17 Top Unique Things to do in Rwanda, According to Experts
Rwanda is one of the famous primate tracking destinations in Africa, especially for mountain gorillas. Rwanda safari tours are popular on most travelers’ bucket lists, especially those interested in primate trekking adventures however, there is a lot more to experience when it comes to tours to Rwanda. If you are wondering what to do during your Rwanda tour, here is a comprehensive guide for the Things to do in Rwanda.
Rwanda is a landlocked country located in the Great Rift Valley region of Africa. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Country is highly elevated, giving it the soubriquet ‘‘land of a thousand hills.’’ The country is renowned for its natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and rich culture. Rwanda is famous for Gorilla trekking safaris that are done in Volcanoes National Park. There are several attractions in Rwanda that you can visit during your safari. From the popular mountain gorilla trekking to the least famous city tour in Kigali, Rwanda has several safari activities and experiences on offer for every traveler to the country. Besides the popular safari activities like Gorilla trekking, Bird watching, chimpanzee trekking, and canopy walking, there are other several Things to do in Rwanda.
Here is a comprehensive list of Things to do in Rwanda
1. Gorilla Trekking
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda is one of Africa’s most profound wildlife encounters – the experience is so transformative that most travelers have described it as life-changing. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda involves joining a group of trekkers and hiking deep in the tropical rainforests of Volcanoes National Park to search for mountain Gorillas. The
experience is one of the best in Rwanda and a major draw of travelers in the country. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is done at Volcanoes National Park. Gorilla Trekking should surely make the top of the list of Things to do in Rwanda since no safari in Rwanda is complete without this experience. As you trek Rwanda Gorillas, you will be guided by experienced ranger guides, and you will embark on a trek through the lush greenery, and ascend to the higher elevations to see gorillas. Upon locating these amazing primates, you will be allowed to spend one exclusive hour with these primates, an opportunity for you to learn about them, especially how they interact socially. You will watch these amazing creatures as they feed, and play and the mothers groom their babies. Gorillas are the second closest human relatives after Chimpanzees so you should not be surprised if you witness them mimic human behavior.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda can be done all year round although the dry months of the year are the best for trekking gorillas. Trekking mountain in Rwanda has restrictions and strict guidelines that you must follow during the trek.
Note: Trekking gorillas in Rwanda Require a gorilla trekking Permit. A gorilla Trekking permit in Rwanda costs USD 1500 for foreign non-residents. Find out more about gorilla trekking in Rwanda Here
2. Chimpanzee Trekking
Besides gorilla trekking, the other top primate trekking in Rwanda are the chimpanzees. Chimpanzees share up to 98% of their DNA with humans, these creatures are amazing to watch in their natural habitat. Rwanda chimpanzee trekking is mainly done at Nyungwe Forest National Park. There are two habituated chimpanzee troops in Nyungwe Forest National Park. The first troop is found at Cyamudongo, a detached section of Nyungwe forest, and the other is located at Uwinka. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe involves hiking deep in the forest to search for the habituated Chimpanzee troops.
Rwanda Chimpanzee trekking is led by an experienced ranger guide who will help you locate the habituated chimpanzees. The ranger guides are well knowledgeable about chimpanzees, and the forest. As you trek the chimpanzees in the forest, you will also enjoy viewing other resident wildlife and bird species, especially forest birds.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe starts with a briefing at the visitors center, while here you will be guided on how the trek is done and the dos and don’ts during the trek. You will join other members usually 8 in number for the trek. After locating the habituated chimpanzee group, you will be allowed an hour to observe them in their natural habitat. You will have opportunities to take as many photos as you can during this time as you capture these fascinating moments in the jungles of Africa. The trek usually starts early in the morning at around 8:00 A.M. and the duration is usually between 2 – 4 hours. Learn more about our Rwanda Chimpanzee trekking tour here…
3. Golden Monkey tracking
Golden monkey tracking in Rwanda is a unique and exciting wildlife experience. Golden Monkeys (Cercopithecus Kandti) are one of the world’s most endangered primate species. Golden monkeys live in the volcanic bamboo forests of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and can be tracked by travelers visiting the park. Although Volcanoes National Park is popular for Mountain gorillas, the park is home to a substantial population of golden monkeys, offering a great opportunity for tracking them during your visit here.
