Rwanda is an increasingly popular tourist destination in East Africa, with its emblematic gorilla population drawing animal lovers from all over the world. In addition to its chimpanzee population and its lure as a dark tourism destination, Rwanda certainly has a great deal to offer visitors.
Why not combine some of the below optional add-ons with your gorilla trekking adventure?
Home to Rwanda’s beloved chimpanzee population, Nyungwe is a popular destination for visitors to Rwanda.
In addition to seeing our closest living relatives in their natural habitat, there are a number of additional activities in the surrounding area.
Enjoy a picturesque walk through Nyungwe National Park on this 3-4 hour round trip journey to a spectacular waterfall.
Along the way, you’ll get to see firsthand the park’s amazing variety of bird and plant life, and may even have the opportunity to see some of the park’s resident primates such as mountain monkeys and Colobus monkeys.
Take a ninety minute walk through the treetops on East Africa’s longest elevated walkway. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Nyungwe National Park and its diverse plant and animal life.
Suspended 65 metres above the forest floor, you’ll get stunning aerial views as well as an up close look at the park’s bird and butterfly life. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the park’s primates swinging from tree to tree.
With over 300 species of bird life, Nyungwe National Park is a birder’s dream. With species ranging from the iconic turaco, the stunning regal sunbird, and the Rwenzori Bati. With a large number of species endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley, you’ll see birds only visible in this region of Africa.
Ranging in length from two hours all the way up to thirteen hours, each of Nyungwe’s nature walks boasts something different to see or do along the way.
Whether you take the Mahogany Trail and relax by a waterfall or the Irebero Trail for its stunning views of distant Lake Kivu, each of these trails is a distinct adventure.
While the park is most famous for its chimpanzee population, there are in fact 13 species of primates who dwell within the park.
You can also spot Colobus Monkeys, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, and the rare Owl-Faced Monkey within the park.
Colobus Monkeys can be seen while on a guided walk, while the other species can be spotted by the lucky explorer on one of the park’s wilder nature walks.
Learn how tea makes it from the field to your cup with this half-day trip.
You’ll see how tea is picked and prepared for sale, learn about the different parts of the plant, and even get to sample a variety of locally grown and prepared teas.
When driving between Nyungwe National Park and Kigali, there are a number of interesting stops that can be made along the way.
Built in 1932, the King’s Palace in Nyanza was the last seat of the Rwandan monarchy before colonialism and increasing tensions between political groups ended it in 1961.
Offering a glimpse into pre-colonial Rwanda, the palace is now a museum maintained in traditional style and surrounded by the long horned cattle that were (and remain) such an important part of Rwandan life.
Visitors can also pay a visit to the graves of King Mutara III, the final king of Rwanda, and his wife, Queen Rosalie Gicanda.
The National Museum of Rwanda (now known as the Ethnographic Museum) is a collection of artifacts and exhibits detailing the cultural and archaeological history of the region.
A gift from the Belgian government in 1989, the beautiful building is home to an impressive collection of artwork, clothing, replicas, exhibits, and archaeological displays detailing Rwanda’s long and varied history.
Cultural dance by the famous Intore dancers as well as traditional music are also a popular activity at the Museum.
The Rwandan capital is today a dynamic and green city, every bit as bustling and cosmopolitan as Nairobi.
While many visit Kigali to learn more about the tragic events of the Rwandan Genocide or as a stop along the way to the Volcanoes National Park, it is a city worthy of more than a passing visit.
The former home of Habyarimana Juvenal, the Presidential Palace today offers visitors a chance to see how the president lived and died – as his plane crashed into his own compound in the hours before the 1994 Genocide.
Visitors can tour the former state house, see the wreckage of the fateful plane crash that was one of many triggers for the Rwandan Genocide, and learn more about post-monarchy Rwandan history.
No visit to Rwanda would be complete without paying a visit to the Genocide Memorial. Part heartfelt tribute and part educational experience, this memorial recounts the tale of the infamous 1994 Rwandan Genocide, discusses the work being done to heal the country today, and offers a window into the people whose lives were irreversibly changed by the Genocide.
