The extent to which Rwanda has rebounded is astounding. Clean, green and forward-looking, over the last two decades Rwanda has gone about the business of recovery with a gentle grace that is typical of this proud nation
Rwanda is tiny, and a leisurely safari around the entire country will not take more than 10 days. For all its diminutive size, Rwanda packs a punch in the wildlife stakes, and offers a rich cultural smorgasbord to boot.
The main attraction are the mountains of of the eponymous Volcanoes National Park, a line of lofty peaks that are the refuge of mountain gorillas and other highly endangered animals. In the south is the biological hotspot of the Nyungwe Forest, and in the east, almost at the border with Tanzania lie the savannas and lakes of the Akagera National Park. For loads of interaction with Rwandan people and a glimpse into how Rwanda aims to face the future, Kigali and Lake Kivu are a perfect counterpoint to each other.
Accommodations can be variable, but when they’re good, they’re very very good. Rwanda’s tarmacked roads make travel a pleasure and network of helicopter routes turn inter-park transfers into delightful scenic flights.
Planning your safari…
The Best Time To Visit Rwanda
Rwanda is cool and dry, and great to visit all year round, with the exception of the “long rains” in April and May, and the “short rains” in November and early December, which should be avoided.
Volcanoes National Park
A narrow strip of land on the border with Uganda, Volcanoes National Park is extraordinarily three-dimensional. The dizzying heights of the seven volcanoes it incorporates hint at geological mayhem in the distant mists of time, but now their green-cloaked flanks are the last refuge of a tiny population of just 180 mountain gorillas. These creatures, made famous by Dian Fossey, are slowly increasing in numbers, thanks to carefully managed tourism, and to the efforts of a number of conservation organisations that protect their health. The park also hosts the very rare and endangered golden monkey, the “little primates” of the Virungas.
The Nyungwe Forest is an unlikely candidate for one of Africa’s top wildlife destinations. Mostly unknown, and visited by just a few hundred people every year, this 390 square mile park nevertheless is very special. Part of the Albertine Rift, a stretch of the western Rift Valley that exhibits rich biodiversity and endemism, Nyungwe brims with surprising statistics: “home to 25% of Africa’s primate species, including chimpanzees“; “over a thousand plant species”; “300-strong group of Angola Colobus“; “furthest source of the Nile”. Combine all this with the choice of 8 forest trails, the stunning contemporary Nyungwe Forest Lodge, and east Africa’s only (albeit short) canopy walkway, and you have the makings of a place that definitely needs to be on your to-do list.