Golden monkeys are known for their striking appearance, characterized by a bright golden-orange patch on their upper flanks, back, and tail. They have a gentle nature and live in large social groups called troops, usually numbering between 30 to 60 individuals. Tracking them allows you to witness their playful behavior, acrobatic movements, and unique social interactions. Tracking Golden Monkeys in Rwanda involves trekking through the beautiful forested mountains in search of these amazing animals. The activity is led by experienced
park rangers who will take you through designated trails and sometimes steep terrain to locate the troops. Once found, you’ll have the opportunity to spend up to one hour observing them in their natural habitat. Find out more about Golden Monkey Trekking in Rwanda…
4. Hiking Mount Bisoke
Bisoke, also known as Mount Bisoke, is a dormant volcano located within Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Hiking to the summit of Bisoke is a popular activity for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers who visit Rwanda.
Bisoke stands at an elevation of 3,711 meters (12,175 feet). It is part of the Virunga Mountains, a volcanic range that extends through Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The hike to the summit of Bisoke is considered moderately challenging. The trek is approximately 6-7 hours roundtrip, depending on your hiking pace and weather conditions. The trail consists of varying terrain, including lush bamboo forests, rocky slopes, and volcanic ash. It’s recommended for individuals with a reasonable level of fitness.
For Nature lovers Hiking Mount Bisoke is rewarding and worthwhile. Hiking to the Summit of Mount Bisoke is rewarding with breathtaking panoramic views. On a clear day, you can witness stunning vistas of the surrounding volcanoes, and the lush green landscapes of Rwanda, and, if lucky, catch glimpses of the nearby mountain gorillas. The summit is also home to a beautiful crater lake known as Lake Ngezi, which adds to the awe-inspiring scenery.
Note: Hiking to Bisoke’s summit requires a permit. The activity is led by an experienced park guide or ranger. The hike usually starts in the morning, and the guide will lead you through well-defined trails, ensuring your safety and providing information about the flora, fauna, and volcanic history of the area. We recommend you bring suitable hiking gear, including Hiking shoes, layers of clothing, rain gear, and enough water and snacks. Find out more about this adventure here….
5. Hiking Karisimbi
Karisimbi is the highest volcano in Rwanda and the fifth highest in Africa. Hiking to the summit of Karisimbi is a challenging and rewarding adventure for experienced hikers and nature enthusiasts visiting Rwanda. Mount Karisimbi stands tall at an elevation of 4,507 meters (14,787 feet). Mount Karisimbi is part of the Virunga Mountains range, which extends across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The name “Karisimbi” translates to “white shell” in Kinyarwanda, referring to the frequently snow-capped summit. Experience the highest point of Rwanda – hike to the summit of Mount Karisimbi for a rewarding adventure.
Hiking Karisimbi is considered a demanding activity because of its high altitude, steep slopes, and challenging terrain. The hike takes a minimum of two days, with overnight camping at approximately 3,800 meters (12,500 feet). Climbing to the summit of Mount Karisimbi requires physical fitness, endurance, and previous hiking experience at high altitudes. The experience is challenging although rewarding and worthwhile during your Rwanda safari tour.
The ascent to Karisimbi’s summit rewards hikers with breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanic landscape and the expansive views of Rwanda. On clear days, you may even catch a glimpse of neighboring volcanoes, lush green valleys, and nearby lakes. The sunrise from the summit is particularly awe-inspiring, coloring the sky in vivid hues and casting a magical glow over the landscape. Find out more about this adventure…
6. Iby’iwacu Cultural Experience in Rwanda
Iby’iwacu cultural experience is the most popular cultural experience in Rwanda, where travelers grab an opportunity to learn more about Rwanda people. The Iby’iwacu cultural visit in Rwanda will provide you with an opportunity to learn about the traditional way of life
of the local community. This cultural experience is centered around the Iby’iwacu Village, which is located outside of Volcanoes National Park, home to the Batwa people.
During your Cultural visit to the Iby’iwacu Village, you will be introduced to various aspects of Batwa culture, including traditional dances, songs, and costumes. You will also have the opportunity to learn about hunting techniques, cultivation practices, and other customs that have been passed down through generations. The experience is led by Batwa guides who will share their knowledge of the culture and answer any questions visitors may have. This is a must-include in your bucket list while traveling to Rwanda. Find out more about this experience.