Built by German explorer, Richard Kandt, the Kandt House Museum of Natural History has special significance as the first modern house built in what is today Rwanda.
This historic home is also home to an exhibition that aims to document the natural beauty of Rwanda from its geology all the way to its flora and fauna.
For those wanting a window into the 1994 Genocide and the repercussions of the tragic event, a visit to the Millennium Village offers a window into both Rwanda’s past and present.
You’ll start your day paying a visit to the Nyamata and Ntaima Churches, both of which were sites of true horror during the Genocide.
You’ll then visit the Reconciliation Village, where the perpetrators and victims of the 1994 Genocide live side by side as a part of the healing process. You’ll not only speak with these brave individuals, but also learn about how they manage to co-exist despite their tortured pasts.
Learn more about contemporary life in Rwanda by taking a tour of the local food and craft markets. You’ll see local produce as residents practice their bartering skills.
The Kigali Craft Markets are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with traditional Rwandan arts and crafts, as well as being a great place to do some souvenir shopping.
Visitors to Volcanoes National Park hoping to spend a magical hour with the legendary gorillas in the mist will undoubtedly pass through and stay in Musanze, a quaint mountain town with a wealth of interesting activities to enjoy.
For lovers of golf, there are few golf courses on earth more picturesque than the Gorilla Nest.
Attached to the Gorilla Nest Lodge, this nine hole golf course is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Virunga Volcano and the Volcanoes National Park.
A walk through a local farming community is a great way to get in a little exercise and gain an invaluable insight into local life in modern Rwanda.
Seeing how modern Rwandans live and work away from the hustle and bustle of Kigali and Musanze town’s tourism driven economy gives a very different impression of the country.
Home to a brilliant array of birds and butterflies, this small but beautiful patch of forest is criss-crossed by a number of trails and viewing platforms for those wishing to hike or soak in the area’s considerable natural beauty.
Home to a large bat colony, this 2 kilometre long volcanic cave was created approximately 65 million years ago.
The cave’s large entrance is draped in jungle greenery, making for a dramatic photo opportunity before descending into the darkness for a guided tour.
Part hostel and part cultural exchange, Red Rocks is a popular tourist stop due to the large variety of activities available to visitors.
You can learn how to make traditional Rwanda handicrafts, brew your own banana beer, visit nearby villages, prepare your own Rwandan lunch, or simply enjoy interacting with the locals.
Closer to Musanze than Lake Kivu, the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera are often overlooked but rarely unappreciated by those who make the time to visit them.
Whether you’re just enjoying the serenity on the lake shore or taking a guided canoe ride out on the water, the twin lakes are a blessedly cool escape from the jungle heat.
A visit to the grave site of Dian Fossey and her companion, Digit is a must for anybody with a passion for gorillas or conservation.
This five hour guided hike takes you to where Fossey and Digit were buried. Located within the Volcanoes National Park close to one of Dian Fossey’s former research centres, you can see the remains of her former research camp.
Along the way, you’ll also learn more about Dian Fossey’s life and the tragic circumstances surrounding her death.
Visitors to Volcanoes National Park may wish to climb one of its iconic volcanoes. Mt. Bisoke is 3,700m high and its peak is dominated by a spectacular crater lake.
Hiking takes between 6 and 7 hours depending on conditions and your fitness, but you may get lucky enough to spot one of the park’s resident gorillas as you hike.
An ideal morning activity, golden monkey trekking is an easy 3-4 hour hike that takes you into the Volcanoes National Park in pursuit of these beautiful and playful primates.
Starting in the early morning, you’ll be back well before lunch or in time for any onward travel you might have planned.
A day trip to Lake Kivu is a fantastic way to enjoy a little peace and quiet. Your trip may visit Gisyeni or Kibuye town.
In Kibuye, your visit can include a boat cruise to some of the lake’s islands to see the local fruit bat population and enjoy the quiet.
Visitors to Gisyeni can pay a visit to the local hot springs, enjoy a cultural visit to a traditional fishing village, or simply having lunch and relax on the shores of the lake.