Rwanda is a green undulating landscape of tea plantations, gardens and hills. It offers visitors a distinctive journey – home to one third of the world remaining Mountain Gorillas, a third of Africa’s bird species, several species of primates, dramatic volcanoes and islands on the expansive lake Kivu.
Why we love it
Rwanda’s biggest selling point is undoubtedly trekking with the worlds largest primate, the mountain gorilla. Made famous by the film ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and the work of Dian Fossey, the Virunga Mountains in Volcanoes National Park provides the home to about half of the remaining population of gorillas, some 350. It is one of the most humbling experiences you could encounter. Being only a few hours drive from the capital, Kigali, it is possible to do a four day gorilla ‘add-on’ to a safari in Kenya or Tanzania.
If you have more time and are keen to expand on your primate experience, then it is recommended to head south-west to Nyungwe Forest. The largest remaining block of montane forest reserve in central Africa, it offers 13 species of primates including chimpanzees and over 300 different species of birds.
With Rwanda being well populated in rural areas, you cannot fail to immerse yourself in the local culture wherever you go as you pass through villages. The locals are extremely friendly and, along with craft-making, dance and drumming play an important role in their culture. Rwanda is a refreshing country to visit where visitors remain a relative novelty.
Good to know
No visas are required for British or North American passport holders.
You are advised to take anti-malaria pills for your trip. You will need to bring your Yellow Fever certificate to show on arrival. We do recommend you visit a travel health clinic prior to departure to make sure your standard travel vaccinations are up to date.
There are three official languages: Kinyarwanda, French and English. But English is widely spoken in the tourist areas.
Rwandan franc & USD
2 hrs +GMT
How to get around
If coming from the UK, then we recommend taking a direct flight from London Heathrow via Nairobi to Kigali. If coming from the States, then you can also fly via the hubs of Brussels/Amsterdam to Nairobi and then onto Kigali. Or via Johannesburg direct to Kigali. Alternatively, there are direct flights from Tanzania to Rwanda if doing an add-on.
How to get there
There are flights via Amsterdam or Zurich. Or direct flights to Nairobi and then connect onto Kilimanjaro (if doing the northern circuit). Alternatively, you can fly via Johannesburg.
Is it for you?
Rwanda is essentially for those that want to go gorilla trekking. Due to the age restriction, it is not suitable for kids under 15yrs.
When is best?
Rwanda is a year-round destination. Due to the fact the main draw card tends to be the gorillas, it is best to visit during the ‘dry’ months in order to make the trekking that much easier and avoid the mud. So, we would suggest from December – February and from June – October. However, many of the camps & lodges are open year-round and it can be more affordable to go slightly out of season.
What should I combine it with?
Rwanda combines well with Uganda if you are wanting to experience the gorillas in both countries. Alternatively, if you are wanting to incorporate a safari experience, then it works well with either Kenya or Tanzania. For some R&R at the end, then we recommend either the Kenya or Tanzania coast.