Rwanda is a very beautiful country in eastern part of Africa residing some of the best attractions that Africa is pride with. The country is so small and you can fully explore it in few days on escorted or self drive car rental in Rwanda. Road tripping through this beautiful country may grant you a chance to spot many beautiful attractions like the endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, and of course the big five of Africa.
Upon your arrival in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, you will really be surprised to find a modern and very clean city unfolding before you as drive from the Kigali International Airport to your hotel for the night. In fact, Kigali’s inner city must be one of the cleanest and most well organized in Africa. Not only are the highways perfectly crafted with clear and brilliant lines, but traffic lights work and are respected, vehicles stop at pedestrian crossings and taxis do not speed like in other nearby countries such as Uganda!
Waking up at your hotel in the next morning, you will have breakfast and then kick start your road trip in Rwanda, like for example you may want to start your trip in Nyungwe Forest National Park, which is about 6-7 hours’ drive from Kigali.
However, on your way out of Kigali city you can visit the famous Kigali Genocide Memorial – a place commemorating the tragic 1994 Genocide between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Rwanda. During the 1994 Genocide, one million people were massacred in just 100 days in this tiny country. You will really learn many things about this catastrophic genocide when you reach there.
Meanwhile after there you will proceed with your journey to Nyungwe. Nyungwe Forest National Park deserves a blog on its own, but in brief, it’s a very impressive rain forest with 13 primate species, including one of the world’s great apes – chimpanzees, and more than 300 bird species and various hiking trails.
The major attraction in Nyungwe is of course chimpanzee trekking where you will get an ample time with chimpanzees up-close. After trekking the chimpanzees, you can also visit the beautiful Lake Kivu. The main road along the lake was rebuilt a few years ago and you can now drive from Nyungwe Forest via Buhinga, Kibuye and Karongi to Gisenyi on a good tarmac road and easily make it within a day, or even half a day if you hurry.
As you leave the Nyungwe Forest you enter the tea plantations towards the south of the park. The drive towards Gisenyi will take you through many valleys, crossing the rivers that flow into Lake Kivu. Many of the low-lying areas are covered in rice paddies and the trip is supremely scenic. At Kibuye there are multiple accommodation options and it’s a good place to stop if you want to have lunch or just a coffee.
The Congo-Nile Trail, which is popular with mountain bikers and hikers alike, follows an old route closer to the lake between Kibuye and Gisenyi. In and around Gisenyi there are several accommodation options.
From Lake Kivu, you can then drive to Akagera National Park where you will be able to enjoy fantastic game drives in this only savanna park of Rwanda. Here you will spot a variety of animals on your game drive, among them include; the big five – African (Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Cape Buffaloes, and Rhinoceros). The other animals to encounter include hippos, crocodiles, zebras, giraffes (Rothschild’s giraffes), and several antelope species including bush bucks, kobs, and water bucks, among others.
From Akagera, you will head to the mighty Volcanoes National Park for a memorable and incomparable experience of trekking the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. Volcanoes Park is one of the only four national parks in the world eligible for offering mountain gorilla safaris. Furthermore, the park also offers golden monkey trekking expeditions.
Road tripping in Rwanda is surely a remarkable experience as you will get to know about culture, gorilla safaris, chimpanzee safaris, golden monkey safaris, wildlife safaris, boat trips and many more, all in this small country. Akagera provide more of a typical savannah experience with open spaces well as Nyungwe is perfect for primate safaris – with its 13 primate species and Volcanoes is suitable as well for mountain gorilla trips and golden monkey safaris.