|When to go|
Volcanoes National Park
|When to go|
|When to go|
Rwanda is one of the smallest countries on the African mainland but packed into this tiny country there is a wealth of reasons to visit - gorillas, golden monkeys, chimpanzees, the big 5 on safari, tea estates, mountains and stunning scenery, ancient woodlands and forests, a fascinating culture and very rich history. Kigali – Rwanda’s capital – has some new and vibrant places to stay and the city is worth lingering in for a few days to enjoy local markets and art, museums and cuisine. Kigali is one of the safest cities in Africa and it is perfectly fine to walk and explore yourself.
Rwanda is known as the Land of 1,000 hills and is culturally rich and ecologically diverse. The country has recovered exceptionally well from the Genocide in 1994 and for those interested there are a number of Genocide Museums dotted around the country which you can visit. Rwanda's economy is primarily based on subsistence agriculture and it produces and exports some of the world’s finest tea and coffee.
Located a few degrees south of the Equator and bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda is highly elevated dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east and with numerous lakes. The climate is temperate to subtropical with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year. Rwanda has a young population of over 12.6 million people drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group - the Banyarwanda - although within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa who are forest dwelling pygmy people.
The greatest diversity of large mammals and wildlife is found in Rwanda's three National Parks which are designated conservation areas. Akagera contains typical savanna animals such as giraffes and elephants, while Volcanoes is home to an estimated one-third of the worldwide mountain gorilla population. Nyungwe Forest boasts thirteen primate species including common chimpanzees and Ruwenzori colobus arboreal monkeys; the Ruwenzori colobus move in groups of up to 400 individuals, the largest troop size of any primate in Africa.
There are 670 bird species in Rwanda with variation between the east and the west. Nyungwe Forest in the west has 280 recorded species - 26 are endemic to the Albertine Rift and include the Rwenzori turaco and handsome spurfowl. Eastern Rwanda, by contrast, features savanna birds such as the black-headed gonolek and those associated with swamps and lakes, including storks and cranes.
Perhaps the best known national park is the Volcanoes National Park located in the Virunga Mountains spanning the borders of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. This area, protected by all three countries, is the home of the endangered Mountain Gorilla - gorilla berengei. Vegetation in the Volcanoes National Park is mostly bamboo and moorland, with small areas of forest.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is among the largest forests remaining in Africa and stands as one of the largest mountainous rain forests in the world with over 200 species of trees and a variety orchids and begonias. It has 13 species of primates including chimpanzees, an enormous troop of Colobus monkeys, Gray-Cheeked Mangabey, and a variety of guenon monkeys, including l'Hoest's and Owl-Faced monkeys.
The forest has over 300 species of birds with many iridescent fruit-eating varieties, and nearly 100 varieties of orchid. Stay and relax at a luxury lodge set within a sea of tea plantations with outrageously beautiful views of the ancient rainforest.
Akagera National Park is located on the border with Tanzania in the north east of the country and offers excellent game and bird viewing. The park has a savanna ecosystem in which acacia dominates the flora and there are several rare or endangered plant species in Akagera, including Markhamia lutea and Eulophia guineensis. The park is home to herds of elephant and buffalo, hippo, crocodile, rhino, leopard, spotted hyena, lion, giraffe and zebra and more than 12 types of antelope.
With the opening of Magashi Camp within a private concession in Akagera, it is now possible to enjoy a safari in comfort and style with the possibility to see the big 5. Situated in the diverse north-eastern corner of Akagera the camp overlooks Lake Rwanyakazinga.
Akagera boasts some of the most scenic savannah in East Africa – open plains, woodlands, lakes, swamp, and grassy low mountains – and is home to one of Africa’s highest hippo densities, some very large crocodiles as well as the rare sitatunga and more than 520 bird species.
Lining the lakes are some of the continent’s densest concentrations of water birds, while the in the connecting marshes you can find the endangered and exquisite papyrus gonolek, and the bizarre shoebill stork - the latter perhaps the most eagerly sought of all African birds.
Volcanoes National Park and the protection it offers endangered species tells a story of Rwanda - a country that is always looking ahead with positivity both nationally and locally. From the nationwide ban on plastic bags to the regular Umuganda - national community cleaning efforts - Rwanda clearly demonstrates a pride in its communities and the natural world. The permit to view mountain gorillas not only allows the most respectful encounter with limited numbers in each group - the money raised also contributes to the local environment, community reimbursement and national initiatives.
We have recently returned from exploring Rwanda and this country has so much to offer - you can now trek to see gorillas, golden monkeys and chimps AND see the big 5 in one country! Have a look through our itineraries which will give you an idea of what Rwanda has to offer. Tell us where you would like to visit and what you would like to see and do and we will tailor make your journey to your exact budget and requirements. We offer all levels of lodges from budget to the very best – including Bisate, Singita, Magashi and One & Only properties – all of which we have personally visited.
Talk to someone who has been there - call us on 01984 667420 or email [email protected] to start planning your Rwanda adventure!