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Activities in Rwanda

Things to Do

Dian Fossey Tomb

Dian Fossey was an America primatologist who took up a broad study and keen interest in studying and protecting mountain gorillas in Rwanda for a period of 18 years but was unfortunately murdered by gorilla poachers. Dian Fossey while doing her research set up a Karisoke Research camp between Mt. Visoke and Mt. Karisimbi in the Volcanoes national park. This is where the Karisoke name was derived basing on the two volcanoes.

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The Congo Nile Trail

The Congo Nile Trail is a trail along Lake Kivu that extends from Rubavu, continues through Rutsiro via the Karongi, Nyamasheke districts and ends at Rusizi District.
227 km (141 miles) of beautiful landscapes, including rolling hills and clear water. The entire trek can be completed in a 10- day hike. However, the trip can be done in sections if travelers do not have the time to complete the entire trail. Trails give stunning views of the Lake Kivu coastline and offer adventurous travelers an exciting way to discover Rwanda.
Biking the Congo Nile Trail can be completed in 5 days, with rich views and immersive cultural experiences along the way. This trail appeals to adventure travelers and is a great way to experience Rwanda. The trail can also be split up if visitors do not have the time to commit to the 5 day journey. However, it is an experience worth selling to those who crave an off the beaten path adventure.

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Nyungwe National Park

In the southwest of the country, Nyungwe National Park is a vast tract of virgin forest, one of the largest uncut natural forest reserves remaining in Africa and home to more than 300 species of birds, 27 of which are regional endemics. Much of the forest is unexplored, with access being extremely difficult, because of the steep high hills and deep valleys. However, an excellent winding tarmac road bisects the forest, following the crest of the mountains. This road is one of the few places in the world that allows the visitor to look directly into and even down on the rainforest canopy. Along this road you can find most of the Albertine Rift endemics, including Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Archer’s Robin-chat, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Grauer’s Rush, Neumann’s and Grauer’s Warbles, Masked Mountain Apalis, Stripe-breasted Tit and Strange Weaver, and a full range of Rwenzori double-collared, purple-throated, blue-headed and regal Sunbirds. A speciality is the Red-collared Mountain Babbler, which has its only easily accessible site here, as does Kungwe Apalis. Recent possible sightings of Rockefeller’s Sunbird show that much is left to be discovered, and perhaps even such gems as the Congo Peacock (found only 70km distant in the DR Congo) could exist in the remote dense forest!
here are also good forest tracks for birding based around the Gisakura Guesthouse and the RDB Tourism & Conservation Campsite at Uwinka, where some of the more skulking species can be seen such as the Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Robin-chat, Kivu Ground Thrush, Collared Apalis, and Shelley’s and Dusky Crimsonwing. Other special birds here include White-bellied robin-chat, Doherty’s and Lagden’s bush-shrikes, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Great Blue Turaco, Barred long-tailed cuckoo and White-bellied crested flycatcher. At night, Rwenzori Nightjar is not uncommon, Albertine Owlet may be found, and there might be a possibility to see the Congo Bay-owl.

a. Primate Tracking
Beyond the gorillas that made Rwanda famous, wildlife junkies will be thrilled to know that they can track three more species of primate on their Rwandan holiday: Chimpanzees, Black-and-white colobus monkeys, and the endangered Golden monkey. Chimpanzee groups live high in the canopy of Nyungwe National Park, and catching your first glimpse of one crashing through the forest after hiking into their territory is nothing short of astonishing. The black-and-white colobus live in Nyungwe as well, and these resplendent, long-haired creatures are every wildlife photographer’s dream. Finally, like their neighbours the gorillas, the Golden monkey can be found in very few places outside of Volcanoes National Park, and their rich colors, energetic demeanour, and sizeable troupes of up to 30 individuals are truly a sight to behold. The gorillas may be what brought you to Rwanda, but it would be an absolute shame to leave without seeing any of the wonderful creatures they share a home with.

b. Chimpanzee Tracking
These cousins to humans can be found and tracked in Nyungwe National Forest. A beautiful guided hike through the forest will lead you to these fascinating creatures where you can watch them play and interact up close. Chimpanzee tracking can be done year-round in Nyungwe Forest, rain or shine, and while it is never guaranteed that you will see them, sightings are very common and guides are skillful in tracking them. The experience differs from gorilla tracking as the chimps are running around, so the sightings are a bit more sporadic and rushed, but worthwhile nonetheless.

c. Golden Monkey Tracking
These striking primates are a treat for the eyes. With their bright orange fur contrasting the green rainforests of the Virunga Mountains – it’s a photographers dream! Visitors meet with their guides at Volcanoes National Park’s Kinigi Headquarters and the visit is done once per day, time will be allocated once booked.

d. Black & White Colobus Monkey Tracking
These charismatic monkeys – sometimes referred to as Ruwenzori Colobus – take up the final place in Rwanda’s Big-4 primate species. Nyungwe Forest is again home to this attractive species. Because they live within sizeable groups (one of the habituated troops has more than 200 individuals), an encounter with Colobus Monkeys in Rwanda often exceeds sightings anywhere elsewhere in Africa.

