EXPLORE RWANDA

Rwanda Safaris

Step into the world of mountain gorillas, the Volcanoes National park, enjoy close encounters with chimpanzees and enjoy the Big 5 in Akagera National park

Safaris in Rwanda

Rwanda, formally the Republic of Rwanda, is a landlocked country in Central Africa’s Great Rift Valley, where the African Great Lakes region and Southeast Africa meet. Located a few degrees south of the equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Its terrain is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna in the southeast, with several lakes scattered throughout the country, earning it the nickname “land of a thousand hills.” Each year, the climate in Rwanda ranges from moderate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons.

Rwanda Safaris are done in 3 major National parks to give you an chance to experience this beautiful country and what it has to offer including the real mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, the African big 5 in Akagera National Park, and you will have a chance to get close to Chimpanzees trekking in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda safaris are truly rewarding.

How much does it cost to go on safari in Rwanda? The cost of a safari in Rwanda ranges significantly depending on how long you want to stay on the trip and what is included, It costs from $200 per person per day to $2000 per person per day.

Rwanda Safaris To Inspire

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The “land of a thousand hills” is the most densely inhabited country in Africa, with a population of over 12.6 million people living on only 26,338 km2 of land. Rwanda is the fifth most densely populated country in the world among countries greater than 10,000 km2. Its largest and capital city, Kigali has a population of one million people: and Butare, Rwanda’s second-largest city is known as the “intellectual center of Rwanda,” Rwanda is endowed with beautiful flora and diverse fauna, bordered by mountains to the west and savannah to the east. Its historical legacy, climate, landscape, and people are what shaped the country into what it is now. Rwanda was colonized by the Germans in 1884 and was ruled by the Belgians during World War I. And during the Rwandan genocide, things went from bad to horrible for the inhabitants. But the country has already recovered to a considerable extent

The Land of A Thousand Hills

Enjoy Rwanda’s Scenic beauty

Rwanda’s  safari economy is mostly sustained by subsistence agriculture and tourism. Rwandan tourism is substantially developed, with several luxury resorts situated in game areas. The country has gone to considerable lengths to promote its tourism assets with a variety of safaris to offer to the thousands of travelers that visit the country annually. Most people on Rwanda safaris, however, are drawn by the potential of seeing mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. This park became famous as a result of research activities that culminated in the film “Gorillas in the Mist.” The Volcanoes National Park itself is a lush green area teeming with primates, birds, butterflies, and other creatures. But besides Rwanda, gorilla trekking is also possible in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, the quality of service and the park’s proximity to Kigali city entice travelers to choose a safari in Rwanda.

Furthermore, Rwanda has turned itself from a country scarred by one of the deadliest genocides in recent history to an example of optimism, peace, and good governance in Africa. Whereas Kigali, the capital, offers clean downtown streets, five-star hotels, and good road networks, the countryside features magnificent rolling hills and verdant plantations with numerous safari attractions. These range from mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in the Volcanoes National Park to chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park, among others. This small landlocked country also boasts the African big five, among other fascinating wildlife in Akagera National Park, which offers spectacular beach holidays and other activities in Lake Kivu, to mention but a few to be enjoyed on your Rwanda safaris. 

Rwanda also boasts other tourist attractions such as the Butare National Museum, Genocide memorial sites, Nyanza’s historic palace, craft villages, Lake Kivu, and the nearby towns of Gisenyi and Kibuye. Since embracing industrialization, agricultural modernization, mining, and tourism, the country’s wealth has expanded.

Safari Activities to do on Rwanda safaris

Game drives in Akagera national park

Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only savanna park. Although the park isn’t the ultimate savanna destination when compared to Serengeti and Masai Mara, the scenic wilderness offers a striking safari. The Big 5(rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, buffalo and elephants) can be seen in the park. Other wildlife in the park include; giraffes, zebra, hippos, waterbucks, topi, impala, and many more. In order to effectively explore the park, one has to embark on a game drive. In a customized safari vehicle, you will embark on the savanna plains led by an expert ranger.

