Reasons for taking Rwanda safaris in Africa
Rwanda is situated in central Africa but also known as the Land of a thousand hills. It should also be noted however, that Rwanda is endowed with a beautiful relief characterized by five volcanoes including Gahinga Volcano, Sabyinyo Volcano, Karisimbi volcano, Visoke Volcano and Muhabura Volcano. The view of the volcanoes really attracts many visitors to Rwanda.
Rwanda has purpose. The country is going places and if you go there now, you can still say you were there before it was big. Credit is due, largely, to Rwanda’s leadership who, after the genocide, has worked to make the country a better place. President Kagame is particularly focused on making Rwanda the next Switzerland or Singapore. And it shows. The tech industry is growing quickly, the country is wired with fiber optics, and they are attracting big name corporations taking a look at making Rwanda their Africa home base. The streets are clean–they even outlawed plastic bags in country, which are seen littering the sides of the roads in every other country. From economy to environment, Rwanda has targets in every sector and the country is working together to achieve.
The size of Rwanda – the country is among the smallest countries in Rwanda thus easily explored. Some countries are so large that it’s hard to get a feel for them. Rwanda, on the other hand, I can drive across in about 4 hours.
The Akagera National Park – It is now just 2 – 3 hours drive from Kigali Capital. Thanks to Rwanda’s smoothly paved roads. The park itself is spectacular with animals like Elephants, Hippos, Buffaloes, Zebras, Oribis, Giraffes and Lions that were recently re-introduced from South Africa (June 2015). The popular lodges include Akagera Game lodge and luxurious Ruzizi Tented camp. Major activities include game vewing, bird watching and boat ride along lake Iheme. All these are reasons why you must not skip Rwanda on your vacation to Africa.
Mountain Gorillas – this is reason enough to visit Rwanda. According to the 2011 gorilla census report, there are only 880 mountain gorilla individuals left in the whole world. These are found in the thick forests of East and Central African countries. Rwanda is one of them with about 10 habituated gorilla families. In Rwanda, there are real mountain gorillas living in the wild misty jungles of Volcanoes National Park and you can spend an hour with them–within FEET of them. You drive deep into northern Rwanda, and then hike into the forest guided by gorilla trackers. It’s expensive ($ 750), but an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. In the end, the price is money well spent, as you feel like your contribution is truly helping preserve these amazing creatures which would otherwise be poached if the tourism industry did not pay for the gorilla 24-hour security. Gorilla trekking is the main tourist attraction and one of the leading foreign Exchange earner in Rwanda.
Rwanda has interesting history. Rwanda is interesting because it has a history worth knowing. The 1994 Rwanda Genocide is barely behind us and it’s reality is still ever-present. The Genocide Memorial is a must see for any trip to Africa. Beyond the genocide, it’s sometimes troubled past with colonization and occupation has shaped Rwanda in ways that continue to impact culture and language. Among the genocide sites worth visiting include Murambi technical school, Bisesero genocide memorial, Gisozi museum in Kigali, Nyamata and Ntarama churches among others. Historical and cultural sites include Nyanza King’s palace, Iby’Iwacu Cultural village and Rwanda National Museum in Butare / Huye among others.
Golden Monkeys – Volcanoes National Park Rwanda not only inhabit the endangered mountain gorillas but also the rare golden monkeys. Here we find a large troop of habituated golden monkeys and the charge is US$100 per person. Many Rwanda safaris and tour packages combine mountain gorillas with golden monkey tracking. You need a minimum of 3 days / 2 nights to do both activities in Rwanda.
Tropical Beach -there are lots of accommodation options for the monkeys and gorillas in gorgeous Musanze, but many don’t realize they’re just 45 minutes from tropical Gisenyi on the shores of Lake kivu. Don’t miss out on the tropical beach—we always stay at the under-visited Kivu Serena with a spectacular pool and white sand beach—great music, and weather.
Nyungwe National Park – Located in south western Rwanda, about 5 – 6 hours drive from Kigali. This is a home to close to 13 primate species, 300 birds and many plant species. Nyungwe Forest primates include Chimpanzees, Blue Monkeys, Golden monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Baboons, Black and white colobus monkeys among others. Chimpanzee tracking is the main attraction with 2 habituated groups. There are also large troops of colobus monkeys with over 500 individuals. Among the activities include excellent birding, canopy walk, nature / forest walk and tea harvesting. Accommodation facilities here include the 5 star Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Nyungwe Hill Top View Hotel, Gisakura Guest House and Peace Guest House in Cyangugu.
If you are considering an African adventure in the near future, Rwanda gets my highest recommendation.