Also called The Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is located in East Africa and is known for its mountain gorillas, majestic volcanoes, and, as the nickname suggests, endless beautiful hills. Although it’s also famous for one of the worst genocides in history, its government has embarked on the task of bringing the people together and show to the world the amazing things the country has to offer.
These days, Rwanda has been a great model for other African countries in setting efficient systems, curbing corruption, organizing people, and posing the country as a great tourist destination.
So, if you are planning your African adventure soon, here below are five must-dos in Rwanda.
1. Visit Kigali
One of the most attractive capital cities in Africa is Kigali. It has bustling streets, winding boulevards, flowering trees, lush hillsides, and several valleys and ridges. It’s also a city where you can do so much, such as the following:
- Drop by the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This is where you can commemorate and honor the victims of the 1994 genocide against the Hutus and Tutsis.
- If you’re lucky to witness the Umuganda or the national day of clearing up, which happens on the last Saturday of every month, you can join the Rwandese in their civic duty and help clear the streets.
- Don’t miss the views across the city at the Natural History Museum and State House.
- Buy some colorful souvenirs by visiting the local handicraft co-operative at Capaldi.
- Go for refreshments at the lovely cafes and bars when exploring the Nyamirambo district.
2. Immerse Yourself With The Gorilla Guardians Village
An exciting adventure in Rwanda is more fun when you choose the right time to visit the country. By doing so, you don’t have to bother about the weather; instead, you get to enjoy more of your immersion with a community of natives and reformed poachers in a rural village outside Volcanoes National Park. Here, you can interact with the people, taste their local food, and learn about their traditions.
You can even learn about the medicinal properties of plants found within the surrounding forests, but you need a guide here. The guide will also let you visit the local school that teaches other languages like English.
The locals in this cultural village are quite accommodating and welcome tourists with local tunes such as ‘Songs of the Gorillas.’ If dance is your choice of art, they’ll also show you their eight traditional dances.
When engaging with the local community, one of the things you need to remember is to respect their customs. This includes joining late-night celebrations by the fire or in food preparation. And when receiving gifts, use both hands to show politeness.
3. Become A Royal At Iby’iwacu Cultural Village (Kinigi)
You can find the cultural village in the Musanze district, which can make your wish to become a royal for a day come true. The Banyarwanda people will let you have a taste of a multi-dimensional experience. This includes dressing you like a king or queen of Nyanza province, a royalty role play. In addition, you get to spend the day just like how royals do.
You may also want to try out other activities like traditional beer brewing and traditional dances. When you visit the cultural village, you can be entertained and educated. You can learn a lot about the rich culture of the people in Nyanza province, their art, food, and music.
4. Enjoy A Safari In Akagera National Park
While in Rwanda, you must also go on a safari to Central Africa’s largest protected wetland—Akagera National Park. This will only be a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Kigali. Its 440 square miles of preserved land has various wildlife like giraffes, elephants, hippos, zebra, antelope, and birds.
Treat this park as one of the most exciting destinations for couples if you and your partner are looking for a unique getaway. Consider hiring a local tour guide if you want to spot the other big animals and other rare wildlife. Make sure to book a reservation at the visitor’s center before coming to the park.
5. Go Gorilla Trekking At Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla trekking at Volcanoes National Park is one of the most popular and amazing things you should do in Rwanda. The national park is where you can find critically endangered mountain gorillas. In 1981, only 240-250 gorillas were in the park. These days, the number has increased to about 600 gorillas living in the protected area.
For this activity, you may have to pay for a daily trekking permit, which is limited. However, having this document will give you the privilege to visit one of the mountain gorilla families that lived with humans. If you want to add this to your travel itinerary, check with a reputable tour guide so they can assist you in the schedule of your transportation to the park headquarters if you’re coming from Kigali.
This trek will be perfect for outdoor lovers because you’ll be hiking through swampy areas, wild meadows, and mystical bamboo forests. The hike will last between four and eight hours before you can go to the habituated gorilla families. And you can observe them interacting with one another, caring for their babies, and eating. This will be limited to an hour.
Moreover, you can proceed to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Karisoke Research Center to learn more about mountain gorillas. The museum contains all the work and efforts of primatologist Dian Fossey in protecting the mountain gorillas
6. Enjoy Water Activities At Lake Muhanzi
After trekking, you may want to take a rest and try doing some water sports. Head to the Muhazi Lakeshore, where there are resorts and vacation rentals. The Jambo Beach and the Seeds of Peace Centre have accommodations where you can comfortably relax and recharge.
Or you can go bird watching, fishing, and boating here. You can even go camping if you’re an outdoorsy person at Rwesero Beach on the lake’s northeastern shore.
Your trip to East Africa will surely be enjoyable and memorable since you can do a lot of unique activities. From becoming a royal for a day to visiting habituated gorillas, all of which can be found and experienced in Rwanda. So, what are you waiting for? Make those plans come to life and tick off that African adventure from your bucket list!