Rwanda Safaris- what to see, activities and best time to visit
For the last couple of years, tourism in Rwanda has been growing and this can be largely witnessed by how the country has embarked on marketing itself outside its boundaries and this has led to a growing number of international travelers applying for Rwanda safaris. Majority of travelers come to this East African to participate in gorilla trekking and at Vizuri Africa Safaris, we definitely organize pocket friendly itineraries for this particular activity in Rwanda.
Situated in the East of the African continent, Rwanda which is also referred to as the ‘land of a thousand hills’ due to the nature of the landscape which is hilly and mountainous, is one of the top travel destinations for gorilla trekking in the world apart from Uganda and Congo.
Following the 1994 genocide where a number of citizens lost their lives, majority of travelers have been afraid of visiting this country but the stability, peace and level of security today in the country has made Rwanda regain its status as one of the top countries in the world worth visiting.
What to see while on a Rwanda safaris
The main reason travelers come to Rwanda has always been gorilla trekking which is done in the volcanoes national park. This is best site to spot mountain gorillas in their natural habitat giving you a closer look at mans closest relative and his family as well.
While on your Rwanda safaris, you shouldn’t miss out seeing the big five game animals as they roam around Akagera national park. A game drive here is rewarding as you will be able to see several species in the wild like bird species, savanna elephant, zebra, roan antelope, eland, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, impala, bushbuck, lions, hyena, side stripped jackal, mongoose species, serval, viverrid species, Oribi and many other species.
Activities or things to do while on your safari
Gorilla trekking safaris
Gorilla trekking is what makes Rwanda famous and is done in the Volcanoes national park which is part Virunga mountains that’s found on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get close and see the great mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. The country hosts 604 gorillas in the dense rain forests.
Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest national park
This is yet another fun-filled activity to do while on your safari in Rwanda. Nyungwe is home to over 500 chimpanzee individuals with about 90 habituated communities that are available for tracking. The habituated families are found in the different location within the park; 60 of the chimpanzee communities are found in Nyungwe forest and 30 habituated communities are found in Cyamudongo forest which is in the east of Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Wildlife safaris in Akagera national park
This is the third popular activity to do while on your safari. While in Akagera national park, you will be able to see the big 5 game animals that is: lions, elephants, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhinos. Other wildlife you will be able to see include; several antelopes like bushbucks, Topis, Oribis, water-buck, roan antelope and duiker, klipspringer, impala and world largest antelope – the Cape eland, hyenas, zebras, over 500 bird species like the popular shoebill, African Open bill stock, Long-toed and Water Thick-knee. papyrus Gonolek, African Darter, Senegal Lapwings, African Wattled Plover, Giant Kingfisher, Squacco Herons, , Grey Crowned Crane and many other species.
Other things to look forward to doing while in Rwanda are boat cruises along Lake Kivu, Sport fishing, hiking to Diana Fosse’s grave in the Volcanoes National Park, Golden monkey tracking in the Volcanoes National Park and cultural tours like to the Iby’iwacu cultural village where you will get to enjoy the traditional dances by the group of dancers.
Where to go while on a Rwanda safari
Volcanoes National Park
Situated in north western Rwanda in the Virunga mountains, Volcanoes National Park is most visited national park in the country because of its popularity as it hosts the great mountain gorilla that can be seen in the thick rainforests. Over 604 mountain gorillas have been documented in this place.
Volcanoes National Park became popular during the time when popular primatologist Diana Fossey known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups from 1966 until 1985 when she was murdered.
Besides Gorillas, Volcanoes national park has a rich ecosystem with a number of species like golden monkeys, a number of bird species, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and many other wild species. In the boundaries of this park, you will be able to pay a visit to the folklore and Musanze caves formed as a result of volcanic activity very many years ago.
Kigali Genocide Memorial Center
Until today, its quite unbelievable that Rwanda experienced a tragedy that claimed many lives. It is estimated that over 800,000 people lost their lives during the 1994 genocide that did start April that year. Kigali Genocide memorial center found Gisozi is the final resting place to more than 250,000 Rwandan lives killed in the 1994 genocide against the Ttusi.
Established in 2004, Kigali genocide memorial center serves as an educational center telling the story of how genocide against the Tutsi took place, perpetrators and the victim.
Part of the center consists of a wall that’s dedicated to those who lost their lives and until today, its still being updated with new names as information comes in. Another area of the center consists of the belongings of those who lost their precious lives like skulls, clothing’s, photos of survivors, genocide perpetrators and more.
Another part in the center consists of photographs and descriptions of how genocides has been taking place around the world illustrating that this definitely is not a Rwandan problem but something that has been happening in other parts of the world.
Outside the memorial are gardens that accommodate visitors and loved ones of those who died in the genocide. This place is quiet and its absolutely a memorable experience visiting this site and can be included in your itinerary.
Akagera National Park
Found in the eastern part of Rwanda close to the border of Tanzania is Akagera National Park which is also known to be the largest conserved wetland in Africa. This park has a number of habitats that range from savannah grasslands, forests, plains, Lakes, Rivers and more that act as a haven to numerous both animal and plant species. If you are planning to visit Rwanda, definitely this has to be on your travel bucket list.
