10 Things to Do On A Rwanda Safari Holiday

10 Things to Do On A Rwanda Safari Holiday

When Rwanda reintroduced the rare black rhinos in her savanna national park, the stunning “Akagera” global media took to their platforms to report that she had become a “Big Five” safari Destination offering the chance to see Leopards, Lions, Elephants and Buffaloes. But they made a blunder. They totally forgot to include the “Big product” made available at a “Big price”, the mountain gorilla tracking experience. With her undying diversity of “Big things” to see and marvel at, is it not correct to call Rwanda a “Big Six” destination? 

But, how does one get to know more about the hottest stuff to see in this country that has portrayed one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of the human race? A country once headed to the ruins is now the safest nation on the African continent and is a frequent go-to destination for VIPS and celebrity tourists looking for luxury Rwanda tours to the “Land of a Thousand Hills”.

In our small office in the heart of Kigali city, our team at Lets Go Tours Rwanda sat down to chat about some of the highlights of a safari and tour, and these were some of the results in no particular order. We totally failed at arranging them in order, perhaps you can help us with that when you visit Rwanda.

1- Take a walk in the clouds at Nyungwe Forest National Park, Musanze

Reports show that this forest is given the highest importance for all forest conservation on the whole African continent. In Nyungwe Forest National Park, visitors on safaris to Rwanda can enjoy one in a few places in the world to track habituated chimpanzees, a species that shares 98.7% human DNA; but also the nearly definite opportunities of sighting several other primates like the vervet monkeys, olive baboons, Dent’s monkeys, diademed monkeys, the Angolan colobi and the grey-cheeked mangabeys. The ultimate highlight of a visit to Nyungwe is the canopy walk that leads along the well-maintained trail stretching over this thick community of equatorial rainforest. You might feel a little freaked out at the start of the walk due to the height but after a few steps you’ll be like a model on her runway.

2- Visit the Genocide Memorials

It is hard to speak of any country’s great strides and not mention its history, which in the case of Rwanda has been retold time and again to be an account of utter misery, strife and maliciousness characterized by the genocidal mass slaughter of the Tutsi which climaxed in the popularly known 1994 Rwandan Genocide. For a country still undergoing a process of healing and renewal, Rwandans meet every 13th day of April in the nationwide “Kwibuka ceremony” to light flames in remembrance of friends and relatives that were brutally killed during the Rwandan genocide but to also recite a pledge to reunite and never allow the incidents of the past to start again.

If you are in Rwanda around this time of the year, you will sense the somber mood, but if your trip is during the other months of the year, then you can still witness the horrors of the genocide against the Tutsi’s but also listen to how Rwanda has turned “a sad past into an incredible present headed towards a brilliant tomorrow”. There are about eight major genocide memorials, and many smaller memorial sites and churches throughout the country, but the Kigali Genocide Memorial in the heart of the capital city provides the best summary of the entire saga and is a must-see during a trip to Rwanda.

3- Checkout Kigali City By Day

A bustling and well planned city with clean, litter-free streets and a surprisingly low crime rate, Kigali is a busy metropolitan that the people of Rwanda are very proud of. Modern architecture, well planned residential areas with high-class hotels, a well systematized business district, orderly transport system, a well-planned golf course in the middle of the urban, the well-built government offices, and the gorgeous Kigali Convention Center that lights up this city at night are only but a few highlights to mention. You’ll be surprised at the very low number of traffic policemen in Kigali (that is if you see any). Kigali’s charms might not be directly recognizable but if you spend a few minutes driving around the city, you will very soon wish that ride never ends. Oh and don’t forget that we drive on the right!

4- Watch a Traditional Dance Ensemble

Rwandans are very beautiful people and the ladies have previously been voted “most gorgeous in Africa” and this seems to live through the traditional dance, the graceful “Intore”. Music and dance have a central place in the Rwandan cultural fabric and the traditional music is played at ceremonies, festivals and social gatherings, as well as being used in storytelling. During your safari we will ensure that you get the opportunity to watch this dance and if it is your kind of thing to join in, you are always most welcome.

5- Visit Karisoke Research Center – Dian Fossey Camp in Musanze

Tourists who have visited this site have wished their tour operator had included a bit more time here. If you are heading from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park for gorilla tracking, then it is more than definite that you will go past this site. At this point you will be able to observe a great testimony to an incredible woman who was sadly murdered in her major, the amazing Dian Fossey; a lady who kick started mountain gorilla conservation and is the reason the gorilla population is increasing today. Maybe you will want to at least pay tribute to this hero of our world.

6- Take a safari to Akagera National Park

We started this one with the Big Five, and yes Akagera National Park is the confirmation to that and indeed Rwanda’s answer for travelers in pursuit of the Big Five safari animals in the African wilderness. In its cocktail of a savanna, swampy and forest ecosystem, Akagera feeds Rwanda’s safari tourists with sightings of rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, hippos, topis and zebras etc.

7- Take a Farm Tour to Pfunda Tea Estate

Over 90 tonnes of tea are produced here at the height of daily production and visitors can enjoy guided tours through the entire process from the point of weathering, harvesting, drying and sorting into bags before the tea is then transported out of Rwanda towards the Mombasa port in Kenya. It is a fun experience to get practically involved in the process, but is also another way of supporting the communities in this part of Rwanda.

8- A Royal Visit to the King’s Palace Museum in Rukari

At a small ticket fee you can earn yourself a visit to this royal house on a hill which portrays more of kingly stature. Atop the hill is the palace of the first king to convert to Catholicism, the great Mutara III Rudahigwa, which was built by the Belgians in 1931. Here you will see the hallowed “Inyambo” cows with their tall standing horns and you can listen to the story of why the lady who readied and proffered the king’s milk was never allowed to get married.

9- Relax at Lake Kivu, Gisenyi

Depending on how long your stay is, a trip down south to the beautiful Lake Kivu is a rewarding escapade. Of course beneath the main town of Gisenyi, there is the reasonably popular sandy beach which is a fine place to take a dip in this deep lava dammed lake.