DESTINATION RWANDA

Rwanda is a landlocked country situated in Central Africa, bordered to the North by Uganda, to the East by Tanzania, to the South by Burundi and to the West by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Considered to be among the smallest countries on the continent, Rwanda’s total area is estimated to be KM2 26,338. According to Rwanda’s National Institute of Statistics (NISR), in 2015, the population density in Rwanda was estimated to be 445 people per KM2 and the total population is approximately 11,809,295 according to 2017 NISR projection.

Rwanda is infamously known as the scene of the 1994 genocide during which more than 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred and which led an estimated 2 million people to flee the country. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) lead by General Paul Kagame put an end to the bloodbath and won control over the country in July 1994.

 

 

9 DAYS RWANDA PRIMATES AND WILDLIFE SAFARI

ABOUT DESTINATION RWANDA

Located in the equatorial Africa, Rwanda is a land locked country at the border of the Great Rift Valley on its western Arm. The 26338km2 sized country is between the two river systems of the Nile and Congo Rivers and 1/5 of the country is covered by lakes with Lake Kivu being the major water body. Nicknamed “The Land of a thousand hills”, Rwanda is mountainous with the highest point at 4507m on Mount Karisimbi which is one of the 8 Volcanoes that make the Greater Virunga chain of volcanoes and it is protected in the Volcanoes National park north of the country.

Rwanda is home to over 13 million people and one of the most densely populated in Africa. The country has only 3 tribes that speak the same language. It is also home and protector of 4 national parks. In the past few years Rwanda has grown into one of Africa’s luxury destinations and tourists flocking the East African country that are mostly looking for a luxury experience.

Exploring Rwanda gives you a package of promises and wonder from rich history, culture, cuisines and nature.

The combination of the high altitude and tropical climate of Rwanda affect the country’s climate humidly and this creates an all year-round temperate climate. It’s rare for temperatures to go below 15o at dusk or 30during the day but the upper slopes of Virunga and the low areas in Akagera national park are exceptional. The driest months in the country begin in July to September the variations in seasons and temperatures are insignificant as most parts of the country receive a precipitation of 1000mm annually.

Being a French colony, French is one of the official languages for the country and also Kinyarwanda, English and Kiswahili. Kiswahili is an East African Language and it is also spoken widely in Rwanda too.

The Rwandan Francs are the most common unit of currency and it is hard or almost impossible to exchange the international currencies away from Kigali but the US dollar is widely accepted at different facilities together with the British pound sterling and the Euros. Major facilities like shopping malls, safari lodges, hotels, airlines accept credit cards. Also cards like VISA and MasterCard.

Planning a safari with Gorillas to Rwanda one needs to have a tourist visa which can be obtained online in advance or on arrival at most of the country’s entry points at 50 USD. For combo/cross border tours, you can purchase the East African Tourist Visa at 100 USD that allows you to visit Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. For more information you can visit www.migration.gov.rw

Rwanda has some of the finest road infrastructure in East Africa. Most visitors book through travel/tour companies who provide private tours. Taxis, Boda Bodas (Motorists) and bus services connect major centers and points in the country and city. You can also chatter helicopter services as they are available anywhere.

Several Airlines, both regional and international serve Rwanda and these include the national carrier Rwanda Air, Uganda Airlines, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Fly Dubai among others. All these arrive at Kigali International Airport (KGL) and this is about 15km from the Central Kigali.  Also Rwanda can be accessed by road from the different countries that neighbor the country like Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and D.R Congo.

ATTRACTIONS IN RWANDA

Made of 4 volcanoes Karisimbi (4501m), Bisoke with a crater lake on top, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura which the country shares with Uganda. Volcanoes national park gets its name from these dormant volcanoes and is located in the northwestern part of Rwanda and is home to endangered mountain gorillas, Golden monkeys and a rich montane ecosystem.

At the park guides and trackers lead travelers as they explore the forest covering the mountainous terrain. It is at this park that the former American researcher Dian Fossey had a research base camp as she conducted her study about gorillas for decades in 1960’s. After her brutal death she was buried at the park and her tomb can be visited to pay respect to her. A museum was built in Musanze for her honor.

Other than Gorilla tracking visitor to the park can engage in Birding and tick off some of the 200 bird species hosted by the park, track the golden monkeys, visit Musanze caves, Volcano hiking, Biking and community tours.

Imagine 13 primate species that include Chimpanzees, L’Hoest monkeys, 1068 plant species, 75 mammals, 322 bird species, and 140 orchids all in one tract of forest in south western Rwanda. All this explains the diversity of Nyungwe national park.

Each of the 13 trails available at the park offer unique experiences and challenges which include encounters with the Black and white colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, Waterfalls and various vintage points that offer views of Lake Kivu and the neighboring countries of DRC and Burundi.

Nyungwe Forest has the most impressive canopy walk suspended from 70m. The 200m long steel walk way at the start of Igishigishigi trail give a bird’s eye view of the stunning green park. You can also visit the community for cultural encounters and visit the tea plantations in the neighboring estates.

When we talk of revival of parks in Africa, Akagera defines if all. Found in 1934 and later given out as farms in 1997 reducing its size to 1122km2 from 2500Kmthe park returned to its glory since 2010 when Africa Parks joined forces with the Republic of Rwanda to have it revived.

The park gets its name from the Akagera River that flow along its boundary in the east feeding into a maze of lakes that include the famous Lake Ihema. Akagera is the country’s only savanna park and home to notable game like the buffalo, leopard, elephants, zebras, and topi. The park was upgraded to Big 5 status with the reintroduction of lions in 2015 and also the recent introduction of Rhinos.