On your Rwanda safari , You will have close encounters with wildlife in the comfort of your vehicle. One can embark on a morning, evening or night game drive in Akagera National Park. The mornings and evenings are cooler. This brings out the grazers and the predators alike. The night game drives on the other hand is a different affair. All goes quite, the grazers are on a high since most hunting is done under the blanket of darkness. Nocturnal game are the highlight. The elusive leopard, hyenas and lions are some of the sought-after species on a night game drive. Game drives usually last up to 4 hours with a chance of a picnic breakfast or sunset snack.

Chimpanzee trekking

When it comes to primates, Nyungwe forest has the largest concentration, including 13 monkey species and over 300 kinds of birds, butterflies, and orchids, not to mention the amazing chimps for Chimpanzee Trekking in Rwanda. There are three primary areas in Rwanda where you may go chimp trekking: Nyungwe Forest National Park, Gishwati Mukura National Park, and Cyamudongo Forest. Chimpanzees are considered to be clever and may live for 40-45 years. Tourists who want to go chimp trekking in Nyungwe forest can do so from one of three receiving facilities. The three main centers are Uwinka, Kitabi, and Gisakura. There are trackers that go ahead and monitor chimps before communicating with ranger guides on where to find them because chimps nest in various spots every night.

You are allowed an hour to interact with the chimps. You will observe them groom, play, eat and go about their daily lives. Take pictures and videos but remember to switch off the flash mode of your camera. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest offers guests great opportunities to see other primates such as the Rwenzori colobus, black-faced ververt monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, hiking and the most interesting activity here is the Nyungwe canopy walks that will give you one of the best life time experiences.

Sebitoli Sector of Kibale Forest National Park

Golden Monkey Trekking

Golden monkey trekking in Rwanda is an amazing excursion that promises an epic encounter with a rare and magnificent species of monkeys known as “Golden Monkeys” in Volcanoes National Park. The golden monkeys, as the name implies, have a stunning golden fur coat, which, combined with their vivacious personality, makes them rather pleasant to observe and wonderful for photography. The popular gorilla trekking adventure overshadows the golden monkey trek in Volcanoes National Park, which is usually done as an add-on to the Rwanda gorilla trip in Volcanoes National Park.

The golden monkeys are an endangered species that can only be found in the Virunga mountain range, which spans the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Rwanda and Uganda are the only two nations where travelers may trek to see these magnificent monkeys up close. The golden monkeys are found in bamboo forests and vegetation near Virunga volcanic mountain ranges. The monkeys mostly consume bamboo shoots, branches, and young bamboo leaves.

Hiking in Rwanda

Rwanda, which has a big portion of the majestic Virunga Mountains, is an excellent destination for mountain climbing and trekking vacations. The Virunga Mountains are a range of eight volcanoes that stretch through Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Gahinga, and Mount Muhavura are five of the eight volcanoes that share Rwanda’s border. The Volcanoes National Park, which includes the five mountains, is Rwanda’s most popular national park, well known for its gorilla trekking adventure, and is a popular location for hiking excursions in Rwanda.

Tchegera with the views of Nyiragongo volcanoes

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Safari Attractions On Your Rwanda Safaris

Gorilla Trekking in the Volcanoes National Park

Gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park is the highlight of any of the Rwanda safaris. The Volcanoes National Park or locally known as Parc National de Volcans (PNV) is located along the Virunga Mountains, which encompasses eight ancient volcanoes shared by Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The park is a prime place for discovering some unique Rwandan gorilla experiences and is only a two-hour drive from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. While visiting the mountain gorillas is generally at the top of the list for Rwanda safaris visitors, the stunning scenery also offers thrilling hiking and trekking the interesting golden monkeys.

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Each year, thousands of international visitors visit the Volcanoes to observe mountain gorillas and participate in other popular activities. The park contains over 10 habituated gorilla groups, and only eight individuals can trek each group in a single day. Gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park begins with a briefing from the park office at around 7 to 7:30 a.m. Visitors on Rwanda safaris are then brought out to trek various gorilla groups in the company of armed Rangers. Gorilla trekking is one of the most amazing African experiences because it entails a meeting with an endangered creature that looks and acts exactly like humans.

trek mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park, a visitor must be 15 years or older. In Rwanda, a gorilla trekking permit costs US$ 1500 per expedition. Moreover, each day, 80 permits are offered to allow visitors to trek the park’s ten habituated gorilla groups. Rwanda gorilla trekking permits are the most expensive of all gorilla safari destinations in Africa. Nonetheless, people have chosen to visit the country since trekking gorillas in Rwanda is reported to be easier than in any other place.

