Rwanda Safaris Tour Holidays | 22 Things to Do on Rwanda Safaris
If you are planning a Rwanda safaris tour, you may want to go gorilla trekking, but Rwanda has many safaris tour attractions. Including mountains, different Rwanda safaris tour destinations, cultural centers, and more. We bring you 22 things to do in Rwanda. Rwanda is a landlocked country in East Africa and there are many tourist attractions in different parts of the country. With lush green hills covering much of the country, Rwanda is best known for its endangered mountain gorillas and the 1994 genocide that killed many and displaced others.
Ultimate Rwanda Safaris Tour Holidays | Deks Safaris & Tours Africa
Brief History of Rwanda Tourism
When the new government came to power, its goal was to create a unity that can be seen in the country even years later.
In this article, we learn some things that you can do and that you should not miss on your safaris tour to Rwanda, which is listed below.
Rwanda Safaris Adventure Sites | Where to Go for Rwanda Safaris?
1. Gorilla Trekking Safaris in Rwanda – Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is located in the village of Musanze in the northwestern part of the country. It is located between Virunga National Park in Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Volcanoes National Park is home to a large number of gorillas, and the main tourist activity in the park is gorilla trekking. The park is a perfect destination for anyone interested in gorilla trekking safaris to Rwanda and is home to around 18 gorilla families, only 12 of which can be trekked.
The gorilla trek safaris in Rwanda take about an hour as visitors are divided into groups and each is assigned a family trek. Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda are only possible after obtaining a trekking permit, and permits are always subject to a fee. It is recommended to purchase a gorilla trekking permit 3-6 months before your planned travel date. Gorilla Permits in Rwanda cost $1,500 per person. When planning your trek, remember to follow all the instructions you are given before you start. Such as not getting too close to the gorillas, turning off your camera flash when taking pictures, not feeding the primates, etc.
Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda are possible all year round, but the best time is during the dry season from June to September. Many Gorilla trails are accessible during the dry season, making trekking easy, unlike wet and slippery roads. Gorilla permits are easy to get because of the heavy rains during the monsoons and you can also enjoy the park with fewer people, although the wet trails are very difficult.
Where to Go for Gorilla Trekking Safaris in East Africa
2. Chimpanzee Tracking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Located in southwestern Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the most popular safaris tour destinations in Rwanda. Famous for its large primate population of colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, golden monkeys, and chimpanzees, it is the main attraction here. Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to over 500 chimpanzees and 90 colonies that are open to the public all year round. Thirty of these common chimpanzee communities are located in Cyamudongo Forest, while the other 60 are located in Nyungwe Forest.
Visitors are divided into different groups of no more than 8 people, each group spends approximately one hour with their family. Chimpanzees find it a little difficult to roam because they are constantly moving from place to place, but with habituated chimpanzees, it is easier for them as they get used to the people around them.
When is the Best Time for Chimpanzee Tracking?
Chimpanzee tracking safaris in Rwanda are usually done at 05.00 after a briefing from the authorities on what to do and what to expect. Nyungwe has three sections from which you can start your trek namely the Uwinka section, Kitabi section, and Gisakura section. A chimpanzee trek permit is required for all visitors and costs $90 per person per day for all foreign non-residents and $60 for foreign residents.
Chimpanzee permits can be booked through the travel agency of your choice and must also be booked in advance. The best time for chimpanzee trekking safaris in Nyungwe Rwanda is during the dry season, roughly from June to October, when hiking trails are available and the rainy season is muddy. However, as Nyungwe Forest National Park is full of rainforest trees, it rains all year round and it is recommended that you bring a raincoat when planning your trek to avoid getting wet.
Where to Go for Chimpanzee Tracking in Rwanda?
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is an exciting Rwanda Safaris tour destination located in the southwestern region of Rwanda, near the border with Burundi in the south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west.
The forest is generally dominated by the Nyungwe Forest, recognized as one of the oldest tropical rain-forests in Africa and one of the oldest forests in Africa that survived the last ice age.
3. Golden monkeys on a hike in Volcanoes National Park
Golden monkeys are one of the most popular safaris tour attractions in Rwanda and can only be found in the Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga region. Golden monkey trekking is one of the most visited activities in Volcanoes National Park, with gorilla trekking leading the way. These monkeys are a rare species that can be easily recognized by the golden spots on their fur that make them beautiful and fascinating. They usually feed on bamboo shoots and branches, although they sometimes use fresh potatoes.
