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Rwanda

The Muzungu’s top reasons for visiting #RemarkableRwanda

2 – Learn about gorilla conservation. Visit the grave of famous primatologist Dian Fossey and her favourite gorilla, Digit

Mountain Gorilla Kinigi, trekking in Rwanda. Diary of a Muzungu

Meet this gorgeous Mountain Gorilla at Kinigi, the base for gorilla trekking in Rwanda

3 – Rwanda is an eco-tourist’s dream: 670 bird species, 400 butterfly species, primates galore!

4 – Golden monkey trekking is highly recommended!

5 – Enjoy safari game drives in Akagera National Park, bordering Uganda, a ‘small but perfectly formed’ savannah safari destination where animal numbers are on the increase.

6 – Take advantage of free WiFi across Kigali! Oh yes! You can even check your email or WhatsApp when you’re on the city’s buses.

7 – Learn about the genocide of 1994. Visit the Gisozi Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali. Incredibly moving and a must-visit experience.

8 – Lie on the tropical beach at Lake Kivu. Rwanda has a number of crystal clear lakes. The sandy beaches and tropical weather of Lake Kivu, shared with neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, make the lake a popular weekend and holiday spot.

9 – Go chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest. Birding in Nyungwe Forest is popular and the forest is home to big groups of Black and White Colobus monkeys. I travelled to Nyungwe Forest with my good friend primatologist chimpanzee expert Julia. Julia Lloyd features in the World Atlas of Great Apes and Their Conservation (and is best known for her work in habituating the chimpanzees of Kibale Forest in Uganda).

Julia Lloyd uwinka-overlook-nyungwe-national-park-rwanda

Uwinka Overlook, Nyungwe National Park is the starting point for chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda. I accompanied my primatologist friend Julia Lloyd (pictured) to Nyungwe as part of the research for her Phd.

10 – Hike the magical volcanoes of the Virunga

virunga-volcanoes-clouds-charlotte-beauvoisin-diary-of-a-muzungu

No Photoshop, just an IPhone. With natural scenery this dramatic, that’s all you need. Photo taken one morning as I opened my bedroom door at Virunga Lodge

11 – Watch fabulous traditional Intore dancing. The traditional culture of Rwanda is evidenced everywhere: the Intore dancers are captivating!

Virunga Lodge Intore dancers Rwanda

Virunga Lodge Intore dancers Rwanda

Virunga Lodge Rwanda Intore dancing

intore-dancer-mural-golden-monkey-hotel-rwanda

What do you think? Will the muzungu make it as an Intore dancer? 😉

12 – Rwanda is a small, accessible country with good roads

12 – English is the (new) lingua franca and French is spoken by many in the capital and in hotels and tourist destinations

13 – The East Africa Tourist Visa makes travel to Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya more affordable.

East Africa Tourist Visa www.visiteastafrica.org

East Africa Tourist Visa. Enjoy all three countries – Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda – with a single tourist visa. www.visiteastafrica.org

The small landlocked country of Rwanda is known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” something which you will very quickly appreciate on a road trip. I still have the feeling of being thrown from left to right, right to left, for hours on end, when we drove up and down the hills, round one bend, then back around another, as we travelled from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, down to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. (Historically connected, the two countries share very similar geography).

Rwanda is flourishing, and tourists love to visit this safe and popular little country that has invested heavily in tourism and infrastructure over the last two decades.

Cha with gorilla Rwanda

The obligatory gorilla selfie! TIP: you’ll cherish your gorilla selfie forever… so try and get more sleep than I did. I think I was too excited!

Virunga Lodge gorilla trekking Rwanda

Mother and her twin baby gorillas pushed right past me! Her long hair brushed my leg as I tried to hide my nervous giggles

Many visitors are lured to Rwanda by the famous and critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, who make their home in the staggeringly beautiful Virunga volcanic chain.

It is even possible to fly into Rwanda for just 24 hours to see the gorillas, but I wouldn’t recommend that, there’s a lot more to Rwanda than the mountain gorillas.

diary-of-a-muzungu-kitabi-view-nyungwe-forest-rwanda

Distant view of Nyungwe Forest, seen from Kitabi Cultural Village. We stayed in the traditional huts on the top of this small hill (opposite the park HQ)

Did you know…? The new East Africa Tourist Visa makes it easier and cheaper to combine a trip to Rwanda with a visit to Uganda and Kenya. Read the Muzungu’s definitive guide to the East Africa Tourist Visa here.

Keep reading Diary of a Muzungu for more travel tips and adventures from across Rwanda and East Africa!

 

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