Rwanda, The Land of a Thousand Hills is a lush green landscape nestled in the middle of Africa. The respectful and hospitable nature of the Rwandese people makes it a warm place for visitors. Rwanda has also become a central hub for meetings and innovation with the new convention center built in partnership with the Gates Foundation. Named the 9th safest country in the world, Rwanda has become Africa’s best kept secret and so romantic!
#1: Gorilla Trekking at Volcanoes National Park
Many know Rwanda for the work Dian Fossey started with the silverback gorillas. New recognition was garnered thanks to Ellen DeGeneres’ foundation celebrating the work and continuing major conservation efforts. The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will provide diverse offerings and contributions to community and most importantly protecting the gorillas. There are roughly only 1000 Silverback Gorillas left in the world.
Volcanoes National Park is located in a small town called Musanze and less than 3 hours from Kigali (the Capital City of Rwanda). To experience Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda, the permits are $1500 per person. You will hike up a hill and enter into the forest with a team of trackers. It could take you 5-7 hours to find a gorilla family, which just depends on the gorilla families and where they choose to go. Short treks of 30 minutes to 1 hour are available for those desiring a less strenuous endeavor. To experience the gorillas in their natural habitat and in their element is a truly surreal feeling and a must visit!
Where to stay:
Singita Kwitonda Lodge – Opening in August 2019 (taking reservations). Located at the base of the Volcanoes National Park. The Singita brand is expanding their footprint in Africa with their continued efforts in thoughtful conservation. This lodge is going to be gorgeous! Having met with representatives from this hotel and seeing the renderings, it will be a highlight in Rwanda luxury.
Bisate Lodge – Located at the base of the Volcanoes National Park, this luxury lodge is taking Rwanda to the next level in the luxury market. Locally sourced materials and design create a welcome warm experience for discerning travelers. It is seriously a bucket-list hideaway, perfect for a romantic honeymoon.
Photo: Bisate Lodge, courtesy of Wilderness Safari
#2: Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is the world’s eighteenth deepest lake that sits on the border between Rwanda and the Republic of Congo. The waterfront towns offer a serene backdrop while visiting Rwanda. This destination is the perfect stop when on your way to Volcano National Park and Nyungwe National Park. The quiet environment welcomes meditation and yoga.
Where to stay:
Lake Kivu Serena – Relax while overlooking Lake Kivu, take a bike ride around the town of Gisenyi or enjoy a yoga session in their fitness facilities. Simple accommodations while experiencing Lake Kivu.
Photo: Exterior Lake Kivu Serena, Courtesy of Lake Kivu Serena
#3: Akagera National Park
It may surprise most people to hear that you can experience the Big Five in Rwanda and that there are a reported 18 Black Rhinos living in the park. While Akagera doesn’t compare to safaris in Masai Mara, South Africa or Botswana (yet) it is truly something to experience while in Rwanda.
Just a two-hour drive from Kigali, it offers a beautiful and convenient savannah and marsh landscape. There are over 482 bird species nestled within the park. Some of the activities to enjoy at the park include fishing, behind the scenes tour that includes conservation efforts and night drive experience with guide. The best part is you can visit the park for only $50 per day.
Where to stay:
Magashi Camp – With six spacious tented guest rooms with private access to a portion of Akagera, this luxury accommodation doesn’t compromise on luxury. This brand-new camp, opened in December 2018, will be sure to set a new standard for guests visiting Akagera.
Photo: Magashi Camp tent rendering, courtesy of Wilderness Safaris.
#4: Nyungwe National Park
One of the unique things about Rwanda is the diversity of the landscape. This national park is set within lush rainforests, tea fields and waterfalls. There are 13 hiking trails that cover the terrain and vary in distance. A unique experience involves chimpanzee and monkey trekking in the forest within their natural habitat. Scale the Nyungwe Forest Canopy and traverse the forest beneath you. You may also see one of the 300 bird species local to that area.
Where to stay:
One & Only Nyungwe House – In the mountains, surrounded by rainforest and tea plantations, this resort is a treat for your senses. The intimate 22 luxury rooms and suites integrate nicely with the local landscape. This sanctuary will rejuvenate your soul with its spa and fitness sanctuary. Dine in the wilderness. You will leave with piece of Africa left in your heart after this experience.
photo: Nyungwe House, courtesy of One&Only Nyungwe House
As the Capital City of Rwanda, Kigali is the energy that breathes life into the rest of the country. All trips begin and end through Kigali where the international airport is located. You’ll find the city to be very clean and well maintained. The residents of Rwanda take pride in their country and even have a unified day of service called Umuganda on the morning of the last Saturday every month. During Umuganda, the entire population (12 million) devote some time to their local community including cleaning the streets, cutting grass, repairing roads and much more.
Visit the many museums and art galleries, shopping centers to get some locally woven baskets or fresh Rwandese coffee or tea to take home.
Rwanda’s history is one of healing and forgiveness. A visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial helps to educate and honor the memory of the one million Rwandans killed in 1994. Reflection on the past but acknowledgement of how far the country has advanced will make you appreciate the resilience of the people and country by the time you leave.
Where to stay:
Kigali Serena Hotel – Located in the heart of Kigali, the 148 rooms and suites are nicely appointed private and peaceful retreat. Enjoy a treatment in their spa, workout in their fitness facilities after a long flight or just people watch in the lobby while drinking local Rwandese tea. It is where the elite Rwandese business meetings are conducted and affluent locals hang out. Simple accommodations to start your adventure in Rwanda.
Photo: Kigali Serena Hotel, courtesy of Kigali Serena Hotel
Rwanda is positioning itself as the luxury destination for honeymooners who are looking for unique experiences. Whether you’re including the destination as a pre-post Kenya, Botswana or South Africa safari or visiting the destination exclusively there is plenty to see and do during your visit.
For more information on any of the hotels and Rwanda as a destination, or to schedule a complimentary planning consultation, email Janelle Ruhumuliza at firstname.lastname@example.org (affiliate of Avant-Garde Travel).