Rwanda is considered as one of the smallest countries of Africa. It is located just a few degrees south of the equator. The country is bordered by Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mutilated by perhaps the most ruthless post-war genocide and political drama of the 20th century, Rwanda has come a long way since its rough past. Today, despite many claims of low-key exploitation and human rights abuse, the country remains a reinforcement of hope for other central African countries trying to recover from an agonizing past.
Rwanda is considered Africa’s kick ass come-back country. Two decades after the genocide, the country has made extensive effort to promote harmony and opulence amongst the people, inspire clean streets, and enrich the country back to its illustrious natural beauty.
With its awe-inspiring landscapes, captivating wildlife, and lush green forests — it’s impossible not to fall in love with the place. Here’s our top travel picks for Rwanda:
Kigali Memorial Centre Genocide Memorial
The Kigali Memorial Centre is not a very scenic site but holds great historic significance. The somber building with gardens and a concrete mass of graves marks one of the largest massacres sites. You should consider visiting it to truly understand the impact of Rwanda’s terrible past, and how the country has recovered from it.
The display is thought-provoking, depicting the horror of the three-month long genocide, which wrecked the country in 1994. Personal photography, film footage, and personal accounts of the historic moment were all captured. 99.9% of the population was affected by the genocide — a painful past that makes the present kindness and positivity of the locals more significant.
Congo Nile Hiking Trail
One of the best ways to experience Rwanda in all its natural beauty is through a quick hike. The Congo Nile Hiking Trail is a famous route taking you to the edge of the country’s most alluring stretch of crystal clear water, Lake Kivu. While on the trail, you will experience thick forest vegetation, intense landscapes and rolling hills, which is how Rwanda got its nickname, “Land of a Thousand Hills”.
Volcano National Park
If you want to experience seeing mountain gorillas up close, Volcano National Park is an excellent choice. This small park is considered the safe haven for these critically endangered animals. The park is home to 10 habituated gorilla families existing in different parts of the park. Other than the mountain gorillas you will also get to see over 75 species of different mammals like buffaloes, elephants, giant forest hogs, bush bucks, and spotted hyenas.
It is also home to over 180 species of birds and 26 of these you can find in the Rwenzori and Virunga mountains. Other than wide variety of animals you’ll see in this park there is also the Dian Fossey Grave, Mount Bisoke, and Mount Karisimbi.
Related: Interesting Facts About Mountain Gorillas
King’s Palace Museum
This palace was the residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa until his death in 1959. It’s located in Nyanza, about 88km south of Kigali City. It was built by the Belgium Government in 1932. The museum is considered a cultural center that sheds light on Rwanda’s monarchy practice of the past 200 years.
Inside, tourists can view the king’s traditional seat. Unfortunately many of the other objects and materials of tradition were destroyed or stolen in 1994 during the genocide. In order to rebuild it back to its former 19th century state, other materials of traditional heritage had to be added. These include traditional cows also known as “lnyambo”, which represents the Rwandese culture. The museum also allows you to view the burial grounds of King Mutara III and his wife Rosalie Gicanda on the neighbouring hill of Mwima.