Top things to do during your safari in Rwanda; Rwanda is a small country but one of the popular safari destinations found in East Africa bordering with Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burindi and Tanzania. Rwanda is famously known for its beautiful hills, mountains, lakes, rivers, hospitable people and different wildlife species including primates like the endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, animals like elephants, buffaloes, lions, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, bushbucks, roan antelopes, topi, waterbucks, duikers, impalas, oribi and variety of bird species. Rwanda currently has 3 national parks namely Volcanoes national park, Nyungwe forest national park and Akagera national park which offer interesting activities to engage in during your Rwanda Safari including,
Top things to do during your safari in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking is one of the top safari activities in Rwanda that attracts big numbers of visitors. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is only done in Volcanoes national park which is located in northwestern region in Musanze village bordering with Virunga national park in Congo and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. Apart from Rwanda, gorilla trekking is also done in Uganda in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park and Democratic Republic of Congo in Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park.
Gorilla trekking is an adventurous activity in Volcanoes national park that starts very early in the morning with a briefing about the rules and regulations to follow during trekking. After the briefing, you will be allocated a habituated gorilla family to trek and an experienced park guide who is conversant with gorilla trekking trails. Trekking of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes national park takes about 30 minutes to 6 hours depending on where they are located because they like to move from one place to another in search of food. During trekking, you will be able to view other primates, mammals, bird species, different tree species among others and once the mountain gorillas are found, you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat which gives you an opportunity to learn more about their behaviors, habits, watch them carry out their daily activities, take photos and record videos.
Chimpanzee trekking is an interesting and the second best done activity in Rwanda after gorilla trekking Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is done in Nyungwe forest national park and just like gorilla trekking, it also starts very early in the morning with a briefing about the rules and regulations to follow. After the briefing you will be sub-divided into groups of 8 people where each group will be allocated a habituated chimpanzee family to trek and a park guide who will guide you during trekking in the forest. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe forest national park takes about 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on their location and during trekking, you will be able to view different bird species, other primate species among others and once the chimpanzees are located, you will be able to spend one hour with them in their environment which gives you a chance to watch them feed, breastfeed, hunt, fight, rest, play, take photos and record videos.
Golden monkey trekking
Golden monkey trekking is another interesting activity that visitors can engage in during their Rwanda Safari. Golden monkey trekking is an active activity that is done in Volcanoes national park and starts early in the morning with a briefing. Golden monkeys are also found in Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Congo, they are unique and beautiful primates that live in groups of about 30 to 60 individuals. Golden monkey trekking in Rwanda takes about 30 minutes to 4 hours and during trekking you will follow trails of left over bamboo shoots and leaves. Once the golden monkeys are found, you will be able to spend one hour with them in their natural habitat where you will be able to watch them feed, play, jump up in tree species among others.
Canopy walk is an exciting and adventurous activity in Rwanda that is carries out in Nyungwe forest national park. The canopy walk starts from Uwinka reception Centre with a briefing about the rules, regulations and expectation. After the briefing, you will be allocated an experienced park guide and start trekking following different trails like the Igishigishi trail, Umuyove trail among others. The canopy walk takes about 2 hours and during the walk, you will be able to view different primate species like black and white colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, blue monkeys, bird species, insects, animals, enjoy views of Lake Kivu among others.
Game drives/ game viewing
Game drive is an exciting activity in Rwanda which is only done in Akagera national park which is located in eastern part of Rwanda. Game drives in Akagera national park are be carried out in comfortable safari vehicles with an experienced driver guide who is well conversant with different game tracks in the park. During the game drives which can either be done early in the morning or in the afternoon, you will be able to view different animals like elephants, buffaloes, topis, oribi, waterbucks, bushbucks, roan antelopes, lions, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, elands, impalas, duikers among others.
Rwanda is a home of over 750 recorded bird species including 29 Albertine rift endemics, water birds, savannah birds, forest birds ad migratory birds which make it one of the top birding destinations in Africa. There are various birding areas in Rwanda including Volcanoes national park, Nyungwe forest national park, Akagera national park, around Kigali, Lake Kivu among others. During bird watching in Rwanda, you will be accompanied by an experienced bird guide who will help you to spot different bird species including Red-collared Babbler, Handsome Francolin, Purple Breasted Sunbird, Rwenzori Turaco, Kivu Ground Thrush, Neumann’s Warbler, Rwenzori Nighjar, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Albertine Owlet, Red-faced barbet, Carruthers’s Cisticola, Papyrus Gololek, White-winged Swamp Warbler, African Finfoot, Double-tooth barbet, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Yellow-billed waxbill, grey crowned crane, Papyrus Canary among others.
This is one of the amazing activities in Rwanda where you will get an opportunity to interact with the local people in the villages neighboring the national parks. During the cultural tours, you will be able to visit the Ibyi’wacu cultural village located in Kinigi, Musanze district adjacent to volcanoes national park where you will be able to learn about their culture, way of living, dress code, learn how local brew is made from bananas, visit the kings palace, listen to their ancient stories about the former kingdoms, enjoy their traditional dances and ceremonies, taste their traditional dishes among others. During the cultural experience, you will also be able to visit the Kigali genocide memorial Centre where you will be able to learn about the 1994 brutal killing between the Tutsi and Hutus, visit the national history museum, Nyanza genocide memorial, Kitabi cultural Centre in Nyungwe national park where the last king of Rwanda build his palace, the kings palace in Nyanza, presidential palace museum among others.
Hiking / mountain climbing
Rwanda is known as the country of a thousand hills and it offers the adventurous mountain climbing adventure which is best done in Volcanoes national park. During mountain climbing in Rwanda, you will be able to climb Mount Bisoke which is 3,711 meters high, Mount Karisimbi which is 4,507meters high and Mount Muhabura which is 4,127 meters high. Hiking Mount Bisoke and Mount Muhabura takes one day and you will enjoy views of a beautiful crater lake on top, hiking Mount Karisimbi takes two days and you will enjoy views of the Crater Lake and caldera at the summit.
Best time to go on a safari in Rwanda
Rwanda can be visited anytime throughput the year though the best time is during the dry season which is also known as the peak season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February. During the dry season, there is less or little rainfall in the national parks therefore access roads, hiking and gorilla trekking trails will be dry and passable and vegetation will be short which helps you to view different wildlife species clearly.