Rwanda is not your average African safari with its gorilla tracking in a vivid country that is also known as, “Land of a Thousand Hills.”
In the north, the magnificent Virunga Mountain Range; a group of six towering volcanoes standing sentry along the border of Rwanda. They are located inside the Volcanoes National Park, and are surrounded by over 150km2 of mountain forests, and home to the mountain gorillas. Apart from gorilla trekking, there are many other activities to be enjoyed in this area including forest walks and a number of cultural and community tourism initiates. Kigali is the city, built in a hilly country, sprawling across about four ridges and the valleys in between. The tops of the ridges have an average elevation of 1,600 meters (5,250 ft.), while the valleys are around 1,300 m (4,270 ft.).

LOCATION

Rwanda is a sovereign state in Central and East Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.

PEOPLE AND CULTURE

The culture of Rwanda is varied. Unlike many other countries in Africa, Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times, populated by the Banyarwanda people who share a single language and cultural heritage. The last Saturday of each month is umuganda, a national day of community service, during which most normal services close down.

NYUNGWE FOREST

Nyungwe National Park lies in Southwest Rwanda, partly abutting the Burundi border. It’s a vast area of mountain rainforest, home to many species of chimpanzees, plus owl-faced and colobus monkeys. The Canopy Walkway, part of the Igishigishigi Trail, is a high suspension bridge with views over the valley and surrounding forests. A trail runs to the Kamiranzovu Marsh, with its birdlife, orchids and waterfall.

AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK

Akagera National Park lies in Eastern Rwanda, hugging the border with Tanzania. It’s characterized by woodland, swamps, low mountains and savannah. The varied terrain shelters wildlife including zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions and hundreds of bird species, such as the rare shoebill stork. In the southern part of the park, vast Lake Ihema is home to hippos and crocodiles.

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Volcanoes National Park lies in Northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains and spans 160 sq. km covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.

GISHWATI FOREST

Gishwati Forest is a protected reserve in the North-Western part of Rwanda, not far from Lake Kivu. The reserve’s forests were largely intact in 1978, and substantial forest cover still remained in 1986. During the Rwandan Genocide, wave after wave of refugees arrived in Gishwati Forest and began clearing it, often for subsistence farming. By 2001, only a small circular patch of native forest remained, 1,500 acres of the forest’s original 250,000. In addition to tremendous loss of biodiversity, the region experiences soil erosion and degradation and landslides. Reforestation efforts in the past few years have increased the remnant native forest to about 2,500 acres. Large tea estates occupy the central and northern parts of the reserve.

LAKE KIVU

Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes. It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and is in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika.

KIGALI

KIGALI SERENA LODGE

Ideally located on one of Kigali’s most charming boulevards, the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel is built around a polished granite atrium, which showcases the very best of Rwandese cultural art. Relaxed yet elegant, the hotel features an Executive Lounge and Bar, which opens onto a wide sundeck overlooking the newly refurbished swimming pool. Also overlooking the pool, the popular Milima Restaurant offers a wide range of all-day buffet choices, while the relaxed Sokoni Café offers inside and outside poolside seating.

CHEZ LANDO HOTEL

Located at the heart of the bustling Remera business suburb in Kigali, Chez Lando Hotel represents the essence of a homely, green, family-friendly and hospitable hotel with one of the most exquisite menus in the city. Chez Lando’s environment carries a character that spews of freshness, vibrancy, hope, ambition and confidence resonating from a past of pain and loss.

LAKE KIVU

LAKE KIVU SERENA HOTEL

Serenely sited on the white sandy shores of Lake Kivu, the sixth largest lake in Africa, and surrounded by extensive tropical gardens; the tastefully open-plan Lake Kivu Serena Hotel offers the ideal destination in Rwanda for an extended holiday or simply a week-end escape. Within several hours drive of both the Rwandan capital, and the glorious Volcanoes National Park (home of the world famous mountain gorillas), it overlooks its own private beach and offers; 66 luxury hotel rooms, executive suites and family accommodation, a panoramic restaurant, indoor and beachside bars, a luxury swimming pool, and the ‘Maisha’ Health Centre (offering an extensive range of health and beauty regimes, boating, swimming, volley ball, tennis, fishing, hiking and trekking). This hotel on Lake Kivu also boasts a world-class fully-integrated Conference Centre, a distinguishing service offering in Rwanda.

KINIGI

MOUNTAIN GORILLA VIEW LODGE

Mountain Gorilla View Lodge is located in Kinigi in Northern Rwanda and on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park, home to the endangered Mountain Gorillas. The lodge is located on the foothills of the Mount Karisimbi, one of the volcanic mountains that make up the Virunga Massif. The lodge is about 10 minutes’ drive to the main entrance of the Volcanoes National Park where gorilla trekking starts.
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge is an ecolodge with 30 spacious chalets. To ensure the least disruption of the surrounding environment, the ecolodge was constructed with locally available material. Every chalet comes with a sitting area with a fireplace and has a tea/coffee making machine. The ecolodge supports the surrounding rural community by purchasing farm-fresh produce that is served in the lodge’s restaurant.

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