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Rwanda

Rwanda

Rwanda is a flourishing country, its small but bears the large title, “Land of a Thousand Hills.” Rwanda is home to the “Virungas,” great old volcanoes that tower up to almost 2.5 miles, and are nearly covered with rich, green rainforest.

Rwanda’s countryside is characterized by rolling grasslands and areas of rugged mountains that extend southeast from a chain of volcanoes. Dian Fossey described these mountains as being “in the heart of central Africa, so high up that you shiver more then you sweat.”

Rwanda National Parks

Nestled within the north-western corner of the country bordering Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo is the legendary Volcanoes National park. This Protected Areas is the most cherished and protected because it shelters one of the Continent’s rarest, most precious and endangered wildlife species-Mountain gorillas. This Protected Area is also referred as Parc National Des Volcans (PNV) and lies within the Virunga Conservation Areas together with Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park as well as DRC’s Virunga National Park and offers the highest number of gorillas in the Area.

Volcanoes National Park is one of Africa’s oldest Parks gazetted in 1925 and sprawls for over 160 square kilometers (62 square miles/16000 hectares). Much as mountain gorillas are the main attraction in the Park, it also shelters other primates especially the golden monkeys, other mammals such as buffaloes, bushbucks, elephants, black-fronted duikers, spotted hyenas in addition to over 180 bird species, several reptiles, Amphibians and butterflies among others. It is also in this Park that five of the eight Virunga Volcanoes are found and these include Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura Mountains.

For just two hours’ drive from Kigali City, you will be able to track one of the ten gorilla families habituated in the Park, hike/climb one of the Virunga Volcanoes found in the Park, track the golden monkeys, watch some of the beautiful bird species and surprisingly visit the Tomb of Dian Fossey (the zoologist who dedicated her life to conserving these primates).

It is not only the attractions that will make you fall in love with Volcanoes National Park but also the exquisite accommodation facilities that include Bisate Lodge, Jack Hannah’s Cottages, Virunga Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Hotel Muhabura, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Village, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge and Mountain Gorillas’ Nest Lodges among others.

To the north-eastern part of Rwanda along the Tanzanian border covering 1122 square kilometers is the remarkable Akagera National Park, a small Paradise and one of the must-visit destinations in not just the country but Africa in general. Named after River Kagera that drains its eastern boundary and feeds a number of Lakes, this Park was gazetted in 1934 to conserve fauna and flora in three main eco-regions-swamp, savannah and mountain.

The different habitats of Akagera including Papyrus swamps, vast savannah plains, forest-fringed Lakes and numerous highlands collude to make this Park one of the most beautiful places in Africa. Interestingly, all these ecosystems offer shelter to some of Africa’s sought-after wildlife species such as the Maasai giraffes, big five animals (lions, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes and elephants), antelopes (such as kobs, elands, duikers, waterbucks, Oribis, Topis, bushbucks and impalas), primates (like vervet monkeys, olive baboons and blue monkeys), hyenas and Serval cats among others. This Park also offers shelter to more than three quarters (over 520) of the country’s total bird species including the Papyrus, aquatic, migratory, forest and savannah bird species.

If you desire to enjoy day and night game drives through a typical African wilderness, birding, boat trips, fishing and nature walks in a less thronged environment, then Rwanda’s Akagera National Park is the place to be. Just like the Park, the accommodation facilities in this Park are extraordinary and worth trying. These include Akagera Game Lodge, Ruzizi Tented Lodge, Campsites (like Shakani, Muyumba and Mutamba Campsites) and many others outside the Park. For only 110 kilometers/two and a half minutes’ drive from Kigali City, you will be ushered to the spectacular Park with verdant scenery characterized by endless savannah plains as well as numerous bird and wildlife species.

When you travel to the south-eastern side of the country along the Burundian and DRC border, you will be ushered to Nyungwe Forest National Park, the home to one of the Continent’s oldest and largest Tropical Afro-Montane rainforests in East and Central Africa.

This majestic Park was established in 2004 and extends for an area of over 1000 square kilometers comprising of boglands, grasslands, montane rainforests and bamboo. This diverse ecosystem makes Nyungwe Forest National Park a home to over 1000 species of flora, over 85 mammal including about 13 species of primates such as Chimpanzees, butterflies, about 300 species of birds, 32 and 38 of Amphibian and reptile species respectively.

If you are interested in meeting face to face with mankind’s closest relatives, book for a trip to track the majestic chimpanzees in this pristine Park. In addition to ordinary tourist activities you will experience such as bird watching, biking through the phenomenal terrain, nature walks and cultural tours, hiking to the refreshing waterfalls, colobus tracking, Nyungwe is an extraordinary destination and surprisingly one of the few places to enjoy canopy walks in Africa.

There is nothing as life changing as spending overnights in comfortable accommodation facilities and if its class you are looking for, then Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Nyungwe Top View Hill Top, Gisakura Guesthouse and the state of art campsites will offer more than Paradise and adventure during your safari. The mentioned attractions and cozy accommodation facilities in this Park collaborate to create once in a lifetime safari experience. If you ever desire to visit this Park, drive for over 225 kilometers/4-5 hours from Kigali and you will experience what many people have only watched in documentaries.

Many tourists intending to visit Rwanda still have no idea about this National Park because it was newly gazetted in 2016, thus increasing the number of Protected Areas in the country. This hidden gem is nestled within the towering ridges of the awe-inspiring Congo-Nile Divide along the spectacular and biodiverse Albertine Rift within the western side of Rwanda across Nyabihu, Rubavu, Ngororero and Rutsiro districts.

This Park was created by combining Gishwati and Mukura Forests covering 1439 and 1987 hectares respectively and it is obviously from these two verdant Forests that the National Park got its name. This remarkable Protected Area is a haven to mammals like primates such as East African chimpanzees, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoests monkeys and golden monkeys, black-fronted duikers, Serval cats and southern tree hyrax among others in addition to bird species.

Tourists that visit Gishwati-Mukura National Park have the chance to immerse themselves in some of the refreshing activities such as tracking chimpanzees and other primates, enjoying the sights and sounds of beautiful birds and meeting some of the friendly rural people living around the National Park.

Conclusively, Rwanda is not only a country of beauty but endless wonders which you will discover through exploring its four National Parks that include Volcanoes, Nyungwe, Akagera and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks. Each of these Parks offers distinct attractions that make it unique from the other.

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