Places To Visit / Top Tourist Attractions
1. Take a Kigali City and Genocide Museum Tour: Experience the chance of visiting the genocide memorial site at Gisozi that tells the history of Rwanda leading up to the Genocide in 1994 and catalogues the details of the genocide using photographs, video and written accounts and artefacts.it includes personal testamonies and a moving memorial to the children of the Rwandan genocide.it also has a section called wasted lives which reflects on the holocaust and genocide in Armenia, South West Africa, Bosnia and Cambodia, the Kigali Memorial Center has gained a world-wide reputation for this powerful exhibition and the Craft Center.
2. Go bird watching at Nyarutarama Lake or Nyabarongo wetlands
3. Enjoy Kigali’s diverse cuisine including traditional Rwandan food, Chinese food, North African cuisine, Italian pizzas and pasta dishes, Indian food, and North American & European cuisine
4. Visit Rwanda’s most famous and upcoming artists at Bushayija, Ivuka Arts, and Inganzo Art Galleries
5. Enjoy plays, musical performances and art exhibitions at Ishyo Arts Centre, Shokola and Laico Umubano Hotel
6. Find souvenirs at Africa Gift Corner, Mode Savane, CAPLAKI, ATRAC, COOPAC (KBC), and many more throughout Kigali
7. Get in shape playing golf at Nyarutarama Golf Course; basketball at Petit Stade; tennis at Cercle Sportif, Nyarutarama Tennis Club or Laico Umubano Hotel; enjoy a great work out at the Serena Maisha Gym or Laico Umubano Gym, and jogging along the Golf Course or the Prime Minister’s roundabout
8. Get pampered at Ituze Spa and Serena Maisha Spa in Serena Hotel
9. Enjoy movies at Cine Star and Cine Silver
10. Hop between Kigali ‘happy hours’ in the city’s most famous hotels; quench your thirst at local bars including Le Must, Sundowner, and Virunga Sports Bar; enjoy the evening ambience of Kigali’s resto-bars including Republica Lounge, Papyrus, Chez Lando and Mangaroca; live entertainment and Salsa dancing at Pasadena; and dance the night away at Kigali’s nightclubs
Volcanoes National Park
Spanning on a 160 sqkm area in the northern part of Ruanda, Volcanoes National Park is part of the great Virunga volcano conservation region spanning the Virunga National Park Congo and Mgahinga National Park Uganda. It was initially a small area around Karisimbi, Mikeno and Visoke volcanoes which was gazetted to protect the Mountain gorillas which were facing the threat of extinction as a result of poaching.
In 1929, the park was extended into Rwanda and the then Belgian Congo and was named Albert National Park managed and run by the Belgian Colonial Authorities. During the early 1960s, the park was divided as Rwanda and Congo gained their independence and by the end of that decade, the park was almost half of its original size.
In 1967, the American zoologist Dian Fossey who had been doing research on mountain Gorillas in the forests of Congo fled from insecurity and established her research base at a place between Visoke and Karisimbi volcanoes that was yet to be known as a Karisoke research center. She spearheaded the conservation campaign of the mountain gorillas and mobilized resources to fight against poaching in this area, a fight she put up until her murder in 1985. She was buried at the research center next to the grave of her favorite gorilla called Digit.
The park continued to suffer at the mercies of poachers though conservation efforts were also underway. In the early 1990s, the park became a battlefield for Rwanda’s civil war which paralyzed tourism activities until 1999. In 2005, in a bid to boost conservation and gorilla tourism in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda introduced the annual baby naming ceremony for baby gorillas known as ‘Kwita Iziina’ which has seen great results in as far as gorilla population in volcanoes is concerned.
Volcanoes National Park is home to Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei); golden monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis kandti), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), elephants, black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger), and bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus). The park also harbors 178 bird species including at least 29 endemics to the Rwenzori Mountains and the Virungas.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Covering over 1000 square kilometers, Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity.
Home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates species (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), it’s also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammal.
