Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa located in East Africa and borders Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda is rugged with various hills, the reason she is called a country of a thousand hills.
Rwanda covers a of 26,338 square kilometers, with a population of about 12 million people. The country’s population is divided between 3 different tribes; the Tutsi, who are the minority, the Hutu who are the majority and the Batwa who have a smallest population.
Rwanda is a landlocked, lying 75 miles south of the equator in the Tropic of Capricorn, 880 miles ’as the crow flies’ west of the Indian Ocean and 1,250 miles east of the Atlantic Ocean which makes her the heart of Africa. The country is covered with water bodies which include 23 lakes and numerous rivers, some forming the source of the River Nile.
The country is largely on a high altitude with the highest point being the peak of Mt.Karisimbi which lies at 4519 meters above sea level and the lowest point is at Rusizi River at 950 meters above sea level.
The country faced a gruesome genocide in 1994 that saw over 800000 people dead most of who were the minority Tutsi and a few sympathetic Hutu. This genocide was orchestrated by the Hutu who were then in the ruling government and was against the Tutsi who were then fighting the ruling government. The genocide that lasted 100 days was sparked when the plane that was carrying the then president Juvenal Habyarimana was brought down in Kigali and he died there together with the then Burundi’s president as they returned from Tanzania from peace talks.
Rwanda has various tourist attractions which include animals of the wild that protected from poachers and roam free in the vast national parks, the Mountains with great scenery, the genocide memorials, cultural museums, cultural and nature walks. Listed below are the ten tourist attractions you cannot miss while on Rwanda tour.
- Gorilla Tracking
One of the most exciting experiences in the world is gorilla tracking and this is done in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. This involves trekking in the mountainous forest in search of the gorillas. Gorillas are the most exciting primates that share 98% DNA with humans making them the closest relatives to human beings. These animals live in groups headed by a dominant male called a silverback. Each family is visited by a maximum number of 8 people per day and there are 10 habituated gorilla families.
- Chimpanzee tracking
Chimpanzees are the other exciting primates after the gorillas. The chimpanzees are also closer to human beings and research shows they share 99% DNA with human beings. The chimpanzees live in Forests and feed on leaves, fruits, insects and even fresh! In Rwanda, the chimpanzees live in Nyungwe Forest National park which is located in Southern Rwanda bordering Burundi. The forest Covers over 1000 square kilometers and is one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rain forests and Africa’s oldest ever green forest, Apart from the chimpanzees, Nyungwe Forest national park is a home to other 12 primate species including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons, blue hoerst monkeys.. The forest is also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammal.
- Colobus monkey tracking
Like chimpanzee tracking, colobus monkey tracking is done in Nyungwe forest national park. Colobus monkeys are also one of the rare monkey species and most of the world’s remaining colobus monkeys can be found in the forest. This therefore makes colobus monkey tracking in Rwanda one of the most exciting adventures.
- Forest Canopy walk
This is done in Nyungwe Forest National Park as well. Scenic as it is, the canopy was constructed on top of the forest and the walk on this platform offers a great opportunity to explore the entire Nyungwe forest from top. This offers an opportunity for close eye level contact with the birds, see the waterfalls in Nyungwe Forest. Nyungwe Forest canopy walk is one of the exciting forest canopy walks in Africa.
- Bird watching is one of the thought after tourist attractions in the world. Among the world’s birding spots is Rwanda. Rwanda has 728 bird species 29 of which are endemic to montane rain forest and Rift Valley of which Rwanda forms part. Birding is done in Nyungwe Forest National park, Volcanoes National park, Akagera forest National park, Congo Nile trail among others.
- Golden Monkey Tracking
Golden monkeys are endangered monkey specie only found in the virunga mountain ranges with many monkeys living in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. The golden monkeys live in groups of 30 members and above and feed on leaves, stem and fruits and sometimes insects. These monkeys are so playful and interesting to watch. Golden monkey tracking in volcanoes national park in Rwanda therefore makes it an interesting tourist activity.
- Cultural walks
Rwanda has a unique culture that is so entertaining. There is also many cultural heritages to visit which includes the national museum in Butare, Nyanza palace, the Belgium museum, the intore cultural dancers. There are Batwa in Rwanda who have a unique tradition and learning about their way of life is interesting.
- Historical and educational tours
Rwanda is a country of history ranging. Rwanda’s genocide is one of the historic genocides in the world and may tourists will come to learn about history of mankind which includes conflict and conflict resolution. There are several genocide memorials set up across the country which include Gisozi memorial museum, Nyamata church, Ntarama church, Murambi genocide memorial among others. When you visit these sites, one will learn more about the effects of human conflicts. There is also Dian Fossey grave site in volcanoes national park and tourists always hike to her grave site to pay her respect and also learn more about her historic work of conserving the lives of the mountain gorillas which were under threat from poachers and she was assassinated as a result of her noble effort.
- Rwanda has three volcanic mountains that form part of the Virunga mountain ranges. These include Mt.Karisimbi, Mt.Bisoke, Mt.Muhabura. These mountains are all scenic in their nature and for hiking adventure lovers, these are a must hike. The crater lake on top of Mt.Bisoke is so fascinating and hiking Mt.Bisoke can be done in a day. Mt.Karisimbi can be hiked with in two days and the hike to Mt.Muhabura.
- Game drive and boat cruise
Like most African countries are famous for, Rwanda has one of the most scenic savanna park. Akagera National Park located in the eastern part of Rwanda forms part of Rwanda’s flat land with great savanna. The park has various game that include Zebras, lion, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, impalas, bush bucks which are best seen during game drive. Other game includes hippos, crocodiles which are seen during a boat cruise on Lake Ihema which is within the park.