On the other hand, the Volcanoes National Park, is also one of Rwanda’s conservation epicenters, with numerous non-profit organizations based there. While on gorilla Rwanda safaris, visitors also can pay their respects to Dian Fossey, the famed scientist and gorilla champion, by hiking to her tomb or visiting the Dian Fosse Gorilla Fund, which continues her legacy of research and activism to this day.

Additionally, Musanze’s bustling and colorful marketplaces are a great opportunity to immerse yourself in ordinary Rwandan culture. The caves are one of the area’s newest attractions and will take you deep below the Park’s underground. other activities in the Park include hiking, bird-watching, etc.

18 Rules and Regulations Gorilla Trekking

Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park

Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park is a popular Rwanda safaris activity that takes place in the park’s Cyamudongo section. Nyungwe National Park, located in Rwanda’s southwest corner, is an unspoiled natural rainforest rich in wildlife. Nyungwe is one of the world’s most stunning and pristine alpine rainforests, spanning over 1019 square kilometers. Thus, it is thought to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, having remained green even during the Ice Age, which explains its richness.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to approximately 500 chimpanzees, two groups of which have been habituated for chimpanzee trekking. One troop of habituated chimps lives in the main Nyungwe forest, while the other lives in Cyamudongo, a small area of forest in the park’s eastern portion. Aside from chimpanzees, the Park is also home to 12 other primates (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), as well as a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and 75 distinct mammal species. This magnificent jungle is brimming with nature and wildlife activities for you to enjoy. Some of the other activities Nyungwe has to offer include hiking or cycling the magnificent terrain, enjoying the canopy walk, bird-watching, and relaxing by the waterfalls.

Encounter the Big Five in Akagera National Park

With all the attention put on mountain gorillas, it is easy to overlook Rwanda’s fantastic and typical wildlife safaris. The country boasts Akagera National Park which is home to the African big five wild animals (buffaloes, rhinos, leopards, lions, and elephants). Because it is one of the closest wildlife parks to the country’s national airport—Kigali International Airport, Akagera is a far more appealing East African destination. The park is about a 3-hour drive from the airport.

Spanning 1,085 square kilometers, Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only savanna park; nevertheless, one cannot imagine how enriched this safari destination is.

 

The Park was established in 1934, but during the 1994 genocide, the park lost a substantial number of animals as thousands of fleeing citizens exploited the park as a haven to neighboring countries. When the genocide ended, many people chose to settle in the park, resulting in unchecked poaching and encroachment. But later, when the African Parks Network collaborated with the government to restore the park, the amount of wildlife grew, and missing species were also reintroduced.

Akagera National Park is made up of diverse habitats including swamps, savanna plains, woods, lakes, rivers, and terraced hills: all of which boast natural habitats for the variety of creatures that call it home. Akagera now has all of the African big five, allowing travelers to go on full Rwanda safaris combined with other activities such as gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking, golden monkey trekking, cultural encounters, and mountain climbing, among others. To name other few mammals besides the big five, Akagera is also home to olive baboons, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, hyenas, zebras, bushbucks, and hippos. Akagera is ideal for a variety of activities such as traditional game drives, bird watching, outdoor hikes, and sport fishing in Lake Shakani. More so, the afternoon boat excursion along Lake Ihema is also quite popular, rewarding travelers with breathtaking views as well as encounters with aquatic birds, crocodiles, hippos, and antelopes drinking by the lake.

7-day Gorilla trekking Rwanda

Explore Rwanda’s Gorgeous City – Kigali

Kigali, named the most beautiful city in Africa by the United Nations, is unquestionably the cleanest city in East Africa and Rwanda’s capital city. While on Rwanda safaris, a Kigali city tour will offer you a thorough grasp of the culture and people by visiting various historical sites such as; The museum at Handt House, the National History Museum, Statehouse Kigali Genocide Memorial Center Museum, and the Camp Kigali Memorial – also the city’s first modern structure, both of which have a rich history.

Still in Kigali, check out the Kimironko market, Kigali’s largest and busiest market, for a glimpse into the daily lives of the native Rwandese. You can also acquire souvenirs from the Nyamirambo women’s center to take home a piece of Africa with you. Additionally, the nightlife in Kigali is as vibrant as the day, with several hangouts and five-star hotels where you can party, relax and rest.

