Rwanda is a really beautiful country. Although in the past it had suffered one of the most brutal genocides in modern times, the country has been gradually rebuilt, becoming one of the most stable democracies on the African continent. Inundated by amazing mountain ranges and plush vegetation, Rwanda is also home to a variety of wildlife species. This has led to the revival and establishment of wildlife parks across the country which in turn has led to an exponential growth of the tourism sector. Join us as we explore the 10 best places to visit in Rwanda.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is located in the distant northwest edges of Rwanda. The park was established to protect the steep rainforest slopes of the amazing Virunga mountain ranges. The park is home to the rare mountain gorilla species and golden monkeys that inhabit the slopes of the Virungas. The plush vegetation on the slopes of the volcanoes gives the park a strong vibe of mother nature, plus the sight of gorillas in their natural habitat provides a breathtaking and unforgettable experience for visitors. Approximately half of the world’s wild mountain gorilla species are located here.
Kigali is the capital of Rwanda and also its most populous city. It is the economic hub of the country and one of the greenest cities in the world. The transformation of the capital has been nothing but phenomenal since the dark days of the infamous Rwandan genocide. Bustling markets and spice-scented street stalls have replaced hotbeds of violence and marauding street gangs. Kigali is now a city of many glittering skyscrapers, a sign of the huge influx of investments in the city. You should visit the Genocide Memorial and the lofty presidential palace.
Huye was previously known as Butare and this latter name still lingers on to this day. The town has an illustrious history and happens to be the location of many renowned learning centers including the National University and the National Scientific Institute of Scientific Research. A wealth of history can be found here. At the National Museum of Rwanda, you can enjoy old tales of former Tutsi monarchs and their various conquests.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe National Park is one of the most critical forest conservation territories in the whole of Africa. The park is home to a very vast set of biodiversity with about 1,068 plant species, bird species numbering over 322, and 75 mammal species. Chimpanzee tracking is a very popular activity here and the chimps have been acculturated to human contact by the park rangers. You can also go on the only ‘Canopy Walk’ in the whole of East Africa which consists of walking across a 91-meter-long suspension bridge situated over 50 meters above the plush rain forests. Notable, isn’t it?
Kibuye is a peaceful lakeside town situated on the shores of the popular Lake Kivu. Lake Kivu is one of the planet’s largest inland water bodies with various species of bird and plant life. It is one of the most beautiful towns in the country, surrounded by morning misty hills and spectacular views of lake waters and islands in the afternoons. You can get accommodation at any of the Eco lodges on the shores. Visit the Rwandan genocide memorial or relax at any of the small beaches located here. Swimming in the lake is also really fun or you can book a boat ride on the vast lakes.
Nyanza is located in the southern reaches of Rwanda. Rich in history and tradition, it was one of the last capitals of the Kingdom of Rwanda before the colonial era. Visit the Rwesero Art Museum here and learn about the ancient royalty who once walked the streets of this great province. Also, visit the King’s Royal Palace which is a replica of an ancient palace intricately crafted thatched abode shaped like a beehive. It is the eighth-largest city in Rwanda. At the back of the residence, a few long-horned Ankole cattle descended from the King’s herd are tended to and sometimes sung to.
Akagera National Park
The Akagera National Park was in ruins by the end of the Rwandan genocide but an incredible effort ensured it became one of the best game reserves in the country. The incredible recovery of the park’s biodiversity is nothing short of a miracle, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Rwandan government and the African Parks Organization. Go on a safari self-drive in this park which boasts of the Big Five animals and also vast populations of birds and antelopes. You’ll quickly find elephants, zebras, hippos, Nile crocodiles, and giraffes. It’s incredibly difficult to spot a rhino or a lion but conservationists have been working hard to boost the populations for these two.
Gisenyi is the gateway to the spectacular Lake Kivu situated in the midst of lush vegetation and mountains of the Albertine Rift. The plush landscape cascades down grassy hills with palm trees dotted all around. Below they meet the muddied waters where insects cause small ripples on the surface. The banks of the lake however are one of the major attractions of the town. Dotted with bamboo-built sheds and Eco lodges where visitors can relax and enjoy the amazing scenery.
The Ethnographic Museum of Rwanda contains one of Africa’s most extensive collections of ethnological and archaeological artifacts. It was gifted to Rwanda by Belgium in 1989 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Rwanda’s independence. There are 7 galleries here educating visitors on the precolonial history of Rwanda. You’ll find an incredible collection of locally woven baskets, traditional clothing made from animal hides, bows and arrows, spears, 100-year-old drums, and ancient farming tools.
Gitarama is one of the most renowned cities in Rwanda. Located in the central part of the country, it served as a temporary capital of the country during the political crisis of the now infamous 1994 genocide. Some of the administrative offices of the Muhanga District in located in this city. Gitarama sits 5,945 ft above sea level and the view from here is really spectacular. The people are warm and quite friendly to visitors.