Compared to gorillas, golden monkeys are very easy to track and take less time to descend. The best way to track these monkeys, which are constantly moving from one place to another, is to follow the bamboo shoots that the monkeys leave behind. There are a few rules to follow when tracking, namely closing the shutter when taking pictures, as this usually scares the monkeys away and keeps the distance.
You will need a trekking permit which costs around $100 per person per day, note that you will not be allowed into the national park without a permit. If possible, it is best to do this in the dry season. Most tourists who go on safaris tour in Rwanda take part in the golden monkey trek and gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park.
Where To Go for Golden Monkey Tracking in Rwanda?
Volcanoes National Park
Located in the northwest region of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is Rwanda’s most popular safaris tour destination, the best place for mountain gorilla trekking, and home to the endangered mountain gorilla.
4. Rwanda Wildlife Safaris in Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in the eastern part of the country and is named after the Kagera River. The park occupies a large area of protected land, filled with marshy lakes and lush vegetation. A Rwanda safaris tour is primarily about the game and is the most visited activity in Akagera National Park. They can be done both during the day and at night.
Day Game Drives
These activities take place in two phases: morning and afternoon. Morning Rwanda safaris usually start at 7.00 or 8.00 until mid-afternoon, were early risers and numerous birds such as Caruthers’ cisticola, Senegal Sandbag, Peregrine Falcon, Rwenzori Batis, Alessi in Red’s Throat, and Blackhead Weaver can be seen. The afternoon run starts after lunch around 3:00 p.m. and continues until late in the evening.
Night Game Drives
Some of the animals you should see in your game with Akagera are lions (introduced in 2015), leopards, elephants, black rhinos (introduced in 2019), hippos, zebras, gazelles, gazelles, elephants, and more. Driving The best time to travel in Akagera National Park is during the dry season from June to September. During the dry season, animals can easily spit because of the sparse vegetation, and many animals can be seen on the banks of the Chugai River during this season.
Where to Go for Rwanda Wildlife Safaris?
Akagera National Park
It starts late in the evening after dinner and helps spot most of the nocturnal animals that hide during the day and those that hunt at night in the park’s safari vehicles. Nighttime favorites include leopards, impalas, bushbucks, and lions.
You will need a headlamp to help you see the animals better in the dark, and the good thing about driving around Akagera at night is that you can see many animals as most of them are resting, but this is not the case on a mobile day.
For around $40, an experienced guide will take you on a night safaris tour in Akagera Rwanda while explaining in detail the species of animals you will see.
Rwanda Bird-watching Safaris in Nyungwe and Nyabarongo
Bird-watching safaris tour in Rwanda is one of the many activities undertaken by tourists visiting the country. And some bird-watching destinations include Nyungwe Forest National Park and Nyabarongo Wetlands. You need a permit to see the birds at both Rwanda safaris and tour destinations. The best time is from July to the end of March. Nyungwe Forest National Park is known for its lush forests. Which can sometimes make trekking through the park difficult, but the park has hiking trails where you can enjoy bird watching.
The most popular birding trails in Nyungwe are Kamiranzovu Trail, Karamba Trail, Gisakura Trail, and Bigugu Trail. Birds common to Nyungwe include Doherty’s Bushshrike, Rwenzori Bait, Regal Sunbird, Congo Bay Owl, Kivu’s Ground Thrush, Red-collared Mountain Thrush, Red-necked Thrush, Grey-crowned Kakamega, Grauer’s Thrush, Short-tailed Thrush, Mountain Masked Bird, Yellow-billed Black Flycatcher eyes and much more.
Birding Safaris in Nyabarongo Wetlands Rwanda
The Nyabarongo Wetlands are home to around 50 species of birds and their water comes from the Nyabarongo River, Rwanda’s longest river. This reserve is located in the southeastern part of the country and is home to several species of birds. Some of which are almost extinct worldwide. Nyabarongo birds can be seen in their natural habitat, in the dense vegetation of the swamps, and in the wetlands themselves.
Birds such as Papyrus Canary, Papyrus Orioles, Madagascar Squacco Heron, White-collared Olive-back, Carruthers’ cisticola, Northern Brown-necked Weaver, and Papyrus Gonolek are worth looking out for at Nyabarongo. It is also home to three species of the Lake Victoria biome and the African tropical biome.
