Top things to do in Rwanda : Rwanda is a small country which for long was known, ninety percent for its dark history of war and genocide, and, may be the mountain gorillas taking the ten percent providing a silver lining on this darkness. Having fought so hard to get out of the shadow of her haunting past, Rwanda can now show her true beauty to the world.
Things you can do when you visit Rwanda
Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park
The famous gorilla trekking is obviously number one of things to do in Rwanda. Most tourists visiting Rwanda have the gorilla trek as the primary tour and other tours as additions. Rwanda has a third of the world’s mountain gorilla population in Volcanoes national park and an encounter with a family of these gentle giants in their natural environment is one of the best nature experiences ever.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda costs $1,500, which, is quite expensive, much higher compared to gorilla tracking in Uganda, however this means more money goes into conservation. Also, the high fee means there are less crowds making the experience more exclusive and enjoyable for those who can afford.
Big five safari in Akagera National Park
Rwanda has been more popular as a gorillas or primates destination and not known as a big game safaris destination. But this is changing as the country’s only savannah region & park, Akagera national park, now has all the famous big five animals (Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant) in addition to a variety of many other animals and wildlife. However, Akagera’s breathtaking scenery sets it from other more popular game parks in the region. The park which had been nearly all destroyed during the past civil wars has seen tremendous recovery over the past 10 years under capable management of African Parks and now offers wonderful safaris. A big five safari in Akagera national park is now one of the top things to do in Rwanda.
Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe National Park
The chimpanzees are our closest relatives and an encounter with them is epic as you get to observe many similar features and traits between chimp and human. The experience with chimps is nothing like with the gorillas, as the chimps are very active and do loud vocalizations and actions, which are thrilling and hair-raising. It is an incredible experience! Rwanda is one the best destinations to see the chimpanzees with a population of more than 500 chimps in Nyungwe forest national park which is the premier destination for chimpanzee in Rwanda. The chimpanzee tour is also cheap as the Chimpanzee tracking permit costs only $90 (compare with $1500 for gorillas)
Canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park
The canopy walk in Nyungwe forest national park has become one of the iconic attractions showing the beautiful nature of Rwanda, featuring prominently in pictures of travel magazines and guides. Nyungwe National Park is a must visit destination in Rwanda and the canopy walk offers an amazing experience of one of the oldest forests in Africa. The walkway suspends over a deep valley and offers incredible views across the forest clad mountains, and gives special access into the canopy as you walk at eye-level with canopy dwellers such as monkeys and birds. The canopy walk is often combined with other adventures in Nyungwe such as the chimpanzee trek
Golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes National Park
The golden monkeys are some of the most beautiful monkeys you will ever see. They are found in the Virunga Mountains, same home of the mountain gorillas but are overshadowed by the popular mountain gorillas. The golden monkey track gives you are chance to spend an hour with a troop of more than 100 monkeys. They are incredibly photogenic and very active monkeys and not shy to move so close to you as they hope from bamboo tree to another. The monkeys live in the lower slopes of the mountains hence the trek is not challenging (a good alternative for those who want to experience the Virungas but are worried of challenging treks). The golden monkey trek is mostly included as an addition to the Rwanda gorilla tour.
Volcano hiking in the Virunga Mountains
The amazing Virunga Mountains offer some of the most beautiful hiking adventure in the world. The Virunga Mountains are made up of a chain of 8 major volcanoes sprawling along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo. There are 5 volcanoes on the Rwandan border that make up Volcanoes National Park. The most popular hike is on Mount Bisoke (3,711 meters) to the beautiful Crater Lake at the summit and along the hike you enjoy incredible views of the Virungas and encounter unique wildlife and there is a chance of bumping into the gorillas.
Cycling/biking the Congo – Nile trail
Rwanda is an amazing cycling/biking destination because of her breathtaking scenery of dramatic landscape of lush hills and mountains, sprawling forests and beautiful lakeshores. The most popular cycling trail where most cycling is done in Rwanda is the Congo – Nile trail which starts from the southwest of Rwanda in Nyungwe Forest National Park, goes along Lake Kivu to the north in the foothills of the Virunga mountain. The Congo – Nile trail provides a 6 day/5 day cycling adventure with stops in beautiful spots along Lake Kivu, the countryside and attractions.
Experience rich culture of Rwanda and community life
The Rwandan people have a rich culture that predates many centuries. Even with modernization, this culture has been preserved and is lived by many societies in Rwanda. There are many projects throughout the country that give you a chance to meet the local people in a traditional setting. Beyond the gorillas, monkeys and primates you can visit a host family and experience their day-to-day traditional life, visit museums where the history and culture of Rwanda is exhibited through dances and folklore, craft weaving etc…
Relaxation getaways and adventures at Lake Kivu & other water bodies
Rwanda’s beautiful water destinations offer ultimate relaxations after treks and water adventures for the discerning outdoors lovers. Lake Kivu is the biggest lake in Rwanda that is located on the border with the corner. It has beautiful beaches you can visit for memorable getaway. The lake is also a source of water adventures such as kayaking, surfing, boat cruises, fishing etc
Visiting genocide memorials in Rwanda
Visiting Rwanda without having an insight into its tragic history is almost not a complete tour. The genocide memorials & museums in Rwanda highlight what Rwanda has gone through and what it has taken the country to recover and make a complete turnaround under the leadership of President Kagame. The visit to the genocide memorials also provide vital lessons on what humans are capable of and a revelation that we need to do more as humans to avoid a repeat of another catastrophe of that kind anywhere in the world.
Birding in Rwanda – home of the Albertine rift endemics
Rwanda is a great birding destination with more than 700 birds within a small size making it ideal for birding as you access birding spots quickly and easily. The country has a variety of habitats and that means many different species of birds. Rwanda is mostly birded for Albertine rift valley endemics, which are 27 of the total 40. It is arguably the best destination for Albertine rift endemics.
Kwita Izina Baby gorilla naming ceremony
Kwita Izina, which translates “giving a name” is a newly introduced tradition of giving newly born gorilla babies names born in the past year. It happens every 6th of Sept every year. The tradition was borrowed from the Rwandan culture where communities come together to name a newborn baby in the community. Kwita Izina is being used to raise awareness and promote conservation. The ceremony is open for visitors to attend and it is a wonderful ceremony to plan and add to your trip and gorilla adventure in Rwanda.