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What To Do And See In Rwanda


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Laurene Scales



Welcome to Rwanda, a land of breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a rich cultural heritage. Located in East Africa, this enchanting country is often referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills” due to its stunning rolling hills and verdant valleys. Rwanda has made remarkable progress in recent years, emerging as one of Africa’s most sought-after tourist destinations.


The capital city of Kigali is a bustling metropolis that showcases the country’s remarkable transformation. With its modern infrastructure, clean streets, and vibrant markets, Kigali offers a glimpse into Rwanda’s growing economy and dynamic culture. From exploring historic landmarks to indulging in traditional cuisine, there is plenty to see and do in this vibrant city.


For nature enthusiasts, Rwanda offers a wealth of opportunities to immerse oneself in its breathtaking natural beauty. The Volcanoes National Park, home to the endangered mountain gorillas, provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience to observe these majestic creatures up close. Trekking through the dense rainforests of the Nyungwe Forest National Park, visitors can spot a wide array of primates and bird species amidst the lush greenery.


When in Rwanda, a visit to Lake Kivu is a must. This expansive freshwater lake offers a tranquil escape, where visitors can unwind on pristine beaches, go swimming, or embark on a boat tour to explore the surrounding islands. The picturesque shores of Lake Kivu provide a perfect backdrop for a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway.


Rwanda’s wildlife extends beyond the gorillas and forests. Akagera National Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with its sprawling plains and abundant wildlife, including elephants, lions, zebras, and giraffes. Embarking on a safari in this park allows visitors to witness the beauty of the African savanna and experience the thrill of spotting these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.



Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolis that combines modernity with a rich cultural heritage. This bustling city is known for its clean streets, friendly locals, and breathtaking views of the surrounding hills.


One of the must-visit attractions in Kigali is the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a poignant tribute to the victims of the 1994 genocide. This powerful memorial provides a somber yet essential insight into Rwanda’s tragic history and serves as a stark reminder of the resilience and unity of the Rwandan people.


For a taste of local culture, be sure to explore the Kimironko Market. This bustling market is a sensory delight, with colorful stalls selling a wide array of fresh produce, traditional crafts, and vibrant fabrics. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local way of life and pick up unique souvenirs.


Kigali also offers a range of dining options to satisfy any palate. From traditional Rwandan cuisine to international fare, visitors can indulge in a culinary adventure. Don’t miss the chance to try the national dish, “Ugali,” a cornmeal porridge served with a variety of accompaniments.


Art and culture enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in Kigali. The Inema Arts Center showcases the talents of local artists through exhibitions, workshops, and performances. It’s a fascinating place to discover the vibrant arts scene of Rwanda and even purchase unique artworks to take home as a reminder of your trip.


For a peaceful respite from the city buzz, head to the Nyarutarama Golf Club. Surrounded by lush green fairways and stunning views, this golf course offers a chance to unwind and enjoy a round of golf in a serene setting.


No visit to Kigali would be complete without experiencing the city’s vibrant nightlife. From trendy rooftop bars to lively nightclubs, there are plenty of options for those looking to dance the night away or enjoy a relaxing drink with friends.


In short, Kigali is a city that seamlessly combines the old with the new. It’s a melting pot of history, culture, and natural beauty that will leave a lasting impression on visitors.


Volcanoes National Park

Situated in the northwest corner of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is a haven for nature lovers and home to one of the world’s most iconic and endangered species – the mountain gorillas. This remarkable park spans over 160 square kilometers and encompasses a breathtaking landscape of lush bamboo forests, volcanic peaks, and alpine meadows.


Gorilla trekking is the main highlight of a visit to Volcanoes National Park. It offers a unique opportunity to observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat. With strict conservation efforts, visitors can embark on guided treks to encounter these fascinating creatures up-close, while respecting their natural behavior and environment.


While gorilla trekking is the park’s main attraction, there are other activities to enjoy as well. Hiking to the summit of one of the volcanoes in the Virunga mountain range is a thrilling adventure. Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi offer challenging yet rewarding hikes, with panoramic views of the stunning surroundings as a well-deserved reward.


For those interested in the rich cultural heritage of Rwanda, a visit to the nearby Iby’iwacu Cultural Village is highly recommended. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in traditional Rwandan customs, music, and dance, gaining a deeper understanding of the local way of life. Interacting with the villagers and experiencing their daily activities is a wonderful way to connect with the local community.