6. Lake Kivu – Rwanda Safaris Adventure Sites
Lake Kivu is located in western Rwanda, near Boarder in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is one of the smallest lakes in the Great Rift Valley with a depth of about 485 m and is considered the most picturesque lake in Rwanda. The lake is surrounded by beautiful beaches, hills, and fishing villages and is close to Volcanoes National Park. Lake Kivu contains methane and carbon dioxide, which can cause eruptions when the two gases come into contact, and although this has not yet happened in Rwanda, scientists believe it will, and locals living around the lake should be more careful.
There are several activities to keep you calm during your Lake Kivu safaris to Rwanda including kayaking, mountain biking, nature walks, and island hopping as Lake Kivu has several islands on its shores such as Nyamirundi, Mini, and Amahoro – the birds of the archipelago. , you can see birds like African wagtail, common waxbill, tropical breast, African osprey, and many other water sports like boating between different islands, sport fishing, enjoying the beach, and many more.
Tea was introduced to Rwanda in the 1950s and became the country’s second-largest cash crop after coffee. The hills of Rwanda are dotted with several tea plantations, some privately owned and others owned by companies. But the most visited and easily accessible to the public are the Gisowu and Gisakura tea plantations. Rwanda Safaris tour of the tea plantations usually lasts approx 3 to 4 hours.
Most of the tea produced in Rwanda is exported worldwide, while the rest is supplied to the local market. Note that although most plantation safaris are led by farmers in Rwanda, you cannot book a tour with the plantation owner. The only way to visit a tea plantation is through a travel agency.
Gisakura Tea Plantation
This is the most popular tea plantation in the country, located in the western part of Nyungwe Forest National Park. The tea plantation occupies a large area and during the entire tour of the plantation, you can see the different stages of tea, meet local people, taste tea directly from the factory and also participate in other activities that take place around the plantation.
Gisovu Tea Plantation
Gisovu Plantation is also located along the Nyungwe forest but to the north. Driving through the tea plantation, you can see the beauty of the forest, and several stages of tea trees, you can also go mountain biking here and enjoy the cupping ceremony after the ride.
Pfund Tea Plantation
As we all know, this is the largest tea plantation in the country and produces the largest tea leaves. Located just below the Virunga Volcano and covering a large area, your plantation tour will give you an insight into how tea is grown, harvested, and processed.
Visit the National Museum
Built-in 1989, the National Museum of Rwanda, located in Butare, is a popular safaris tour destination for tourists who want to learn more about the Rwanda’s history. The National Museum is on the same route to Nyungwe Forest National Park. A stop here will give you an insight into the unique culture of Banja Rwanda’s rich history. Galleries are displaying ancient tools, pottery, photographs, and royal clothes dating back more than 500 years.
You will be taken on a safaris tour of the Rwanda national park by a guide who will explain in detail the genocide. How far the country has come since then, and how the royal family and the president lived before the genocide. You can also visit the National Capital Museum, which used to be the presidential palace and President Habyarimana was the last president to occupy it before it became a museum. This is where Habyarimana’s plane crashed and the wreckage is still there. Tourists visit the palace to learn more about Habyarimana and how the genocide began.
Kigali Holocaust Memorial
The Kigali Genocide Memorial was built in 2004 to commemorate all those who lost their lives in the 1994 genocide that claimed thousands of lives. Located in Gisozi, north of the capital, it has a section inside that shows the outside world, the survivors and the younger generation, what happened years ago, and the beauty of solidarity.
There is a garden, an exhibition of images and bones of the dead, and a mass grave where most of those buried here have not been identified. The names of all those who lost their lives are published and more are added to be remembered and respected by all who visit the memorial.
Congo Nile Trail
The Congo Nile Trail along the shores of Lake Kivu is hailed as the best cycling and cycling trail in East Africa. The trail was officially opened in 2011 and aims to increase tourism in the country. The 227 km long route passes through the beaches of Lake Kivu, the dense forests of Nyungwe Forest National Park, several hills, and the Kiziba refugee camp. Where you can see the Congo in the distance from the beginning of Gisenyi. The trail is not easy for the unfit as it has rocks, becomes muddy in rainy weather, steep hills and slopes and you need to be prepared.
