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Rwanda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. This landlocked country is found in  East Africa. The country is characterized with mountainous landscape that has earned it the nickname “Land of a Thousand Hills.” The country is most known for hosting the endangered mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park.

Rwanda is blessed to be among the only three countries in the world where one can see the endangered mountain gorillas in the world. These great apes are jealosuly protected in the Virunga Massif in the northern part of the country.

Rwanda is one of the best destinations where one can see the endangered mountain gorillas. Rwanda itself is stable after the terrible events of 1994 and is widely held to be one of the safest countries in Africa to visit. The flight to Kigali from the other East African capitals takes only about an hour while the journey to the Virungas takes a little longer but is on a fast, well maintained road.

Quick Facts

Official name: Republic of Rwanda
Capital: Kigali
Currency: Rwanda Francs
Official languages: Kinyarwanda, English & French
Area (km2):
Population:
GDP per capita (PPP) (US$):
Time zone: GMT +2
Drives on the: Left
ISO 3166 code:
Calling code: +

Top Rwanda Attractions

Apart from the mountain gorillas, there are lots of other things to see in Rwanda given the amazing sights and sounds, unique culture, great scenic beauty etc. Here are some of the best things to see in Rwanda;

Birds – Rwanda is also one of Africa’s top birding countries, with an incredible 670 different bird species recorded. Botanists will enjoy the gorgeous wildflowers of the forests and mountains, capped by more than 100 orchid species in Nyungwe forest alone.

Chimpanzees

The country hosts the endangered chimpanzees in two national parks; Nyungwe Forest National Park and Giswati Mukura National Park.

Getting There:

From Kigali, you need to get to Muzanze. Muzanze is a 90 minute drive from Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. You can either hire a private care or take a public taxi minibus. From there, you need to get to Kinigi, where the trip begins. Vehicles can be hired for this purpose in Musanze town.

On the day of you are scheduled to trek, you must present yourself for briefing at the RDB Tourism & Conservation offices situated at the prefecture offices in Kinigi at 7:00 AM.

Language:

RDB Tourism & Conservation currently has English and French speaking trained guides as well as a team of 80 trained gorilla trackers many of whom speak French or English.

Climate:

The climate in Musanze is changeable and you can generally expect both sun and rainfall during the day. At 1,700m above sea level, the city is generally quite cold, particularly in the evening, so warm clothing is advised. A combination of tropical location and high altitude ensures that most of Rwanda has a temperate year-round climate; temperatures rarely stay above 30 degrees Celsius by day or below 15 degrees Celsius by night. The exceptions are the chilly upper slopes of the Virunga Mountains, and the hot low-lying Tanzania border area protected in Akagera National Park. Throughout the country, seasonal variations in temperature are relatively insignificant.

By African standards, Rwanda has a moist climate, with most parts of the country receiving in excess of 1,000mm of precipitation annually (higher in the forested mountains). The driest months are July to September, when rain is very unusual. The wettest are February to May, when most parts of the country typically receive around 150-200mm per month.

Geography

Rwanda is a small landlocked republic in Equatorial Africa. It lies on the eastern rim of the Albertine Rift, a western arm of the Great Rift Valley, and the watershed between Africa’s two largest river systems: the Nile and the Congo. Much of the country’s 26,338km2 is dramatically mountainous, the highest peak being Karisimbi (4,507m), part of the volcanic Virunga chain in the northwest. Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa, and heavily cultivated, with even the steepest hills outside of conservation areas being tightly terraced from base to peak. The largest body of water is Lake Kivu in the Albertine Rift. Numerous other lakes are dotted around the country, notably Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi and Mugasera, all of which have erratic shapes following the contours of the steep mountains, which enclose them.

History

Until about 2000 years ago, Rwanda was the domain of hunter-gatherers, gradually displaced by agricultural and pastoral societies, which migrated to central Africa from elsewhere in the continent. A centralized state emerged in the fifteenth century with the formation of a feudal monarchy, which shared similar roots, and customs with the Buganda and Bunyoro Empires of neighbouring Uganda. Rwanda was colonized by Germany in 1890, and together with neighbouring Burundi it was mandated to Belgium following the defeat of Germany in the First World War. Rwanda was granted independence in 1962, under Prime Minister Grégoire Kayibanda. Ten years later, Kayibanda was ousted by Major General Juvénal Habyarimana, whose death in a mysterious plane crash in 1994 is widely regarded as having been the spark that ignited an already planned genocide in which up to one million Rwandans died and twice as many fled into exile. Although outside perceptions are understandably dominated by events surrounding the genocide, Rwanda has in fact enjoyed a high level of political stability since 1995, during which time most of the exiles have returned, several of the main instigators of the genocide have been tried at the Arusha tribunal, and the country as a whole has been peaceful.

Conservation areas

Rwanda has three main conservation areas. The Parc National des Volcans in the northwest protects the Rwandese part of the Virunga Volcanoes, and is best known for its population of mountain gorillas.

Akagera National Park in the east is dominated by savannah and wetlands, and protects big game species characteristic of such habitats.

Nyungwe National Park is the largest conservation area in the country, a 970km2 tract of rainforest with on of the highest biodiversity levels in Africa. The Nyungwe Forest National Park has a large tract of mountain forest and is rich in biodiversity. Guided walks and chimpanzee tracking is offered.

Lake Kivu has recreational facilities as well, but there is still significant potential that could be developed.