Volcanoes National Park is not only home to gorillas but also to several other primate species, including golden monkeys. A golden monkey trekking experience allows visitors to witness these playful and rare primates in their natural habitat, adding another layer of adventure to your visit.


When visiting Volcanoes National Park, it is essential to prepare appropriately. It is advisable to wear comfortable clothing, sturdy footwear, and carry enough water and snacks for the trek. Remember to follow the park’s guidelines and regulations to ensure the safety of both the gorillas and visitors.


A visit to Volcanoes National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, offering a profound connection with nature and a chance to witness one of the world’s most incredible creatures. It is an opportunity to create lasting memories while contributing to the conservation efforts that protect the precious biodiversity of Rwanda.


Nyungwe Forest National Park

Tucked away in the southwestern part of Rwanda, Nyungwe Forest National Park is a true gem for nature enthusiasts. This ancient rainforest is a biodiverse haven, home to a remarkable array of wildlife, including primates, rare bird species, and lush vegetation.


One of the main attractions of Nyungwe Forest National Park is its primate population. Chimpanzee trekking is an unforgettable experience, allowing visitors to observe these intelligent and charismatic creatures in their natural habitat. As you hike through the dense forest, the sounds of chimpanzees echoing through the trees create a sense of wonder and excitement.


In addition to chimpanzees, Nyungwe Forest is home to thirteen other primate species, including the endangered golden monkeys and the colobus monkeys, known for their distinctive black and white fur. Guided primate treks offer a unique opportunity to witness these fascinating animals up close and learn about their behavior and conservation efforts.


For bird watching enthusiasts, Nyungwe Forest National Park is a paradise. With over 300 species of birds, including 27 endemic species, the park offers incredible opportunities for bird sightings. From colorful turacos to exquisite sunbirds, the forest echoes with diverse bird calls, making it a bird watcher’s dream.


Embarking on a canopy walk is a thrilling adventure that allows visitors to experience the forest from a different perspective. Walking along suspended walkways high above the forest floor, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the lush vegetation, cascading waterfalls, and the distant Rwandan landscape.


For those seeking a more immersive experience in nature, hiking through the various trails in the park is highly recommended. These trails lead you through different ecosystems, from thick bamboo forests to swampy marshes, offering a chance to encounter wildlife and marvel at the untouched beauty of the forest.


To enhance your understanding of the forest’s biodiversity and conservation efforts, a visit to the Uwinka Visitor Center is a must. Here, you can learn about ongoing research and conservation projects and gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of preserving this remarkable ecosystem.


Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or simply looking to escape into the tranquility of the forest, Nyungwe Forest National Park offers a captivating and immersive experience that will leave you in awe of Rwanda’s natural wonders.


Lake Kivu

Situated on the western border of Rwanda, Lake Kivu is a stunning freshwater lake that offers a serene and picturesque escape for travelers. Known for its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking landscapes, this expansive body of water is a popular destination for relaxation and adventure.


One of the main attractions of Lake Kivu is its pristine beaches. With its soft golden sands and calm waters, the lake provides the perfect setting for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. Whether you prefer to lie back and soak up the sun or try your hand at kayaking or paddleboarding, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the water.


Exploring the islands of Lake Kivu is another highlight of a visit to the region. The islands, such as Idjwi Island and Amahoro Island, are havens of tranquility, offering a chance to disconnect from the bustling mainland. Take a boat tour to discover the secluded beaches, lush vegetation, and traditional fishing villages that dot these islands.


The scenic beauty surrounding Lake Kivu is simply breathtaking. The lake is framed by lush hills and majestic mountains, creating a postcard-worthy backdrop for your visit. Watching the sun rise or set over the lake is a truly magical experience, with the colors of the sky reflecting on the water’s surface.


A visit to Lake Kivu is not complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the lakeside restaurants, where you can savor freshly caught fish, grilled meats, and a variety of delectable Rwandan dishes. Pair your meal with a refreshing locally brewed beverage for the ultimate culinary experience.


For those seeking adventure, Lake Kivu offers plenty of options. Embark on a fishing excursion to try your luck at catching local fish species such as tilapia or Nile perch. You can also explore the underwater world by going snorkeling or diving, discovering colorful fish and unique aquatic ecosystems.


For a cultural experience, visit the lakeside towns and interact with the local communities. Engage in conversations with fishermen and learn about their traditional fishing techniques. Immerse yourself in the vibrant local markets, where you can shop for fresh produce and unique handicrafts as souvenirs of your trip.


Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, Lake Kivu offers it all. The combination of stunning natural beauty, tranquil beaches, and warm hospitality make this lake a must-visit destination in Rwanda.


Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park, located in the eastern part of Rwanda, is a true gem for wildlife enthusiasts. Spanning over 1,200 square kilometers, this diverse park is home to a remarkable array of wildlife, stunning landscapes, and a rich cultural heritage.


One of the main attractions of Akagera National Park is its diverse wildlife population. The park is home to over 80 mammal species, including elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, and hippos. Embarking on a safari adventure allows visitors to witness these incredible animals in their natural habitat. Guided game drives provide an opportunity to spot wildlife up close and learn about their behaviors and conservation efforts.


For bird enthusiasts, Akagera National Park is a paradise with over 500 bird species, making it a top bird watching destination in Rwanda. From beautiful waterbirds such as the African fish eagle and the elusive shoebill stork to vibrant kingfishers and weavers, the park offers incredible opportunities for bird sightings.


Exploring the picturesque landscapes of Akagera is a treat for the eyes. The park comprises a variety of ecosystems, including savannah plains, lakes, swamps, and rolling hills. Take a boat trip on Lake Ihema to witness the stunning scenery and observe hippos, crocodiles, and various bird species in their natural habitat.


Akagera National Park offers a unique opportunity to experience Rwanda’s cultural heritage as well. Surrounding the park are local communities where visitors can engage in cultural encounters, learn about traditional farming practices, and witness traditional dances performed by the local residents.


Those seeking a more adventurous experience can go camping in the park. Several campsites are available where visitors can immerse themselves in the wilderness and spend a night under the starry African sky. Wake up to the sound of birdsong and the roar of lions in the distance as you embrace the true spirit of the African bush.


Akagera National Park is also involved in community conservation initiatives, working closely with local communities to ensure the park’s sustainability and the well-being of its inhabitants. Supporting ecotourism in the park contributes to the economic growth of surrounding communities and helps to protect the park’s unique biodiversity.


Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, nature lover, or cultural explorer, a visit to Akagera National Park is a must. The park’s stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage offer an unforgettable experience that showcases the beauty and magnificence of Rwanda’s natural wonders.


Genocide Memorials

Rwanda’s history is marked by a devastating chapter known as the Rwandan genocide, which took place in 1994. To honor the memory of the victims and educate visitors about this dark period, Rwanda has established several genocide memorials throughout the country. These memorials serve as powerful reminders of the atrocities that occurred and pay tribute to those who lost their lives.


One of the most significant genocide memorials is the Kigali Genocide Memorial in the capital city of Kigali. This memorial is a somber and emotional place to visit, offering a comprehensive and heart-wrenching account of the genocide. The memorial combines informative exhibits, personal testimonies, and displays of artifacts to provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the events and their impact on the nation.


Another important memorial is the Murambi Genocide Memorial in the southern part of Rwanda. The memorial is located in a former technical school where thousands of Tutsi people sought refuge during the genocide, only to be brutally massacred. Today, the memorial stands as a haunting reminder of the atrocities that took place, with preserved remains and exhibits documenting the tragic events.


The Nyamata Genocide Memorial is also a significant site, located in a former church where thousands of Tutsi people were massacred. The memorial displays personal belongings, photographs, and exhibits that tell the stories of the victims, creating a powerful and harrowing experience for visitors.


Visiting these genocide memorials is a deeply moving and emotional experience. It serves as a reminder of the importance of unity, tolerance, and the continuous efforts to prevent such atrocities from happening again. The sites provide an opportunity for reflection, education, and remembrance of the lives lost during the genocide.


It is important to approach these memorials with respect and sensitivity. Visitors are advised to follow the protocols and guidelines set by the memorials, such as appropriate attire and behavior. It is also recommended to take a guided tour to fully comprehend the significance and context of the memorials.


The genocide memorials in Rwanda are a testament to the strength and resilience of the Rwandan people. They serve as a solemn reminder of the past while paving the way for healing, reconciliation, and a brighter future for the nation.


Cultural Experiences

Rwanda is a country with a rich cultural heritage, and immersing yourself in the local traditions and customs is an enriching part of any visit. From vibrant dance performances to traditional crafts and warm hospitality, there are plenty of cultural experiences to enjoy during your time in Rwanda.


