Top Rwanda Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews & photos]

Rwanda Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

34 Rwanda trips. Compare tour itineraries from 8 tour companies. 44 reviews. 4.8/5 avg rating.

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Top Rwanda Attractions & Experiences

Top Rwanda Experiences

  • Coming upon a family of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park while on guided gorilla trek
  • Spotting chimpanzees playing in the rainforest in Nyungwe National Park
  • Viewing the scenic lakes, rivers, mountains, and savannah of Akagera National Park
  • Learning about the horrors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

Rwanda Tours & Travel Guide

Rwanda Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Mountainous and land-locked, little Rwanda – about the size of the state of Maryland – is becoming a big draw for safari-goers in central Africa. Its national parks harbor endangered mountain gorillas as well as chimpanzees and other primates who live among the rainforests. Guided safaris are essential when tracking these magnificent and elusive creatures.

Rwanda first burst into world news in 1994, when some 800,000 of its citizens died in a three-month mass genocidal slaughter ignited by long-simmering ethnic hostilities between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes.

It was further inflamed by the Hutu government, which urged Hutus to kill all Tutsis – even their friends and neighbors. After the Tutsis fought back and a coalition government was negotiated, the tiny country has since been at peace, and is now emerging as a prime safari destination – most notably for tracking rare and elusive mountain gorillas found in its Volcanoes National Park.

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Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

As one of the most popular tour options in Rwanda, gorilla trekking is a thrilling, challenging, and rewarding way to explore the Rwandan rainforests and observe their gentle giant residents up close.

Guided tours of these gorilla habitats are required, as there are important permits that must be attained beforehand as well as strict regulations that are followed.

There are only a small number of viewing permits available daily, the price of which varies by tour. This is a result of the critically endangered status of mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, who are under the vigilant care of park rangers.

While travelers may feel a bit hesitant to come up-close and personal with the gorillas and their families, they are habituated and therefore used to human interactions. Even still, viewing them from a comfortable distance is usually the best course of action, although guides will make allowances as they see fit.

Given the arduous hiking through bamboo forests that are required to reach the gorillas’ habitats, it is recommended that travelers wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hiking boots. Cameras will be useful for photographing the gorilla families or taking portrait photos. Since the national parks that protect these gorillas are highly regulated, visitors are constantly monitored by rangers to ensure both their safety and that of the animals.

While travelers may wish to spend days amongst the primate families, guided tours are limited to one hour in groups of 10 or less. Therefore, in order to ensure that you are able to partake in this unforgettable experience, book a guided tour of Rwanda’s rainforests in advance.

Wildlife in Rwanda

From plains to rainforests, and rivers in between, Rwanda is gifted with not only several hundred endangered species of birds, but also populations of critically endangered mammals and reptiles. The country’s elevation of 3,000 kilometers above sea level provides unique habitats for a variety of animals, some of which are only found in a handful of places outside of Rwanda’s national parks.

Travelers to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park are able to view lion prides, zebras, giraffes, and elephants. Hippopotamuses and crocodiles make their homes in the Kagera River and other ones that run through Rwanda while rhinoceroses and antelopes roam the surrounding plains.

Guided safari tours, which include gorilla trekking opportunities are widely available in Rwanda. June - September is considered to be the best time to undertake one of these tours, as it is when the country is experiencing its long dry season. For those interested in botanical life, Rwanda also boasts various species of grassland savannah flowers and trees.

While the country’s rainforested national parks host the majority of its wildlife and plants, even they are becoming threatened as Rwanda’s population continues to swell. Conservation efforts are underway to maintain the space needed for Rwanda’s wildlife, but it is still crucial to respect all guidelines on tours, especially those given by park rangers.

Disturbances or destruction of wildlife habitats is taken very seriously by Rwandans, a fact that is important for travelers to remember as they explore its vast biodiversity.

Birding Tours in Rwanda

While many travelers to Rwanda look forward to gorilla trekking, birding tours in Rwanda are not to be overlooked. As Rwanda has over 600 species of birds, some of which are critically endangered, it is no surprise that guided tours of Akagera and Nyungwe national parks will emphasize the importance of looking up while on the trails.

Whether or not you are a birding expert, the brilliant colors and unique calls will highlight the majesty of the land that these animals have made their homes in. It is imperative that travelers follow the observation rules set by the parks and their tour guides in order to maximize the potential of seeing birds.

Note that guided tour groups are usually small, as this minimizes the possibility of birds being scared away. This means that booking a guided tour in advance is necessary, as it ensures a spot in the limited groups.

In the same way, travelers will be asked to remain on the designated paths with their groups in order to protect the habitat they are viewing, as any disturbances of it will be felt by the animals that live within in.

That being said, when flushing birds in order to view them, it should not be done frequently or without the help of tour guides. Touching birds or their eggs are expressly prohibited, but taking pictures to convey their natural beauty to others is highly recommended.

Top National Parks in Rwanda

Although Rwanda is not an especially large country, it does have its fair share of national parks that have gained world recognition for their conservation efforts. Volcanoes National Park is home to five of the eight volcanoes that Rwanda hosts, making it a prime location for the mountain gorilla families that are protected within its borders.

Travelers can also enjoy exploring Musanze Caves at the feet of these colossal volcanoes after they finish a gorilla trekking tour or before they start. Hiking trails lead travelers to flooded craters, which make for stunning lake-side photos.

At Nyungwe Forest National Park, mountain gorillas are nowhere to be found but various species of monkeys, birds, and chimpanzees instead  make their homes among the rainforests. As one of the largest protected swathes of untouched rainforest in Rwanda, visitors are relegated to specific hiking paths.

