“In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the famous primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest: the Virungas.”.
Rwanda lies in the heart of Darkest Africa. In the space of a week, it’s possible to experience an extraordinary range of wildlife and landscapes thanks to the country’s relatively small size and biodiversity. With just over a thousand square kilometres, Akagera’s forest-fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make it amongst the most scenic of African reserves.
It’s not uncommon for visitors to spend an entire day without seeing another vehicle, offering the impression it’s just you and the wilderness.
Rwanda has three main wildlife destinations, Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park and Akagera National Park, each of which host a quite different fauna to the others.
Volcanoes National Park is best known for its population of several hundred Mountain Gorillas. Other wildlife includes the golden monkey (endemic), elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog, bushpig, bushbuck and black-fronted duiker.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is the most biodiverse site in Rwanda. It protects at least 1,050 plant species, along with 85 mammal, 310 bird, 32 amphibian and 38 reptile species. Thirteen primate species are present among which chimpanzee, Ruwenzori colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, silver monkey, owl-faced monkey and other.
What to do
Boating and Canoeing Safaris
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Volcanoes National Park
Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range - home of the endangered mountain gorilla and a rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forests, open grasslands, swamps and heaths.
Nyungwe National Park
Nyungwe is the largest tract of rainforest in Rwanda and as well is one of the oldest in Africa, covering 1,019 km sq of dense forests, bamboo-covered slopes, grasslands and wetlands. The park feeds two of the world’s largest rivers, the Congo and the Nile, and provides 70% of the country’s freshwater.
Located on Rwanda’s western border lies a very deep and fairly mysterious lake called Lake Kivu. Part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, Lake Kivu is surrounded by magnificent mountains and has deep emerald green waters covering a surface area of 2,700 km sq. It is Rwanda’s largest lake and the sixth largest in Africa.
Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is Central Africa’s largest protected wetland and the last remaining refuge for savannah-adapted species in Rwanda. Akagera is almost unrecognisable today compared to just 20 years ago when it was on the verge of being lost forever: a story of revival even more remarkable.