7. Visit Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is a beautiful and scenic freshwater lake located in Rwanda, located in the western part of the country. This Lake is one of the largest lakes in the African Great Lakes region and offers visitors a wide range of activities and attractions to experience during their visit to Rwanda.
The stunning natural beauty of this lake is one of the main reasons tourists visit Lake Kivu. The lake is surrounded by lush green hills and mountains, providing a picturesque backdrop for leisurely walks, hikes, or boat rides. You can take a boat trip on the lake to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and admire the stunning landscapes. For those seeking a bit of adventure, Lake Kivu offers various water sports activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and jet skiing. The calm and clear waters of the lake make it ideal for these activities, and there are often rental facilities available for visitors to enjoy.
Lake Kivu is also known for its hot springs, particularly in the town of Rubavu (formerly Gisenyi), which is located on the northern shores of the lake. These hot springs are believed
to have healing properties and are a popular attraction for visitors looking to relax and rejuvenate. A safari to Rwanda should surely include a visit to this amazing lake, one of the Things to do in Rwanda. Find out more about this experience…
8. Coffee Tours in Rwanda
Coffee tours in Rwanda provide an immersive and educational experience for visitors to learn about the country’s rich coffee culture and the process of coffee production, from seed to cup. Rwanda is known for producing high-quality Arabica coffee, which is grown in the fertile volcanic soils of the country’s central and western regions. Coffee tours typically take place in the coffee-growing regions, such as the districts of Huye, Nyamagabe, and Musasa.
During a coffee tour, visitors have the opportunity to visit coffee plantations and interact with local coffee farmers. They can learn about the different varieties of coffee grown in Rwanda, the agricultural practices involved in cultivating coffee plants, and the importance of sustainable farming methods.
You can observe and participate in the coffee harvesting process, which involves hand-picking the ripe coffee cherries from the trees. They may have the chance to try their hand at picking coffee cherries themselves and gain an appreciation for the labor-intensive nature of coffee production. The experience is educative and worthwhile during your Rwanda Safari. Find out more about this activity…..
9. Nyungwe Waterfall hikes
Nyungwe Waterfall hikes offer an exciting opportunity to explore the stunning waterfalls and lush rainforest of Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda. Nyungwe National Park is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda and is one of the most biodiverse places on the African continent. Nyungwe has several waterfalls that can be hiked within the park. Each of these
waterfalls offers a unique and mesmerizing experience. One of the popular waterfalls is the Kitabi Waterfall, which is located near the entrance of the park. The Kitabi Waterfall hike takes you on a relatively easy and short trail through the rainforest – where you will enjoy beautiful views of the waterfall and its surrounding vegetation.
Another notable waterfall is the Kamiranzovu Waterfall. This hike is more challenging and is ideal for those seeking a longer and more adventurous trek. The trail takes you through dense rainforest, across streams, and up and down steep hills. The waterfall cascades down from a height of about 50 meters, creating a breathtaking sight. Find out more about this experience…
10. A boat cruise in Akagera National Park
A boat cruise in Akagera National Park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the park’s diverse wildlife, stunning scenery, and various habitats from the water. Akagera National Park is located in eastern Rwanda. Despite being known for big game viewing, Akagera also offers excellent boat cruise experiences. Boat cruise safaris in Akagera National Park are done on Lake Ihema, one of the largest lakes in Rwanda, which is located within the park. The lake is surrounded by lush vegetation, swamps, and savannahs, providing a unique setting to observe the park’s wildlife.
During the boat cruise, you will be able to spot a wide variety of animals that come to the lake to drink, bathe, or hunt. Some of the animals that you will see include hippos, crocodiles, elephants, buffalos, waterbucks, and various bird species. Boat trips in Akagera are conducted by experienced guides with wide knowledge about different attractions like animals and their behaviors.
Akagera boat cruise tours usually last between 1 and 2 hours. This experience offers a different perspective on the park and enables you to get up close to the animals and observe them in their natural habitats while in a boat. A boat cruise in Akagera National Park is a fantastic way to explore the park’s biodiversity, immerse yourself in the natural surroundings, and have an unforgettable wildlife spotting experience in Rwanda. Find out more about this here…
11. Colobus monkey trekking in Nyungwe National Park
Colobus monkey trekking in Nyungwe National Park is a unique activity that offers travelers an opportunity to observe and interact with these unique primates in their natural habitat. Nyungwe National Park, located in southwestern Rwanda, is known for its rich biodiversity, including a significant population of colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, Birdlife, and vervet monkeys among others.
