Rwanda, also referred to as a country of a thousand hill is a small country in Eastern Africa, that attracts tourists from all over the world, primarily for gorilla trekking. Though widely renowned with the 1994 genocide, Rwanda is an upcoming destination that is rapidly changing to being a land of the gorillas! Apart from the gorillas, there is much to see on a safari in Rwanda; from wild chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National park, golden monkeys in PNV to interesting cultural sites, there is a lot to see in Rwanda. The memorial museums and genocide sites in Kigali are a “must-see” while in Rwanda, yet gorilla trekking remains the top adventure to take in Rwanda.
Rwanda at a Glance
Location: Rwanda is in East/Central Africa, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Uganda to its north and Burundi to the south. Rwanda also shares its eastern border with Tanzania. (the country is part of the East African Community)
Area: Rwanda covers 26,338 sq km, slightly smaller than Maryland, US.
Capital City: Kigali
Population: Almost 10 million (Rwanda is Africa’s most densely populated country).
Languages: Kinyarwanda, French, English, Kiswahili
Religion: Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%
Climate: Rwanda has a temperate climate with two rainy seasons from February to April and November to January. Click here for daily temperatures.
When to Go: June – September (during the dry season).
Currency: Rwandan Franc (click here for a currency converter)
Attractions in Rwanda
Rwanda has some of the most inspiring touristic attractions on the African continent. From the rare mountain gorillas to unique cultural experiences, a single visit to Rwanda is not enough to explore this amazing tiny country in Central; Africa. Below are some of the major attractions for travellers to Rwanda including some of the best natural, historical, cultural and adventure sites in the country. These include all of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for Rwanda which represent the best of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Volcanoes National Park
The Volcanoes National Park is a forested area in the Virunga Mountains that border Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is Rwanda’s top tourist attraction, with the mist-covered volcanoes of the Virungas. Being one of only three locations in the world where you can track mountain gorillas, this part attracts tourists all year round who are interested in gorilla tours. It was this park that Dian Fossey lived and died studying and protecting the gorillas, her efforts made famous in the film ‘Gorillas in the Mist’.
Huye / Butare
The southern city of Huye, formerly known as Butare, is the intellectual capital of Rwanda. It is home to the National University, the Institute of Scientific Research and the National Museum which contains some excellent ethnographic collections and provides insights into Rwandan culture and history.
Nyungwe Forest covers some 1000 km² in the southwest of Rwanda and is an area of huge biodiversity. Primates are the main attraction here, with some 13 species identified, including some habituated groups of chimpanzees and colobus monkeys that can be viewed on guided treks through the park. Other primates include L’Hoest’s monkey, owl-faced monkey, silver monkey and red-tailed monkey.
THINGS TO DO IN RWANDA
Gorilla tracking is the most popular adventure activity on a Rwanda gorilla safari that can be done in a year in and year out. Imagine standing just a few meters from man’s distant cousins, the mountain gorillas and observe them through their activities. Watch them eat, rest, play and bond with their young. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is a humbling experience that can be taken during your holiday in Rwanda. Currently, seven of the park’s gorilla groups are habituated to tourists with eight permits available for each group every day.
Chimpanzee Tracking is another adventure activity that can be taken in Rwanda. This activity can be carried out in Nyungwe Forest National Park, home to various primates, birds and wildlife. Other popular activities in this park are canopy walk, bird watching, forest walks etc.
Cultural Tours – A holiday in Rwanda cannot be complete without taking a cultural visit to the different cultural sites in Rwanda. These sites include genocide memorial sites, museums, Palaces etc.