Rwanda Safari Tours
A guide to Rwanda safari tours, things to do, attractions, where to stay and travel information.
The Republic of Rwanda, also known as the land of the hills, is located in Eastern Africa and is bordered by Uganda in the North, Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, Tanzania in the East and Burundi in the south. Rwanda is the fourth smallest country in the world measuring about 26,300 square kilometers and is landlocked and mountainous. It is due to this that it is nicknamed “the land of a thousand hills”. With a population of 1.13million people (as per 2013 statistics), Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa. However, Rwanda is also a jewel in Africa’s crown. It is the best performing country in East and Central Africa, economically and its landscape of uplands and hills covered with farmer’s terraces of crops makes for a spellbinding view. The small nation is also exemplary in fighting for environmental conservation with it’s ban on plastic bags which cause littering and are not easily recycled. Their mantra is. “No plastic bags” otherwise called polythene bags. They also manage to maintain manicured lawns and anyone who tramples on grass in Rwanda is likely to be in trouble with the law or at least earn looks of disapproval from locals. Also flip flops are prohibited within the city of Kigali. The capital city, Kigali, is furthermore one of the cleanest cities on the globe and one would be hard done to find any rubbish littered around. The citizens themselves are well mannered in disposing off their rubbish respectfully and responsibly, something perhaps which they learn every last Saturday of the month since it is mandatory for all residents to help with the cleaning their beloved city. On top of being spotless, Kigali has been touted as one of the few cities in Africa in which things work! The traffic lights work, the street lights work, and even the traffic policemen work diligently and corruption free.
Rwanda has also set an example in championing the cause for women as it is the only country on earth with a majority of parliament seats taken by women. Up to 51% of MPs in Rwanda are women. Rwanda is also very well known for the famous mountain Gorillas which attract tourists from far and wide to come to the landlocked country to track down the closest cousins of man. Beside the Gorillas, Rwanda is also rich with other primates like Golden Monkeys and Chimpanzees.
Rwanda Safaris, Things To Do
Visit The Genocide Memorial
You can visit the Genocide Memorial Museum which was built by the Aegis Trust in conjunction with the Rwandese government. Rwandese tell their story of the horrific turn of events. In just the length of 100 days, 1million Tutsis and a number of sympathizing Hutus were massacred by the Intarahamwe rebels after the President, Habyarimana, a Hutu was assassinated when his plane was shot out of the sky. At this site, about 259,000 victims are buried. The tour is set up in a series of audios and videos in which the story is told and some survivors tell first hand versions. You will also view photos of the countless victims including children which will bring you to tears as you contemplate the extremities that man drives himself to. After the tour, you can have a drink at the cafeteria to cool off before going out.
Visit the National Museum.
The National Museum was gifted to the Rwandese by the Belgian government to commemorate Rwanda’s 25th year of Independence and is one of the most beautiful structures in the country. The museum is very vital in the region as it has the best ethnological and archeological collection. In the Museum you will be able to see the relief map showing the topography of Rwanda which looks like a crumpled piece of paper. The museum also showcases housing and compounds of pre-colonial time, traditional clothing, traditional tools and so much more that will give you a sneak peak into Rwanda people’s culture.
Go Tracking Mountain Gorillas In The Volcanoes National Park.
The Volcanoes National Park is situated on the border with Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda and it encompasses Rwanda’s section of the Virunga Ranges. The Virunga ranges are a series of five active volcanoes with the highest peak, called Karisimbi, measuring more than 4,000ft. This national park is very well known for habouring the famous Mountain Gorillas which are East Africa’s hot cake for tourists around the world. Rwanda is one of only three African country that harbour Mountain Gorillas together with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Go Hiking And Chimpanzee Tracking at The Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Nyungwe Forest National Park has the highest priority for forest conservation in Africa and covers one of the oldest rainforests in Africa. The forest reserve is mainly popular for forest hiking which can be exhilarating and spellbinding as you track down the other cousins of human being apart from the Mountain Gorillas, the Chimpanzees which also have 98% percent of their DNA similar to ours. The Chimpanzees of Nyungwe are quite skittish and this could add kick to your endeavors at tracking them using tricks like stealth and expert tracking skills of your guide.
