saving the gorillas from extinction by bringing their plight to the attention of the international community. She was murdered by unknown assailants at her home in 1985, a crime often attributed to the poachers she had spent her life fighting against.Fossey's life later was portrayed on the big screen in the film Gorillas in the Mist, named after her autobiography. She is buried in the park in a grave close to the research center, and amongst the gorillas which became her life. The Volcanoes National Park became a battlefield during the Rwandan Civil War, with the park headquarters being attacked in 1992. The research centre was abandoned, and all tourist activities (including visiting the gorillas) were stopped. They did not resume again until 1999 when the area was deemed to be safe and under control. There have been occasional infiltrations by Rwandan rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda in subsequent years, but these are always stopped quickly by the Rwandan army and there is thought to be no threat to tourism in the park.
2. Akagera National Park covers 1,200 square kilometres (120,000 ha) in eastern Rwanda, along the Tanzanian border. It was founded in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation in three ecoregions: savannah, mountainand 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 a third of the park, and is the largest protected wetland in Eastern-Central Africa.
Much of the savannah area of the park was settled in the late 1990s by former refugees returning after the end of the Rwandan Civil War. Due to land shortages, in 1997, the western boundary was regazetted and much of the land allocated as farms to returning refugees. The park was reduced in size from over 2,500 square kilometres (250,000 ha) to its current size. Although much of the best savannah grazing land is now outside the park boundaries, what remains of Akagera is some of the most diverse and scenic landscape in Africa. In 2009 the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the African Parks Network entered into a 20-year renewable agreement for the joint management of Akagera. The Akagera Management Company was formed in 2010 as the joint management body for Akagera National Park. Over the next 5 years a $ 10 million expenditure was carried out in the national park area, with financial help from the Howard Buffett Foundation. The aim was to increase the security of the national park and to reintroduce locally extinct species. Security measures that were taken include: the construction of a western boundary fence which measures 120.0 kilometres (74.6 miles), deploying an air surveillance helicopter, training of an expert rhino tracking and protection team and a canine anti-poaching unit. In July 2015, 7 lions from South Africa were introduced and released in the park, making them the first lions in Rwanda for 15 years. AndBeyond donated five lionesses from Phinda Private Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal donated two male lions, in an effort that was described by African Parks as "a ground-breaking conservation effort for both the park and the country" as part of a project aimed at reversing the local extinction of the species in Akagera National Park. The original Eastern African lions, which were nevertheless closely related to Southern African lions, disappeared in the years following the 1994 genocide in the country. Rwandans who had fled the aggression, before returning and settling in the park, killed the lions in order to protect their livestock. In May 2017, Rwanda reintroduced around 20 Eastern black rhinoceroses from South Africa, after an absence of 10 years. More than 50 black rhinos lived in the savannah-habitat of the park, in the 1970s. Due to widespread poaching, their numbers declined over the following decades, and previously, the last confirmed sighting was in 2007.
More than 36,000 tourists visited the park in 2016. With the reintroduction of black rhinos and African lions, the national park is now home to all of Africa's "big five": the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo.
3, Nyungwe Forest National Park The Nyungwe rainforest is located in southwestern Rwanda, at the border with Burundi, to the south, and Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The Nyungwe rainforest is probably the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa. It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. From the east side of the Nyungwe forest comes also one of the branches of the Nile sources.This Park was established in 2004 and covers an area of approximately 970 sq. km of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs. The nearest town is Cyangugu, 54 km to the west. Mount Bigugu is located within the park borders.
The Nyungwe forest has a wide diversity of animal species, making it a priority for conservation in Africa. The forest is situated in a region in which several large-scale biogeographical zones meet and the variety of terrestrial biomes provides a great span of microhabitats for many different species of plants and animals.