Visit Rwanda’s Genocide Memorial Sites

Rwanda is a country steeped in history, most notably the 1994 genocide that killed over a million people. As a result, there are many sites and historical landmarks where you may learn about all of the country’s history and become a part of this rich culture. Among these sites are;

  • The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, where all of the war victims’ names are engraved on the wall. The site also holds the remains of around 250,000 persons who were ruthlessly slaughtered by the Interahamwe (Hutu fanatics)
  • Gisenyi Memorial Site, where over 12000 bones are housed. It also includes Nyarubuye Memorial Site, which was originally a school and where 2000 people were slain
  • Murambi Genocide Memorial Site, a school where over 2700 people were massacred and are currently being rebuilt as an exhibition site.
  • Gisozi Memorial Site, where both Hutu and Tutsi victims were buried in 2000, about 300,000 people were buried at this site. The site is also a museum, a cemetery, a photo gallery, and a library.
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  • Nyamata memorial site, once a church in the Bugerera area; around 10,000 people who sought safety in the church were killed there and about 50,000 were buried in a mass grave outside the church.
  • Bisesero memorial site in Karongi district, where 30,000 people were slain, is now also known as the ‘Hill of Resistance’ due to the strong front shown by the people of this region despite having fewer superior armaments during the genocide.
  • Nyanza Memorial site, where the United Nations erected a school called ETO.

Ntarama Memorial Site near Bugesera, about an hour’s drive from Kigali town, was previously a chapel where people sought refuge during times of violence. 5000 people died in this church, which has subsequently been kept as a memorial and museum

Visit and Relax at Lake Kivu

Located in the Albertine Rift Valley, on the boundary of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake. The emerald green waters are dotted with islands (Napoleon Island, Amahoro island) and attractively mirror the neighboring Virunga mountains. The drive to the lake follows a picturesque road through hills and farmed highlands. Lake Kivu is a breathtakingly gorgeous lake and an unforgettable spot to visit and relax or do sports like Kayaking on Lake Kivu during your Rwanda safaris. It is also one of the safest lakes in Africa, with no hippos or crocodiles and it contains crystal clear clean water.

There are three significant cities near the lake, including Rubavu, which is located right on Kivu’s shoreline. Rubavu (also known as Gisenyi) is a coastal town on Lake Kivu located about an hour from the Volcanoes National Park and is an excellent place to relax after a day of hiking or gorilla trekking. Also, Rubavu marks the beginning of the Congo Nile Trail which extends 227 kilometers to Rusizi, with plenty of riding and trekking options for those seeking more excitement. Rubavu is also well-known for its agritourism opportunities, as there are numerous tea and coffee estates nearby. Tourists visiting Lake Kivu should expect to explore, discover, and journey along its fascinating coastline. Moreover, observe the unusual fishing boats that ply the sea and discover interesting communities as well as beautiful birdlife amid pure calm and tranquillity. 

Visit the Twins Lakes – Burera and Ruhondo

The lovely Lake Ruhondo and Burera twin lakes can be discovered near the Volcanoes National Park. The lakes are situated at the base of the mountains Sabyinyo, Muhabura, Bisoke, and Gahinga. These lakes are known as the twin lakes because they are linked at a point where one lake empties into the other. The lakes are unimaginably gorgeous, surrounded by mountains and a lush forest. Because the lakes are fishing grounds, they are essential not only to people on Rwanda safaris but also to the surrounding local communities.

Most people visit the lakes in the afternoon/evening after participating in park activities such as gorilla trekking. The lakes encompass a beautiful landscape that thrives with a variety of magnificent birds and plant species. Activities such as nature walks, kayaking, birding, camping, cycling, and visiting local fishermen are all options in this area. More so, the lakes offer a lovely view that is quite peaceful and invigorating for honeymooners and couples, especially after finishing tiring activities at Volcanoes National Park.

Hiking Mount Karisimbi & Bisoke

  • Mount Bisoke

Mount Bisoke, also known as “Visoke” is an active volcano in the Albertine Rift, the western arm of the East African Rift Valley. The volcano lies on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; however, the summit is in Rwanda. It is roughly 35 kilometers northeast of Goma and next to Lake Kivu.

