Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
Rwanda's most well-known attraction is undoubtedly its mountain gorillas, whose peaceful beauty has enchanted generations. Found in the mist shrouded rainforests of the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda's gorillas comprise roughly half of the world's wild gorilla population, with twenty distinct families calling the park home. Guided gorilla treks into the mountains bring visitors up close with these magnificent creatures, as your guides not only lead you to the gorillas but train you in how to react to their behaviour.
There's no car here – you're on the ground and close to the animals, and it's an experience unlike any you'll find on a conventional safari. No visit to the Volcanoes National Park would be complete without also paying a visit to the grave of Dian Fossey, the American researcher whose passion for gorillas was documented in Gorillas in the Mist. Murdered for her passion, Fossey's body now lies alongside the gorillas she loved so dearly.
Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda
If the country's Volcanoes National Park draws thousands to view gorillas in the wild, it's southern Nyungwe National Park draws them to see the playful and inquisitive chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
Our closest relatives from a DNA perspective, these intelligent creatures call the dense rainforests of the country's south home. Alongside the chimpanzees are an array of primate and bird life, making Nyungwe far more than simply a place to see chimps.
Safari in Rwanda
While Rwanda cannot boast the sheer variety of game viewing destinations that neighbouring Kenya or Tanzania can, Akagera National Park in the country's east does offer the opportunity to see some of Africa's more famous wildlife roaming the plains.
With three of the fabled big five (the African elephant, leopard, and cape buffalo), the park is also home to thousands of wildebeest, antelope, zebra, and giraffes. A perfect day trip from the nation's capital, Akagera is a great way to check off any animals you might have missed in your primary safari destination.
'Dark tourism' is defined as tourism that is directed at places associated with death and suffering. For decades people have travelled to places such as Chernobyl in Ukraine, the Killing Fields in Cambodia, and the infamous death camps across Europe.
Rwanda, home to its own terrible period of loss and suffering, is also a destination where people can come face to face with the worst of humanity and learn from the mistakes of the past. In Kigali, visitors can pay their respects at the Genocide Memorial Centre and face the sheer sadness of the genocide by visiting the Nyamata or Ntarama Churches where such atrocities were committed.
It may seem like a morbid pursuit, but dark tourism offers us an invaluable window into our past and hopefully inspires us to contemplate how we can avoid the mistakes of the past in future. Other important genocide memorials in the country include Morambi, a high school not unlike S-21 (Tuol Sleng) in Cambodia where hundreds of innocent people were massacred in a place normally reserved for much more hopeful pursuits.
Lakes in Rwanda
While it is not a coastal nation, Rwanda is not without its waterside playgrounds for visitors who want a little rest and relaxation. With Rwanda being one of Africa's cleanest countries, its waterfront towns and resorts are similarly impeccable.
Whether your pleasure is found in sunbathing or getting wet and wild in the water, lakes such as Lake Kivu are a perfect place to unwind. Hiking, picnicking, and cycling are just a few of the other activities available when paying a visit to Rwanda's lakes.
Birding in Rwanda
Bird-watchers will find Rwanda is a real treat, with over 1450 species of birds calling the East African country home. Of those species, 27 are endemic to the region, meaning they can't be seen anywhere else in the world.
The country is home to seven designated birding areas, including the national parks and the unique Rugezi Swamp. Highlights include the red-faced barbet, shoebill stork, Bennett's woodpecker, and the Miombo Wren-Warbler among others.
Rwanda offers a year round birding experience, but the December to February migration season is particularly interesting.
The Congo-Nile Trail
A ten day, 227 kilometre long hiking trail around Lake Kivu, the Congo-Nile Trail is awash with beautiful landscapes, quaint lakeside towns, and the opportunity to open up your lungs and just explore.
Able to be completed in bite-sized chunks, as a ten day hike, or as a five day cycling excursion, the Congo-Nile Trail is a change of pace from doing everything from your car or bus, and is something unique to Rwanda that can't be experienced elsewhere.