This majestic rainforest is filled with nature and wildlife experiences for you to emerge yourself in. Hiking or even biking the beautiful terrain, tracking the famous chimpanzees, experiencing the canopy walk, witnessing beautiful birds, relaxing by waterfalls are just a glimpse of activities that Nyungwe offers.
Sounds and views collaborate to create a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience. Exploring the forest, travelers will witness the lush green mountains and cooling mist in a landscape that won’t be soon forgotten.
Cultural activities are also available around the forest.
Akegera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in the northeast of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Although founded in 1934, much of the park was re-allocated as farms and in 1997 the park was reduced in size from more than 2,500 sq km (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122 sq km. Since 2010, a joint venture with African Parks has seen Akagera return to its former glories.
It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest-fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
Akagera combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP to offer a great safari element as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope, and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck, and impala. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets, and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.
Of the larger predators leopard, hyena, side-striped jackal and lion, which was re-introduced last year are present. Plans are underway for the reintroduction of the black rhino too, and this will restore Akagera’s ‘Big 5’ status
Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera is an important ornithological site with nearly 500 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities such as the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands in large numbers.
Rwanda is a landlocked country surrounded by Uganda in the north, Tanzania in the east, Burundi in the south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to its west and northwest.
Rwanda lies on the East African plateau, with the divide between the water systems of the Nile and Çongo rivers passing in a north-south direction through the western part of the country. To the west of the divide, the land drops sharply to Lake Kivu in the Great African Rift Valley; to the east, the land falls gradually across the central plateau – its grassy highlands are the core areas of settlement of Rwanda’s population – to the swamps and lakes on the country’s eastern border.
Most of Rwanda is 915m above sea level, with much of the central plateau being higher than 1435m. In the northwest, on the border with the DRC, are the volcanic Virunga Mountains; the highest peak, Mount Karisimbi (4535m) is snowcapped. Lake Kivu, 1435m above sea level, drains into Lake Tanganyika, through the sharply descending Ruzizi River. The Kagera River, which forms much of Rwanda’s eastern border, flows into Lake Victoria.
Mention Rwanda to anyone with a small measure of geographical conscience, and they will no doubt recall images of the horrific genocide that brutalized this tiny country in 1994. But since those dark days a miraculous transformation has been wrought and today the country is one of tribal unity, political stability, and a promising future. Tourism is once again a key contributor to the economy and the industry’s brightest star is the chance to track rare mountain gorillas through bamboo forests in the shadow of Virunga volcanoes. These conical mountains are covered with equatorial jungle and helped earn Rwanda the well-deserved moniker of ‘Le Pays des Milles Collines’ (Land of a Thousand Hills). So while Rwanda’s scars may run deep, now is the time to help the country look to its future and embrace its newfound optimism.
Getting to Rwanda
All international flights arrive at Kigali International Airport, just 10 Km from Kigali city center. International flights that operate to Kigali are Rwanda Air, Sn Brussels, Qatar airways, KLM, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airways, Air Uganda.
Spoken languages are Kinyarwanda, French, and English. French is widely spoken throughout the country. In the capital and other tourist centers.
Rwanda Money & Currency
The unit of currency is the Rwanda Franc. The US dollar is the hard currency of preference. It may be impossible to exchange travelers’ cheques away from the capital. Credit cards are usually only accepted at the major hotels in Kigali.
Because of the high altitude of the country, Rwanda has a pleasant tropical highland climate, with a daily temperature range as great as 14°C (25°F). Temperature varies considerably from region to region because of the variations in altitude. The average daytime temperature is about 30°C except in the highlands where it is much cooler. There are four seasons; long rains from mid-March to mid-May, short rains from mid-October to mid-December; the long dry period from mid-May to mid-October and short dry season from mid-December to mid-March. The north-east has more rainfall than other parts of the country.
Visas & Immigration
Visas are required by all accept nationals of Tanzania and Uganda and are generally valid for 3 months extendable in Kigali.
Minibusses serve most of the main towns but road conditions are poor, and very pot-holed.
Self Drive / Hire Cars
Driving is on the right-hand side and an International Driving Licence is required. There are no international car hire firms in Rwanda but local establishments can be found in Kigali.
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