Tourist Attractions in Republic of Rwanda (East Africa)
Rwanda at a Glance
The Republic of Rwanda is a small land locked country located in Easy Africa. It is one of the 5 countries that make up the East African region. It famously known as “Land of a thousand Hills” due to majestic mountains that characterize much of its land scape.
Capital City: Kigali
President: Paul Kagame
International Airport: Kigali International Airport (KLG)
Prime minister: Anastase Murekezi
Population: 11.78 million (2013) World Bank
Currency: Rwandan franc
Official languages: French, Kinyarwanda, English
Tribes: Tutsi, Hutu and Twa
Getting to Rwanda
By Air: The country is accessed through Kigali / Kanombe International Airport (KGL). Over 10 international airlines operating to Kigali Airport and these include Kenya Air Ways, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airlines, Brussels Airlines, KLM, Rwanda Air, Qatar Airways, Fly Dubai and Turkish Airlines among others.
By Road: The Republic of Rwanda is bordered by Uganda in the north, Tanzania in the East, Burundi in the South and Democratic Congo Republic in the West. There are buses from major East African cities to Rwanda such as Kampala, Nairobi, Arusha and Bujumbura connecting to Kigali -Rwanda. The country can be accessed from different boarders such as Katuna boarder and Cyanika boarder on Uganda side.
Things to do in Rwanda?
Mountain Gorilla Trekking: This takes place in Volcanoes National Park, located in the northern part of the country, about 120 minutes drive from Kigali Capital. Many tour and travel companies in East Africa offer a big variety of Rwanda gorilla trekking tour packages at very affordable prices. The park currently has 10 gorilla families, meaning, at least 80 gorilla trekking permits available per day because, each gorilla group is visited by 8 persons maximum daily. Gorilla permits currently cost US$750 each for foreign non-residents.
Gorilla trekking starts in the morning by gathering at the park headquarters in Kinigi for a briefing about the activity. You will be allocated to one of the 10 gorilla families. The trek is quiet strenuous and one must be physically fit to make it successfully. The trek takes between 1 – 8 hours depending on how the gorillas move in their natural habitat.
Golden Monkey Tracking: Like gorilla tracking, this also takes place every morning in Volcanoes National park and ends by Mid day. Rwanda offers you a great opportunity to see the rare golden monkeys in the wild. The permit to track golden monkeys costs US Dollars 100 per person. Unlike gorilla tracking that’s strenuous and sometimes ends late in the evening, golden monkey tracking usually end by lunch and less strenuous.
Dian Fossey Tombs Tour: Dian Fossey was an American Primatologist who spent close to 2 decades protecting and habituating gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. She was murdered by poachers in 1985 and buried near Karisoke research center. Many tourists come to enjoy the adventurous hike to her grave site. The hike is long and quiet strenuous, you must be ready to hike for at least 5 hours going and coming back. The hike may reward you with some bird species, plant species, Mammals like elephants, primates and gorillas.
Mountain Hiking: Volcanoes National Park makes part of the Virunga Volcanic mountains and tourists from allover the world not only come for mountain gorilla tracking but also mountain hiking. here we have Mountain Bisoke that takes only 1 day and Mt. Karisimbi that takes 2 days and 1 night.
Musanze Caves Tour: Located in the Musanze district near Volcanoes National Park. The caves were formed over centuries of volcanic actions from the Virunga volcanoes. Its over 1.5km and offers life time adventure experience. The guided excursion through the caves explain their history and formation. Historically, the caves were used as a shelter during wars. A walk through Musanze caves takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes and can be visited throughout the year.
Iby’iwacu Cultural Village: This is a Non-Profit organization whose major objective is to improve the lives of reformed poachers and communities around Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. This is achieved through provision of conservation incentives, supporting community enterprise development and livelihood based projects. Once you visit this village, you learn and experience Rwandan cultural norms and values as well as their historical ways of life. Be entertained in cultural music, Dance and drama. if interested, you can participate in dancing with the local people, pottery, football match, Artisans and craft making, making and tasting local beer made from bananas, preparing local and visit traditional healers among others.
Unguided Community Walk: Tourists can take their own walk around Musanze town, visit local markets, schools and interact with local people.
Chimpanzee Tracking: This takes place in Nyungwe National Park located in South Western Rwanda. This is the largest Montane forest in East and Central Africa, with about 13 primate species.
Black and White Colobus Monkey Tracking, also takes place in Nyungwe National park.
Canopy walk: The one and only in East Africa. Offers a life time experience in Rwanda.
Bird Watching: Nyungwe National Park is a birders’ paradise with about 350 bird species.
Tea Harvest: Tea production is one of the major sources of income to local communities in Rwanda. Excursions are be arranged for those interested in learning and participating in tea harvesting.
Boat Rides: Common on Lake Kivu to visit places like coffee island and hot springs. Some tourists connect from Gisenyi to Nyungwe National Park through Kibuye or Cyangugu. Another boat ride on lake Ihema in Akagera National park that exposes you to many bird species, Hippos and crocodiles.
Big Game Drives: Fantastic Game drives in Akagera National Park in search for Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Antelopes, etc.
Historical sites and Genocide memorial museum tours: Such sites include Nyanza King’s palace, Murambi Genocide memorial museum, Bissesero, Nyamata and Ntarama churches as well as Gisozi in Kigali among others.
The above activities and many others are popularly supplemented on many Rwanda gorilla trekking tours depending on one’s interests, budget and number of days you have in Rwanda.
Where to stay?
There are tourist lodges and hotels around all tourism destination in Rwanda for all levels of tourists, ranging from budget to deluxe and luxury lodges. Also major towns such as Gisenyi, Kigali and Butare have good accommodation facilities for tourists.