The park contains 13 primate species (25% of Africa's total), 275 bird species, 1068 plant species, 85 mammal species, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species. Many of these animals are restricted-range species that are only found in the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion in Africa. In fact, the number of endemic species found here is greater than in any other forest in the Albertine Rift Mountains that has been surveyed. The forest, which reaches its maximum altitude of 3000 meters above sea level, is of particular interest for the presence of colonies of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and Angola colobus (Colobus angolensis), the latter now extinct in Angola for the intense hunt to which they were subjected Primate species in Nyungwe Forest:Common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes),Adolf Friedrich's Angola colobus (Colobus angolensis ruwenzori),L'Hoest's monkey(Cercopithecus l'hoesti),Silver monkey (Cercopithecus doggetti),Golden monkey (Cercopithecus kandti),Hamlyn's monkey(Cercopithecus hamlyni),Red-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius),Dent's mona monkey(Cercopithecus denti),Vervet monkey(Chlorocebus pygerythrus),Olive baboon(Papio anubis),Grey-cheeked mangabey(Lophocebus albigena)
BOAT RIDE AND FISHING
If you are looking for a variation on the usual safari experience, a boat trip on Lake Ihema will not disappoint. Drift along the forest-fringed lake edge, past huddles of hippo and basking crocodiles. For the serious birder a boat trip is a must. Trips are scheduled 4 times per day at 7.30am, 9am, 3.30pm and 5pm. Non-scheduled, private, trips can also be arranged at other times. Lake Shakani is the site of sports fishing in the park; spend a relaxing day fishing off the lake shore and then cook your catch over an open fire at the campsite.
The park management has vehicles avialble to hire for game drives, that come with their own driver and guide, and a choice of half day or full day drives. However, it is also possible in Akagera to self-drive your own vehicle round the park. Guides are available to accompany you on your drive. The guides can direct you to areas where wildlife is most abundant and guide you to stunning scenic spots that you may otherwise miss. There is a two-tier guiding system in the park with 10 park-employed guides and 15 community freelance guides. As a park visitor, and subject to availability, you may choose to take a park-employed guide who has guiding experience ranging from 2 to 12 years in Akagera National Park, and has undertaken training in content, interpretive guiding and first aid in the past 2 years. Or, you can choose one of the Community Freelance Guides, who are enthusiastic, fast learners. They have completed an in-house training and assessment programme. Both guides are dedicated to providing an authentic experience and support the success of the park. By choosing a freelance guide you are strengthening the relationship between the park and the local community, by stimulating economic development and Formed by centuries of geologic activity centred around the Virunga volcanoes next door, the 1.25-mile long Musanze caves are located just outside of the town they share a name with, and are only a 90-minute drive from Kigali. INFORM US IN TIME TO MAKE YOU REACH THIS DESTINATION
Birding safaris are popular amongst regular visitors and the immense variety and abundance of species will not fail to impress. From the vast concentrations of waterfowl to the myriad of savanna species, there is never a dull moment, with more than 500 species recorded in Akagera. Serious birders can seek out several endemic species as well as rare gems such as the near threatened papyrus gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri), which is restricted to papyrus swamps, the localised red-faced barbet (Lybius bidentatus) and the sought after swamp flycatcher (Muscicapa boehmi).CALL US OR EMAIL US WE SHALL PUT YOU THERE
Formed by centuries of geologic activity centred around the Virunga volcanoes next door, the 1.25-mile long Musanze caves are located just outside of the town they share a name with, and are only a 90-minute drive from Kigali. With an enormous opening (and an equally huge number of bats resident inside), the greenery outside spilling over into the twilight within makes for a fantastic photo op. Though today they’re a tourist attraction, the caves 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 tours 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.Communicate to us and we deliver you here.
While it might have been the gorillas that entice you to Rwanda, it’s the people of Rwanda who will keep you coming back. Ancient traditions of honour and hospitality run strong here, and anybody who takes the time to discover Rwandan culture for themselves will find a proud and unique people, happy to welcome you into their lives and introduce you to their traditions. Music and dance play an indispensable role in everyday life here, and performances range from dashing demonstrations of bravery and prowess to humorous songs, light-hearted dances, and rural artistry with roots in traditional agriculture. Traditional songs are often accompanied by a solitary lulunga a harp-like instrument with eight strings while more celebratory dances are backed by a drum orchestra, which typically comprises seven to nine members who collectively produce a hypnotic and exciting explosion set of intertwining rhythms. For different cultural experiences that you can easily incorporate into your trip let us know and add it on your package.
Though the national museum of Rwanda (today’s Ethnographic Museum) was only established in 1989, the country’s network of compelling museums has expanded rapidly since then, and today there are six sites all across the country administered by the Institute of National Museums. From ethnography to environment and art to architecture, the national museums of Rwanda are among the finest in East Africa, and with locations around the country, it’s easy to fit at least one of these fascinating spots into any Rwanda itinerary.
Ethnographic Museum (Huye):Rwanda’s first museum, this beautiful space sits in wide, tranquil gardens at the edge of Huye city and was built here in 1989. It covers an impressive array of topics on almost anything about Rwanda you can imagine: banana beer, basketry, geology, cosmology, farming, cattle, music, dance, poetry, history, tools, and transport are all profiled here, and there’s a highly regarded craft centre on site as well. If you see one museum in Rwanda, this should be it.