One of the best ways to experience Rwandan culture is through traditional dance and music performances. The Intore dancers, known for their vibrant costumes and energetic movements, showcase the country’s historical traditions and tell stories through their performances. Watching these skilled dancers is a captivating experience that offers a glimpse into Rwanda’s cultural identity.


Visiting local markets is another pleasant way to engage with the local culture. The Kimironko Market in Kigali is a bustling hub where vendors sell a variety of goods, including fresh produce, traditional crafts, and colorful fabrics. Exploring the market allows you to interact with local artisans, taste authentic Rwandan cuisine, and support the local economy.


For those interested in traditional crafts, a visit to a cooperative or craft center is highly recommended. Here, you can witness local artisans creating beautiful handcrafted items such as baskets, pottery, and wood carvings. These centers often offer workshops where visitors can try their hand at traditional craft-making techniques, allowing for a hands-on cultural experience.


The Rwanda Cultural Heritage Center in Rwesero provides an in-depth exploration of Rwanda’s cultural history. The center houses a museum that showcases traditional Rwandan artifacts and exhibits, providing insight into the country’s diverse heritage. Visitors can learn about ancient Rwandan kingdoms, traditional customs, and the role of art and music in Rwandan society.


To gain a deeper understanding of rural Rwandan life, consider visiting a traditional village. These cultural villages allow visitors to interact with local communities, learning about their traditional farming methods, participating in daily activities, and observing age-old customs. It’s an opportunity to connect with the locals, experience their way of life, and gain a new perspective on Rwandan culture.


Rwanda is also known for its vibrant cuisine, and trying traditional Rwandan dishes is an essential part of the cultural experience. Sample delicacies such as “Ugali” (a cornmeal porridge), “Isombe” (cassava leaves with spices), and “Brochette” (grilled meat on skewers). Don’t forget to try the renowned Rwandan coffee, known for its rich flavor and high quality.


Engaging in cultural experiences not only helps you appreciate the traditions and customs of Rwanda but also supports local communities and their sustainable development. By participating in cultural activities, you contribute to the preservation and promotion of Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage.


Immersing yourself in Rwandan culture is a rewarding and inspiring experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the country’s diverse traditions and warm-hearted people.


Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that draws travelers from around the world to Rwanda. Located in the lush Virunga Mountains, Rwanda is home to a significant population of endangered mountain gorillas, making it a premier destination for gorilla trekking adventures.


Embarking on a gorilla trekking expedition allows you to venture into the heart of the magnificent Volcanoes National Park. Guided by experienced trackers and armed with trekking permits, you will hike through the dense and picturesque rainforest in search of these gentle giants.


As you trek through the verdant vegetation, the anticipation builds with every step. The exhilaration peaks when you finally come face-to-face with a family of gorillas in their natural habitat. Witnessing these incredible creatures, in close proximity, is an awe-inspiring and humbling experience.


Observing the gorillas in their natural habitat offers an extraordinary opportunity to witness their behaviors. You might witness the playful interactions of the young gorillas, the impressive displays of the silverbacks, and the tender care and bonding within the gorilla family groups. It’s an intimate encounter that leaves a lasting impression and deepens your understanding of these remarkable creatures.


It’s important to note that the gorilla trekking experience is highly regulated to ensure the well-being and conservation of the gorillas. Only a limited number of permits are issued each day, allowing for a controlled number of visitors. This ensures that the gorillas are not disturbed or overwhelmed by human presence.


Getting up close and personal with gorillas requires physical stamina and a spirit of adventure. The treks can vary in intensity and duration, depending on the location of the gorilla families. The terrain can be challenging, with steep slopes, thick foliage, and muddy paths. However, the reward of encountering these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat makes the trek well worth it.


Gorilla trekking in Rwanda also contributes to the conservation efforts aimed at protecting these critically endangered creatures. The revenue from the permits goes towards gorilla conservation initiatives, community development, and supporting local communities living near the gorilla habituation areas.


Before embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure, it’s essential to be prepared. Wear comfortable clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and carry essentials such as water, snacks, and insect repellent. It’s also recommended to hire a porter to assist with carrying your belongings and provide support during the trek.


Gorilla trekking is an unparalleled experience that offers a glimpse into the enchanting world of these majestic creatures. The opportunity to observe them up close, to witness their behaviors and to immerse yourself in their natural habitat is a privilege that will leave you with lifelong memories and a deep appreciation for the importance of gorilla conservation.


