Known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is a destination that frequently tops traveller’s bucket lists. Visiting the famous mountain gorillas is an experience which frequently comes to mind when thinking about visiting Rwanda, but it’s just one of many activities which make the country such an exciting destination to travel to. With that in mind, we’ve listed five of our favourite activities that you can enjoy in Rwanda.
Rwanda is one of only three countries in the world where the critically endangered mountain gorillas live, and with only approximately 880 gorillas left in the world, seeing these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is an opportunity which can’t be missed. The gorillas can be found in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in Volcanoes National Park. Your expert guides will lead you to one of the families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away whilst they go about their daily lives. A large part of what makes this experience so unforgettable is the setting of Volcanoes National Park, which provides some stunning scenery as you hike to visit the large primates. Although permits are considerably expensive, the fee goes towards the preservation of the local area and wildlife, and this is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which can’t be missed.
It’s possible that the gorillas are what bring you to Rwanda, but it would be a shame not to meet some of the other endangered primates who call Volcanoes National Park home. The elusive golden monkeys inhabit the lower regions of the forests, and their rich colours, energetic demeanour and sizeable troupes of up to 30 individuals are truly a sight to behold. This is a great warm up before you meet the monkey's much larger cousins higher up in the forest, with a permit to track the golden monkeys being much cheaper than that to see the gorillas.
Mountain Gorillas are an enormous part of Rwanda’s identity, and perhaps nobody can be held more responsible for their conservation than the great Dian Fossey. An American zoologist who moved to Volcanoes National Park in 1967 to study the primates in Rwanda, Fossey famously fought to protect the critically endangered gorillas, something she was successful in doing up until her murder in 1985. She is fondly remembered for her work, and her gravestone has become a popular pilgrimage site for naturalists, who take the guided four-hour trek through the forest to pay their respects.
Covering over 1,000 square metres, Nyungwe Forest is the largest protected mountain forest in Africa and a major factor in Rwanda’s rise as a popular tourist destination. The vast forest is a place of relaxation but also one of adventure, and for any adrenaline junkies the canopy walk is a must. The walkway is suspended over 50 metres high above the forest and offers breathtaking views and is a superb way to see at eye-level some of the wildlife which you won’t see from the ground such as monkeys and birds. Your guided walk will take up to 2 hours to complete, and the minimum age to take part in the walk is 6 years old.
Unfortunately, Rwanda’s recent history is marred by a truly tragic period, the Rwandan genocide. These catastrophic events took place between April and June 1994, when over 800,000 Rwandan people were killed in the space of 100 days. As the nation continues to recover, the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where over 250,000 victims were laid to rest, is now a moving place to remember and reflect on these terrible events, and does a fantastic job of educating us about it and providing an important space of remembrance and peace.
Have we inspired you to discover magical Rwanda for yourself? Speak to our experts by calling 020 7843 3500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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