Rwanda Safaris Holidays

Rwanda Safaris Holidays

Rwanda Safari Holidays have surged in popularity due to the significant efforts of the government. Often called the “land of a thousand hills,” Rwanda has transformed remarkably from a nation scarred by one of the worst genocides in recent history to a beacon of hope, peace, and good governance in Africa. The capital, Kigali, boasts neat city streets, five-star hotels, and excellent road networks, while the countryside is adorned with beautiful rolling hills and lush green plantations.

Butare, Rwanda’s second largest city, is often referred to as “the intellectual capital of Rwanda.” It is home to major institutions such as the National University of Rwanda and the National Museum. The country’s wealth has grown through industrialization, agricultural modernization, mining, and tourism.

Tourism in Rwanda is highly developed, featuring several luxury lodges within its game parks. The government has made significant efforts to promote Rwanda’s tourism resources. While the country offers many fascinating attractions, most visitors on a Rwanda safari are drawn to the chance to see mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. This park gained fame through research efforts that inspired the renowned drama “Gorillas in the Mist.” The park itself boasts a remarkable expanse of green vegetation teeming with birds, butterflies, primates, and other mammals. While gorilla trekking is also available in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the exceptional service quality and the park’s proximity to Kigali make gorilla tourism in Rwanda particularly popular. For more information, you can explore the cost of a tour in Rwanda and what to expect as a solo traveler in Rwanda.

Things to do on Rwanda Safari Holidays

Volcanoes National Park


Volcanoes National Park, located within the Virunga mountain ranges, is home to approximately 400 mountain gorillas and 10 habituated gorilla families. The park features thick forests and mountainous terrain, making gorilla tracking both strenuous and adventurous. Since Dian Fossey set up her research camp in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda has become a global leader in mountain gorilla conservation and research. Visitors can arrange to see the former Dian Fossey research station and her grave.

Wildlife and Activities

While mountain gorilla tracking is the main activity, visitors can also spot forest elephants, forest hogs, golden monkeys, buffalo, birds, and various butterfly species during their Rwanda wildlife tour. The park also offers several volcanoes and mountains suitable for hiking, such as Bisoke, Sabyinyo, and Karisimbi. Combining a gorilla safari with a mountain hike is tiring but rewarding for the adventurous. Find out more about what to pack for a trip to Rwanda.

Nyungwe Forest National Park


Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the most attractive destinations on a Rwanda wildlife tour. This vast tropical forest, home to over 1,000 plant species, is a true reflection of Rwanda’s rich biodiversity. After mountain gorilla tracking, Nyungwe is the best place to track chimpanzees.

Wildlife and Activities

The forest is a birder’s paradise with over 240 bird species. In addition to chimpanzee trekking and birding, visitors can spot baboons, golden monkeys, colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, and other primates. The Nyungwe Forest canopy walk is a must for bird lovers and those tracking chimpanzees in Rwanda.

Akagera National Park


Akagera National Park, located in Eastern Rwanda, is the premier destination for a safari in the country. Covering over 1,000 square kilometers, the park’s savanna resembles those found in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is conveniently close to Kigali.

Wildlife and Activities

The park is home to a diverse collection of Africa’s mammals, which gather at its numerous water points like the Akagera River and Lake Shakani. Popular activities include game drives to spot hyenas, jackals, antelopes, giraffes, baboons, zebras, buffalos, leopards, and elephants. Lions and black rhinos are being reintroduced to provide a full Big Five experience. Bird watchers can spot over 500 species, including shoebill storks, during a 3-day wildlife safari in Akagera. For more information, you might be interested in an article about the cost of a safari in Akagera National Park.

Gishwati-Mukura National Park


Gishwati Forest, one of Rwanda’s most visited tourist sites, spans over 250,000 acres and offers stunning views of Lake Kivu. The forest is home to over 400 bird species, making it a favorite among birders.

Conservation Efforts

The forest has faced severe deforestation due to ranchers, pastoralists, and refugees who sought shelter following the 1994 genocide. Efforts are underway to restore the forest to its original state. Recently, Gishwati Forest was merged with the nearby Mukura Forest to form Gishwati-Mukura National Park, increasing Rwanda’s national parks to four.

Genocide Memorial Centers

To fully appreciate the progress made by the people of Rwanda, visiting one of the genocide memorial centers is highly recommended while on a safari. The three-month genocide in 1994 saw hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus massacred, and sites like those found in Kigali are a constant reminder of that dark past. The mass graves, photographs, film footage, and other exhibitions provide a glimpse into the country’s traumatic history. Visiting a genocide memorial site offers an opportunity to show respect to the victims, remember those lost, and confront the reality of what happened in Rwanda.

Another center worth visiting is the Nyamata Church, where about 50,000 genocide victims are buried. The church remains intact, and visitors can still see human clothes, bones, and blood stains on the church benches. Additionally, the Gisozi Genocide Memorial Site is built on graves of over 250,000 genocide victims.

The Congo-Nile Trail

The Rwanda Development Board has made significant efforts to position Rwanda as a major tourism destination in Africa. The government has diversified tourism opportunities with the opening of the Congo Nile Trail. Hiking along the Congo Nile Trail is now one of the most interesting activities to do while on a safari in Rwanda. The famous trail passes through Lake Kivu, offering hikers opportunities to marvel at the country’s beautiful nature, green vegetation, hills, and clear lake waters while viewing nearby mountains.

Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu, located at the border between Rwanda and DR Congo, is one of Rwanda’s natural wonders, covering an area of over 2,600 km². Sitting at about 1,450 meters above sea level, it is the highest lake in Africa. It is one of only three lakes in the world that occasionally experiences eruptions of carbon dioxide from its depths—a phenomenon known as an “exploding lake.” No worrying eruption has been recorded recently, and visitors can expect to see stunning beaches, green vegetation, islands, fishing villages, and ports like Rubavu. Touring Lake Kivu on a safari offers opportunities for hiking, bird watching, nature walks, chimpanzee tracking, and boat riding.

Mount Karisimbi

Mount Karisimbi is one of the highest peaks in Africa and part of the Virunga mountain range. Hiking Mount Karisimbi is a top activity in Musanze. Visitors who can endure the six-hour ascent to the summit are rewarded with a magnificent view of Volcanoes National Park and opportunities to spot various bird species. Many visitors opt to combine hiking Mount Karisimbi with tracking mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. Combining a Mount Karisimbi hike and gorilla trekking during a Rwanda safari is a challenging venture that requires considerable fitness if it is to be accomplished within a few days.

Mount Bisoke

Mount Bisoke is an active volcano located on the border between Rwanda and DR Congo. For those wishing to explore the beautiful countryside while on a Rwanda tour, trekking up Mount Bisoke is an excellent choice. The trek lasts about six hours and includes steep sections, but the effort is rewarded with stunning views of Volcanoes National Park. Bisoke hiking also offers visitors a chance to marvel at the Crater Lake and the beautiful green scenery surrounding the mountain.

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