Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda has emerged as one of Africa’s most exciting destinations. The country is a pioneer in eco-tourism, funding conservation projects, such as mountain gorilla protection in the steamy forests of Volcano National Park. Trekking to see these endangered primates is the main attraction in Rwanda, where the famous zoologist Dian Fossey studied the great apes and inspired the Hollywood movie “Gorillas in the Mist”.
It’s not all about gorillas, though. Nyungwe Forest is one of the largest remaining rainforests in Africa, and is inhabited by more than 75 different mammals, including hundreds of chimpanzees, and over 300 species of birds. Although landlocked, Rwanda still manages to serve up a coastal vibe on the shores of Lake Kivu, with beaches at Gisenyi, and coves at Kibuye.
Kigali is a great place to begin or end any Rwanda journey, as it’s conveniently located in the geographic center of the country. The city is clean and safe, with extremely welcoming people. Travelers will enjoy exploring the great cultural activities – including several award-winning museums, burgeoning music scene, and some of East Africa’s most memorable dining experiences. Spanning several ridges and valleys, Kigali, with its lush hillsides, flowering trees, winding boulevards and bustling streets, is arguably one of the most attractive capital cities in Africa.
As a country rich in biodiversity, Rwanda is recognized for addressing large-scale challenges in conservation. Recently, Rwanda has become one of the three East African countries that offer tourists a ‘Big 5’ experience, having reintroduced both lions and eastern black rhinoceros into Akagera National Park. Such bold measures have undoubtedly positioned Rwanda throughout the world as a role model in conservation within Africa.
Ahead of this year’s Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s flagship event, celebrating with the community and the world at large the successful preservation of endangered mountain gorilla population through the naming of new-born baby gorillas, new tariffs have been announced for mountain gorilla trekking activities, a milestone within the global tourism industry. Rwanda will host the 13th Kwita Izina on September 01, 2017. In the 12 years since the event was established, 216 mountain gorilla babies have been named in a celebration of nature together with the communities, who protect the majestic mountain gorillas.
In 2016, Rwanda created its fourth national park – Gishwati-Mukura National Park. This park is made up of two fragmented mountain forests, and is home for chimpanzees (an endangered species), and golden monkeys that need to be protected. Conservation is acknowledged worldwide as a prerequisite for sustainable tourism and economic development. Trekking mountain gorillas is the backbone to the thriving tourism industry whereby the exceptional experience offered in Remarkable Rwanda is undeniably a highly valued unique experience for so many tourists globally.
With one-third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, easy air access, one of the safest destinations in Africa, a well-guided experience, and a thriving hospitality industry, this key tourist activity attracts more and more visitors each year. Despite pressure for Rwanda to increase gorilla trekking visitation, the country has maintained its strong conservation-based regulations and limited the number of visits and time spent with each group (one hour).
Another strong foundation to Rwanda’s tourism and conservation efforts is that of revenue sharing with local communities. Empowering communities living nearby National Parks economically through providing a greater share of tourism revenues to fund development projects has in the past contributed greatly to conservation practices.
When is a good time to go?
Gorilla trekking occurs year-round, but the optimal time is during the two dry seasons: June through September (the long dry season), and December through February (the short dry season).
AirlinePros partner, RwandAir, the country’s flagship carrier, will launch non-stop flights from New York to Kigali later this year. This will allow for seamless connections across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.