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Infant Gorilla Credit Visit Rwanda

Rwanda, Africa

If you’re seeking an eco-conscious, family-friendly adventure that will take you off the beaten track in one of Africa’s most biodiverse countries, then Rwanda is the stuff that holiday dreams are made of. A small yet mighty African country, Rwanda has turned a significant corner on its fraught and complex past. This is a destination that’s especially well suited to those travelling with teens, particularly if you plan to go gorilla tracking, for which you have to be aged 15 years and older.

Fabled as the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ thanks to its endless mountain landscapes, this landlocked and extraordinarily beautiful East African country is well known as being home to around a third of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas. From the rainforest habitat of the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park to the open savannah plains and mesmerising wildlife of Akagera and from the vibrant capital, Kigali, to the bougainvillea-fringed shores of Lake Kivu, ‘Remarkable Rwanda’ is an awe-inspiring destination. The friendliness of its people and the warmth of its inviting culture are infectious, ensuring memories of your trip to Rwanda will stay with you long after you’ve left.

Infant Gorilla Credit Visit Rwanda

Where to go in Rwanda

Gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park

Undeniably a highlight of any trip to Rwanda is the chance to follow in the footsteps of the famous primatologist Dian Fossey in search of the infamous mountain gorilla. A visit with these gentle giants can involve anything from a short hike to the bamboo forests in the foothills of the Volcanoes National Park to several hours of trekking to the summit of one of the Virunga volcanoes. But an hour spent in the company of a group of mountain gorillas is an experience you will never forget. Up close they transfix you and sitting amongst these greatest of apes looking into a face that seems to reflect your own is perhaps the ultimate wildlife experience.

Beyond the gorillas the Virungas are also home to golden monkeys and a rich array of birdlife with around 200 species occupying the treetops. The two-day hike up to the park’s highest peak – Mount Karisimbi (situated at 4,507m above sea level) – is also a rewarding adventure, as is a trip to Musanze Caves, which were formed 62 million years ago after the last estimated volcanic eruption.

Safari adventures in Akagera

Tucked away in the northeast of the country, Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s answer to an African safari and has been quietly rebuilding wildlife stock over the last decade. It’s now home to lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, leopards, hyenas, buffalos and antelopes. The park comprises some of the most scenic savannah in East Africa with game drives taking you through open plains, woodlands, lakes, swamps and grassy low mountains. Boat trips on Lake Ihema and Lake Rwanyakazinga also be arranged, so you can experience hippo pods and huge Nile crocodiles that can otherwise be hard to spot. Alternatively, fly high with a helicopter tour of the park.

Rainforest experience in Nyungwe

In the southeast of the country and surrounded by tea plantations you’ll find the spectacularly beautiful Nyungwe National Park. It’s home to 13 primate species including chimpanzees, over 300 bird species and 100 orchid species. It’s also where you’ll find the only treetop walkway in East Africa. Suspended above the lush montane rainforest the 70m high Canopy Walk suspension bridge offers an exhilarating perspective on one of Africa’s oldest rainforests and its resident wildlife. Trips to Nyungwe can be twinned with a stop in the bustling university town of Butare, which is also home to the National Museum.

Unwind on the shores of Lake Kivu

For a change of scene, the shores of Lake Kivu in the west of the country offer the perfect place to unwind after gorilla trekking. Boat trips, kayaking and a variety of water sports are on offer here. As one of Africa’s largest freshwater lakes it’s also a great spot to simply laze around on the sandy shores in between refreshing dips and to savour the mesmerising sunsets every evening.

Time out in Kigali

With Kigali voted by Forbes as one of its ’20 best places to visit in 2020’, the vibrant Rwandan capital is the perfect destination to begin and end your stay in the country. Clean, safe and spread across several hills the city offers an exciting creative, cultural and culinary scene.

when to go

The dry seasons which run from December to early February and from June to mid-September tend to be the more popular times to visit Rwanda as the roads and paths are easier to navigate during this period.

The rainy seasons are from mid-February to May and mid-September to mid-December. As the mountain gorillas’ habitat is rainforest, be prepared for rain or misty conditions regardless of the time of year. Don't forget to pack a raincoat and sturdy walking boots.

Peak temperatures rarely exceed 30°C in the daytime, although it's much cooler in the evenings.

travel essentials

Flights: RwandAir offers direct flights three times a week from London Gatwick to Kigali. Alternatively, Brussels Airlines, KLM, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar also offer indirect flights.

Time Zone: GMT+3

Health: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/187/rwanda

FCO travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/rwanda

where to stay in Rwanda

  • One & Only Gorilla's Nest

    One & Only Gorilla's Nest

    bushbaby rating:
    Five stars
  • One&Only Nyungwe House

    One&Only Nyungwe House

    bushbaby rating:
    Five stars

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