Are you looking for the best national parks in Rwanda during your travel visit to the country? Well, Rwanda is a small landlocked country located in east Africa. It’s sometimes referred to as the land of a thousand hills. Rwanda is blessed with some of the most beautiful landscapes in east Africa. Rwanda is a country with a number of water bodies, savannah plains, mountains and wild animals such as mountain gorillas. In 1994 Rwanda has to endure on of the worst genocides in the recent history in which about more than one million Tustis were killed by the majority Hutu in period of three months. Since then, Rwanda has admirably recovered by uniting people and working hard to create peaceful environment for development. Rwanda has no corruption like any other country in Africa. Women are given respect and they occupy most of the seats in the parliaments and all this is a result of tireless efforts of the president of Rwanda and his government. Of recently the country has restored most of the country’s wildlife, national parks and natural vegetation while promoting the country as a leading destination in Africa.
Rwanda has only four parks and they are all protected wildlife reserves and ecosystems such as Akagera national park, Ngungwe national park, Gishwati-Mukura national park as well as volcanoes national park. Giswati-Mukura was gazatted in 2015 making it the newest national park in Rwanda. Rwanda development board manages all national parks, related infrastructure and promotes tourism. Rwanda development board is helped by other government agencies and other ministries. In some parks such as Akagera National Park and Gishwati-Mukura National Park, the government agreed with private partners to help then run some park activities.
Each game park in Rwanda offers something different in terms of wildlife or ecosystem. For example volcanoes national park is for mountain gorillas while Akagera National Park where you find the 5 mammals. Ngungwe forest is the oldest montane forest in Africa and one of the best chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda. What does Gishwati-Mukura offer? Apart from chimpanzees, the park is positioned to become the best eco-tourism site and the best birding destination in Rwanda.
Volcanoes national park is located in northwestern Uganda bordering national parks in Uganda and Virunga national park Congo. The park sits on an area of 160 sq.km and it was gazzated in 1925 to protect mountain gorillas. The parks seats on a higher attitude and is the coldest national park in Rwanda. It consists of 5 Virunga Mountains namely Mountain Karisimbi, Muhabura, Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Bisoke. It has bamboo forests, rainforests, marshes, a few lakes and Musanzee caves. Volcanoes national park has the second highest number of gorillas following Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The park is a habitat of golden monkeys and mammals such as elephants, hyenas, bushbucks, buffaloes, small primates and about 180 bird species.
Despite the rich biodiversity, what makes volcanoes national park different are the mountain gorillas. Dian Fossey made the park famous to international level because of her research studies about mountain gorillas in 1967 until her death in 1985. She constructed the Karisoke research center and help to chase away poachers in the park. Unfortunately, the civil war and genocide in 1994 brought back a number of poachers’ and encroachments on the park land. The government of Rwanda took serious steps to eliminate poaching and people out of the park such that there was security of tourists in the park. Tourists in volcanoes national park can take part in activities like golden monkey trekking, gorilla tracking, visiting the Musanze caves and hiking any of Virunga Mountains. Hiking mountain Karisimbi is the most interesting and the second is mountain Bisoke. Hiking Mountain Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura is best done while in Uganda.
This park is among the best national parks located at the border of Rwanda and democratic republic of Congo as well as Burundi. The park was gazzeted in the southern side of the park in 2004. It’s the second newest park in the country covering an area of 270 sq.km. Ngungwe forest is the largest montane forest in Africa, the forest stays green throughout the year hence offering beautiful scenery to those who visit the park. The forest is dominated by a group of mountains whose formations are related those of Uganda and Congo. From the mountains here, you can have great views of Lake Kivu. The park is a home to over 200 tree species of trees among which include bogs, bamboo and grasslands. Ngungwe is now described by the people of Rwanda s a primate capital with about 13 primate species among which include Angola colobus, silver monkeys, dent’s Mona monkey, baboons, vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, golden monkeys, Hamlyn’s monkey, chimpanzees, grey checked mangabeys, back and while colobus.
Ngungwe forest is one of the best birding destinations in Rwanda with over 280 so far recorded bird species. The forest is a habitat to about 85 species of mammals such as Leopards, Cats, Mongooses, Civets and stripped jackals, 120 butterflies species, 38 reptiles and 32 amphibians,. The forest has a well-established canopy trail which enables the tourists to walk in the skies of the forest where guests can have the best view of the forest, bird watching and viewing some primates. Congo Nile trail passes through Ngungwe Forest which enables bikers to see the forests, birds, waterfalls, primates and wildlife. Apart from the Congo Nile trail, Ngungwe forest has well maintained ground trials for nature walk and a chance to see the forest creatures, marshlands, waterfalls and rain forest.
This is the largest national park in Rwanda having natural vegetation. It was gazzated near the border with Tanzania ion 1934 and it was the second national park in Rwanda. The park covers an area of 1122 sq. km and it consists of mainly savannah, montane forests, woodlands and vast swamps. Akagera national park has many water bodies with the main called River Akagera, Lake Shakani and Lake Ihema. The park lost most its wildlife in the Rwanda genocide wars in 1994. Many of the refugees encroached the park cleared land for settlement, opened up farms and the poisoned about 300 lions in the park. Poaching or poisoning of animals in Akagera national park did not start in 1994, the park once had one of the highest number of –wild dogs but the colonialists found them dangerous and they decided to kill most of them.
