Welcome to Rwanda

virunga mountain range

Rwanda is, quite simply, the best place in Africa to engage in what is arguably the world’s single most thrilling wildlife encounter: tracking mountain gorillas through the steep bamboo- and forest-swathed slopes of the Virunga Mountains. No two encounters are ever the same, but whether it’s a 200kg silverback chilling out on the forest trail, a curious mother staring questioningly into your eyes, or a youngster clumsily attempting to climb a liana, coming face to face with these most gentle of giants is invariably an awesome experience.

mountain gorilla in virunga

Mountain gorillas are the raison d’être for most tourist visits to Rwanda. But this small central African country has far more to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Scenically, there is the mountain-ringed inland sea that is Lake Kivu, the perfect volcanic cones of the Virungas rising to 4,000-plus metres above it, and the endless succession of steep cultivated mountains that have led to it being dubbed ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ and ‘The Switzerland of Africa’.

shoebill credit new statesman Shoebill | Credit: New Statesman

As for wildlife, the variety is startling. The Virunga Mountains are also home to the delightful golden monkey, while Nyungwe National Park - protecting an astonishing 1,000km2 of near-pristine montane rainforest - supports a full 13 primate species, ranging from a habituated community of chimpanzees to the lovely L’Hoest’s and Rwenzori colobus monkeys. Rwanda’s national checklist of 700-plus bird species, in an area smaller than that of its former coloniser Belgium, includes the 27 super-localised Albertine Rift Endemics protected in Nyungwe, along with such iconic species as shoebill, Ross’s turaco, great blue turaco and papyrus gonolek. And when it comes to more conventional safaris, the Big Five are all now protected - and quite easily seen - in the hilly savannah of what must surely be Africa’s most rapidly resurgent protected area: Akagera National Park. tea farming in rwanda Rwanda is the tea capital of Africa

Culturally and politically, the resurgence of Akagera might be seen as emblematic of Rwanda’s recovery from the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of one-eighth of its population, and forced almost twice as many to flee into refugee camps in neighbouring countries. Few could travel through Rwanda today and not be cognisant of these terrible events, or the many genocide that pay tribute to the massacred. But you will also be be struck by the energetic programme of reconstruction that has led to Rwanda reinventing itself as one of Africa’s most economically buoyant, ecologically enlightened and politically progressive countries. It is heartening experience.

Why would people keep coming back to Rwanda?

Rwanda is a small country, it lacks for a bona fide beach destination, and its rather limited circuit of major attractions can easily be explored fully over the course of a standard-length holiday. In other words, it doesn’t attract a great deal of repeat visitors, the main exception (apart from business travellers, or those with family connections) being primate junkies who return to see the gorillas again, and possible again.


Our Recommended Itinerary

The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 1

Entebbe, arrival
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 2

Your drive to Kibale is well worth it
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 3

Full day with the Chimps
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 4

Onwards to Queen Elizabeth
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 5 to 6

Witness the unusual tree climbing lions
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 7

Bwindi National Park all to yourself
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 8

Gorilla trekking, enjoy every minute
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 9

Buhoma Village walk
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 10

Drive via Kisoro to Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 11

Visit the Dian Fossey Tomb
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda
  • The Primates of Uganda & Rwanda

day 12

Fly Home

View Full Itinerary

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Welcome to Rwanda

Rwanda is, quite simply, the best place in Africa to engage in what is arguably the world’s single most thrilling wildlife encounter: tracking mountain gorillas through the steep bamboo- and forest-swathed slopes of the Virunga Mountains. No two encounters are ever the same, but whether it’s a 200kg silverback chilling out on the forest trail, a curious mother staring questioningly…

Rwanda in January

Highlands and medium-altitude regions, for instance Kigali, Lake Kivu and Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks, are warm to hot by day, and comfortably cool by night. Low-lying Akagera National Park is hot by day, and warm by night. January falls into the so-called short dry season and most parts of the country receives a medium precipitation (around 50-100mm). January is a good…

Budget safari in Rwanda

Options for budget travellers are limited. Rwanda has consciously implemented attract a low-volume, high-cost tourism strategy that reflects the scarcity value of its main attraction: mountain gorillas. Tracking gorillas in Rwanda costs more than twice as much as it does in neighbouring Uganda, and other activities in Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks are also relatively costly.…

Rwanda in September

Highlands and medium-altitude regions, for instance Kigali, Lake Kivu and Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks, are warm to hot by day, and comfortably cool by night. Low-lying Akagera National Park is hot by day, and warm by night. September falls within the short rainy season and monthly rainfall in most parts of the country is moderate to high (above 100mm). September is a good…

Rwanda vs Kenya

The Great Migration Mara river crossing in Kenya Rwanda offers several attractions not found in Kenya or indeed in most other safari destinations other than Uganda. Foremost among these is the opportunity to track mountain gorillas in the Virunga mountains and chimpanzees in the Nyungwe National Park. Rwanda offers far greater diversity than Kenya when it comes to forest primates,…

Vaccinations for Rwanda

Rwanda is free of yellow fever, so no vaccination is required for those coming directly from Europe or North America. However, you may be asked to produce a vaccination certificate if you enter the country from from elsewhere in the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America, a list that includes several neighbouring or near-neighbouring countries e.g. Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya…

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