by Chris Walker Bush
December 12, 2015

Why Rwanda?

Perhaps best known for the famous gorillas in the mist, Rwanda has enchanted and intrigued people from around the world for decades. Dwelling in the fog shrouded Volcanoes National Park, these gentle giants with their almost human behavior are something that many travelers dream about someday encountering.

But there’s so much more to Rwanda than its iconic apes. Travel south to Nyungwa National Park and you’ll encounter humanity’s closest living relatives, the impossibly intelligent chimpanzees with their expressive faces and endearing personalities.

In fact, Rwanda is home to an astonishing number of primate species that range from the gigantic mountain gorillas all the way down to lesser known (but no less beautiful) colobus monkeys, olive baboons, and golden monkeys.

The country’s vast freshwater lakes are perfect for water sports or simple relaxation, while Akagera National Park in the country’s east offers a more traditional African safari experience for this wishing to chase lions, elephants, and more across the savannah.

Beyond the dense forests with their primate inhabitants, Rwanda offers a fascinating glimpse into both the worst of humanity and humanity’s power to heal after tragedy. The notorious events of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide are still fresh in the minds of many travelers, and no trip to the Land of 1000 Hills would be complete without visiting the sights of the genocide’s atrocities and contrasting this with the friendly and harmonious country that exists a shade over twenty years later.

When to Visit Rwanda

Rwanda Traditional Dance

Like many equatorial countries, Rwanda experiences wet and dry seasons rather than the conventional four seasons. Rwanda’s altitude and proximity to the equator means that it is warm and pleasant throughout the year, but also experiences a great deal of rain.

Rwanda’s long rainy season stretches from March to May, with rain that is both heavy and persistent. There is also a short rainy season between October and November.

The long dry season (June to mid-September) is considered the best time to visit Rwanda, with less rain but not necessarily less cloud cover. Even in the dry season, there is still a chance you’ll experience light showers.

For gorilla trekking, the best time to visit is in either of the dry seasons (June to mid-September or December to February), as the hiking conditions are less humid and there is less chance of having to deal with potentially malaria carrying mosquitos.

For chimpanzee trekking, however, the best time of the year to visit is during the long rainy season (March to May), when food becomes easier to find and the chimpanzees to not have to roam so far each day.

For lake vacations, the dry season from June to mid-September or December to February is the best time to go for clearer weather.

For Events

Rwanda events dance

The Gorilla Naming Ceremony held every June in Kinigi is an interesting cultural festival that goes beyond the simple naming of the newest addition to the various gorilla families in the region. Traditional music, dance, and crafts are available in spades, and visitors have the opportunity to do their part for gorilla conservation by sponsoring one of the newly named gorillas.

Held in Kigali each July, the Hillywood Film Festival aims to be one of Africa’s premier film festivals. Inviting the best and brightest film-makers from across Africa, the festival features screenings, workshops, and the opportunity to interact with the directors and actors.

KigaliUp! Is an annual Rwandan musical festival held in Kigali each September. Rwandan folk music, R&B, and pop are represented alongside international acts. It’s a great opportunity to experience Rwandan culture, and particularly youth culture.

The Festival Arts Azimuts (FAAZ) is a celebration of Rwandan arts held each October. Celebrating everything from sculpture to music, from theatre to digital art – FAAZ features exhibitions, talks from inspiring artists, and interactive workshops.

Safari Drivers and Guides

Over Shadows of Africa’s years in operation, we’ve carefully selected only the best guides, drivers, and auxiliary staff to ensure you get the absolute best service during your trip. All of Shadows of Africa’s staff have many years of experience in the industry.

All of our safari guides are fluent in both English and Swahili, and have received training at schools such as the College of African Wildlife to ensure they have the best working knowledge of African wildlife, plant-life, and birdlife. This makes them excellent at knowing where to find the animals you’re looking for, and they’ll make it their main goal to ensure you spot the animal you’re most excited to see. Over their years of safari experience, they’ve not only become experts in the parks and their residents, but have also become open, gregarious people you’ll soon come to consider as a friend. Local people with a passion for Africa, Shadows of Africa’s safari drivers are consummate professionals whose love for Africa is infectious.