Visit the Akagera National Park.
While in Rwanda, you will most definitely have to visit the Akagara National Park. The Akagara is Rwanda’s answer to the Savannahs of Tanzania and Kenya. Covered in open grasslands and Savannah vegetation, it offers a beautiful view of the country’s wildlife with animals like Zebras, impala, hippos, crocodiles and even elephants which are in great numbers. Although the Akagara was affected heavily by the Rwandan Genocide, as the rebels slaughtered and drove off the animals, it is getting back on its feet and finding its former glory with help from Rwanda safaris wildlife grants.
Enjoy Art At The Inema Art Center.
Founded in 2012, the Inema Art Center is a privately run art gallery in Kigali that houses a collective of ten resident artists and some guest artists. The gallery has set itself apart as the foremost modern art gallery in the city of Kigali. They showcase paintings of cultural and modern settings and homesteads, sculptures, traditional craft and so much more both traditional and modern. Most of the works are put up for sale and thus you do not have to leave Kigali empty handed. Take a piece of Kigali with you.
Visit The Genocide Memorial Church, Nyamata Church.
The Nyamata Church is 30 kilometers south of Kigali. It is a Genocide Memorial where 50,000 people were killed. Tutsi run to Ntamata as a refuge since churches were relatively safe. However, the Intarahamwe dug holes into the walls and threw grenades inside. After, they broke in and shot and cut survivors with machetes. The bodies were buried and it is identity cards which were used to determine the Hutus from the Tutsis. Both tribes were buried in the same place.
Visit the Ntanama Church.
The Ntanama Church is yet another Genocide Memorial site that could be worth visiting. People ran to churches to hide but the resurgents dug them out and massacred them. The church remains untouched since those horrific days. Though the bodies were removed, scraps of clothing can still be seen strewn on the floor.
Go Dancing At The Kigali Up Music Festival.
The festival has all kinds of music from all around the world and happens in July.
WHERE TO STAY IN RWANDA
Hotel Des Milles Colline
Hotel des Milles Colline was Rwanda’s first grand hotel when it was opened up in 1973. It later received fervent global attention when the Hollywood movies, Hotel Rwanda, featuring mega star…was shot on the premises in 2004. The hotel managed enjoys quipping that it is “Rwanda’s most famous hotel”. Hotel des Milles is definitely a good choice if you want to dine like royalty. They have an ethereal ambience both on the outside and inside with alot of dazzling lighting and palm trees which make you feel like you are being caught on camera for a movie scene. They offer luxury rooms to the guests, fine dining with both local and exotic cuisines, spellbinding swimming pool, bar, heavenly restaurant and a beautiful view of the hills of the Nation.
Kigali Serena Hotel
Kigali Serena Hotel is another of Rwanda’s grandest hotels. It is part of the Serena Group of Hotels which are spread all around Africa and provide luxury hotel services to their guests. It is built around an atrium which showcases the country’s cultural arts. They provide, with increasing degrees of luxury, standard rooms, superior rooms, Deluxe, Prime, Executive and Presidential suites. They also provide all ranges of drinks at their bar, swimming pool, and a succulent range at the buffet in the Milima restaurant.
Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel
Arguably the most popular backpackers in Rwanda, Discover Rwanda is a project of Aegis Trust to help support its many educational and social projects in the country. Aegis Trust are also responsible for building the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center where Rwandese go to remember the loved ones they lost to the brutal genocide. Guests are housed in dorms with four or eight beds and shared bathrooms or in private self contained suites. They provide WiFi, drinks at the bar, food at the restaurant, berbecue, live music, and acrobatic shows. They also a beautiful garden which overlooks the many hills of Rwanda.
Iris Hotel is a mid range lodging with a beautiful leafy garden and old fashioned eooms for the guests. They have a bar with all drinks, alcohols and juices and a restaurant that serves local and international cuisines. They provide television and bothrooms with a bathtub.
Hotel Isimbi is a budget lodging and is good for those who may not feel like spending a day walking all the hills of the city since it is very central within the city. They provide bar, restaurant, television and rooms with bedding and toiletries to the guests.