National Art Gallery (Nyanza): Set in a wide colonial building atop the gorgeous Rwesero Hill and just outside the small agricultural town of Nyanza, the National Art Gallery is a fantastic surprise,it’s not very often you find such a cultivated selection of artwork on a lovely green hilltop out in the countryside, Still, here it is, and it has been showcasing both traditional and contemporary Rwandan artists for nearly a decade now. They host a variety of rotating temporary exhibitions as well, and many international artists have exhibited here.
King’s Palace Museum (Nyanza): On another fantastic hilltop just opposite the National Art Gallery, this is the former palace of King Mutara III (also known as Rudahigwa), who built his palace here in the 1930’s. Today, visitors can tour an impressive and historically accurate reconstruction of the royal compound and marvel at the intricacies of the traditional architecture. A colonial building which was also used as the palace for a time sits next door and contains a series of exhibits on the monarchy and court customs that history buffs won’t want to miss.
Presidential Palace Museum (Kigali): While today it’s no longer home to any presidents, both Juvenal Habyarimana and Pasteur Bizimungu called this home for almost three decades from the 1970’s to the year 2000. Today, it’s a fascinating window into Rwanda’s modern history, and the remains of President Habyarimana’s plane, shot down in 1994 just before the genocide, can be seen in chunks on the lawn. There are whole rooms of preserved presidential furnishings, and cultural exhibits as well.
Natural History Museum (Kigali): In a 1900’s building named for Richard Kandt, the German naturalist and once-governor of Rwanda, this new museum sits in a leafy garden with impressive views over Kigali. Inside you’ll find a number of historical exhibits and photographs of the early settlement of Kigali, along with numerous displays on Rwanda’s endemic species of flora and fauna, as well as information on the physical and geological history of the country. Relics from the German – British battles of WWI that took place in Rwanda are also to be found here.
Museum of the Environment (Karongi): Scheduled to open any day now, Karongi’s eagerly anticipated Museum of the Environment is set to be the only museum of its kind anywhere on the African continent. Focusing on the Rwandan climate and environment, the museum will feature a rooftop garden of medicinal plants, and a number of exhibits on Rwandan resources, including energy and its production. Visitors will also gain an understanding of climate change and its impacts, and what we, no matter what country we live in, can do to mitigate its negative effects.
The finest displays of Rwanda’s dynamic traditional musical and dance styles are performed by the Intore Dance Troupes. Founded several centuries ago, the Intore, (The Chosen Ones) who performed exclusively for the Royal Court, were given military training and taught the technique of jumping which forms a significant part of the dance. Performed wearing grass wigs and clutching spears this dance is a true spectacle of Rwanda. Live dance performances can be seen at cultural villages, museums and as entertainment at many lodges and hotels across Rwanda. The Iby’ Iwacu cultural village in Musanze, and the National Museum of Rwanda have regular performances and daily dances occur at the RDB office at Kinigi, Volcanoes National Park.
A distinctively Rwandan craft is the Imigongo or cow dung paintings that are produced by a local co-operative in the village of Nyakarambi near the border with Tanzania. Dominated by black, brown and white whirls and other geometric shapes, these unique and earthy works can be bought in craft markets throughout the country. Weaving and basket making is a traditional art still used today to make dry containers for storing food and medicines. These are also known as peace pots and had traditional values such as to commemorate weddings or as a welcome gift. Pottery is one of the oldest forms of art in Rwanda and can still be seen in many towns today using traditional Batwa techniques. Known for its good quality clay these potteries are still widely used for cooking and storing liquids.
KIGALI CITY TOUR
Kigali City Tour is the only way to phsicaly feel the cultural attractions,historical buildings,monuments of the Kigali city .book with us for such package separate or combined with safari .kigali is Peacefully nestled along picturesque hilltops, Kigali is a thriving African city immediately notable for its cleanliness, orderliness, and hospitality a great place to begin or end any Rwanda journey as it’s conveniently located in the geographic center of the country. The city is clean and safe, with extremely welcoming people. Travelers will enjoy exploring the great cultural activities including several award-winning museums, burgeoning music scene, and some of East Africa’s most memorable dining experiences.
