Located in the East African region, Rwanda-world renown as “the land of a thousand hills”, is a small landlocked country bordered by Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Tanzania. She is uniquely endowed as you will see the 7 best things to do in Rwanda in this article.
Small as it is, Rwanda offers a variety of spectacular activities to get involved in. The 7 best things to do in Rwanda are described below.
Located in north western Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park was the very first national park to be created in Africa (first gazetted in 1925) and was the base for the American primatologist Dian Fossey who established the Karisoke Research Centre between Karisimbi and Bisoke to carry out her research into the gorillas.
Volcanoes National Park is only a 2 hour’s drive from Kigali-the capital of Rwanda and is home to over 300 mountain gorillas living in over 10 families. Volcanoes National Park covers 160 square kilometers of rain forest and encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga mountains.
When in Kigali city, you have a variety of spectacular tourist sites to visit and learn about the interesting history and culture of Rwanda. Some of these interesting places that make up the 7 best things to do in Rwanda and can be visited include;
The Kigali genocide memorial site
The Kigali genocide memorial is the place where over 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi where given a dignified burial. The site provides an opportunity to visitors wishing to learn and understand the events leading to the genocide. The significance of these dark tourism site makes it one of the 7 best things to do in Rwanda.
Kigali has several craft markets where you can visit and see the different hand-made products. The most prominent of them being Caplaki Craft Village. Nothing will always remind you of a destination visited like a souvenir purchased.
Have fun while shopping in Caplaki Craft Village where you will find and pick up uniquely Rwandan hand-made crafts. While here, you should not miss out on picking some of these uniquely Rwanda handicraft; Wood-carved masks, Imigongo which is a wall hanging made of dung, paper bead necklaces and of course not forgetting to grab some Rwandan coffee.
Hiking Mount Bisoke
Mount Bisoke hiking shouldn’t miss out on your bucket-list of the 7 most interesting things to do in Rwanda. Eight volcanoes are found in the Virunga massif and mount Bisoke which is also known as “Visoke” is one of them.
Towering at 12,175 ft., mount Bisoke provides a good opportunity for visitors interested in hiking. More interesting about the mount Bisoke hike is the fact that it has got two crater lakes with beautiful scenery.
Your hiking experience could even become mind-blowing due to the possibility of coming across a gorilla family or golden monkeys. In such an event however, you will be allowed only 10 minutes to see but not take photos of the gorillas. Other mammals you are most likely to meet along the trail include forest elephants, several bird species and buffaloes.
Like Uganda, chimpanzee trekking is also done in Rwanda. This primate-tracking activity can be done only Nyungwe National Park. (Nyungwe and Cyamudongo forests). Nyungwe National Park is a sanctuary to over 400 chimpanzees. Not only does it shelter chimpanzees but also 12 other primate species which include; silver monkeys, blue monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, Mona monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, baboons, Rwenzori colobus, black-and-white colobus monkeys to mention a few.
Chimpanzee trekking is quite unique from gorilla trekking. Gorillas are gentler and stay in one place for a longer time before moving away. Chimpanzees on the other hand are noisy and keep swinging from one branch to the other thanks to their lighter weight. Chimpanzee trekking can also be combined with the thrilling canopy walk that presents to you beautiful views of the forest and some animal species.
Akagera National Park
Visiting Rwanda for primate tracking without a game drive for wildlife viewing is an incomplete trip. Game drives make your Rwandan safari complete and there is no better place in Rwanda to do this than at Akagera National Park.
With just a two hour’s drive from the capital Kigali, you can visit the 1,140 square kilometer Akagera National Park and see all the Big Five.
Wind down your Rwandan safari with a mind-relaxing visit to Lake Kivu-Rwanda’s largest lake which is strategically situated at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lake Kivu is about 2,700 square kilometers in size with the biggest part of it (about 58%) being situated in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the other part of its waters in Rwanda.