Rwanda is known for two powerful things, one magnificent and one horrific; Mountain gorillas and the genocide of 1994. In the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ both are embraced by the resilient people and held as part of their heritage. This absolutely stunning nation holds the soaring peaks of the Virunga Mountains, the sparkling waters of Lake Kivu, the verdant forests of Nyungwe, and the plains of Akagera in her borders. They are all breathtaking in their own way, but they pale in comparison to the effervescence and spirit of the Rwandese people themselves.GEt in touch
What to Expect
Expect to fall in love with Rwanda. The misty clouds shroud the hills that stretch to the horizon. The capital city of Kigali buzzes like a beehive, full of activity and rich history. Artisan shops, markets, a thriving gastro-pub scene, and historic sites will fill your days in the city.
Venturing out to the countryside, you might just be amazed at how seemingly spotless this nation is. Rwanda was the first country worldwide to ban the use of plastic bags, and the impact of that decision is clear. A short drive to Volcanoes National Park will put you face-to-face with the majestic Mountain gorillas and the rambunctious Golden monkeys. Paddle a kayak on Lake Kivu or cycle through the lakeshore town to a coffee plantation. For intrepid travelers, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park each offer excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Akagera is now home to the Big 5 after a successful reintroduction of lion and black rhino and Nyungwe Forest has chimpanzee trekking and a canopy walkway through the rainforest. Let us help you discover Rwanda!
Don't Miss Out
The Essence of Rwanda — Go behind the scenes of a conservation success story and visit the headquarters of the Akagera National Park. The reintroduction of the endangered black rhino and threatened lion prides into the park is something to celebrate.
Meet some of the individuals who safeguard these animals and learn about conservation initiatives as well as community involvement which has brought poaching to an all-time low. Once you know their story, you might just tear up watching a lion or a rhino stride across the savanna.
Primate possibilities— It is said to be one of the most profound wildlife experiences in the world to spend an hour in the company of a Mountain gorilla. We couldn’t agree more. It is an honor and a privilege to visit these majestic animals in their own home; a twist of vines and roots and dense vegetation high on the slopes of dormant volcanoes. It is a challenge navigating the terrain, but the reward is amplified because of that challenge. Equally interesting to visitors to Volcanoes National Park, the frolicking antics of the Golden monkeys are a contrast to the peaceful slow-moving gorillas (usually!). Chimpanzees and a dozen other primate species can be found in Nyungwe Forest National Park. A habituated troop of Rwenzori Black & White Colobus monkey numbers over 400 individuals!
The Culture of Connecting—It is impossible to come to Rwanda and not acknowledge its recent history. A visit to the Genocide Museum in Kigali is heart-wrenching and somber, but it is also insightful, respectful, and important to understanding the country as it emerges from that shadowy past. Please remember that everyone you meet that is older than 25 has been impacted in some way by those tragic days. Despite the darkness of that chapter, Rwandese people are writing a bright future for themselves by establishing their nation as a forerunner in tech innovation and coffee production. Anywhere you go in the country, you will be met with smiles and warmth.
Lake luster – Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest body of water, nestled in the Great Rift Valley, and a place to slow down and unwind during a safari. In the mornings, songs drift through the air as fishermen head out in traditional boats for their daily catch. Find yourself exploring by kayak or sail on this sparkling expanse past islands which dot the lake. Here you will get a pulse on the sleepy, palm-fringed small-town life of the locals. The Imbabazi Orphanage with its stirring history, ‘Crop-to-Cup’ coffee tours which support local growers, and the colorful markets of Gisenyi are all worth investigating.
Hidden gem— Believe it or not, Kigali is Rwanda’s undiscovered wonder. Most travelers pass right through on their way to the wilderness areas. This up-and-coming city is thriving with an arts scene, a foodie revolution, and cafés serving heavenly coffee. Tour through the colorful neighborhood of Nyamirambo—with maze-like markets, prolific street art, and a proud creative community. Follow the cobblestone streets to some of the most gorgeous mosques in the city or sit at a café savoring some local dishes like chapati or samosas. A visit to the Nyamirambo Women’s Center is fascinating as it was started by 18 women to fight gender-based violence, gender inequality, and discrimination. See how their initiatives are helping women in their community. Come sunset find one of the seven hilltops which make up the core of the city and witness a spectacular sunset from a rooftop café.
Need to know
Flights are easily arranged into Kigali, from European gateways like Amsterdam, Brussels, and Istanbul, or via Nairobi, Dubai, Doha or Addis Ababa.
- While most only see Rwanda as a destination just for gorilla trekking, it has a host of other parks and activities to make it a stand-alone safari of about nine days. Four days is usually the ideal length of a ‘gorilla express’ extension before or after a longer safari in Kenya, Tanzania or Southern Africa.
