Often referred to as “land of a thousand hills”, Rwanda has transformed from a country scarred by one of the worst genocides in the recent past, to a model of hope, peace and good governance in Africa. The capital Kigali has neat city streets, five-star hotels, and good road networks while the countryside is characterized by beautiful rolling hills and green plantations. The second largest city Butare referred to as “the intellectual capital of Rwanda” is hosts large institutions like the National University of Rwanda and national museum. The country’s wealth has increased since embracing industrialization, agricultural modernization, mining and tourism.
Tourism in Rwanda is well developed with several luxury lodges in the game parks. The country has gone to great lengths to market her tourism resources. However, most visitors on a safari in Rwanda are attracted by the possibility of seeing mountain gorillas found in the Volcanoes national park. The park was made famous by research efforts culminating into the famous drama “Gorillas in the Mist”. The park itself is an expanse of remarkable green vegetation swarming with birds, butterflies, primates and other mammals. Gorilla trekking can also be done in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but it is the quality of service and the proximity of the park to the capital Kigali that make visitors opt for a safari in Rwanda.
Here is a list of popular places to visit in Rwanda;
- Lake Kivu
- Rwanda Genocide Memorial Sites
Important Places to Visit in Rwanda
Genocide Memorial Centers: In order to appreciate the current progress made by the people of Rwanda, visiting one of the genocide memorial centers is highly recommended while on a safari. The Three months genocide saw hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus massacred in 1994 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 of the country’s traumatic past. Visiting the genocide memorial site is an opportunity show respect to the victims, remember lost ones and also face the reality of what happened in Rwanda.
Another centre worth visiting is the Nyamata church where about 50,000 genocide victims are buried. The church remains intact and one can still see human clothes, bones and blood stains on the church benches. Then there is the Gisozi genocide war memorial site which is built on graves of over 250000 genocide victims.
The Congo-Nile Trail: The Rwanda Development Board has made great effort in positioning Rwanda as a major tourism destination in Africa. The government has diversified tourism opportunities in Rwanda with the opening of the Congo Nile Trail. Hiking along the Congo Nile Trail is now one of the most interesting things to do while on a safari in Rwanda. The famous trail passages through Lake Kivu and provides hikers with opportunities to marvel at the country’s beautiful nature, green vegetation, hills, and clear lake waters while viewing nearby mountains.
Lake Kivu: Lake Kivu is located at the border between Rwanda and DR Congo and is one of the natural wonders of Rwanda covering an area over 2,600 km2. Flowing at about 1450m above ground, the lake is the highest in Africa. It is one of the only three lakes in the world that occasionally experiences eruptions of carbon dioxide from its depths – A phenomenon known as “exploding lake”. No worrying eruption has been recorded recently and visitors should expect to see the stunning beaches, green vegetation, islands, fishing villages and ports like Rubavu. Touring Lake Kivu on a safari comes with opportunities to go hiking, bird watching, nature walks, chimpanzee tracking or boat riding.
Mount Karisimbi: Mount Karisimbi one of the highest in Africa and part of the Virunga ranges of mountains. Hiking Mount Karisimbi is one of the top things to do while in Musanze. Visitors who can endure the 6 hour ascent to the summit will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the volcanoes national park and opportunities to spot birds of different species. Visitors may opt to combine Hiking Mount Karisimbi with tracking mountain gorillas at the Volcanoes national park. Combining a Mount Karisimbi hike and gorilla trekking during a Rwanda safari is a tiring venture and requires considerable fitness levels 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 may just be the thing for you. Trekking mount Bisoke lasts about 6 hours with steep sections here and there, after which one is rewarded with stunning views of the Volcanoes national park. Bisoke hiking also offers visitors a chance to marvel at the Crater Lake and the beautiful green scenery surrounding the mountain.