A Rwandan safari might seem a strange choice. Rwanda’s name is more loosely associated with half-remembered news reports of troubles and ‘genocide’ in the heart of Africa. Friends may ask: ‘Why holiday in Rwanda?’
The obvious reason is Rwanda’s mountain gorillas, some of the closest relatives to humans. Sitting within a small family group of gorillas is one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences, and a gorilla safari is a ‘must’ for serious wildlife enthusiasts. But aside from Rwanda’s gorillas, a holiday could include the primates in the forests of Nyungwe; the country’s magnificent scenery; Akagera National Park’s more conventional African wildlife; and the beautiful shore of Lake Kivu. Travel in Rwanda is very easy and we’ll arrange a 4WD and driver/guide for your safari.
For an alternative reason – Rwanda’s past – see towards the bottom of this page for our thoughts; and rest assured that anyone from the country would urge you to come to Rwanda on holiday. Meanwhile, if you’re thinking of a safari in Rwanda, the main areas to consider are:
Volcanoes National Park
The main focus of interest for most visitors is the Volcanoes National Park, which incorporates Rwanda’s section of the Virunga Mountains. This chain of volcanoes is home to the worlds’ few remaining mountain gorillas; Rwanda has approximately half of the world’s population. With such a stunning backdrop, a gorilla safari here is the highlight of any holiday.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Tucked away in the south-west corner of Rwanda, a visit to Nyungwe is a good reason to extend your holiday in Rwanda beyond a gorilla safari. Nyungwe’s diverse wildlife includes many species of mammals, birds, butterflies and orchids. Walkers will enjoy its hiking trails, from which several species of primate are often seen, whilst devoted chimpanzee-tracking hikes are possible for the energetic.
Akagera National Park
Named after the river which bounds it, Akagera lies at a lower altitude than Rwanda’s other parks. This natural savannah environment is reminiscent of Africa’s better-known safari reserves in Tanzania and Kenya – and the game can be good, but doesn’t quite match the best of them. That said, lakes and swamps add variety, and the birding can be excellent.
Rwanda’s attractive capital, Kigali, spreads out over several hills; it’s a pleasant place to stop overnight at the start or end of a holiday if you need to. Because Kigali is in the centre of Rwanda, which is a fairly small country, travelling to anywhere from here is fairly quick. Kigali is also the place to visit the museum devoted to the genocide, and several major memorials devoted to it.
The shore of Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu forms Rwandas’ eastern boarder, and the scenery of hillsides plunging into the lake is often stunning. Visit to relax and explore: in the north is the town of Gisenyi; Kibuye stands in the middle; and Cyangugu is furthest south.
Although Rwanda’s natural history is amazing, Rwanda’s gorilla safaris are not the only aspect of the country that you’ll remember. In 1994, Rwanda’s bloody civil war spilled across the world’s headlines, known almost universally as ‘the genocide’. Now, many years after Rwanda’s genocide, the country is peaceful. Its democratic government promotes harmony, not strife, and people look forward with optimism. Many are keen to tell of their past, keen to tell the world what happened, and to guard against it ever happening again.
For the thinking visitor, Rwanda’s history is as real a reason to visit the country on holiday as its safari to see mountain gorillas.
Safaris in Rwanda
Rwanda’s facilities and hotels are sometimes basic; service and food can be poor, as many staff are new to tourism. It’s not a place to drive yourself, but we have a team of capable driver/guides who can take you on a safari in your own 4WD, so you control the pace and the schedule each day.
To glimpse the heart of contemporary Africa, for some wonderful wildlife viewing and a thought-provoking holiday, a safari Rwanda can be fascinating.