The ‘land of a thousand hills’ is perhaps the ultimate African good news story, having embarked on a remarkable journey of reconciliation and rebirth following the 1994 genocide. The country has now put this chapter firmly behind it and in the process, become an essential wildlife destination – and that’s only one of many reasons to visit.
Rwanda’s unique landscape consists of many small hills, dotted with villages and covered in a patchwork quilt of tea plantations and farm plots. Rwanda is a relatively small country – about the size of Michigan – and its excellent road network means that guided tours can get you to most highlights in just a few hours.
Rwanda enjoys comfortable temperatures year-round, although with humidity. Heaviest rainfalls occur in April and May and again in October and November.
The drier months are June through September and December through March. The altitude on a typical safari varies from 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) to 7,875 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level. Days are pleasant, 75 to 85 F and nights are moderate, 50 to 60 F. At higher altitudes it can be cooler, especially at Volcanoes National Park.
June – October: This is the long dry season when wildlife viewing is at its best. Wildlife congregate around water sources and grass is short in Akagera. Guests can expect cool mornings and evenings. This is peak travel season for visitors and gorilla trekking.
December – March: The short dry season and a good time to travel with the warmest temperatures being February.
November, April – May: These are the two rainy seasons, when landscapes are lush and skies dramatic. Wildlife is a bit more dispersed and conditions muddy. Expect showers in the morning with clearing in the afternoon before clouds roll in again for heavier rains in the evening.
Gorilla and golden monkey treks in Volcanoes National Park
Spot the Big 5 in Akagera National Park
Experience life in Kigali with a mix of Rwandan arts, history, and culture
Golden Monkey Trekking
Embroidery & Basket Weaving Workshops
Dian Fossey Karisoke Gorilla Centre
Flights are easily arranged into Kigali, from European gateways like Amsterdam, Brussels, and Istanbul, or via Nairobi, Dubai, Doha or Addis Ababa.
While most only see Rwanda as a destination just for gorilla trekking, it has a host of other parks and activities to make it a stand-alone safari of about nine days. Four days is usually the ideal length of a ‘gorilla express’ extension before or after a longer safari in Kenya, Tanzania or Southern Africa.
Rwanda’s wildlife populations are rising, so we suggest combining this destination with another location for first-time safari travelers. Safari veterans will take pleasure in the uncrowded destinations beyond Volcanoes National Park.
Visas are required for most visitors, but inoculations may be recommended. We suggest you see a travel medicine specialist for advice.
Due to its small size, driving between locations is most common. Good quality roads link Rwanda destinations, but so do helicopters! Limited flights on Rwandair are also available to Nyungwe.
English is widely spoken throughout Rwanda in addition to French, Swahili, and Kinyarwanda.
Good quality guiding is found throughout Rwanda. Even some local guides have gone through certification courses around Akagera and Nyungwe.
Gorilla trekking permits are currently $1500 per trek, which can last from 1.5-8 hours. Chimpanzee trekking permits are currently $100 per trek and are typically booked for up to 4 hours. Permit fees can change at any time and must be secured in advance.
There are some stand-out restaurants in Kigali and throughout your safari you will find fresh, delicious meals prepared with local ingredients.
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