This country with vast territories, mesmerizing landscapes and an incredible variety of wildlife, can be called the best place for photographers. Rwanda impresses with its external appearance — it seems that nothing has changed here for centuries, and in places for millennia.
Who and why to visit Rwanda
Rwanda attracts active tourists, who offer the opportunity to go for a walk, having previously chosen a route: green hills or impenetrable jungle, a quiet lake or a mountain top. Travelers who are interested in the country’s past explore Aboriginal villages and learn about multinational traditions.
Family tourists relax on the beaches and spend time in museums, visiting ancient monuments in cities. Young people love to go to nightclubs and travel to exotic islands. Families with children will be interested in trips to the savannah, where elephants, monkeys, giraffes, lions and other animals live.
The city still keeps the memory of the terrible events of the past, but today it has become completely different. Where gangs and patrols roamed, today we will see bright markets and stalls with fragrant spices and souvenirs. Changes here are visible in everything: gardens are laid out on the territory, skyscrapers are being built.
Tourists should see the Genocide Memorial and the Grand Presidential Palace. Next to the memorial there is a museum that tells about the events that took place earlier.
Butare is the place where the country’s first National University and Institute for Scientific Research was founded, as well as a number of other educational centers.
With the development of science and education, the level of culture in the city has grown. There is a theater, a museum, a gallery, which are actively visited by tourists. Everyone especially likes the cathedral, built in 1930 in memory of Princess Astrid. Its beauty and grace are similar to Greek buildings.
Undoubtedly, this is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Rwanda. It is surrounded by high hills, which are shrouded in thick fog in the mornings, and stunning views of the lake and islands open up in the afternoon. Kibuye nestles comfortably on the shores of Lake Kivu, flowing smoothly into its waters with curved capes and rocky bays.
On the shore there are several earthen eco-houses, as well as a Catholic church and a monument to the Rwandan genocide. There are many empty beaches and boat rentals around.
In the city of Nyagatare, located in the valley of the northeastern province of Rwanda, people come to explore the Akagera National Park. This park is completely unlike anything else in the country. Before the genocide, when most of the large animals were killed or smuggled across the border, it was considered the best park in East Africa.
Today, thanks to foreign investment, the number of wild animals is growing, and people are again seeing zebras, impalas, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles, lions and rhinos.
The ancient capital of the pre-colonial kingdom of Rwanda is famous for its past and preserved traditions. In Nyanza, you can get acquainted with the collections of exhibits that are hidden in the old courtrooms. Here is the famous art museum Rou Sero — the most prestigious and richest in the country.
No less famous is the Nyungwe Rwanda Forest Park, located nearby. The largest area of mountain forest in this part of the continent is inhabited by chimpanzees, rare golden monkeys and large baboons.
The protected area is located along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. The main attraction of the park is the unique Virungas chain, which consists of five volcanoes. Tourists claim that this is the most breathtaking nature reserve in Africa. Indeed, even one volcano is exotic, but here is a whole ridge.
The park offers many routes for lovers of alpine climbing. And here they are waiting for another bonus — the opportunity to meet with mountain gorillas. They are already accustomed to meeting tourists, so they are not afraid of people.
It is worth allocating a day, or better two, to visit the Volcano Park.
Akagera National Park is a mosaic of savannahs and coastal swamps that can be found in all the famous parks of the East African Rift. Its territory, which is 1200 square kilometers, adjoins directly to the border with Tanzania, where herds of giraffes, antelopes, jackals and other animals of the savannah roam.
Safaris are gradually becoming popular here, tourists are transported in small and comfortable minibuses. The surrounding nature is simply beautiful: the kinks of the Kagera River give way to the shimmering Shakani Lake, many swamps and areas where large animals live.
The Gishwati Forest National Park, located near the beaches and resorts of Lakes Kivu and Gisenyi, is under state protection. In the 1990s, during the genocide, the area was heavily deforested. Bare ranges of hills are still visible in the area.
Today, Gishwati has a wildlife rejuvenation program, and in 2020, programs will begin to plant thousands of new trees. Despite the experience, the reserve with green mountain ranges and forests in which monkeys live is beautiful even today.
The sandy strip, which begins just outside the city, is a popular beach holiday destination. Of course, African nature is peculiar and some travelers are disappointed to find that the waters are grey-green and the sand is rough and yellowish. But after a few days on the road, Lake Kivu is a great opportunity to swim and lie in the shade of the trees.
Giseni is a place where the African jungle descends down the grassy hills directly to the water surface of the lake. The shores are lined with bamboo huts and eco-lodges, ideal for those who want to spend a couple of days away from the noise of the city.
The lake rarely becomes the only destination — people come here because of the many attractions and entertainment. But Kivu is on the list of must-see places for tourists to visit.
Covering a vast area of over 2,700 square kilometers, it stretches from Gisenyi in the north to the multicultural island of Ishva in the south. On the way to the coast, visitors are greeted by fishing villages with houses on stilts, water catamarans, a number of beautiful tropical islands.
The city rightfully bears the title of coffee king of Rwanda. Gisum is located among the foothills and Sylvan valleys. It is small, but thanks to the cultivation of excellent coffee beans, it has become mega-popular among baristas and just coffee lovers.
Today, the industry is led by the cooperative organization Gisuma. And even if you don’t like a fragrant drink, the area around Gisuma is beautiful. Nature lovers will be happy to contemplate the endless hills overgrown with coffee plantations.
These are four caves with a remarkable past. They were formed when lava flows from several volcanoes combined to reveal the Albertine Rift Valley. The length of the rock formations is several kilometers, but from time to time they bring the traveler to the surface, allowing you to feel the contrast and value of light.
Somewhere through gaps in the ceiling, waterfalls of green vines hang down. A large population of bats lives here. They greet guests with caution, but without aggression. Unfortunately, few people visit the caves due to the high cost of escort services.
The village is located 7 km southwest of Musanze. This is the best place to camp and experience the other side of life in Rwanda.
The local travel company organizes cultural events open to all. These are basket weaving, banana beer brewing, beekeeping, as well as drumming and alternative medicine lessons. The result is a complete immersion in the local culture. Some lessons are free of charge, but tourists take away finished products or souvenirs from each.
The waters of Lake Muhazi have long been a favorite place for relaxation and recuperation for the residents of the capital of Kigali. The shores offer secluded picnic spots and a popular country club with volleyball courts, quiet waterside cabins, eateries, and bike and boat rentals.
Near the lake are the cities of Gahini and Rwezero — ideal places for cultural pastime and family holidays. The lake with its beaches is becoming an integral part of the tourist program. After enjoying the cities, you can tour the nearby coffee fields and Catholic cathedrals.
In Rusumo, between the Rwandan and Tanzanian border posts, you can see with your own eyes the largest waterfall in Rwanda.
It will be a great addition to Akagera National Park. There is a whole cascade of waterfalls in the reserve, which become stormy and noisy during the rainy season. They are not tall, but they impress with their power. If you want to enjoy panoramic views, you can get to the bridge between the two border posts — the best vantage point.