The genocide memorial in Kigali is included on every city tour and is a must-see. Rwanda’s painful past has haunted the country for years; however, their impressive recovery story has turned them into an inspiration. The genocide memorial acts as a humbling reminder to those present and honors those lost. This is a worthwhile visit for travelers who want to gain insight into the history of genocide in Rwanda, it will also help travelers appreciate how far Rwanda has come. The memorial Center is open every day from 8am to 5pm, but the last entrance is at 4pm. It opens at 2pm on Umuganda Saturdays (the last Saturday of every month when Rwandans get together for community clean up). There is no fee to enter, however, audio guides are available. The Center is located in Gisozi.
While the largest memorial is in Kigali, the genocide touched all corners of Rwanda, and as such there are many emotionally charged memorials located throughout the country. Some are as simple as a quiet garden space for contemplation, while others are larger and hold relics, remains, and exhibits on the genocide itself. Beyond the main memorial centre in Kigali, a few of the memorials that belong on any Rwandan itinerary include:
Nyanza Genocide Memorial: This site, in the grounds of Kigali’s Ecole Technique Officielle, holds the graves of more than 10,000 Tutsis who were massacred here during the genocide. Today several concrete memorials mark the spot, and it’s been used as a main site for genocide anniversary commemorations. Ntarama Genocide Memorial: Set in a village south of Kigali where more than 5,000 people were killed in the grounds of a church, the site today has been turned into a memorial garden, and the interior of the church holds the personal belongings and skeletons of hundreds of the victims, including everything from clothing, to toys, to identification. Guided visits are available.
Nyamata Genocide Memorial: Along the main road south of Kigali, this is another church where people sought protection but were ultimately slaughtered. 10,000 people were killed here in 1994, and today their personal effects fill the church. Two crypts underneath the grounds hold tens of thousands of bodies, and guided visits are available.
Murambi Genocide Memorial: Set in a former technical school just north of Nyamagabe in Rwanda’s southwest, the Murambi memorial is perhaps the most significant, and most wrenching of all of Rwanda’s genocide memorials. Up to 50,000 people were murdered here, and the mass graves so large, that the heat of the surrounding decomposition preserved many of the bodies, which now populate the bare dormitories of the school. To better explain the events leading up to the massacre, an interpretive centre was opened here in 2011.
UMUGANDA: Dating back to colonial times and translated from Kinyarwanda as “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome”, Umuganda is when Rwandans from all walks of life come together to work for the good of their neighbourhoods and their nation as a whole. The last Saturday of every month, shops are closed, buses stop running, traffic disappears from the roads, and Rwandans set aside their personal business for the morning and contribute their efforts to public works projects around the country, which can include litter cleanup, tree planting, building houses for the vulnerable, and more. The social and economic benefits of umuganda are easy for all to see (Rwanda isn’t the cleanest country in Africa by accident!), and whether or not you have special skills to contribute, all visitors are warmly invited to take part; given the range of projects addressed through umuganda, you’re sure to find one to fit your interests.
PRESIDENTIAL PALACE: The Presidential Palace, residence of the former president of Rwanda, President J. Habyarimana – is near the airport on the eastern outskirts of Kigali. Habyarimana was the president whose plane was shot down on the 6th April 1994, the event that some say triggered the Rwandan Genocide. The former state house is now a museum that gives an overview of Rwanda’s history and a visit to the remains of the Falcon 60 presidential jet that are housed in a walled garden on the property.
SPORTS AND ATHLETICS
Kigali is a hotspot for sports, athletics and recreation. From the large Amahoro Stadium that hosts regular football events, to a number of other local establishments: Nyarutarama Golf Course: 9 or 18-hole round of golferience Rwanda’s great bird life whilst enjoying a round of golf on the emerald green fairways of the Kigali Golf Club. Equipment, clubs and caddies are available for hire; lessons available at very reasonable rates,Nyarutarama Tennis Club,Cercle Sportif de Kigali.
Nyamirambo Walking Tour
Nyamirambo is a bustling multi-cultural commercial district in Kigali. This unique experience brings you right into the heart of the colours, noises and smells of urban Rwanda. Guided by the charming women of the Nyamirambo Women’s Center (NWC), the tour allows visitors to experience the local market, West African tailors, hair salons, a recording studio with its local rap music, butcher and the Muslim quarter with its Arab influences. A delightful traditional Rwandan lunch in a home of one of your hosts is an optional extra. Click here for more information.