Colobus monkeys are easily recognized by their striking black and white fur, which sets them apart from many other primate species. They are known for their acrobatic abilities, leaping gracefully through the forest canopy, and often congregating in large social groups. The colobus monkey trekking experience begins with a briefing by trained guides who provide information about the behavior, ecology, and conservation efforts related to colobus monkeys. Once prepared, you will set off on a guided trek through the rainforest, following designated trails.
As you trek through the forest, the guides will use their knowledge to locate and track the colobus monkeys. They will point out different behavior patterns and characteristics of the monkeys, giving you insights into their social dynamics and communication methods.
The trek can sometimes be challenging, as the dense vegetation and hilly terrain of Nyungwe National Park make for an adventurous expedition. However, the reward of witnessing colobus monkeys in their natural environment is truly extraordinary.
Trekking colobus monkey requires a permit, which can be obtained from the park authorities or authorized tour operators. Find out more about this activity…
12. Canopy Walk in Rwanda
Canopy Walk in Rwanda is one of the popular activities done in Nyungwe Forest. Canopy walking safaris offer a unique and exciting way to explore the stunning natural beauty of Nyungwe Forest. This activity will allow you to experience Nyungwe as you enjoy scenic views of the forest, bird life, especially forest species, and resident wildlife like Chimpanzees among others. During your canopy walking safari, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the unique plant and animal species that are found in the forest. The Activity is conducted by Knowledgeable guides who will share fascinating facts and insights as you traverse the treetops. A canopy walk is a wonderful way to appreciate the rich biodiversity of Rwanda and immerse yourself in its natural wonders.
If you’re planning a trip to Rwanda a canopy walking safari shouldn’t miss out on your Things to do in Rwanda. The experience is unforgettable as it combines adventure, wildlife, and viewing. Find out more about Canopy walking safaris in Rwanda.
13. Visiting hot springs in Rwanda
Visiting hot springs in Rwanda is one of the Unique experiences you should look out for while on your Rwanda Safari tour. These geothermal wonders in Rwanda include Hot springs, which offer a unique and rejuvenating experience for those looking to unwind and immerse themselves in the country’s natural beauty.
One of the most famous hot springs in Rwanda is found in Nyamyumba, situated in the western part of the country near Lake Kivu. The Nyamyumba hot spring is characterized by its soothing warm temperature and therapeutic mineral cont
attracted several tourists both local and international travelers. The water is believed to have healing properties and is often used to treat various ailments by the locals.
The other hot spring is located in Gisenyi, a picturesque town also located on the shores of Lake Kivu. The Gisenyi hot springs are not only renowned for their therapeutic properties but also their stunning surroundings. While here, you can soak in the warm waters while enjoying breathtaking views of the lake and the nearby Virunga Mountains.
Although the most popular hot springs in Rwanda are Nyamyumba and Gisenyi hot springs, there are several other lesser-known hot springs scattered across the country. Some of these hidden gems can be found in places like Bugarama, Rusebeya, and Nyakavuye. Each hot spring has its distinctive characteristics, ranging from varying water temperatures to different mineral compositions. Find out more about this attraction…
14. Visit the Musanze Cave
Musanze Cave, also known as Musanze Caves or volcanic caves, are fascinating underground attraction located near the town of Musanze in Rwanda. These caves were formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago and offer a unique adventure for visitors.
The Musanze Caves are made up of a series of tunnels and chambers, stretching over 2 kilometers in length. These caves were created by the solidification of lava flows from Mount Bisoke, a nearby dormant volcano. As the lava cooled and hardened on the surface, the molten lava beneath continued to flow, eventually leaving behind empty tunnels and caverns.
Visiting Musanze Cave will allow you to discover Rwanda’s geological history. The caves are made up of impressive stalactites and stalagmites, formed over centuries through the slow deposition of minerals from water dripping from the cave ceilings. This natural process has created captivating formations, adding to the allure of the cave system.
While on your visit to Musanze Cave, you can embark on guided tours usually led by experienced guides, and you will go through the network of tunnels, providing interesting insights into the geological and cultural significance of the caves.