Safari Vehicles: Safe & Comfortable

Your safety and comfort are extremely important to us here at Shadows of Africa. Our fleet of safari vehicles has been specifically designed to handle the rigours of a true African safari while still affording you the maximum possible comfort on Africa’s dusty and often bumpy roads.

All of our safari vehicles are equipped with comfortable seats, 4x4 drive for handling rough terrain, a first aid kit, a HF radio, slide windows, a pop up roof, and plenty of storage space so you can bring all of your luggage along for the ride. Each safari vehicle is also equipped with multiple electrical outlets so you can charge your electronics while on the move.

Each safari vehicle is equipped to carry up to six people in comfort. Each seat is equipped with a seat belt, and the vehicle has the latest safety features to ensure your peace of mind.

Our safari vehicles go through regular maintenance checks that include oil checks, fluid checks, electronics checking, new tires (if necessary), and any additional maintenance necessitated by Africa’s often unforgiving roads.

Types of Accommodation in Rwanda

Shadows of Africa offers four distinct tiers of accommodation designed to suit all budgets and tastes. Ranging from traditional camping out under the stars all the way up to the ultra-luxurious, your safari can be designed to use only one tier of accommodation or to mix and match.

Shadows of Africa provides bookings for both traditional lodges and tented camps. Far from being a tent pitched under the stars, tented camps can be every bit as luxurious as traditional hotel accommodations. Most tented camps include private bathroom facilities, king sized beds, gourmet food, and WiFi access where possible. Far from roughing it, they're every bit as luxurious as a hotel built with bricks and mortar.

Ultra Luxury

Featuring world renowned luxury brands, this tier of accommodations offers the very best of service and the very best of facilities. If you’re looking for something truly special in your accommodation, the Ultra Luxury tier of accommodation provides just that.

Ranging from traditional lodges to extravagant tented lodges under the stars, Ultra Luxury is for those seeking the absolute best Africa has to offer.

Luxury

For those who want the five star experience without paying five star prices, our Luxury tier offers lodges and tented camps that can boast magnificent views, spacious rooms, excellent service, and stunning wildlife viewing.

The equivalent to a four or five star hotel, our Luxury accommodation partners can be expected to offer such diverse services as spa facilities, nightly entertainment, world class cuisine, and more!

Our luxury lodges are as diverse as the landscapes of Rwanda, ranging from the forest shrouded lodges of Volcanoes National Park to the legendary 'Hotel Rwanda' in Kigali.

Many different options, but all of which offer top level service at affordable prices.

Medium

Whether they’re located amid the hustle and bustle of Arusha or out in the bush, all of our Medium accommodations are chosen for their ability to foster an atmosphere of tranquility and remoteness.

Our medium lodges and tented camps can generally be expected to have WiFi internet, full service bars and restaurants, laundry service, money exchange, and gift shops. Individual establishments may vary.

Medium tier lodges are perfect for families or couples wanting their western creature comforts, but who are traveling on a budget. The equivalent to three star accommodations, all of our Medium lodges are carefully chosen for their service, facilities, and location.

Budget

For those traveling on a budget, our Budget tier offers a mixture of budget lodges and camping facilities that cater to both the budget conscious traveler or the adventurer.

Our budget lodges offer you western style bathroom facilities and the usual comforts you’d expect to find in a budget hotel back home, while all camping sites are equipped with western bathrooms and running water.

Even though you’re ‘roughing it’, you’ll be accompanied by one of our chefs who will prepare delicious meals for you, and your guide will set up your tent as you eat.

All campsites in and near Rwanda’s national parks and conservancies are patrolled 24 hours a day by armed rangers who are adept at keeping you safe without detracting from the beauty of falling asleep to the sounds of Africa’s wildlife.

Volcanoes National Park

Golden Monkey Rwanda Golden Monkey Rwanda

Dominated by five towering volcanoes, the heavily forested Volcanoes National Park is the jewel in Rwanda's national parks, a stunning mist-shrouded forest that is home to over half of the world's extant gorilla population.