Bwiza is a small village in the neighborhood of Ndara. During this visit you can see how the government has helped to bring new housing to this community along with their local arts and crafts. This is a community of potters, basket makers and wonderful dancers. Contact RDB to set up a tour. Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village.An independently funded boarding school, in the Eastern Province where they house and educate 500 children aged 15 to 21 who come from all over Rwanda. You will visit the school and farm then enjoy time interacting with students over lunch. Click here for more information.
COFFEE AND TEA
Tea is Rwanda’s largest export. The fertile volcanic soil and temperate climate are perfect for growing the plants that create this popular drink. Tea leaves can be seen covering the mountains – creating a stunning contrast to the blue skies, dirt roads and sunshine. Visitors can discover how tea is harvested, processed, and even get to taste the results. Tea plantation tours take place in a variety of locations across Rwanda, with the major ones being around Nyungwe
National park: Gisovu and Gisakura. This is a great family trip and travelers of all ages are welcome.
Tea may be Rwanda’s number one export, but the lush, rolling hills of the Rwandan countryside are equally suited to coffee production, and the beans coming out of Rwanda today are in serious demand all around the world. The coffee-covered hillsides shimmer bright green all throughout the year, but when the harvest is ready (usually between February and May), the coffee cherries themselves blush a deep cranberry red to say they’re ready to be plucked. A patchwork of hundreds of thousands of small growers produce coffee all across Rwanda, but visits are primarily centred around Gisenyi, and a number of farmer’s cooperatives and washing stations near here offer tours explaining the coffee process throughout the year, and each one naturally comes with a generous tasting. The plantations themselves don’t liaise with tourists directly, so set up your visit with RDB or any tourist agency.
1 GISAKURA TEA: Splashed over the undulating hills at the western fringes of Nyungwe Forest National Park, the Gisakura Tea Estate is among the most famous of Rwanda’s tea plantations, and certainly among the most beautiful. Tours and tastings are easily arranged, and while there isn’t currently accommodation on the plantation itself, there are guesthouses just a short walk or drive away. There’s even a patch of forest in the plantation itself that’s home to a troupe of easily spotted Colobus monkeys, so wildlife lovers will have plenty to keep them entertained as well.
GISOVU TEA: Tucked away at the far northern edge of Nyungwe Forest National Park, the shimmering fields and winding pathways of the Gisovu Tea Estate sit right up against the primeval Nyungwe forest, where the meticulous rows of tea draw a sharp contrast with the cacophony of wild forest greenery just behind them. The estate offers both day tours and accommodation, so after your tour of the grounds and cupping ceremony, those with time to spare can unwind here, mountain bike through the grounds, or simply soak up the serenity over never-ending cups of the world’s finest tea.
WASHING STATION FOR COFFEE: KZ Noir distributes coffee from a variety of cooperatives and farms throughout the country, and visitors with a special interest can, with a bit of planning, arrange visits to any of their washing stations (though for casual visitors, it’s hard to top Kinunu for scenery). They have three other stations on the northern lakeshore, including Cyebumba, Nkora, and Rugamba, while Shangi, Cyivugiza, and Cyiya all sit south of Karongi and a bit east of the southern lakeshore. Nearer the capital, the Buliza Washing Station sits between Kigali and Gicumbi.
INGOBOKA COFFEE: Based near the village of Kayove on the route between Gisenyi and Karongi, the Ingoboka Collective operates several plantations and washing stations in the area, including a marvellously scenic cluster of farms on Nyamirundi Island, which are reachable by a short paddle over from the mainland and produce an Arabica that’s renowned by connoisseurs the world over
KINUNU WARSHING STATION COFFEE: Directly overlooking the shores of Lake Kivu, it would be difficult to come up with a more perfect location for a washing station than here. As such, Kinunu, some 20km south of Gisenyi, is among the most popular destinations for coffee tours. Reachable by boat or bicycle, Kinunu makes a fabulous day trip from Gisenyi, and can be easily combined with a trip on the Congo Nile Trail.
KAYAKING AND CANOIENG: If you’re looking for a fun outdoors activity, try kayaking on Lake Kivu or canoeing near the gorillas with Kingfisher Journeys. On Lake Kivu, they organise short excursions from Gisenyi and Kibuye as well as full-day and overnight journeys that are an exciting way to discover some of the most spectacular scenery in Rwanda. And near Musanze, in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes, you can spend a morning or afternoon canoeing though some of the most beautiful countryside in Rwanda.No experience is needed and whilst there are trips running almost every day, it’s a good idea to book in advance.