Tourists can access the Congo Nile Trail in four ways: on foot, by motorcycle, by bicycle, and by car. It takes 10 days to walk the trail and 5 days to cycle, which is considered the best way for tourists to explore the trail as it gives you time to explore while also meeting the locals. Food and drinks are easy to get as the trail passes through several villages and in terms of accommodation, there are several accommodation options in the village as well as for those who wish to stay on the trail.
Some basics that should not be forgotten are snacks, gloves, bike lights, toiletries, dust masks, gloves, and sunglasses. Bicycles can be rented in Gisenyi at affordable prices.
The capital of Rwanda, Kigali, has been recognized as the cleanest and most organized capital in East Africa. Many tourists consider Kigali as a stopover before heading to various national parks around the country, but Kigali has a lot to offer, so it’s safe to spend at least a few hours exploring the city. Kigali is a well-organized city with good infrastructure such as roads, accommodation, and travel without wasting time.
When you decide to explore Kigali, your first stop should be the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Where you can learn about what happened during the genocide and honor the dead by looking at the pictures and words left behind by the fall. Another stop will be at the Rwanda Art Museum, hike to Mount Kigali, ride horses, meet local people, watch local dances, visit the Natural History Museum, visit the famous Hotel des Milles Collines, shop at various city markets and enjoy the local. Cuisine in various restaurants in the city.
Eat Rwandan food
A safaris trip to Rwanda will give you some of the best local food cooked in different hotels in different cities. Since agriculture is one of the main activities of the local people, food in Rwanda usually consists of peas, millet, beans, corn, sweet potatoes, bananas, and fresh fish from the lake, because the local people eat very little meat, a lot of fruit and don’t forget international cuisine, which is served in a city hotel.
Some popular local dishes to try are Isombe which consists of dried fish in puree and cassava leaves in puree, Ibihaza which is shredded pumpkin cooked in beans, Natalie which is a steamed or roasted plantain, Igisafuria dishes are cooked in a pot. and ugali made from cornmeal mixed with hot water. As for local drinks, look out for fermented milk Ikiviguto, Icayi, and plain black tea, as well as Urwagwa, a locally produced banana drink known as banana beer.
Rwanda Cultural Safaris Tour
Rwanda is a country with a unique culture that can be experienced in different parts of the country. There are three ethnic groups in Rwanda: the Tustin, who keep cattle, the Twa, who are gatherers, and the Hutus, who are hunters. The Rwanda Cultural Safaris Tour will allow you to learn more about the local people through one-on-one interaction, participation in traditional songs and dances, and more.
There are many things and places where you can experience Rwandan culture, they are exploring the Royal Palace in Nyanza, which houses the royal palace of the previous kings of Rwanda, and there are countless genocide memorial centers in different parts of the country. To commemorate those who lost their lives, walk through the Iby’iwacu Cultural Village where you will learn more about the daily activities of Rwandan folk culture. Eat at a farm and visit the Bugsera Reconciliation Village, most of the genocide survivors who lost their lives. Their property has been transferred there.
There are so many things that tourists can do in Rwanda But one of the things that you should get involved in is a canopy walk. As it is one of the ways you can explore the national park while getting a clear view of the forest and primates from a tree flies to another tree. Only in Nyungwe Forest National Park, the canopy walk was introduced to the park in 2010 and is one of the best canopies walks in Africa. It is best done in the dry season as the foliage can reach up to 50m in length and is divided into three categories based on its length of 160m.
The first track is 25m long and is considered the shortest track, the second track is approximately 45m long and the last track is 90m long. Visitors can choose their preferred walk category, although some will choose the entire track. The Canopy Walk takes place in two phases: starting around 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM, both phases lasting approximately two hours. Rwandan citizens pay 5,000 francs, foreign non-residents pay $150, and foreign residents pay $60 per canopy walk. Ages 6 and up are welcome, but children under 15 must always be accompanied by an adult.
Visit Kimironko Market
It is said that one of the best ways to learn about a new local culture is to explore their markets, and the same is true for Kimironko Market. Located in a large warehouse in Kigali, Kimironko Market sells a variety of goods. The market is hard to navigate as it’s a maze inside and if you get lost someone in a yellow co-op shirt can point you in the right direction. This is the main point where most people shop for those who buy in bulk and in small quantities.
The main entrance of the market is directly opposite the Kimironko bus stop, most of the household items are sold here, fresh meat and fish on the left, and various types of kitenge are sold on the right. the last entrance leads to sewing and some used clothes.
