Welcome to Rwanda, a country often referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills.” But it’s not just the rolling landscapes that make this East African gem special; it’s the warmth of its people, the richness of its culture, and the abundance of unique experiences waiting for you to discover. From the vibrant capital city of Kigali to the breathtaking wilderness of Volcanoes National Park, here are the 20 best things to do in Rwanda.
1. Explore the Bustling Capital, Kigali
Your Rwandan adventure begins in Kigali, the country’s dynamic capital. Start your journey by exploring the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a powerful tribute to Rwanda’s history. Then, wander through the colorful markets, sip coffee at a local cafe, and discover the city’s vibrant arts scene.
2. Pay Homage at the Kigali Genocide Memorial
While in Kigali, a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial is a must. It’s a somber but essential experience that provides insight into Rwanda’s painful history and its remarkable journey toward healing and reconciliation.
3. Trek with Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park
One of Rwanda’s most iconic experiences is gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. Witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, an experience that will leave you in awe of Rwanda’s commitment to conservation.
4. Hike to the Summit of Mount Bisoke
For adventure seekers, a hike to the summit of Mount Bisoke offers breathtaking views and the chance to see a beautiful crater lake at the top. It’s a challenging but rewarding trek.
5. Visit Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s great lakes, offers opportunities for relaxation and water-based activities. Take a boat ride, swim in its clear waters, or simply unwind on its picturesque shores.
6. Explore Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Explore its lush rainforests, home to chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and countless bird species. Don’t miss the exhilarating canopy walkway!
7. Discover the Ancient King’s Palace at Nyanza
Delve into Rwanda’s history by visiting the King’s Palace at Nyanza. Learn about the country’s monarchy and traditions, and explore the beautifully reconstructed royal residence.
8. Experience Traditional Rwandan Culture
Immerse yourself in Rwandan culture by attending a traditional dance performance or visiting a local village. Engaging with the warm and welcoming Rwandan people is an experience you won’t forget.
9. Take a Safari in Akagera National Park
Embark on a safari adventure in Akagera National Park, where you can spot the Big Five and a wide variety of other wildlife against the backdrop of scenic savannah landscapes.
10. Sample Rwandan Cuisine
Rwanda’s cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors influenced by East African and Arab culinary traditions. Try local dishes like brochettes (grilled skewers) and the popular ugali (maize porridge).
11. Relax by Lake Muhazi
Lake Muhazi is a serene oasis just a short drive from Kigali. Spend a day picnicking, swimming, or kayaking on its tranquil waters.
12. Go Bird-Watching in Akagera
Akagera National Park isn’t just about the Big Five; it’s also a bird-watcher’s paradise. Keep your binoculars handy to spot some of Rwanda’s diverse bird species.
13. Visit the Historical Island of Idjwi
Take a boat ride to Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu, which lies partially in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Explore the island’s charming villages and relax on its pristine beaches.
14. Explore Butare’s Cultural Attractions
Butare, Rwanda’s cultural hub, is home to the National Museum and a vibrant arts scene. Don’t miss the chance to explore the country’s artistic and historical heritage.
15. Attend the Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony
If your visit aligns with the annual Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony, be sure to attend this heartwarming event where new gorilla names are bestowed in a celebration of conservation efforts.
16. Marvel at the Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo
These twin lakes near Volcanoes National Park offer stunning vistas, ideal for hiking, boating, and photography. The scenery here is nothing short of breathtaking.
17. Relax in the Hot Springs of Bugarama
Unwind in the natural hot springs of Bugarama, a therapeutic and rejuvenating experience that provides a perfect end to your Rwandan adventure.
In Rwanda, you’ll discover a land of contrasts and beauty, from the somber reflections of its past to the vibrant energy of its present. So, pack your bags and get ready for a journey filled with incredible experiences, warm smiles, and unforgettable memories in the “Land of a Thousand Smiles.” Rwanda awaits your exploration!