Rwanda Tourist Destinations
Gorilla trekking is a popular activity among visitors to Rwanda and is usually at the top of their list of things to do there. Travelers from all over the world are enthralled by the mystery of getting up close to animals that share 99 percent of our DNA, and Rwanda is the ideal location to do it. To safeguard the creatures, the nation has made significant conservation progress.
Rwanda has a lot to offer, but the opportunity to witness these gentle giants is just the beginning. The 1994 Rwandan genocide left the nation in ruins, but it has made remarkable progress in recent years to transform into a tranquil, inviting destination with a wealth of things to do.
Nature enthusiasts can go on safari in Akagera National Park and take a canopy walk to obtain a birds-eye perspective of Nyungwe Forest. Visit Rwanda’s Ethnographic Museum to see the fascinating displays of local traditions and beliefs if you’re interested in culture. The King’s Palace Museum’s royal cows (and the singers who sang to them) are not to be missed.
Our selection of the top tourist destinations in Rwanda will help you get the most out of your trip.
- Volcanoes National Park
The best thing to do in Rwanda is unquestionably going gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. This national park in Rwanda, which shares a border with both Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is home to an increasing number of critically endangered mountain gorillas. A huge increase from the 240–250 gorillas present in the park in 1981, experts believe that there are now roughly 600 of them there.
You will need to pay $1,500 for one of the few available daily hiking permits to see one of the 18 mountain gorilla families that have become accustomed to people. The most straightforward method to go about it is through a reputable tour operator, who can also organize transportation from Kigali to the park’s administrative center.
Usually lasting four to eight hours, the walk involves traveling through mysterious bamboo forests, untamed meadows, and swampy terrain. One of the habituated gorilla families will eventually be reached with the help of national park staff guides. You’ll spend an hour watching the animals as they eat, look after their young, and engage in social interactions.
In Rwanda, going in search of gorillas is generally seen as a safe activity. Most gorillas are uninterested in the presence of humans. Visitors are protected from any risks by armed guides who communicate with the gorillas using a variety of clicking noises, making the experience unforgettable.
At the beginning of the treks in Volcanoes National Park, porters are available. Hiring one for the day is worthwhile because they can carry your belongings and keep you from slipping on muddy walkways.
Are you curious to know more about mountain gorillas? Visit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Karisoke Research Center in the neighboring town of Musanze after your trekking trip. It has a compact but well-stocked museum dedicated to mountain gorillas and the work of Dian Fossey, an environmentalist whose efforts to safeguard gorillas were made famous by the 1988 dramatization of Gorillas in the Mist.
- Kigali Genocide Memorial
It’s difficult to believe that less than two decades ago, Rwanda was experiencing a brutal genocide that claimed the lives of more than 1000,000 people in just 100 days. Although the nation has made great strides since the horrifying tragedy, the legacy of this recent history will continue to affect present-day individuals and future generations.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial is a place where tourists can learn about this horrifying incident. The eerie museum explores the events that led up to the 1994 genocide and vividly depicts the horrors through galleries of images, artifacts, and data. The main exhibit hall is surrounded by somber sculptures and has stained-glass windows that illuminate the area with optimism. Another ongoing permanent exhibit at the museum explores the history of global genocide and international community efforts to intervene, providing context for the Rwandan genocide.
- Nyungwe Forest National Park
In addition to 1,068 plant species, 322 bird species, and 75 different types of mammals, Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the most significant forest conservation places in all of Africa.
The majority of visitors to this rainforest come to observe the chimpanzees, who park rangers have trained to become used to people. Although less expensive than going gorilla trekking, this wildlife encounter is just as remarkable.
There are more activities besides hanging out with primates in Nyungwe. The only canopy walk in East Africa is also located in the park; it is about a 90-minute hike from the Uwinka Visitor Center.
Walking across a 91-meter-long suspension bridge that hangs more than 50 meters above the lush jungle will give you an incredible view of the distant mountains and treetops.
Do you fear heights? If you want a thrilling journey that doesn’t defy gravity, skip the canopy tour and instead walk along one of the park’s 15 hiking paths.
