While Rwanda is small in size compared to most countries in Africa, it is blessed with rich geography of mountains, lakes, rivers, savannahs, swamps and forests. All of these form great ecosystems that make a home for lots of wildlife, primates and birds.
Rwanda also has stunning landscapes and a rich culture so whether you are looking for adventure, history, or relaxation, Rwanda has something to offer for everyone.
Here are some of the best things you can do in Rwanda.
Things to Do in Rwanda
1. Gorilla Tracking
Rwanda is one of the only 3 countries in the whole world where mountain gorillas can be seen in their wild natural habitat. Gorilla tracking is an experience that involves hiking through the thick rainforests in search of mountain gorillas.
There are 12 habituated gorilla families that live in Volcanoes National Park, and you can book a permit to visit one of them for an hour. The experience is truly magical, as you get to observe these gentle giants up close and learn about their behavior and social structure from your guide.
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is a bit expensive, as the permits cost $1,500 per person, but it is worth every penny for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
2. Primate Tracking
Other than Gorillas, Rwanda is home to other primate species including chimpanzees, golden monkeys, colobus monkeys, and many more. Primate tracking in Rwanda can be done in two main national parks: Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe National Park.
Volcanoes National Park is home to two habituated groups of golden monkeys that live in the bamboo forests. Nyungwe National Park is the largest montane forest in East Africa and a hotspot for chimpanzee tracking, as well as other primates such as L’Hoest’s monkey, owl-faced monkey, and blue monkey.
3. Canopy walk in Nyungwe National Park.
If you are looking for an adventure in Rwanda, you might want to try the canopy walk in Nyungwe National Park. This is a unique experience that allows you to walk on a suspended bridge over the ancient montane rainforest of Nyungwe.
You will enjoy the breathtaking views of the forest, the surrounding hills and Lake Kivu from a height of 70 meters. The canopy walk is 160 meters long and takes about two hours to complete. You will need to hike along the Igishigishigi trail to reach the bridge.
The canopy walk is open all year round, but it is better to go in the dry seasons, when the walkway is less slippery. You will also need to wear suitable footwear, a raincoat and a hat. The canopy walk in Rwanda is a thrilling and unforgettable experience that will make you appreciate the beauty and diversity of nature.
4. Game Viewing
Rwanda has one national park dedicated to game viewing, which is Akagera National Park in the eastern part of the country.
Akagera is home to several game animals including elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffaloes, as well as giraffes, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, topis, waterbucks, roan antelopes and elands. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.
Game drives are the best way to view wildlife in this park. You can also take a boat safari on Lake Ihema to see aquatic wildlife and game that come to drink along the shore.
Rwanda has over 700 bird species including Albertine rift endemics. Join a birding safari tour to experience the diversity of birdlife in this country.
You will visit several of Rwanda’s IBAs (Important Birding Areas) such as Nyabalongo wetlands, Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Akanyaru wetlands, Rugezi Marsh, Volcanoes National Park and Cyamundongo Forest.
Bird-watching in Rwanda can appeal to every level of visitor – from the absolute novice (who maybe only visited for the primates) all the way to the most serious of birders, due to the diversity and appeal of certain species.
Birding can be done all through the year, with the migrant bird season being from December through to February.
6. Cultural Experiences
Rwanda has a rich culture with strong ancient traditions including music, dance, art and crafts. There are several community-based tourism experiences that offer opportunities to experience the culture of Rwandans.
You can interact with local communities to gain insights into Rwandan customs and daily life. Additionally, attending traditional dance performances and engaging with local artisans will give you a deeper understanding of Rwanda’s rich traditions.
One of the best places to enjoy cultural experiences is the Ibyi’Iwacu Cultural Village and Nyanza Cultural trails.
You should also explore different museums in the country such as the Ethnographic Museum, King’s Palace Museum, and many others. These museums showcase the country’s history and cultural heritage.
7. Coffee & tea tours
Tea and coffee are Rwanda’s largest exports. The fertile volcanic soil and temperate climate are perfect for growing the plants.
Tea leave plantations can be seen covering the mountains – creating a stunning contrast to the blue skies, dirt roads and sunshine. A visit to these plantations will give you a chance to discover how tea is harvested, processed, and even get to taste the results.
You can also learn more about the production and processing of coffee at one of the many coffee washing stations around the country. You can take a tour that will show you how the coffee beans are harvested, sorted, washed, dried, and roasted. You can also taste some of the finest coffee in the world and buy some to take home.
8. Kigali City tour
Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda offering many attractions for visitors, such as the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the Nyamirambo Women’s Center, the Inema Arts Center, and the Kimironko Market.
A city tour of Kigali is a great way to explore the diverse neighborhoods, learn about the local life and history, and enjoy the scenic views of the hills and valleys.
9. Try out Rwandan Cuisine
If you are looking for a unique and delicious culinary experience, you might want to consider enjoying Rwandan cuisine. Rwandan cuisine is based on local staple foods produced by the traditional subsistence-level agriculture, such as bananas, plantains, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes and corn. These ingredients are often cooked in creative ways that reflect the diversity of the country’s regions and cultures.
Some of the dishes you can try are isombe, a cassava leaf stew with peanut butter; matoke, a cooked green banana dish; igisafuria, a chicken and vegetable pot; and brochettes, grilled meat skewers.
Rwanda also has some interesting drinks to quench your thirst. You can try urwagwa, which is a beer with a strong and sweet taste made from the fermented juice of bananas mixed with roasted sorghum flour.
You can also try ikivuguto, which is a fermented milk drink that has a sour and refreshing flavor. It is rich in probiotics and calcium and can help with digestion.
10. Mountain climbing and hiking
Rwanda is a great destination for hiking and mountain climbing enthusiasts, as it offers a variety of trails and challenges in its scenic landscapes.
You can hike to the summit of Mount Karisimbi, the highest volcano in the range, or the scenic crater lake of Mount Bisoke. You can also trek along the border of Uganda and Rwanda on Mount Muhabura or Mount Sabyinyo, where you can see the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera.
Alternatively, you can hike through the ancient rainforest of Nyungwe National Park which has several hiking trails that range from easy to difficult.
11. Visit Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake and one of Africa’s Great Lakes. It is a beautiful lake with clear water, sandy beaches, and lush hillsides.
You can kayak or take a boat along the lake’s shores and discover its hidden gems, such as hot springs, fishing villages, coffee plantations, and islands. You can also swim, fish, or sunbathe on the lake’s beaches.
While Rwanda is geographically a small country, there is so much you can see and do to enjoy your visit to the land of a thousand hills. Most tourists often come to Rwanda for gorilla trekking experiences where they get to see mountain gorillas in their wild home, the tropical rainforests.
These activities cover a wide range of things that travelers have rated highly, and we hope you get inspired to try out one of these great experiences. Take a look at some of the already-made Rwanda safari packages to get an idea of how most safaris flow.
Alternatively, you can talk to us about planning a safari that is based on your schedule, budget and interests.