Visit Brera Lake
Most tourists visit at night, and Lake Brera, located in Volcanoes National Park, is the twin lake of Lake Ruhondo. Here you can relax after a long day of gorilla trekking and several other activities including fishing, bird watching, canoeing, and camping along the lake shore.
Sangha on horseback
Kigali is the capital of Rwanda and there are many activities that tourists can do, one of which is horse riding. Fazenda Sangha Horse Farm is located at the top of Kigali hill and you can ride well-trained horses with the help of a guide. Horse riding in Kigali is still a new experience not to be missed.
However, be prepared for the climb that will take you to the ranch where you can get a perfect view of Kigali as you drive. The Fazenda ride takes about an hour and bottled water will be provided for this workout. Classes must be booked in advance and be sure to choose your pants for the best experience.
18. Hot springs in Rwanda
When you visit the many hot springs that have become a favorite among Rwandan tourists, you will see water boiled to almost 100 degrees Celsius. No one knows how long they have existed, but most communities living around the springs have a superstitious and spiritual view of them. The spring water has different degrees of heat, some of the spring water can boil eggs, which is harmful to the human body, while other parts are warm and floating. Some of the hot springs you can visit in Rwanda are:
Nyamyumba Hot Springs
These hot springs are located in the Rubavu district. The surrounding community calls the hot springs “magical waters” because of their perceived spiritual connection. In some places, the water is so hot that you can even boil an egg, while in other places it is easy to swim. Spring water is also believed to have healing properties for many diseases and infections.
Bugarama Hot Springs
Bugarama Hot Springs is located in Cyangugu, Ruiz District, western Rwanda. They are located at the bottom of a limestone quarry, and from a distance, these springs look like any other water covered with greenery, but the closer you get to them, the more beautiful the scenery. The hot springs are also believed to have healing waters that cure ailments, remove curses from people, and help ensure proper blood circulation.
Gisenyi and Kinigi Hot Springs
Both Gisenyi and Kinigi hot springs are located near Lake Kivu and, like other hot springs in the country, are believed to contain water against ailments such as flu, headaches, wounds, and joint pain.
Umuganda’s volunteer work in Rwanda
Umuganda, which roughly translates to “United for a Common Purpose”, is an event I host in the country on the last Saturday of every month throughout the year. After the Rwandan genocide threw the country into chaos, Umuganda was founded to keep the community united and the country clean, so everyone aged 18-65 is welcome on the last Saturday of every month to get all the cleaning supplies, and go to the street to clean.
Umuganda activities are considered a civic duty and should involve all residents. However, tourists and ex-pats, although invited to the event, are exempt. Volunteering in Umuganda will allow you to meet the locals as you explore the many streets where the event takes place.
Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony
Kwita Izina is a traditional naming ceremony in Rwanda where babies are named immediately after birth. It adapts to the naming of the country’s new mountain gorilla, and since its introduction in 2005, around 240 gorillas have been given ceremonial names. Gorilla names, usually chosen by trackers, always mean important things that happened at the particular time of their birth, and a list of three names was created, each chosen for each gorilla during the ceremony. This day is celebrated by many people in Rwanda, neighboring countries, and international countries. The President of the Republic of Rwanda also attended the meeting.
Glamping in Rwanda
Rwanda is one of the best places to enjoy its wonderful experience, also known as charm camping. The country has adapted to the new camping trend, and instead of traveling with your tent, you will find a tent already prepared for you with all the necessary luxuries. It is a beautiful and diverse way for tourists to experience the country and all it has to offer, and some of the places in Rwanda that entertain are Inzu Lodge Gisenyi, Macheo Ecolodge, Nyungwe Nzizi Lodge, and Vintage Lodge.
22. Visit the Milk Bar
Exploring the milk bar is a way for tourists to experience Rwanda like a local. Cows and milk are an important aspect of Rwandan people and they can see milk cans with the inscription “Amata Meža” and so on on the milk bar for safe drinking and improve its quality. Located in the heart of Kigali, is one of the most popular bars in Rwanda and the only thing it offers is milk.
Kiruhumba Milk Bar is one of the last in the country and is one to look out for when in the country. It is found just after the market and when you ask the locals, they will be happy to take you to the right place where you can taste Rwandan milk.