- Rwanda’s wildlife populations are rising, so we suggest combining this destination with another location for first-time safari travelers. Safari veterans will take pleasure in the uncrowded destinations beyond Volcanoes National Park.
- Visas are required for most visitors, but inoculations may be recommended. We suggest you see a travel medicine specialist for advice.
- Due to its small size, driving between locations is most common. Good quality roads link Rwanda destinations, but so do helicopters! Limited flights on Rwandair are also available to Nyungwe.
- English is widely spoken throughout Rwanda in addition to French, Swahili, and Kinyarwanda.
- Good quality guiding is found throughout Rwanda. Even some local guides have gone through certification courses around Akagera and Nyungwe.
- Gorilla trekking permits are currently $1500 per trek, which can last from 1.5-8 hours. Chimpanzee trekking permits are currently $100 per trek and are typically booked for up to 4 hours. Permit fees can change at any time and must be secured in advance.
- There are some stand-out restaurants in Kigali and throughout your safari you will find fresh, delicious meals prepared with local ingredients.
When to go
Rwanda enjoys comfortable temperatures year-round, although with humidity. Heaviest rainfalls occur in April and May and again in October and November.
The drier months are June through September and December through March. The altitude on a typical safari varies from 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) to 7,875 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level. Days are pleasant, 75 to 85 F and nights are moderate, 50 to 60 F. At higher altitudes it can be cooler, especially at Volcanoes National Park.
June – October: This is the long dry season when wildlife viewing is at its best. Wildlife congregate around water sources and grass is short in Akagera. Guests can expect cool mornings and evenings. This is peak travel season for visitors and gorilla trekking.
December – March: The short dry season and a good time to travel with the warmest temperatures being February.
November, April – May: These are the two rainy seasons, when landscapes are lush and skies dramatic. Wildlife is a bit more dispersed and conditions muddy. Expect showers in the morning with clearing in the afternoon before clouds roll in again for heavier rains in the evening.
Rwanda is on the cusp of breaking into the high-end luxury accommodation market. There are a few premiere properties that have recently come onto the scene and more are on the way.
There are some boutique properties and wilderness lodges that certainly tick all the boxes a discerning traveler would have, but availability is limited so it is best to book well before you plan to visit. Rwanda is a destination where it is more important what you do, rather than where you stay. Every property booked on a Rothschild Safari is vetted by staff and offer the highest standards in each category.
What our travelers say
Wow, wow, wow!! We are back in LA now, recovering from jet lag and still in shock and awe regarding our experience. From the moment we landed in South Africa to the moment we touched down in LA, our experience was seamless and amazing.
We were thrilled with the trip. It was as good as or better than described at every turn. The prep, attention to detail, willingness to make changes and ensure we were ready and prepared was outstanding. Our Travel Designer was awesome!
Choosing a safari expert is never easy given the choice and lists upon lists of "top suppliers"....but we made the BEST choice for us....why....because above all, Rothschild listened ....really listened to what we wanted to experience.
It was a well organized trip. It was easy to get around since we were guided through all of our itinerary. Everyone was pleasant and very helpful. This is an excellent way to travel. Rothschild Safari did very well and brought a fantastic African experience to us.
My trip was beyond AMAZING! I truly enjoyed every moment. The itinerary allowed me to experience a variety of different activities all of which I enjoyed! When I originally thought of going to Africa I was just thinking of safaris. This trip opened my eyes (and my family/friend's) to so much more Africa has to offer.
Trip was PERFECT!! Every single detail was planned out and the accommodations and people were wonderful. This trip exceeded all of our wildest expectations. Every place we stayed was just lovely and each each camp had a different vibe, which was really neat. Everyone we worked with was outstanding.
On behalf of the Moravec’s and the Stone’s……thank you for arranging a trip of a lifetime. Every detail was accounted for and all the recommendations were perfect. It honestly could not have gone any better.
Meggan Woody and Kim Killick were extraordinary at crafting THE PERFECT safari for our family of 8. They both listened (actually 'read' my email) to EXACTLY what we wanted, within the budget that we needed, and miraculously pulled off miracles in obtaining the properties that we wanted!
Every aspect of my trip went according to plan and the plan Rothschild's help me to orchestrate was magnificent! I loved every lodge that I was blessed to be in! They were all very different yet all high end and very accommodating.
Mary & Rob Johannigman (and family)
It was the most exciting, scenic, inspiring trip we've ever taken. To say it was a trip of a lifetime doesn't begin to capture our experience. Pam Langhoff and the Rothschild team did an outstanding job of helping us plan this trip.