HIKING: With twelve coffee-washing stations, three tea plantations, three cities, dozens of villages, and more beaches, coves, waterfalls, valleys, and vistas than we can count, the winding path of the Congo Nile Trail is a true rambler’s paradise, and offers some of the finest hiking to be had anywhere in east and central Africa. Winding its way along the fringes of the lake through the peaks of Rwanda’s endlessly verdant mille collines (thousand hills), a through-hike of the Congo Nile Trail is as challenging as it is rewarding, and with a peak elevation of 2630m, it’s a serious workout to boot. The full 227km route takes 10 days to complete on foot (including a rest day to soak up the beaches around Karongi), but can be approached in sections based on your ability and interests. Whether you’re keen to soak up daily life in a traditional village, tour a historic church, swim and paddle on the lakeshore, or see where your morning coffee gets its start, drop by any RDB office and they can get your Congo Nile excursion started.
Lake Muhaze Even though it’s only slightly more than 40 kilometres east of Kigali, the winding shores of Lake Muhazi see few visitors (and of these, most tend to be locals and expats escaping the city for a weekend), but the region has a laid-back, subtle charm all its own, and with such easy access from Kigali, there’s really no reason not to explore the winding shores and placid waters of Lake Muhazi. Long and shallow, Lake Muhazi twists and turns its way through a flooded valley for more than 40km before reaching its eastern shore, not far from the northern exit of eastern Rwanda’s crown jewel, Akagera National Park. The east end of the lake sits right along the road to Nyagatare, and makes for a perfect place to break the journey for a meal and a cold drink after long hours spent bumping along the park’s dirt roads. If you stick around after your fresh-caught lunch and let the lake breezes guide you, you’ll quickly find that the live music at the lakeside bars, dozens of traditional villages along the shore, and the fantastic birding and fishing on offer will keep you here well longer than expected. The hilltop town of Gahini sits just opposite the lake’s east end and is a great place to soak up a bit of small-town Rwandan life, especially if you’re here on a Sunday, when services at the historic Gahini Anglican Cathedral can be heard from all around. Most people in Gahini and other villages around the lake are either farmers or fishers, so don’t be surprised to see herds of the long-horned Inyambo cows around every bend. No trip to the lake is complete without getting out on the water, and any of the low-key guesthouses that dot the lakeshore can help set up fishing and birding expeditions up and down the lake.
Lake karongi: Lake Kivu is surrounded by magnificent mountains and has deep emerald green waters. The lake covers a total surface area of 2,700 km and stands at a height of 1,460 meters above sea level. About 110km from Kigali, the road to Karongi is paved and in good condition.Karongi is one of the most relaxing and romantic places in Rwanda, and is an ideal place to enjoy lakeside recreation. A picturesque lakeside resort town, there are ample beaches with crystal clear water. Along with modern water sport facilities, traditional boats can be used for exciting nature discovery tours and authentic experiences within local Rwandan daily life. Visitors can take boat rides from many of the local hotels visiting Napoleon’s Island (home to a colony of fruit bats) and dine at the Amahoro Island restaurants and even go night fishing with locals
Adventure awaits at Karongi with opportunities to hike and bike the Congo Nile Trail, visit the Congo Nile Divide watershed, have a taste of the ‘crop to cup’ coffee and tea experiencesAmahoro. within the local community, or visit the moving Bisesero Genocide Memorial with breathtaking views of the lake.
Amahoro island: Amahoro Island is accessible on a boat trip and is a wonderful place to relax. There is a restuarant on the island and it’s possible to swim, play volleyball and camp, or talk a walk around teh rocky northern part of the island. Alternatively, a boat ride to Napolean’s Island will reveal a colony of thousands of fruit bats and a large number of birds.
Rubavu/Lake kivu: If you’re surprised that Rwanda has a beach – you’re not alone. Rubavu (also known as Gisenyi) is a waterfront town located on the shores of Lake Kivu, one Africa’s great bodies of water. At only an hour away from Volcanoes National Park, Rubavu is a great way to unwind after trekking adventures. Rubavu marks the beginning of the Congo Nile Trail, which extends 227 km to Rusizi, and has plenty of biking and hiking trails to fulfill those who crave the some more adventure. Rubavu is also known for its agrotourism experiences, with many tea and coffee plantations nearby.
