Dubbed ‘the land of a thousand hills’, Rwanda is considered the Switzerland of Africa for it’s towering mountains. The country has climbed out from under the shadows of its bloody history. And is now offering its spectacular beauty, and welcoming citizens, to visitors.
Home to unusual wildlife, magnificent birds and endangered species, Rwanda is an underrated safari destination. Besides the unique landscape and interesting fauna and flora, you will find something uncommon here. Peace.
The national parks are absent of crowds and the claustrophobia you will feel in other parks across Africa. No racing other vehicles to get the best observation spot. Or having a sighting with the background noise of engines and camera clicks.
Gorilla treks, boat safaris, endemic bird species, and unprecedented natural scenery. These are just some of the reasons why Rwanda should be your next safari destination.
This post explores Rwanda’s exciting parks, safari options, and gorilla tours.
Are you a keen birder, looking to chase after colorful native species? Or do you want to adventure into the depths of the jungles looking for gorillas?
Rwanda has a few incredible national parks and protected areas to sate your every safari desire.
Uniquely located on the ridge which divides the Congo and Nile rivers, this national park is a wonderland of rich biodiversity. It encompasses and protects East Africa’s largest area of montane forest.
The fauna is remarkable and varied with bright jungle species including 200 orchids. It’s an amazing destination for birders, with over 300 bird species. Among which you can find all but 2 of the 29 Albertine Rift endemics.
The park is home to many interesting and unique primate species, such as the Ruwenzori colobus and L’Hoest’s monkey. As a visitor, you can track a habituated group of chimpanzees.
Don’t forget to check out the only canopy walk in East Africa while you’re there!
This national park is a phoenix risen from the ashes. It has undergone huge changes and rehabilitation procedures to assert itself as an important big 5 safari park.
The scenery is extraordinary. Low grassy hills that meet savanna grasslands, ringed by complex waterways, swamps, and lakes. This pristine nature is virtually untouched and free of the marks left behind by hordes of tourists.
Akagera National Park offers the quintessential savanna safari, without the crowds. Small numbers of black rhino and lion have only recently been introduced, completing the big 5 population. While sightings of predators might be limited due to low numbers, you’ll have the luxury of being the sole observer.
Enjoy the best that Rwanda’s wildlife has to offer by booking an inclusive 7-day safari trip.
This is a protected area of the Rwandan side of the Virunga mountains and one of the most beautiful national parks in Africa. The 1988 move Gorilla in the Mist was filmed here and it’s a great spot to book your gorilla expedition.
As its name suggests, the park has a total of 9 volcanoes of which 3 are still active. The steep slopes of the volcanoes are covered in dense forest vegetation. And they make for a spectacular sight.
Bordering Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC, the Virunga mountains are home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Within the Volcanoes National Park, there are 12 habituated groups of gorillas. This is the perfect place for gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
It’s not only gorilla’s in these volcano forests, but golden monkeys, buffalos, and elephants too.
Rwanda safari options are beginning to broaden to include traditional big 5 safaris and the like. However, the country has attracted tourists from all over the world in search of the majestic mountain gorilla.
These are guided treks through the forest to find habituated groups. This amazing experience brings you within a couple of yards from the huge primates and is a definite bucket-list experience.
There are a number of amazing Rwanda gorilla tours that will get you up close and personal with the magical forest beasts.
These safaris are exciting and unique but require preparation and planning. See our tips on preparing for Rwanda gorilla adventures.
You need a permit! Some tours organize the permit for you. However, this is something you should double-check. The cost of a permit in Volcanoes National Park is around $1500.
Tropical forests have unpredictable weather conditions. Be prepared for extreme heat and humidity as well as rain and chill. Layered clothing is best.
Proper shoes are important. Boots are the best as they protect your ankles from thick mud, insects and slippery terrain.
Pack snacks, food and plenty of water. The treks can be very long. Many tours include lunch but you should pack extra in case.
Make sure the flash on your camera is switched off as it is strictly prohibited to take photos of gorillas with flash.
Volcanoes National Park has a high altitude and the hike can be tough. Know your fitness capabilities and train beforehand if necessary.
Try plan your trip during the dry season (December – February) as it can be miserable hiking for hours in the pouring rain.
The gorilla trekking experience will bring you within meters of these incredible animals. They are not aggressive. However, you should respect their space and observe, not intrude.
A safari in Rwanda is unlike the usual big 5 and elephant safaris that are typically found in Africa. It’s unlike any other safari. It is the opportunity to explore majestic natural scenery which is home to some of the world’s most interesting animals.
From volcanoes to grasslands, to swampy marshlands, Rwanda is a mystical delight of landscape and wildlife.
It won’t be long until Rwanda’s hidden beauty and safari opportunities are discovered. For now, it is still under the radar safari destination offering unprecedented experiences without the masses.