Musanze Cave also holds cultural importance for the local communities. The caves served as shelters during times of conflict in Rwanda’s history. Many people found it as a good hiding place during the genocide. Find out more about these caves…
15. Visit the Kinironko Market
Kinironko Market is a vibrant and bustling market located in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. The Kinironko Market is situated in the eastern part of Kigali, in the Nyarugenge District. This market is one of the busiest business areas where locals sell and buy groceries and other goods. The market is organized in a well-structured manner, with different sections designated for specific items. You can find sections for fresh produce, clothing, accessories, household items, electronics, and much more. This organization makes it easy for both sellers and customers to navigate.
One section of Kinironko Market is dedicated to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural products. Here, local farmers bring their harvests, showcasing a wide variety of seasonal produce. Kinironko Market is a great place to buy fresh and organic food directly from the source.
Kinironko Market is also known for its vibrant arts and crafts section. Local artisans from different parts of Rwanda gather here to showcase their talent and sell their handmade products. It’s an ideal place to find unique souvenirs, traditional clothing, handwoven baskets, wooden carvings, and other traditional Rwandan crafts. Visit Kinironko Market during your Rwanda Safaris. Visiting Kinironko Market offers a unique insight into Rwandan culture and daily life. It’s a vibrant and lively place where locals gather to socialize, catch up, and
conduct business. You can witness the dynamic energy, hear the traders bargaining in Kinyarwanda (the local language), and immerse yourself in the local atmosphere.
16. Cycling in Rwanda
Cycling in Rwanda has gained significant recognition and popularity in recent years. This adventure has become not only a means of transportation and a sport but also a symbol of unity and national pride. The country’s unique geographical features, stunning landscapes, and relatively good road infrastructure make it an ideal destination for cyclists.
Rwanda has achieved impressive success in international cycling competitions, which has further boosted its reputation. The country’s cycling team, Team Rwanda, has participated in various prestigious events, including the Tour de France and the Olympics, showcasing the talent and determination of Rwandan cyclists.
The Tour du Rwanda is an annual cycling race held in the country, attracting both local and international riders. It has gained recognition as one of Africa’s most challenging and prestigious cycling events. The race covers diverse terrains and offers breathtaking views of Rwanda’s stunning landscapes, including its rolling hills, lush forests, and picturesque lakes.
Rwanda’s picturesque landscapes and cycling-friendly environment have made it an emerging destination for cycling tourism. Cyclists from around the world come to explore the country’s scenic routes, including the iconic routes around Lake Kivu, the Virunga Mountains, and the Akagera National Park. These cycling tours not only provide thrilling experiences but also allow visitors to engage with local communities and experience Rwandan hospitality.
17. Genocide memorials and Museums in Rwanda
Kigali Genocide Memorial
The Kigali Genocide Memorial is located in the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali. This memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the Rwandan genocide, in which approximately
800,000 people lost their lives in just 100 days. The Kigali Genocide Memorial features various exhibits that chronicle the events leading up to the genocide, its devastating consequences, and the subsequent steps towards healing and reconciliation.
Murambi Genocide Memorial
The Murambi Genocide Memorial is situated in the southern district of Nyamagabe. This memorial is particularly unique as it is housed in a former technical school that became a site of mass killings during the genocide. Today, it stands as a somber testament to the enormity of the atrocities committed. Visitors to the Murambi Genocide Memorial can witness the preserved remains of victims, hear survivor testimonies, and gain a deeper understanding of the events that unfolded.
Nyamata Genocide Memorial
The Nyamata Genocide Memorial located in the Bugesera district, is a powerful place of remembrance. Formerly a Catholic church, it now serves as a memorial site where the remains of thousands of victims are interred. The Nyamata Genocide Memorial shares personal stories of survivors and helps visitors grasp the magnitude of the violence that occurred.
These museums and memorials in Rwanda play a crucial role in preserving the memory of the genocide, honoring the victims, and educating visitors about the consequences of hatred and intolerance. They provide a platform for reflection, remembrance, and dialogue, aiming to promote peace, unity, and societal healing in Rwanda.
Apart from the genocide-focused museums, Rwanda also boasts a vibrant cultural scene with numerous museums that highlight the country’s history, art, and traditions. Some notable examples include the National Museum of Rwanda in Huye, which showcases various
aspects of Rwandan cultural heritage, and the Inema Arts Center in Kigali, where visitors can immerse themselves in contemporary Rwandan art. Pan your Rwanda safari adventure with us and unfold the hidden secrets of this beautiful country