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Volcanoes National Park

The “Parc National de Volcans” (or PNV as it’s known by locals) lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a short two hour drive from Rwanda’s capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences. While a visit to the mountain gorillas is often at the top of visitor, the dramatic landscape also offers thrilling hiking and visits to the fascinating golden monkeys.
PNV is also one of Rwanda’s conservation epicenters, where many non-profit organizations base their operations. Visitors can pay homage to the legendary scientist and gorilla advocate Dian Fossey with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fosse Gorilla Fund that continues her legacy of research and advocacy to this day.
Near the park, the bustling and vibrant markets of Musanze are a place to immerse yourself into everyday Rwandan culture. Go deep into the earth with Musanze’s caves – one of the area’s newest attractions.
Rwanda is one of only three countries in the world where the critically endangered mountain gorillas live.
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing” and with good reason. With only an estimated 880 Gorillas left in the world, to see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat are a truly unique moment.
Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Trek to see them and you’ll be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to one of the fully-habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away, whilst the gorillas go about their daily lives.
Hikes in the mountains can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours + depending on the family allocated to your group and their location. The journey back can take just as long, but you are often carried along by the euphoria you feel at seeing the gorillas!
Expert guides give a pre-trek briefing on specific protocols and rules for visiting the gorillas that live within an altitude of 2500 and 4000m. Porters are available to help carry backpacks and cameras, as well as helping you with your footing along your hike which can be hard work, but well worth it.

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Kigali City Tour

Peacefully nestled along picturesque hilltops, Kigali is a thriving African city immediately notable for its cleanliness, orderliness, and hospitality.
Kigali is a great place to begin or end any Rwanda journey as it’s conveniently located in the geographic center of the country. The city is clean and safe, with extremely welcoming people. Travelers will enjoy exploring the great cultural activities – including several award-winning museums, burgeoning music scene, and some of East Africa’s most memorable dining experiences.

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Kigali Genocide Memorial

The Kigali Genocide Memorial Center is one of the biggest memorial centers. It is sacred ground for both locals and foreigners alike. A visit to this genocide memorial is one that gives you a new perspective on life and the things that happen. It’s a reminder that good will always overcome evil. And it is a lesson in forgiveness and reconciliation. Lessons that Rwanda has taught the world.

The names of those who were killed in the genocide are written on the wall, there is the children’s section, the gardens with the children, the burial site which is covered over with concrete. Inside there are letters and pictures of victims. If you are visiting the memorial you get a guide to walk you through it, the guide is usually a genocide survivor with his own story to tell. It is a very moving and meaningful experience.

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Climbing of Karisimbi

The Karisimbi offers travellersa 2 day trek with overnight camping at an altitude of 3,800 m.

The mountain Bisoke adventure is one of the most memorable activities in Rwanda. The top of this Volcano has a spectacular crater lake. It is simply a 6 – hours hike including the 2 hours descending down to the starting point. Experienced hikers can get to the top of this mountain in a matter of 3 hours or even less and return to the base in about an hour.

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Museum of the Environment (Karongi)

Scheduled to open any day now, Karongi’s eagerly anticipated Museum of the Environment is set to be the only museum of its kind anywhere on the African continent. Focusing on the Rwandan climate and environment, the museum will feature a rooftop garden of medicinal plants, and a number of exhibits on Rwandan resources, including energy and its production. Visitors will also gain an understanding of climate change and its impacts, and what we, no matter what country we live in, can do to mitigate its negative effects.

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Natural History Museum (Kigali)

In a 1900’s building named for Richard Kandt, the German naturalist and once-governor of Rwanda, this new museum sits in a leafy garden with impressive views over Kigali. Inside you’ll find a number of historical exhibits and photographs of the early settlement of Kigali, along with numerous displays on Rwanda’s endemic species of flora and fauna, as well as information on the physical and geological history of the country.  Relics from the German – British battles of WWI that took place in Rwanda are also to be found here.

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Presidential Palace Museum (Kigali)

While today it’s no longer home to any presidents, both Juvenal Habyarimana and Pasteur Bizimungu called this home for almost three decades from the 1970’s to the year 2000. Today, it’s a fascinating window into Rwanda’s modern history, and the remains of President Habyarimana’s plane, shot down in 1994 just before the genocide, can be seen in chunks on the lawn. There are whole rooms of preserved presidential furnishings, and cultural exhibits as well.

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King’s Palace Museum (Nyanza)

On another fantastic hilltop just opposite the National Art Gallery, this is the former palace of King Mutara III (also known as Rudahigwa), who built his palace here in the 1930’s. Today, visitors can tour an impressive and historically accurate reconstruction of the royal compound and marvel at the intricacies of the traditional architecture. A colonial building which was also used as the palace for a time sits next door and contains a series of exhibits on the monarchy and court customs that history buffs won’t want to miss.

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Ethnographic Museum (Huye)

Rwanda’s first museum, this beautiful space sits in wide, tranquil gardens at the edge of Huye city and was built here in 1989. It covers an impressive array of topics on almost anything about Rwanda you can imagine: banana beer, basketry, geology, cosmology, farming, cattle, music, dance, poetry, history, tools, and transport are all profiled here, and there’s a highly regarded craft centre on site as well. If you see one museum in Rwanda, this should be it.

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National Art Gallery (Nyanza)

Set in a wide colonial building atop the gorgeous Rwesero Hill and just outside the small agricultural town of Nyanza, the National Art Gallery is a fantastic surprise—it’s not very often you find such a cultivated selection of artwork on a lovely green hilltop out in the countryside! Still, here it is, and it has been showcasing both traditional and contemporary Rwandan artists for nearly a decade now. They host a variety of rotating temporary exhibitions as well, and many international artists have exhibited here

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