After genocide, the government of Rwanda realized the huge potential of tourism and since then they have done their best to recover what was lost and they are promoting tourism to make the country the best tourism destination in Africa. At the moment you can find all the 5 five big animals in Akagera national park that is the lions, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes and leopards and they are increasing in the park. Apart from the 5 big animals, there also other animals such as zebras, impalas, bushbucks, oribi, hippos, crocodile and elands. Akagera national park is one of the best birding sites in Rwanda with the great concentration of water birds. Over 425 birds have been seen in Akagera national park i.e. shoebill stork and papyrus gonolek.
The success of tourism in Rwanda has made the country and its partners to fence off the entire park and they have built necessary infrastructure to support increasing numbers of visitors. The government of Rwanda has partnered with Akagera Management Company and the African parks network to manage Akagera national park while aiding in the raising of funds for conservation and infrastructure developments.
This is among the newly created national parks in Rwanda. It was gazzeted in 2015 by joining Gishwati and Mukura forests. The park was gazatted to help in preservation of what was remaining of Mukura and Gishwati forest as they were protecting chimpanzees in the wild. The park is a habitant of golden monkeys, l’hoest’s monkeys and blue monkeys. Before the park creation, Gishwati and Mukura forests were about to get distinct as a result of human encroachment for settlement and farming after genocide in 1994. The forest corridor that was connecting the 3 forests to Ngungwe national park disappeared leaving wildlife and chimpanzees isolated. By the time the national park was formed over 60% of forest wildlife species had been lost.
The government of Rwanda patterned with the wilderness safari to bring back what was lost, stop human encroachment and educate the people about the benefits of the park to the people and community and turn it into a high-end-eco-tourism center. The government working with wilderness safaris is working hard to introduce chimpanzee trekking, bird watching and primate viewing. Gishwati-mukura forest is the best example to show how serious the government is about things concerning wild life conservation. The government of Rwanda has worked with international organizations such as World Bank to plant trees in recently deforested areas. The corridors of the forest have been rebuilt to connect the two forests to each other and to Ngungwe forest. If you are interested in visiting somewhere different then visit Gishwati-Mukura national park. You will engage in activities such as chimpanzee trekking, bird watching, community walks and talking part in ground breaking eco-tourism project.
Kigali is Rwanda’s capital city and a home to over 12 million people. It was constructed in 1907 during the German colonial rule and it became a city in 1962 on the independence of Rwanda. Kigali has developed and has been recognized as the cleanest city in east Africa. Despite its current charm, the Kigali city is where the great genocide started. While visiting Kigali, you can tour the Kigali Genocide memorial to know more about what really happened during this dark chapter in Rwanda’s history. You can also pass by Hotel des Mille Collines where hotel managers help about 1,000 people to take refuge.
This is one of the largest lakes in Africa. It is located in both Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Lake Kivu has a number of rivers and streams realizing its waters in the River Congo and River Nile. Lake Kivu is not only known for its beautiful islands (like Idjwi) but also for having large amounts of dissolved methane in its waters. Scientists have a belief that if something catastrophic happened like a massive earthquake, large amounts of the carbon dioxide gas are be released into the atmosphere they will cause suffocation of most living things around the lake. There are only 3 lakes with such a phenomenon. An eruption was recorded in Lake Nyos of Cameroon leading to suffocation of many people and animals.
As of now there is nothing to worry about visiting Lake Kivu in Gisenyi. The chances of the Lake exploding are slender. In fact, the government is already learning ways of bringing out the methane gas for industrial and other uses. People shouldn’t be afraid of the methane gas exploring this amazing lake. Lake Kivu is good for relaxation and recuperation after a long safari in any of the gorilla safaris in Rwanda. It’s amazing scenery and tropical weather are also good for relaxation while on a weekend in Rwanda. You can go swimming, kayaking, sunbathing, canoeing, wind surfing, Fishing, Island hopping and boat riding.
There are 6 major museums in Rwanda located in different parts of the country. The national museum of Rwanda is located in Huye district and it one of the best places to visit. It showcases all you need to know about Rwanda, the history through aircrafts, photos, videos and much more. If you to get more information about Rwanda genocide then you should visit the genocide centers. You can pass by many genocide centers located in different parts of the country. All these centers exhibit remains, photographs, personal clothing and videos of what really happened in 1994. The country designed genocide centers in order to heal and ensure that such as a tragedy shouldn’t happen again. The best place to go if you want to discover Rwanda is the Iby’iwacu cultural village. The village is located near volcanoes national park is most favorable for those that have completed gorilla trekking in volcanoes. The culture center is the most popular center for all you want to learn about Rwanda’s cultural heritage. When you visit this place you expect to get entertained with performances, dance and drama.
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