Uganda Rwanda packages
Day 1: Arrive Entebbe On your arrival into Entebbe you will be met and transferred to your hotel. You will have the opportunity to explore the small, quiet town of Entebbe; soak up the atmosphere of the local markets filled with clothes and crafts, shop for souvenirs in curio shops, explore the Botanical Gardens on Lake Victoria, or enjoy the wide variety of cuisines on offer. Overnight: Boma Guesthouse
Day 2: Entebbe - Queen Elizabeth National Park This morning you will be transferred to Entebbe Airport for your flight to Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to a wide variety of wildlife including elephants, leopard, lions, hippos, buffalo, Uganda kob, baboon, and many species of birds. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon cruise on the Kazinga Channel, with spectacular views of the beautiful Mweya Peninsula and life in local fishing villages, as well as good opportunities for spotting wildlife. Arrive at your camp in the late afternoon. Overnight: Ishasha Wilderness Camp B, L, D
Day 3: Queen Elizabeth National Park - Ishasha Sector Today you will explore Ishasha, in the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. This unspoilt and 'off-the-beaten-track' destination comprises a diverse range of habitats, from deep forest to vast savannah. Set off shortly after sunrise across the acacia studded plains to encounter elephants, large herds of buffalo, leopard and the famous tree-climbing lions of Ishasha. Overnight: Ishasha Wilderness Camp B, L, D
Day 4: Queen Elizabeth National Park - Bwindi Impenetrable National Park A three hour drive through scenic country will bring you to Bwindi Forest National Park, considered the most diverse forest in Uganda. Home to over 120 mammal species, 345 species of birds, 200 species of butterflies and 160 species of trees, Bwindi is one of the richest ecosystems in East Africa, and also contains almost half of the world's population of the endangered Mountain Gorilla. Upon arrival, relax at your lodge and prepare for your first gorilla tracking experience in the morning. Overnight: Buhoma Lodge B, L, D
Day 5: Bwindi Gorilla Tracking Coming face to face with mountain gorillas is a real once-in-a-lifetime experience! You will be accompanied by experienced guides and trackers on an early morning trek into the dense rain forest on the mountain slopes. The mountain gorillas in Bwindi are part of a worldwide population of just 700. The gorillas you are allowed to track belong to one of three habituated family groups. For up to five years each, these groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually brought them to tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day and allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them in the wild. Please note that gorilla tracking may be fairly strenuous, with treks ranging from 30 mins to six hours or longer. Overnight: Buhoma Lodge B, L, D
Day 6: Bwindi - Volcanoes National Park From Bwindi, you will set off on a drive through the 'Little Switzerland of Africa' along winding mountain roads and through rural villages to reach the border of Rwanda, Kisoro. On a clear day the Virungas, a row of massive, dormant volcanoes, can be seen standing sentry along the border. Cross over the border and continue on to your next base for gorilla tracking. Overnight: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge B, L, D
Day 7: Volcanoes Gorilla Tracking Today will be spent tracking the world famous mountain gorillas of Rwanda. The gorillas you will track belong to one of ten habituated family groups. After an early breakfast, you will head to the park where you will be allocated your gorilla family, before setting off on your gorilla tracking adventure. You will be accompanied by experienced guides, many of whom have been involved in the habituation process themselves, who will use their knowledge of the gorillas' habits to determine the group's whereabouts. Overnight: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge B, L, D
Day 8: Volcanoes National Park - Kigali After lunch, you will set off on the three hour drive to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. Here, you have the option of paying a visit to the Genocide Museum, before heading to the airport for your flight home.
Trip details: This small group safari offers an amazing opportunity to track the rare mountain gorillas of Bwindi National Park in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Led by experienced gorilla trackers and guides, this safari will take you face to face with several habituated gorilla families, giving you the chance to observe the behaviour of these captivating creatures in their natural environment.
Expectations....What makes this trip extraordinary and unique
Track endangered mountain gorillas in both Uganda and Rwanda.
East Africa game viewing including the chance to see elephants, buffalo, leopards and the tree climbing lions of Ishasha.
Take a boat cruise along the stunning Kazinga channel, host to a varied range of animals and birds.
Enjoy the scenery of Uganda and Rwanda in the company of your fellow travellers.
Day 1: ARRIVE KIGALI - AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport, you will be met by our local representative who will arrange your approximately 2 ½-hour drive to Akagera National Park. After checking in for lunch you’ll be able to embark on the first game drive of your safari, where you’ll have a chance of spotting a variety of African wildlife such as buffalo, elephants, lions, giraffes, impala, zebra and a number of species of antelope.
