This little, rural, volcanic, very scenic and populous country is surrounded by Tanzania, Burundi, DRC and Uganda. The “land of a thousand hills” is one of the most travel-friendly countries in Central-East Africa – without a doubt will you leave this country smiling and filled with optimism. Poignant genocide memorials, especially in the capital Kigali, are stark reminders of a turbulent, violent history of which’s impact is still palpable. In recent times, Rwanda has been champions in curbing commercial and personal environmental impacts. It is probably the cleanest country that you would visit. The Rwanda government also sets a great example of good governance with purpose, constant development and betterment.
Rwanda offers some of the best forest primate viewing in Africa. Gorilla & chimpanzee trekking are the main reasons people come to Rwanda, but many smaller primates, including golden monkeys, l’Hoest’s monkey, red-tailed monkey and Rwenzori colobus can be spotted in the dense volcanic jungles. The Big Five and other larger animals may be viewed in Rwanda’s savannah reserve, Akagera National Park.
While gorillas can be tracked in the Virunga mountains situated within the Volcanoes National Park, chimpanzee trekking is another highlight on offer in Rwanda. The Nyungwe Forest hosts several habituated chimpanzee troops which can be tracked, while the new Gishwati-Mukura NP will soon offer visits to its own habituated troop of chimps. There are long-term conservation plans to connect both parks with a corridor to provide free movement between the parks for chimps and other animals. Permits for trekking primates in Rwanda are unavoidably expensive but you can rest assured that a large part of your money spent will go straight, and effectively, into long-term conservation of these amazing species.
The Dry Season, from June to September, is best for general wildlife viewing in the savannah Akagera National Park. The wettest months, from March to May, may see very heavy rain and times and can make hiking in the forest or mountains slippery. But gorilla trekking is conducted throughout the year and sightings are pretty much guaranteed at any time. Chimpanzee trekking is a bit more difficult – the best time is from October to February, part of the wet season. Due to the high altitude of this country, temperatures throughout the year are very mild and relatively comfortable albeit that Rwanda is very close to the equator.
Access to Rwanda is usually via the main airport at Kigali and or by road from Uganda & Tanzania. Rwanda combines well with the savannah safari giants like Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. A self-drive tour through this extraordinary part of the world is highly recommended.