However, this does not dampen the fun and adventure that comes with visiting Nyungwe Forest National Park, as the Igishigishigi Trail is the highest one in East Africa. Located in the canopy level of the rainforest, the suspension bridge leads to the highest mountain in the national park, making it a very handy way to examine and transverse the surrounding biodiversity.

Akagera National Park consists of not only swamps and savannahs, but also forests, making it habitable for creatures of all sizes. While hippopotamuses and crocodiles swim in the rivers, are bird species fly above lion prides and giraffe and elephant herds.

Travelers can participate in safari or river excursions through guided tours that extend into all aspects of the park, including its renowned accommodation options. When visiting Rwanda, the hardest decision you may have will be deciding which national park to visit first.

Rwandan cultural activities

As a country that has seen many political and social changes, Rwanda is unique for its maintenance of old traditions amidst the rise of new ones. Beyond the gorilla trekking tours in the mountains are visits to collections of art, traditions, as well as genocide memorial sites.

For those in Kigali, a guided tour of the Kigali Genocide Memorial is a way to engage with the past tragedies of Rwanda. Visitors to this site, along with Nyamata Church, are able to pay respects to the victims as well as understand the history behind the genocide that devastated the world.

In the same city, travelers can view contemporary African art at Inema Arts Centre. While there are also workshops for resident artists in the building, travelers can view the many different art installations on the property. Exhibits alter with the artist, but the museum maintains a high variety of mediums and international sponsorships.

In the same way, the Niyo Cultural Centre works to showcase the art of primarily Rwandan artists. Guided tours of the museum, as well as the educational dance and drumming classes, may be arranged in advance.

Further from the capital is the King’s Palace in Nyanza. Guided tours of this site will not only reveal the meaning behind the artwork that depicts European and Rwandan interactions over the years, but also the many ancient traditions that are still continued today. These include singing to the ornately decorated and well-cared for Inyambo cattle that live behind the domed complex.

Rwandan Cuisine

For Rwandans, it is common to have a light, simpler breakfast, followed by a similarly light lunch. Dinners are the heaviest meals and are the ones most likely to have meat if they do at all.

A refusal to partake in a meal that is offered to you in considered to be a serious insult, which is a cultural value that travelers should consider as they explore Rwanda. A staple of Rwandan cuisine is vegetables, with minimal emphasis on animal products. This means that most meals are made with local ingredients, especially ones that can be grown year-round such as potatoes.

Plantains, as well as cassava leaves or tubers, are traditionally found in at least one if not two meals a day. Between meals, Rwandans will often snack on tropical fruits which are abundant in the country. What meat is consumed is oftentimes fish, especially along the lakes or rivers where tilapia is popular.

Beef and chicken are also widely available, although they are less likely to be consumed than fish. Travelers will oftentimes see meat-skewers, locally known as brochettes at street vendors or offered at restaurants.

Marinated in various spices and sauces, goat meat or beef skewered and cooked over a charcoal grill, providing a tasty meal option no matter the time of day.

The Capital: Kigali

Travelers to Kigali, the national capital, will be happy to find themselves amidst clean streets and well-repaired roads. This is because, even as coffee shops and other modern conveniences continue to spring up throughout the country, Rwandans still practice “Umuganda” Day.

With roots in traditional small agricultural communities, Umuganda Day compels Rwandans across the country to close shops and clean, fix, or act to benefit their neighborhood. Therefore, while Kigali is one of the busiest cities in Rwanda, it also serves as a model for how small community efforts can have large-scale, positive impacts.

In the same way, Kigali hosts the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which is both a museum and mass burial site for nearly 250,000 victims. The memorial’s museum details not just the events leading up to the genocide, but also what occurred during it, with emphasis on prevention of similar atrocities in the future.

The Niyo Art Gallery and the Inema Arts Center are also located in the capital city. While the Niyo Art Gallery focuses on artists and dancers from Rwanda, the Inema Arts Center showcases a much more expansive, contemporary African art collection. At the Kimironko Market, travelers can not only find fresh fruits and vegetables, but also authentic handicrafts. This makes it an ideal location for souvenir-searches, new additions to wardrobes, or even a traditional Rwandan meal.

What to Expect From Accommodations in Rwanda

Although Rwanda is still in the process of expanding its tourism industry, travel accommodations are still plentiful. The Radisson Blu and Marriott hotel chains have locations in Kigali and are very popular with travelers for their international fame. However, travelers may opt to stay in the Kigali Serena Hotel or Heaven Boutique Hotel as well, both of which are locally owned and geared towards improving Rwanda’s reputation in tourism.

All hotels in Rwanda are equipped with the conveniences usually found in other hotels, including pools, gyms, and air-conditioning. Rooms tend to be smaller, which is important for travelers to consider when making accommodation plans with their guided tour groups. When engaged in gorilla trekking or birding tours, travelers in Rwanda can expect to stay in lodges or hostels near the sites they are exploring.

While this may not sound appealing to some travelers, Rwanda has worked hard to provide travelers with the same luxury accommodations and modern conveniences that they find in cities. Therefore, many of the hotels and lodges found in national parks have not just spas and delicious food options, but also stunning views and close proximity to Rwanda’s famous biodiversity.

TV and internet are found in all luxury hotels and lodges, which is useful for travelers who wish to plan their next guided tour through Rwanda’s urban and natural landscapes. 

Rwanda Reviews & Ratings

4.8/5  Excellent
44  Reviews
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