Rwanda Tourism

Rwanda is a politically stable landlocked country found in Eastern Africa easily accessed from Uganda and Kenya. The small irresistibly beautiful country is surrounded by Tanzania to the east, Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Uganda to the north and Burundi to the south. Popularly referred to as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is a country very rich in flora and fauna as well as stunning natural beauty in its scenic rolling and captivating green savannah. Rare species of animals call this home for example the silverback mountain gorillas as well as unique insects and birds in the tropical forest of Nyungwe.

Tourism in Rwanda has rapidly increased ever since the unfortunate happenings of the 1994 genocide that saw the tourism of Rwanda collapse. The country has 3 national parks namely Akagera national park, Volcanoes national park and Nyungwe national park all of which have amazing scenery and unique features in each of them making it a worthwhile choice to visit each of them. Its cities are also a source of tourism as they have a rich unique history and features that attract tourists. The cities include; Kigali, Ruhengeri now called Musanze, Byumba now called Gicumbi, Huye formerly Butare, Gitarama now called Muhanga, Kibuye now called Karongi, Gisenyi now called Rubavu and Kibungo.

Tourism in Rwanda is very versatile despite it being a very small landlocked country that it may become impossible to exhaust the wonders of nature that exist in the country. Some of the things you cannot miss while in Rwanda include;

Attending the Rwanda Film Festival

The Rwanda Film Festival was founded in 2004 and is held every July at locations across the country. Most of the screenings are held in venues around Kigali, but, as part of a drive to bring culture to the furthest corners of this country, the rural areas are not forgotten, pop-up cinemas are erected in rural Rwanda, showing everything from Hollywood blockbusters to contemporary African documentaries.

Exploring Rwanda’s cool capital, Kigali

Arguably one of the most gorgeous cities in the world, Kigali is far from being haunted by its tumultuous past and is quietly getting on with it. Rwanda’s capital is abuzz with hip new bars, restaurants and hotels. Clean and composed, Kigali is a very safe city and its rising skyline reveals the country’s lofty ambitions, visit Nyamirambo, where colourful shops sell second hand gear and offer an real slice of local life and head to Hillywood, where talented moviemakers are helping shape Rwanda’s burgeoning film industry.

Chilling out in Kibuye

Kibuye is located on the limpid shores of Lake Kivu making this relaxing resort a perfect place to unwind. It’s also interminably beautiful: steep, forested slopes ascend from crystalline waters, which are lined with canoes and fishing boats. The town itself is full of characterful, with a lively market, and there are a burgeoning range of hotels and restaurants right on the shore that finish up the whole picture. It’s also a great place for swimming, kayaking or just kicking back.

Go gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park

Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is by far Rwanda’s biggest tourist. Permits must be booked in advance because only 80 are issued daily at a cost of $750. If you are lucky enough to obtain permits, you are assigned guides and armed guards (to protect them from marauding buffalo) and you will get to spend an incredible hour observing one of the habituated gorilla families.

Feed your brain in Butare

Sometimes referred to as the intellectual capital of the country, Butare is home to Rwanda’s national university. The superb National Museum which houses perhaps the finest ethnographic collection in East Africa gets tourists flooding this town. Absorbing displays of traditional artefacts are illuminated by a selection of turn-of-the-century monochrome photographs, providing insight not only into pre-colonial lifestyles, but also into the subsequent development of Rwanda as a modern African state.

Hit the beach in Gisenyi

Despite Rwanda being landlocked, you can still hit the beach in Gisenyi which is a pretty market town on the edge of Lake Kivu. The town lays claim to a large brewery, which proudly produces Rwanda’s celebrated beer called Primus. Bustling Gisenyi is on the border with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and boasts hot springs nearby.

Chimpanzees & Colobus monkeys in Nyungwe Forest

Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the largest remaining high-altitude rainforests in Africa and is home to the world’s largest troop of colobus monkeys, which have a idiosyncratic black and white coloring. A trek to spot them could have you surrounded by hundreds of the pretty primates, as well as chimpanzees, which are often hovering high up in ficus trees.

Look for golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is popular for its mountain gorillas, but visitors can also go in search of the endangered golden monkeys. These elusive creatures hang out quite low down in the vertiginous national park, so they are a good warm up for their loftier-living cousins. The good news is a permit to see them is also considerably cheaper than that for the gorillas.

Pay your respects at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center

In 1994 East Africa was shaken with horror when approximately one million Tutsis and scores of Hutus – the two main groups in Rwanda – were murdered during the ghastly Rwandan Genocide. The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre pays tribute to these victims many of who were buried in a mass grave outside, and chronicles the events that led to the slaughter. It’s a heart breaking encounter, of course, but there are uplifting tales amongst the bleakness.

Take a safari in Akagera National Park

After the genocide Akagera National Park was encroached by returning refugees and much of the wildlife was wiped out. With a combined effort of the Rwandan government and Africa Parks, has rehomed these displaced people and begun restoring Akagera to its former glory. In 2015 they reintroduced lions to complete the big 5. Big cats are the star attraction, but visitors also have the chance to see elephants, leopards, crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, apes and some 500 species of bird.

Walk in the clouds in Nyungwe Forest

The lofty canopy walk is the first of its kind in the region and was opened in 2010. Towering at 50m (164ft) above the forest floor, this swaying walkway is not for the faint hearted, but it does offer superb views across the rainforest canopy and, if you’re lucky, you might come face to face with rare birds and monkeys.

Trek to Dian Fossey’s grave in Volcanoes National Park

Dian Fossey was an American zoologist who gave up her life to study the primates in Rwanda and also protect them from merciless poachers. In 1967 Fossey moved to Volcanoes National Park where she fought tooth and nail to protect the critically endangered species. She succeeded, but was later murdered in the process by an unknown assailant. She was buried next to her favorite gorilla and her gravestone has become a pilgrimage site for naturalists, who trek four-hours through the steamy forest to pay their respects. Guides here are essential.