Adventure Activities

Rwanda is not only a destination for wildlife enthusiasts and culture lovers but also a playground for adventurers seeking thrilling experiences in the great outdoors. From soaring heights to rushing rivers, the country offers a range of exhilarating adventure activities that cater to all levels of thrill-seekers.


One of the most popular adventure activities in Rwanda is hiking. With its mountainous terrain and lush landscapes, the country offers numerous hiking opportunities for all levels of fitness and experience. Whether it’s a challenging ascent to the summits of the Virunga Mountains or a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Nyungwe Forest, hiking in Rwanda offers breathtaking views, encounters with wildlife, and a chance to immerse yourself in nature.


For adrenaline junkies, zip-lining is an exciting adventure to experience in Rwanda. The Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park offers a unique opportunity to soar through the treetops, suspended high above the forest floor. As you zip along the cables, take in the breathtaking views and immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of the rainforest.


Rwanda is also known for its impressive network of waterways, providing thrilling opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Paddle along the scenic Lake Kivu or challenge yourself with a white-water kayaking adventure on the rushing rivers. These water sports not only offer an adrenaline rush but also allow you to explore the stunning landscapes and encounter wildlife from a unique perspective.


Cycling enthusiasts will find Rwanda to be a paradise for bike tours. The country is home to scenic routes that wind through lush landscapes and rural villages, providing an immersive cultural experience. From leisurely rides through tea plantations to challenging mountain biking trails, Rwanda has options to suit every level of cyclist.


Rwanda’s diverse landscapes also offer opportunities for rock climbing and bouldering. The volcanic rock formations in the Musanze District provide a thrilling playground for climbers of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, scaling the cliffs and boulders offers a unique and exhilarating experience in Rwanda’s natural playground.


For a unique and immersive adventure, consider embarking on a multi-day trek. The Congo Nile Trail is a multi-day hiking and biking trail that stretches along the shores of Lake Kivu, offering stunning views, cultural encounters, and opportunities for camping. This trail allows you to fully immerse yourself in Rwanda’s natural beauty and experience the country’s diverse landscapes.


When participating in adventure activities, it’s important to prioritize safety and follow the guidance of experienced guides and instructors. Ensure you have the appropriate equipment and are aware of any potential risks associated with each activity.


Rwanda may be known for its incredible wildlife and captivating culture, but for those who seek adventure, the country offers an abundance of thrilling experiences that will get your heart racing and leave you with unforgettable memories.



Rwanda, with its captivating landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and awe-inspiring wildlife, is a destination that leaves a lasting impression on all those who visit. From the modern city of Kigali to the lush forests and stunning lakes, there is something for everyone in this enchanting country.


Exploring the vibrant capital city of Kigali introduces visitors to Rwanda’s remarkable transformation and dynamic culture. The city’s clean streets, bustling markets, and historic landmarks provide a glimpse into the country’s progress and resilience.


For nature enthusiasts, Rwanda offers a range of national parks and reserves that showcase its diverse flora and fauna. Volcanoes National Park, famous for its mountain gorillas, provides a rare and unforgettable opportunity to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Nyungwe Forest National Park offers a chance to immerse yourself in a lush rainforest teeming with vibrant wildlife, while Akagera National Park boasts expansive savannahs and abundant wildlife.


Rwanda also offers profound experiences that delve into the country’s history and culture. The genocide memorials stand as poignant reminders of Rwanda’s tragic past, emphasizing the importance of unity, remembrance, and resilience. Engaging in cultural experiences, such as traditional dance performances, craft workshops, and visits to local markets, allows visitors to connect with the vibrant local communities and gain an appreciation for Rwanda’s rich heritage.


Adventure seekers will find their thrill in Rwanda through activities such as gorilla trekking, hiking, zip-lining, and cycling. These thrilling experiences allow visitors to explore the country’s breathtaking landscapes, encounter wildlife, and immerse themselves in the great outdoors.


As you explore Rwanda, it is important to be mindful of sustainable tourism practices and support the local communities. Engaging in responsible tourism not only contributes to the preservation of Rwanda’s natural wonders and cultural heritage but also fosters economic growth and benefits the local people.


In conclusion, Rwanda offers a unique and captivating travel experience that combines stunning natural beauty, exhilarating adventures, rich history, and warm hospitality. Whether you seek wildlife encounters, cultural immersion, or adrenaline-pumping adventures, Rwanda has it all. A visit to this remarkable country is an opportunity to create lifelong memories and leave with a deep appreciation for the wonders of Rwanda.