Day 2: AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK After a hearty breakfast at your camp, you’ll head off on your first full-day game drive with packed lunches in tow. Although established in 1934 and reduced somewhat from its former size, Akagera National Park has a rapidly increasing wildlife population and still boasts 900 square kilometres of scenic savannah and lakes. The park takes its name from the Kagera River that runs along its eastern boundary before emptying into a series of lakes, the largest of which is Lake Ihema. Over 30% of the park is made up of these lakes and interconnected papyrus swamps, which together form one of the largest protected wetlands in Africa. You’ll be able to enjoy an afternoon boat ride through this area today in search of wallowing hippos, crocodiles, and birdlife.
Day 3: AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK - VOLCANOES National Park After breakfast, you’ll depart Akagera and begin your drive back to Kigali. Today you’ll be able to explore Rwanda’s capital and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Despite the country’s courage in the intervening years, Rwanda still bears the scars of the 1994 genocide that left hundreds of thousands dead, and Kigali’s Genocide Museum is a moving memorial to those that lost their lives in the atrocity. There are a number of exhibitions here to take in before you depart for Kinigi, on the border of Volcanoes National Park. Overnight: Bisate Lodge B, L, D
Day 4: VOLCANOES National Park After an early breakfast at your lodge, you’ll drive the short distance to drive to Volcanoes National Park HQ for your first day of mountain gorilla tracking. Depending on the location of your assigned family group, it may take hours to reach the gorillas, but the ascent in altitude and trek through often dense vegetation will be entirely worth it when you discover the apes and spend an hour in their presence. The afternoon can be spent at your leisure or by enjoying activities at the lodge. Overnight: Bisate Lodge B, L, D
Day 5: VOLCANOES National Park You'll be setting off on your second gorilla tracking experience this morning, and if you spent most of the last one behind the lens, try to keep your camera down for this one. Gazing into the eyes of these great apes opens a window into the past, and establishes a primate-to-primate connection that is difficult to discern from a photograph. After leaving the gorillas to their foraging and grooming, you’ll then be able to visit the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Musanze. Also known as Gorilla Doctors, this centre cares for orphaned and injured gorillas found in the wild or those resident at the Senkwekwe Centre in the DRC’s Virunga National Park. Overnight: Bisate Lodge B, L, D
Day 6: Volcanoes National Park – Nyungwe Forest National Park Spend the morning at leisure. Following lunch, enjoy a scenic helicopter transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park, on Rwanda’s southwestern border. Look out for one of Africa’s Great Lakes, Lake Kivu, stretching out to the west. Your accommodation for the next two nights will be the Nyungwe Forest Lodge, situated on the edge of the national park and within a working tea plantation. Overnight: Nyungwe Forest Lodge B, L, D
Day 7: Nyungwe Forest National Park With breakfast packed, you’ll set off early in the morning for a 1-hour drive to Cyamudongo Forest, where you’ll have your third primate tracking excursion of the safari – this time, with chimpanzees. Often raucous and boisterous, your experience with the chimps will likely be markedly different than with the more docile gorillas. In the afternoon, take to the trees and enjoy an exhilarating trip across the 250 ft-high canopy walkway, gazing out at the sea of green below you. Overnight: Nyungwe Forest Lodge B, L, D
Day 8: Nyungwe Forest National Park – Depart Kigali The morning is yours to do with as you choose, but following lunch, you’ll be driving about an hour to Kamembe where you can check in for your scheduled flight to Kigali, where you’ll then connect with your international flight home. Your safari has come to an end, but the memories you’ve made during your time in Rwanda will last a lifetime.
Highlights: Safari Overview
Whether viewing lakes and landscapes from the seat of a helicopter or standing mere metres away from a mountain gorilla, this safari offers a bevy of exhilarating experiences packed into eight days that will unveil Rwanda’s true wild heart. Coming face-to-face with primates one day and heading into the savannah for a game drive the next, you’ll enjoy a diverse range of wildlife encounters that will form a Rwandan panorama to mirror your circumnavigation around the country.
Expectations...What makes this trip extraordinary
Witness savannah, lake and wetland in Akagera National Park, taking two game drives in search of iconic wildlife like lions, elephants and giraffes.
Travel to Rwanda’s two other national parks: Volcanoes and Nyungwe Forest.
Embark on three primate tracking excursions, spending two days with mountain gorillas and one with chimpanzees.
Visit the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Centre and learn about the work done to save Rwanda’s injured apes.
Take a helicopter ride across Rwanda’s picturesque southwest.
Discover Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, and visit its genocide memorial centre.