With its population of over 300 mountain gorillas, Volcanoes National Park draws thousands of visitors each year eager to see these gentle giants in their natural habitat. With twenty family groups in the park, visitors are able to meet members of ten groups, while the other ten are kept away from tourists so as to be studied.

Also within the park is the final resting place of gorilla researcher and anti-poaching activist, Dian Fossey, a woman whose work raised awareness of the plight of gorillas and ultimately led to her murder.

Size: 160 square kilometres.

Location: Two hours North West of Kigali.

Best Time: Dry season (June to mid-September)

To Do: Gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, hiking, Dian Fossey grave site visit, cultural visits, and Musanze Caves hike.

Known For: Mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.

Optional Activities

  • Gorilla trekking
  • Golden monkey trekking
  • Crater Lake hike
  • Dian Fossey grave site hike
  • Musanze Caves hike
  • Cultural activities at Red Rocks
  • Cultural visit to Iby’lwacu Cultural Village
  • Buhanga Eco Park visit

Nyungwe National Park

Chimpanzee Sitting Rwanda

Located in the south of Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is a primate playground alive with life. From its iconic chimpanzees to the other primate species such as colobus monkeys and wide-eyed bushbabies, Nyungwe is one of the world's premier places to see primates in their natural habitat.

Nyungwe is a fascinating place to explore as well, with activities such as canopy walks (the only one of its kind in East Africa), waterfall walks, cultural tours, and more to occupy inquisitive visitors.

The famous Nyungwe Forest Lodge is a particular drawcard, offering both luxury and serenity within the national park. Surrounded by a stunning tea plantation and with all of the luxury trimmings, the lodge is an attraction all of its own.

Tea Plantation Nyungwe Rwanda Visit

Size: More than 1,000 square kilometres,

Location: Three hours South West of Kigali.

Best Time: Wet Season (March to May).

To Do: Chimpanzee trekking, nature walks, bird watching, Canopy Walk, hiking, and cultural activites.

Known For: Chimpanzees.

Optional Activities

  • Chimpanzee trekking
  • Canopy Walk
  • Hiking
  • Cultural tours
  • Bird watching

Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park

Rwanda's safari destination, Akagera is a small park on the eastern side of the country perfect for a day trip from Kigali or an extended visit. Home to some of Africa's most well-known animals, Akagera offers visitors to Rwanda the opportunity to see elephants, leopards, zebras, giraffes, and hippopotamus in the wild.

Nearby Muhazi is a quaint lakeside town offering fresh seafood, cultural activities, cafes & restaurants, and activities to entertain once your safari is done.

Size: 1,122 square kilometres.

Location: Two hours east of Kigali.

Best Time: Year round.

To Do: Game drives, bird watching, and fishing.

Known For: Game drives.

Optional Activities

  • Bird watching
  • Fishing
  • Cultural visits

Kigali

Rwanda Kigali

Rwanda's capital is a green, clean city that is fast becoming the envy of cities across not only Africa, but the world. Visitors often describe Kigali not only as Africa's cleanest city, but also its safest. It's a truly modern city just begging to be explored.

An obvious reason to visit Kigali is its role during in the infamous genocide of 1994, and there are numerous sites within the city to commemorate the darkest days in the nation's history including the Genocide Memorial Centre and a number of massacre sites.

There's so much more to Rwanda's capital than its dark past however, from its diverse selection of galleries to bustling markets and its growing Muslim quarter. World class restaurants, quaint cafes, walking tours, and the all-important wheels of government can also be experienced.

A perfect place from which to launch day tours to nearby towns or even Akagera National Park, Kigali is a charming city with a lot to love about it.

Kigali Activities

  • Visit to the Gosozi Genocide Memorial Centre;
  • Pay your respects at the Ntarama and Nyamata Churches;
  • Visit the Presidential Palace Museum;
  • Walking tour of the city;
  • Day trip to Akagera National Park;

 

← Previous Post Next Post →