One of the smallest nations in East Africa, Rwanda, became infamous in the 90s during the genocide massacres. But shortly after 1994, Rwanda started with the revival of various sectors of the economy including the tourism industry, and today has been ranked among the top 20 green destinations by the Global Tourist Guide.
The country has gained recognition with the World Economic Forum and the Tourism Competitive Index as the number one sustainable tourism nation, which has seen the the number of visitors entering Rwanda continue to increase year on year.
Rwanda is blessed with amazing natural and heritage tourist attractions that have drawn visitors to the country to experience the real African adventure.
Below is a list of top attractions not to miss while in Rwanda.
1. Volcanoes National Park
Rwanda is one of three nations in the whole world where it’s possible to see gorillas in their natural habitat. Despite the small area of the park with about 125km² of rain forests, it is a home to more than 400 gorillas. Located in Musanze district, it is a 90 minute scenic drive from Kigali International Airport to the trekking point.
Trekking is limited to only eight people per group at a cost of USD750 per permit. Besides the mountain gorillas, Volcanoes National Park is also home to golden monkey trekking, and gives you the opportunity to come into contact with these rare primates.
2. Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in the south-western part of Rwanda and has an unmatched biodiversity of wildlife and birding. The park covers over 1,000km of rain forests, making it Rwanda’s watershed place. The main highlight is the dense canopy walk above the forest that offers breathtaking scenic views.
The park has the biggest population of black and white colobus monkeys found anywhere in the world with over 300 different troops. Other species of primates including the red tailed monkey, blue monkey, and the grey cheeked mangabey.
Chimpanzee trekking is a famous activity in the park where you can get close to man’s closest cousin. Several hiking trails will lead you to a group of habituated chimpanzees and visitors can spend an hour enjoying how chimps feed and groom their young ones with rewarding photographic opportunities.
Kigali is among the top green cities in Africa with some memorable historical attractions. While in Kigali it is possible to visit various memorial sites that commemorate the 1994 genocide, the most famous being the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.
Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Gisozi to see the hard historical facts about the massive killings that left over one million Tutsi and Hutu people dead within just 100 days.
4. Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park was named after the Akagera River that flows through the park and feeds into several beautiful swamp fringed lakes. With a backdrop of rolling hills dotted with African acacia woodlands and savannah grasslands, the park was formed to conserve the unique vegetation and wildlife.
There are three eco regions in the park that are teeming with about 8,000 wild animals including buffalo, elephant, hippo, giraffe, zebra and several antelope species. Bird life is also prolific with over 480 species of birds, including endemic species such as the red faced barbet.
5. Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is a stunning place to visit for your Rwanda safari. Located along the Rwandan border next to the Democratic Republic of Congo, it offers swimming and boat cruising opportunities on the fresh waters of the great East African rift valley. Visitors can relax and enjoy lake side picturesque views.
For a taste of Rwandan culture, delve into its history at Butare’s national museum or at the royal palaces of the former Rwandan monarchs. Visitors to Butare will also get the chance to taste the local cuisine, where several restaurants offer a range of local foodstuffs and international dishes.
Also see : Rwanda