The park is in the north east of Rwanda on the border with Tanzania and the combination of lakes, swamps, highlands and savanna plains give the park an exceptional scenery and a high level of biodiversity. For the ornithologists the park has a recorded checklist of about 500 bird species where you can tick from and these include the Shoebill, Papyrus Gonolek among others

Instated as a national park in 2015 to save it from being depleted by settlers and illegal mining makes Gishwati-Mukura National park Rwanda’s newest park. The two forests of Gishwati and Mukura make the 34sqkm Park.

The park is a sanctuary to one group of 20 chimpanzees, Golden monkeys, L’Hoest’s and blue monkeys. It has a birdlife with 232 species in Gishwati and 163 at Mukura and these include some of the Albertine endemics.

Activities at the park started in 2019 and this why the park is infamous to most of travelers to Rwanda.

This is the capital of Rwanda and the city is a beauty and one of the cleanest and organized cities in Africa. Kigali is home to the country’s Airport which is the start and end for most visitors to the city.

The dynamic and modern city is worth exploration as it host museums that include the Genocide memorial Museum and it is filled with culture. Visiting local markets, restaurants, and craft markets gives light on the fashion, history and feel of Rwanda.

Perfect get away for relaxation and lake side recreation. Lake Kivu is magnificently surrounded by mountains. The island dotted lake with deep emerald green waters is safe for swimming and absolutely stunning. Enjoy Kayaking, canoeing, boat rides and fishing at one of Africa’s great lakes.

The museum is 88km south of Kigali city and is home to the Queen Mother. It contains a host of the kings own possessions including furniture and ornaments. The first buildings make up the colonial style palaces built for King Mutara III Rudahigwa in 1932 and was his residence until his death in 1959.  The walls of the palace chart the history of Rwanda and its Kings through the centuries.

Alongside the colonial palace is a reconstructed traditional palace in the style of that Rwandan Kings used until the 20th century. The beautifully crafted construction offers a detailed insight into the daily life of Rwanda’s monarchy and is made of entirely traditional and local materials. Two further huts have been built to show how two important rituals of royal mile- Milk and Beer were prepared, stored and shared.

In the paddock at the rear is a herd of traditional long horned cattle known as “Inyambo”. This royal breed of cows formed an integral part of Rwandan culture and are treated as sacred. Today these cows are still sung to and groomed but never milked or eaten.

Opposite the colonial type palace, is a second palace set on a hillside designed more in line with the wishes of the King. The palace was constructed in 1957-1959. It host an array of traditional and contemporary Rwandan paintings and structures, with many being post genocide. Sadly, the king never took up residence here as he died shortly before it was completed.

The Rwanda national museum is in Huye south of Kigali about an hour drive. The hugely informative and entertaining museum has several rooms showing exhibits from Rwandan history and culture, representing the country and its people through ancient times.

A full scale replica of traditional huts, original tools, decorations, implements and modes of transport are displayed in the museum. There are also costumes and equipment used by the famous “intore” dancers. The museums reception has a lounge with traditional handcraft where you can grab a souvenir.

Volcanoes National park

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Made of 4 volcanoes Karisimbi (4501m), Bisoke with a crater lake on top, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura which the country shares with Uganda. Its name from these dormant volcanoes and is located in the northwestern part of Rwanda and is home to endangered mountain gorillas.

NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK

Imagine 13 primate species that include Chimpanzees, L’Hoest monkeys, 1068 plant species, 75 mammals, 322 bird species, and 140 orchids all in one tract of forest in south western Rwanda. All this explains the diversity of Nyungwe national park.

 

AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK

When we talk of revival of parks in Africa, Akagera defines if all. Found in 1934 and later given out as farms in 1997 reducing its size to 1122km2 from 2500Kmthe park returned to its glory since 2010 when Africa Parks joined forces with the Republic of Rwanda to have it revived.

LAKE KIVU

Perfect get away for relaxation and lake side recreation. Lake Kivu is magnificently surrounded by mountains. The island dotted lake with deep emerald green waters is safe for swimming and absolutely stunning. Enjoy Kayaking, canoeing, boat rides and fishing at one of Africa’s great lakes.

 

KINGS PALACE MUSEUM

A reconstruction of the traditional royal residence, the King’s Palace is a beautifully-crafted thatched dwelling shaped like a beehive. In olden times, Nyanza was the heart of Rwanda. According to oral tradition, it was the site of battles and power struggles.

 

KIGALI CITY

This is one of the cleanest and organized cities in Africa. Kigali is home to the country’s Airport which is the start and end for most visitors to the city. The dynamic and modern city is worth exploration as it host museums that include the Genocide memorial Museum and it is filled with culture.

GISHWATI-MUKURA NATIONAL PARK

Gishwati-Mukura National park is Rwanda’s newest and smallest park-34 sqkm of 2 separate forests Gishwati and Mukura and the latter being the largest. The park was formed by law in October 2015 and gazetted in February 2016.

 

Musanze Caves

MUSANZE CAVES

The Musanze Cave is 2km long and the most frequently visited. It is on the Innes University grounds and lies in the volcanic region dating back 65 million years. The Musanze caves were opened to tourists in 2013 and they have not gained so much popularity.

Buhanga Eco Park

BUHANGA ECO-PARK

About 20 minutes from Volcanoes National Park is a small ecological forest-Buhanga Eco-park linked to the Rwandan Monarchy. While the area in Musanze is famous for gorillas at Volcanoes, the Musanze caves, among others.

 

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