What to expect on safari in Rwanda? – Mountain gorilla trekking & Wildlife safaris – Golden monkey trekking safaris
What to expect on safari in Rwanda? – Rwanda is famous for its Gorilla trekking opportunities in the Virunga Mountains. This is where Dian Fossey researched and habituated mountain gorillas in the 1960s. Although gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the country has a lot more to offer. If gorilla trekking is beyond your budget, Rwanda is still worth visiting as an up-and-coming destination offering primate walks, volcano hikes, and bird-watching in Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park, plus boat trips on Lake Kivu in the Rift Valley and a classic safari in search of the Big Five in low-key Akagera National Park.
Often referred to as the “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 lodges, 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” hosts large institutions like the National University of Rwanda and the national museum. The country’s wealth has increased since embracing industrialization, agricultural modernization, mining, and tourism.
Volcanoes National Park:
The Park is located within the Virunga mountain ranges and is home to about 400 mountain gorillas and 10 habituated gorilla families. The park is characterized by thick forest and mountainous terrain that can make Gorilla tracking strenuous but adventurous. Since Dian Fossy pitched camp in the Volcanoes national park, the country became a leader in global Mountain Gorilla Conservation and research efforts – Visitors can arrange to see Dian Fossey’s former research station and grave.
Whereas mountain Gorilla tracking is the main activity in the Volcanoes National Park, visitors can also spot forest elephants, forest hogs, Golden monkeys, buffalo, birds, and several species of butterflies during their Rwanda Wildlife tour. The park has several volcanoes and mountains that are suitable for hiking like Bisoke, Sabyinyo, and Karisimbi. Combining a Gorilla safari in Rwanda with hiking one of the mountains is tiring but worth pursuing the adventurous type.
Nyungwe Forest National Park:
Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the most attractive destinations while on a Rwanda wildlife tour. Nyungwe forest is a vast tropical forest with over 1000 plant species and is a good reflection of Rwanda’s exciting biodiversity. After tracking mountain gorillas, the forest is the best place to track chimpanzees while on a Rwanda tour. There are over 240 species of birds found in the forest making it a bird watchers’ paradise. Apart from Chimpanzee tracking and birding, visitors should expect to spot baboons, golden monkeys, colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, and other primates. A Nyungwe forest canopy walk is a must for bird lovers and those who have come to track Chimpanzees in Rwanda.
Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is the best place to go for a safari in Rwanda. The park is located in the Eastern part of the country and covers over 1000 square kilometers of savannah similar to those found in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The park is close to Kigali and is home to a large collection of African mammals that gather at its numerous water points like the Akagera River and Lake Shakuni. The most popular activity in Akagera National Park is to take a game drive to spot hyenas, jackals, antelopes, giraffes, baboons, zebras, buffalos, leopards, and elephants among others. Lions and black rhinos are being introduced in the park so that visitors can have a full package of Africa’s big five. Bird watchers should expect to Spot over 500 species while on a 3 Days Wildlife Safari in Akagera including the shoebill Storks.
The Gishwati Forest is one of the most visited Tourism Sites in Rwanda and covers over 250,000 acres of land. The forest presents a great view of Lake Kivu and birders will be impressed with the over 400 resident species. The forest has suffered from massive deforestation caused by ranchers, pastoralists, and refugees who had taken shelter following the 1994 genocide. Plans are underway to restore the entire stretch of land with the forest just like it was in the past.
Genocide Memorial Centres:
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 of 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 to show respect to the victims, remember lost ones, and also face the reality of what happened in Rwanda.
What to expect on safari in Rwanda? – Another center 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.