Tiny though it might be, Rwanda is brushed in beauty. The tourist board has labelled it the Land of a Thousand Hills, but that’s probably understating it. Here hills are …
Though it’s a small country with a painful past, Rwanda is also one of the most exciting and modern places in Africa to visit. It’s where adventure, history, food, wildlife, and culture can be experienced in one of the cleanest, safest, and most forward-facing environments on the continent. Rwanda leads the way in East Africa in terms of attractions, and is more readily accessible than many other countries.
More than two decades after the devastating genocide that racked the country, Rwanda is now peaceful, but the violence is recognized in the popular Genocide Memorial in Kigali. Thousands come to Rwanda every year to see this sobering monument, where you can pay tribute to those who lost their lives in 1994.
Others come to country to see endangered mountain gorillas. Guided tours are expensive but worthwhile, and must be arranged in advance in order to secure the proper permits. In the lush, cloud-covered Volcanoes National Park, you might be lucky enough to spot one of the 380 gorillas, which live in 19 different family groups. These include the famous, enormous Silverback gorilla.
Travelers can also have a more traditional safari experience by going to Akagera National Park, which has buffalo, elephants, leopards, giraffes, and more. Take a guide through the bush and camp out in the open with the sounds of the savannah as your soundtrack. Or, opt for something more luxurious and stay at a tented lodge.
Wildlife lovers will love Nyungwe National Park in the southwestern part of the country, which features a forest that’s several thousand years old. Well-preserved and protected, it’s wide variety of biomes allow for 13 primate species, over one thousand plant types, nearly 100 mammal varieties, and many different reptiles and amphibians.
Outside of nature and wildlife, the country has a rich culture worth getting to know. Tourists can spend time visiting rural villages while interacting with locals through several organizations and tours. Homestays are also available for travelers who want a more intimate learning experience.
Rwanda is known for having some of the best coffee in the world and the black drink is a key part of the culture. Many of the cooperatives and communities offer informative and in some cases, participatory experiences for travelers. Kigali, the country’s capital has plenty of great coffee shops to try as well.
SAFETY: Rwanda is largely considered safe for visitors. Bag snatching and muggings have been reported while traveling, so it’s advised to keep these items hidden away when traveling in a vehicle. The border of the DRC is a high-risk zone and should be considered carefully before heading to the area.