- King’s Palace Museum
If Rwandans’ fervent conservation efforts aren’t enough to persuade you of their love for animals, a trip to the King’s Palace Museum would. The inyambo (holy cows) and their obscenely huge horns are the museum’s main draw. It is one of Rwanda’s eight national museums. The cows are lulled into a relaxed condition during the day by traditional singers shouting out poems—a Rwandan tradition. The museum itself is just as fascinating as the animals on four legs in the back. It displays a recreation of a 15th-century king’s palace with a thatched roof, a royal hut, and a fresh milk hut that is often managed by an unmarried lady.
The colonial-style residence that served as King Mutara III Rudahigwa’s palace in the middle of the 20th century is also open to visitors. The interior decor is very remarkable, fusing Rwandan motifs with furniture in the European style (some of which were actually owned by the king).
- Akagera National Park
Without a game drive, an African vacation would be incomplete. Within two and a half hours of Kigali, visitors can satisfy their desire to go on a safari at Akagera National Park.
The wildlife of Akagera, which is under the management of the African Parks organization, has miraculously recovered from near extinction following the genocide in Rwanda. All of the Big Five mammals are currently present in the 1,140-square-kilometer area, which is one of Central Africa’s largest protected wetlands. There are also numerous birds and antelope.
If you want to see a lion or rhino at Akagera, you’ll need a lot of luck because conservationists are still trying to increase their populations. On a self-drive safari, though, you won’t have any trouble spotting zebras, hippos, Nile crocodiles, elephants, and giraffes. Both the creatures that inhabit this area and the terrain itself are magnificent. You’ll notice a beautiful change in the landscape from savannah plains to wetlands and lakes.
- Lake Kivu
You’ll be ready to rest after all of your outdoor activities, and there is no better spot to do so in Rwanda than in Lake Kivu. The largest lake in Rwanda measures 2,700 square kilometers and is encircled by hazy mountains. Take it all in from the resort town of Rubavu on the northernmost point of Lake Kivu. There are beautiful resorts there as well as a bustling waterfront. Spending a few days in this tranquil village will rejuvenate you.
With Kingfisher Journeys, you may get even closer to the scenery. The tour operator can offer unforgettable multi-day paddling expeditions as well as breathtaking sunset kayak trips with singing fishermen on Lake Kivu.
- Ethnographic Museum
The Rwandan Ethnographic Museum is housed in the district of Huye and has one of Africa’s best collections of ethnological and archaeological items. It is situated about 130 kilometers south of Kigali. In 1989, in recognition of the 25th anniversary of Rwanda’s independence, Belgium gave the museum to the city.
The seven exhibits of the Ethnographic Museum transported visitors to Rwanda before its colonization. A stunning assortment of woven baskets, traditional clothing made of animal hides and woven grass, spears, arrows, musical instruments from hundreds of years ago, and antiquated farming implements will be on display.
Visitors can see a real royal residence and see how it was built. Live handcraft demonstrations are another feature of the exhibition.
- Gorilla Guardians Village
The Gorilla Guardians Village in Volcanoes National Park is a fantastic site to learn about Rwandan culture in addition to being a great place to watch gorillas. The non-profit cultural village, which is run by ex-poachers, offers visitors the option to participate in some of Rwanda’s most well-known crafts and activities.
You’ll learn how to fire an arrow, make your baskets, and crush grains with a large stone, much like the Rwandan women do. The engaging tour guides make the entire event seem like a big celebration.
The intore dancing performances at Gorilla Guardians Village are worth staying for. To the beat of rhythmic drumming, the traditional dancers put on a thrilling performance while wearing long straw wigs and skirts.
- Meals: breakfasts, lunches
- Private Transport: 4x4 safari vehicle.
- Driver and Fuel
- Porters and Rangers
- Arrival transfer
- Entrances fees ( Where Applicable)
- English or French speaking guide
- Site permits
- All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
- Airfare to and from destination
- Trip cancellation insurance
- Any activity not described in What's Included
- Beers and Hotel
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