Rwanda is one of the smallest countries on the African continent; it’s located in east Africa bordered by Uganda in the north, Burundi in the south, Tanzania in the east and DR Congo in the west. Geographically the country is in the Albertine rift valley occupying an area of 26,338 sq km with the larger area being hilly with many undulating green rolling hills and ragged tropical forested volcanoes in the Northern Province. Hence Rwanda experiences a favorable temperate tropical climate.
The country’s population currently stands at 12 million people made up of three major ethnic groups with the original inhabitants of the Tutsi, Hutu and the Batwa pygmies who make only 1% of the population.
Despite the lethal 1994 genocide that killed over 800,000 people within 100 days which led to destruction of the tourism industry and the general economic breakdown, Rwanda has recovered under the new government putting much emphasis on infrastructure development and diversifying its natural tourist attractions. This growing trend coupled with political security is attracting many tourists hence emerging as Africa’s ecotourism tourism hub because of the following 6 reasons;
- Primates Trekking
For wildlife lovers, Rwanda is highly visited for its mountain gorillas which are found in Volcanoes National Park in the Northern Province. The park is part of the Virunga chain of 8 volcanic mountains the only habitat on earth for the remaining 880 population of mountain gorillas. Volcanoes National Park’s mountain gorilla numbers are estimated to be 250 individuals with 10 families habituated. All these are located in one habitat range which makes them easily accessible by tourists in addition to the short drive time of 2 hours from Kigali airport to the park. Book a gorilla permit with a tour operator for gorilla trekking the main tourist activity in park.
Besides the gorillas, Volcanoes National park is also a home to the critically endangered golden monkeys. Golden monkeys are easily identified by their golden-orange hair on their body, guided nature walks is the only way tourists get to see these primates.
In the southwest of Rwanda, is Nyungwe forest national park a home to man’s closet cousin the chimpanzees hence tourists visit the forest foe chimpanzee tracking. Nyungwe forest is also known for the highest troop of Black and White Colobus monkeys in East Africa which are very attractive primates for tourists who visit the Forest for Colobus monkey tracking.
- Rwandan Unique Cultural Experience
Rwanda being a tourist friendly nation, it has a great cultural heritage which complement its wildlife. There are designated places around national park which exhibit Rwandan culture hence one can easily incorporate them into their safari. For instance, Iby’Iwacu cultural village near Volcanoes National Park is a place where Rwandan traditional lifestyles are exhibited for tourists.
A great cultural experience of live traditional Intore dance performances, craft souvenirs and local food combined offer a memorable cultural experience. Other great cultural experiences include visiting the Rwandan genocide memorials, museums, ancient caves of the Batwa pygmy and the Kigali city.
- Beautiful Lakes for Relaxation
Rwanda is located in the great Albertine rift valley hence it makes it a natural paradise by its unspoiled inland volcanic lakes with charming sandy beaches where tourists can relax and chill after strenuous gorilla trekking or volcano hiking. The fresh water Lake Kivu is one a kind situated on the Rwanda’s western border with DR. What fascinates about this lake is that it’s enclosed by picturesque terraced hills and three resort towns packed with luxury to budget waterfront resort hotels. Tourists will always launch their favorite water based activities just by the door step. Some of the water activities include kayaking, swimming, canoeing, speed boating, spot fishing, winds surfing, snorkeling and boat cruises. Lake Kivu is a great place to experience authentic African sunsets and sunrises.
- East Africa’s Highest Canopy Walk
The highest canopy walk in East Africa suspended over 90 meters above the ground is found in Rwanda’s Nyungwe forest national park in the southwest. The canopy starts at Uwinka the main tourist centre in Nyungwe forest national park. it offers breathtaking views of Nyungwe forests while walking in the clouds above the trees you also get a chance to view primates and birds on top trees. There are also optional ground hiking trails from which tourists explore the forest on foot. Guided walks take visitors in the interior of the forest where waterfalls, flowers, birds, mammals, butterflies can be seen. It’s an incredible experience to walk on a wet ground even during the dry season.
- Kigali City
Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda; the city is the safest and cleanest on the African continent. You will appreciate the culture of Rwanda, Umuganda is a platform where all Rwandans gather together to clean cities and villages hence the clean environment has come at a price. Do not expect to come to Rwanda with non biodegradable plastics or paper bags.
People in the city are very friendly and like to engage in conversations with tourists a reason why most visitors like to take a safe tour around the city during night or day. The city has got both local and international hotels, cafes, bistros and restaurants serving the most delicious cuisines on the continent. The newly Kigali convention centre with MICE facilities is an answer to the business travelers from around the world.
- Security and Accessibility
Despite the historical war of 1994, Rwanda is currently Africa’s most politically stable. Even foreign tourists can walk freely on the streets. Rwanda is easily accessible from all its neighbors by both road and air provided you have a visa and passport while getting around within the country is easier due to modern roads connecting the country side.
Kigali international airport is a modern day airport served by more than 7 International Airlines connecting over 30 destinations hence one can fly from anywhere around the world to Rwanda.