Mount Bisoke, at 3,711 meters, is Rwanda’s easiest volcano to hike and thus makes it the most popular hike. The trip to the volcano’s summit and return takes only one day and getting to the summit allows hikers to explore a massive crater as well as see the other Virunga volcanoes and the Volcanoes National Park. If you’re lucky, you might come upon a mountain gorilla or golden monkey group as you climb the mountain’s lower slopes.

  • Mount Karisimbi

Mount Karisimbi is one of Africa’s tallest mountains, elevated at 4,507 meters above sea level, and the tallest of all the Virunga volcanoes. The active stratovolcano is located in Volcanoes National Park and is one of eight volcanoes in the Virunga ranges of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Mount Karisimbi is a two-day hike and though difficult, the hike rewards hikers with stunning vistas of the Virunga massif, the lava-spewing Nyiragongo volcano, Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla & Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Congo’s Virunga National Park.

Hiking Mount Karisimbi is a very popular safari activity on Rwanda safaris and is also sometimes combined with gorilla and golden monkey trekking experiences in the Volcanoes National Park.

Visit the Gorilla Guardians Village

Formerly known as the Iby’iwacu Cultural Village, this center is one of the best cultural villages in Rwanda. The Iby’iwacu cultural village is located in the District of Musanze and is a new notable addition to the menu for potential visitors to the country. The term “Iby’iwacu” is Kinyarwanda for “treasures of our home and history.” On top of the gorgeous scenery and countless green hills that make Rwanda an amazing country, the gorilla guardian village is a must-visit while on Rwanda safaris

The village is one of Rwanda’s most important cultural attractions to visit during Rwanda safaris. It brings together all of Rwanda’s well-known cultural customs, people, and history in one location for display and personal experience. Tourists from around the globe can experience what life is like in a typical African Rwandan village setting including the lifestyle, houses, traditional dances, dress code, food, herbs, and how old kingdoms were managed in general. Tourists can also learn historical hunting techniques, how to weave baskets and mats, and carpentry, to mention but a few. This one-of-a-kind cultural experience has gained the hearts of many people who want to immerse themselves in Rwandan culture after seeing the mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes and viewing wildlife in Akagera. It’s also a great place to relax while shopping for local crafts, presents, and souvenirs to show friends back home.

Best time to go for Rwanda Safaris

The land of a thousand hills can be visited at any time of the year. But the best time to embark on Rwanda Safaris is between June and September when the dry season is at its peak for wildlife viewing. More so, the dry season is when you have the best chance of spotting the country’s undoubted highlight the mountain gorilla. Gorillas and chimpanzees can be seen at any time of year, but the experience is often better in dry weather. Rainforests have a naturally damp environment, and it is impossible to avoid rain altogether. However, walking in the jungle is easier during the dry season, which is also when most primate hikes are recommended.

Furthermore, Rwanda’s Akagera National Park is best visited during the dry season. Wildlife is easier to detect in the park when the savannah is thinner, and animals congregate around the water sources. Because Rwanda is located just south of the Equator, temperatures rarely fluctuate throughout the year. The days are warm, with temperatures ranging from the late teens to the mid-twenties depending on where you go in the country. The nights can be chilly, especially at higher elevations.

Getting to and Around Rwanda

Kigali International Airport (KGL), on the outskirts of Kigali, would most likely be your point of entry into the country on your Rwanda safaris. Rwandair operates daily flights between Kigali and Entebbe, Nairobi and Kigali, Kilimanjaro (near Arusha in Tanzania), and Johannesburg. RwandAir also operates the only domestic route between Kigali and Kamembe Airport (KME) in Rusizi, at the southern end of Lake Kivu. Travelers rarely use this flight though: most of the time, your local tour operator will pick you up from the airport or your hotel and arrange for additional transportation as part of your Rwanda safaris packages.

Getting to Nyungwe Forest National Park

Akagera Aviation, on the other hand, provides charter helicopter transfers to and from any place in the country. Rwanda is quite small, and most people travel inside the country by car. Rwanda’s speed limit is 60 kilometers per hour on all roads. The main roads are generally good, but travel is substantially slower than it is compared to countries in Europe or America. Moreover, secondary roads vary in condition and are frequently sluggish and rocky, particularly near gorilla parks.

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