With new airline links slowly but surely being established, Rwanda is fast becoming a destination accessible and valued, especially for its abundance of mountain gorillas. However, the dark shadow of Rwanda’s past and its genocide in 1994 has left deep scars on the country and severely damaged its tourism industry. Luckily, Rwanda is making its way back onto the international stage and letting it be known that it is a destination well worth a visit.
The country has an incredible amount of attractions to offer tourists, with scenery nothing short of magnificent, a wide diversity of flora and fauna, including 670 species of bird and 170 species of mammal. Its location furthers its appeal; located in central and east Africa and surrounded by the splendour of neighbours such as Tanzania, the DRC, Burundi and Uganda; it is a place of untamed beauty and untapped potential.
However, the majority of people come to Rwanda to stay at the Volcanoes National Park and engage in the life changing experience of gorilla trekking. The park is famous for being the site of Dian Fossey’s study of the mountain gorillas, her work being the inspiration for the film ‘Gorillas in the Mist’. Volcanoes National Park leaks over the boarders of Uganda and the Congo, with the phenomenal Virunga volcanoes looming nearby. While gorilla trekking may be what draws you to Rwanda, the country sports plenty of other sights, activities and cultural history to explore and indulge in.
A short stay in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali is a good place to start, especially if you are interested in the country’s history; a visit to the Genocide Museum would be recommended. Or, for the chance to see a diversity of primates, birds and flora, travel to Rwanda’s south-west to experience Nyungwe Forest National Park. The park is home to 1000 chimpanzees and 140 orchid species. But it’s not all adventure and exploration if you don’t want it to be. If you wish, there’s always the option to take some time out and relax on the shores of Lake Kivu, with lodges that overlook its great and shimmering expanse.
But if it’s an adventure you want then there is still plenty to explore. Akagera National Park provides a great example, allowing guests to garner a more traditional sense of Africa by enjoying a safari across its savannah plains. Travelling to Rwanda is made easy via plenty of connecting flights. There are direct flights from Amsterdam and Brussels, which land at Kigali International Airport, as well as various connecting flights from other destinations. If flying from London for example, you can fly via Nairobi in Kenya or Entebbe in Uganda.
Obtaining gorilla tracking permits are extremely important, without them you won’t be able to view Rwanda’s star attractions. While a little pricey at $750 per person, it will be money well spent to experience something unforgettable. As Rwanda is located just south of the equator it allows for an agreeable tropical climate, although this does come with a downside, that being plenty of rain. Travelling during the dry season however, which is between June and mid-September is probably the best time to travel, there will still be rain but not as heavy or persistent.
After a hard days adventuring and taking in all of the wonderful sights of Rwanda accommodation becomes very important. Where you can stay varies from basic guest houses, to comfortable campsites, to luxury lodges. At times, in the more basic of accommodation, facilities can be poor as the country continues to adapt to the new influx of tourist activity. Perhaps though, within this, there is found an authenticity and realness that provokes a notion of Africa outside that we are accustomed to; opening up the opportunity to experience a holiday charming in its veracious reality and fascinating in every way.