Wildlife species you can look forward to seeing while here include the Big five game animals that is Lions, Leopards, Buffaloes, Elephants and Rhinoceros. Others include Elands, crocodiles, Oribis, Impala, hippos, waterbuck, serval cats, duiker, black masked civet, reedbuck, bush pigs, zebra, giraffe, side-stripped jackal, mongoose, Klipspringer, Toppi Sitatunga Antelopes and roan antelope. Akagera is also home to primate species like the bushbabies, velvet monkeys, olive baboons and blue monkeys.
This place is the perfect spot for birders with over 520 species documented in this place. Bird species you will be able to see include the elusive Shoebill stock, papyrus ganolex, red faced barbets, grey-backed fiscals, pied crow, fish eagles, long-crested eagle, cattle egret, Sacred & Hadada Ibis, the Augur Buzzard and many more other species.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Found in western Rwanda, Nyungwe forest national park is among the few large rainforests to be conserved in Africa today. The park is popularly known for primate tracking giving travelers a chance to get close and see chimpanzees, as well as 12 other species of primate like Red-tailed monkey, Grey-cheeked mangabey, Golden monkey, Dent’s Mona Monkey and others.
There a number of trails that exist within the park to various waterfalls and viewing points. Popular activity done in the forest is the canopy walk where travelers get to climb on top of dense trees and take a walk on the hanging bridges as they enjoy the scenic views of the forest. On a clear day you may get a chance to have a close look at lake Kivu and the Virunga ranges.
While here, you will also get to see different bird species (over 300 species have been recorded here), reptiles, amphibians, butterfly species, plant species with over 1,068 species recorded and many more.
Situated in the west of Rwanda, Lake Kivu is part of Africa’s great rift valley and while on your Rwanda safari, a visit here is very rewarding. One of the popular activities done here is kayaking tour and we’ll be able to include this fun-filled activity in your itinerary.
Consider your safari incomplete if you don’t get to hike the great Mount Bisoke, an active mountain situated in the Virunga ranges of mountains that are shared by Uganda, DRC and Rwanda. This mountain is shared by both Rwanda and Congo, however the biggest and the summit are found in Rwanda.
This active volcano consists of a thick rainforest that does act as home to the endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife species like birds. Hiking to the summit is yet another activity you can engage in while here.
Other places you can visit while on a safari to Rwanda include mount Karisimbi, Gishwati Forest, other Rwanda genocide sites among others.
Best time to go on safari to Rwanda
Rwanda can be visited anytime of the year however; the best time has always been from June to September simply because this is when the country is experiencing drier seasons ideal for Gorilla tracking – since the trails leading to different gorilla trails are less slippery.
During the rainy season that takes place between the months of March to May and in November the trails leading to different attractions are slippery and may hinder your safari.
Cost of a Rwanda safari
The cost of Rwanda safaris depends mainly on the number of people on the safari, the activities each traveler will engage in, accommodation type booked, number of days you want to spend in the country and more. Reach out to us we’ll simplify that for you as we have packages to this location that match your budget.
Accommodation options to choose from while on Rwanda Safaris
Accommodation varies and choosing has to definitely base on your favorable. Options available to choose from range from Luxury, midrange and budget. Some of these are found within the city of Kigali and others in different locations depending on your preferred area of visit.
What to pack for your Rwanda safaris
Our team of experts did put together what you might need to pack before you visit Rwanda to be part of her exciting activities.
Clothing; you’re advised to carry light, informal and loose-fitting clothings especially if you’re going for game drives in the Akagera national park. if you’re likely to be part of any formal event like meetings, you are advised to carry with your formal clothings. Avoid dark colors and shouting colors as these attract tsetse flies .
If you’re going to be part of gorilla trekking, you’re advised to carry long trousers, long sleeved shirt, waterproof rain coat, a rain hat, gardening gloves to protect you from thorns, insect repellents to protect you from tsetse flies mosquitoes and other stinging insects.
Waterproof hiking shoes are perfect for gorilla tracking, hiking hills and mountains as these will protect you from stones, thorns and the slippery trails. Pack sandals too as these will help you out once you’re at your hotel of residence relaxing.
Binoculars: Rwanda has a lot to offer to traveler’s and while you can view the incredible and great mountain gorillas with your naked eyes, you will need binoculars to see other species like birds, butterflies, insects and very many others.
Camera: your safari would be incomplete without a camera to record the moments encountered that is either gorilla trekking, wildlife safari or hiking along the Congo Nile trail to capture the memories. Unlike other activities, you won’t be allowed to use the flash mode when you’re close to the mountain gorillas and it’s advisable to carry extra batteries for your equipment once the former depletes.
Others include a well detailed itinerary of your Rwanda safaris, valid passport and medical forms, Flash light or head lump, Electricity adaptor, Travel alarm clock, Safari journal and a note book to keep your memories, Wet Wipes and hand sanitizer or antibacterial soap, small pocket scissors, Toothbrush, tooth paste and dental floss, Hair shampoo and lotion, pain killers and last but not least Vitamins.
You can pair your Rwanda Safaris with wildlife safaris in Uganda, visiting the source of the Nile river or a visit to Kenya’s Maasai Mala park for the best game experience.