Kigali is the dynamic capital at the heart of our country.Peacefully nestled along picturesque hilltops, Kigali is a thriving African city immediately notable for its cleanliness, orderliness, and hospitality.
Kigali is a great place to begin or end any Rwanda journey as it’s conveniently located in the geographic center of the country. The city is clean and safe, with extremely welcoming people. Travelers will enjoy exploring the great cultural activities – including several award-winning museums, burgeoning music scene, and some of East Africa’s most memorable dining experiences.
Volcanoes National Park
This corner or northwestern Rwanda is a breath-taking unforgettable place where culture, adventure and conservation intersect.
The “Parc National de Volcans” (or PNV as it’s known by locals) lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a short two hour drive from Rwanda’s capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences. While a visit to the mountain gorillas is often at the top of visitor, the dramatic landscape also offers thrilling hiking and visits to the fascinating golden monkeys.
PNV is also one of Rwanda’s conservation epicenters, where many non-profit organizations base their operations. Visitors can pay homage to the legendary scientist and gorilla advocate Dian Fossey with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund that continues her legacy of research and advocacy to this day.
Near the park, the bustling and vibrant markets of Musanze are a place to immerse yourself into everyday Rwandan culture. Go deep into the earth with Musanze’s caves – one of the area’s newest attractions.
Lake Kivu / Rubavu
Relax and refresh along Rwanda’s coastline.If you’re surprised that Rwanda has a beach – you’re not alone. Rubavu (also known as Gisenyi) is a waterfront town located on the shores of Lake Kivu, one Africa’s great bodies of water. At only an hour away from Volcanoes National Park, Rubavu is a great way to unwind after trekking adventures.
Rubavu marks the beginning of the Congo Nile Trail, which extends 227 km to Rusizi, and has plenty of biking and hiking trails to fulfill those who crave for some more adventure. Rubavu is also known for its agrotourism experiences, with many tea and coffee plantations nearby.
Nyungwe National Park
Located in the South West corner of Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is an untouched natural rainforest that is filled with exciting biodiversity.
Covering over 1000 square kilometres, Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity.
Home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates species (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), it’s also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammals.
This majestic rainforest is filled with nature and wildlife experiences for you to emerge yourself in. Hiking or even biking the beautiful terrain, tracking the famous chimpanzees, experiencing the canopy walk, witnessing beautiful birds, relaxing by waterfalls are just a glimpse of activities that Nyungwe offers.
Sounds and views collaborate to create a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience. Exploring through the forest, travelers will witness the lush green mountains and cooling mist in a landscape that won’t be soon forgotten. Cultural activities are also available around the forest.
Located in the western part of Rwanda, Karongi lies on the shores of the Lake Kivu. Lake Kivu is surrounded by magnificent mountains and has deep emerald green waters. The lake covers a total surface area of 2,700 km and stands at a height of 1,460 meters above sea level.About 110km from Kigali, the road to Karongi is paved and in good condition.
Karongi is one of the most relaxing and romantic places in Rwanda, and is an ideal place to enjoy lakeside recreation. A picturesque lakeside resort town, there are ample beaches with crystal clear water. Along with modern water sport facilities, traditional boats can be used for exciting nature discovery tours and authentic experiences within local Rwandan daily life. Visitors can take boat rides from many of the local hotels visiting Napoleon’s Island (home to a colony of fruit bats) and dine at the Amahoro Island restaurants and even go night fishing with locals
Adventure awaits at Karongi with opportunities to hike and bike the Congo Nile Trail, visit the Congo Nile Divide watershed, have a taste of the ‘crop to cup’ coffee and tea experiences within the local community, or visit the moving Bisesero Genocide Memorial with breathtaking views of the lake.
Akagera National Park
A stunning National Park where the past has been revived.Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Although founded in 1934, much of the park was re-allocated as farms and in 1997 the park was reduced in size from more than 2,500 sq km (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122 sq km. Since 2010, a joint venture with African Parks has seen Akagera return to its former glories.
It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
Akagera combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP to offer a great safari element as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.
Of the larger predators only leopard, hyaena cand side-striped jackal are still present and although lion once occurred throughout Akagera, the population was wiped. Lions as well as black rhino were in recent years been reintroduced in the park, a move which elevated the status of the Akagera National Park to a home of ‘Big 5’
Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera is an important ornithological site with nearly 500 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities such as the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands in large numbers.
Have the water all to yourself at Rwanda’s ‘other’ lake.Even though it’s only slightly more than 40 kilometres east of Kigali, the winding shores of Lake Muhazi see few visitors (and of these, most tend to be locals and expats escaping the city for a weekend), but the region has a laid-back, subtle charm all its own, and with such easy access from Kigali, there’s really no reason not to explore the winding shores and placid waters of Lake Muhazi.
Long and shallow, Lake Muhazi twists and turns its way through a flooded valley for more than 40km before reaching its eastern shore, not far from the northern exit of eastern Rwanda’s crown jewel, Akagera National Park. The east end of the lake sits right along the road to Nyagatare, and makes for a perfect place to break the journey for a meal and a cold drink after long hours spent bumping along the park’s dirt roads. If you stick around after your fresh-caught lunch and let the lake breezes guide you, you’ll quickly find that the live music at the lakeside bars, dozens of traditional villages along the shore, and the fantastic birding and fishing on offer will keep you here well longer than expected.
The hilltop town of Gahini sits just opposite the lake’s east end and is a great place to soak up a bit of small-town Rwandan life, especially if you’re here on a Sunday, when services at the historic Gahini Anglican Cathedral can be heard from all around. Most people in Gahini and other villages around the lake are either farmers or fishers, so don’t be surprised to see herds of the long-horned Inyambo cows around every bend. No trip to the lake is complete without getting out on the water, and any of the low-key guesthouses that dot the lakeshore can help set up fishing and birding expeditions up and down the lake.
Wildlife lovers should keep their eyes out for a glimpse of the Spotted-necked otter, while dedicated ornithologists can expect to check off the African fish eagle, Malachite kingfisher, Pied kingfisher, Swamp flycatcher, and many more.
Though it’s only some 50km long east to west, there are more than a dozen meandering offshoots branching north and south of Lake Muhazi’s wide central valley, and there are miles and miles of tranquil agricultural villages and green, unspoilt coastline on either side of the lake simply waiting to be explored. If you’ve got a 4×4, the little-travelled dirt roads north of the lake take you through a lacustrine agricultural Eden, where the terraced hillsides tumble down to the water’s edge, and there’s a lake vista around every bend.
The two largest towns near the lakeshore are Gahini and Rwesero, and both have a couple guesthouses where you can arrange a variety of aquatic activities. Fishing, birding, and boating trips are a highlight of any trip to Lake Muhazi, but there’s always plenty of space for a cool dip just offshore if you don’t have time to get out on the water. Back on dry land, there’s no shortage of hot food, cold drinks, and irresistible hammocks to keep you occupied. Religion and history buffs won’t want to miss the brick-built Gahini Anglican Cathedral either. It dates to 1975 and still towers over the low-slung rooftops of Gahini, drawing in thousands of parishioners and pilgrims every year.