Rwanda tourism has over the years gain popularity in East Africa all thanks to gorilla safaris. These are done in Volcanoes national park home to half of the gorilla population in the Virunga massif.
Mountain gorilla tourism in Rwanda is very popular overshadowing other adventurous tourist activities in the country. There is no doubt that gorilla safaris are very outstanding and offer once in a life time experiences. Today lets look at other wildlife adventures in Rwanda beyond the gorillas.
1. Mountain Climbing
The northwestern part of Rwanda in Volcanoes national park are many inactive volcanic mountains whose hike is very adventurous. These mountains are popularly known as the Virunga massif volcanoes and include mount Sabyinyo, Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura & Gahinga.
These Virunga mountains are homes to mountain gorillas and other wildlife species that are often encountered on the mountain hike. There are less chances of finding mountain gorillas as for mountain hiking you take particular trails though rewarding as well.
Mount Karisimbi is the highest of all the mountains at an elevation of 4,507 and its hiked in 2 days. On the first day you hike to a certain point, have an overnight and the second day hike to the summit and descend.
Mount Bisoke is very unique of all with a crater lake on its summit offering stunning views. All Virunga Mountains offer great 360 degrees views of the surrounding great lakes region and worth exploring beyond gorilla safaris.
Canoeing is another great adventure option while in Rwanda and can supplement gorilla safaris. It is often done along River Mukungwa located in Musanze near volcanoes national park.
The adventure takes about 2 to 3 hours with chances of seeing some bird species. This water-sport activity is worth a try while in the area as you explore more about Rwanda.
River Mukungwa is calm and runs through the quiet countryside where you enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Canoeing is not physically demanding and can actually be done before gorilla safaris or after depending on what you prefer.
Ensure to book for this in advance to avoid missing out.
3. Nyungwe Chimpanzee Tracking
Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest is another great primate adventure to look out for in Rwanda beyond gorilla safaris. Chimpanzees just like gorillas have 95% DNA similar to humans and offer exclusive wildlife experiences.
The chimpanzees live in families going up to 30 individuals. They are very mobile spending most of their days moving from one place to another looking for food. A chimpanzee trek in Nyungwe forest is very rewarding especially combined with sightings of other wildlife species in the forest.
Nyungwe forest has many other primates including colobus monkeys, L’hoest monkeys that can be explored in other primate treks. The forest itself is a game and an attraction with many endemic species especially birds and trees.
4. Savanna Wildlife Safaris
Savanna wildlife safaris are done in Rwanda’s only savanna national park, Akagera national park. The park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda about 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital.
Akagera national park is a home to savanna wildlife including elephants, buffaloes, lions, hippos, antelopes and so much more. These animals are seen on game drives best enjoyed in the parks northern sector with the highest animal concentration.
While in Akagera national park you can also do boat trips along lake Ihema where you spot various bird species. Other notable wildlife species spotted on a boat cruise include hippos, nile crocodiles and other small species.
Beyond gorillas safaris, a savanna game drive and boat cruise in Akagera national park is worth an adventure and time.
5. Kigali City Excursions
Kigali is Rwanda’s capital city but also a center for business, Rwandan culture and a great history of the country. For those with a short time in Rwanda with no chance for gorilla safaris then Kigali city tours can work.
You can visit the Kandt House Museum where you will get to know about Rwanda before and after colonization. The Museum is open daily from 8am to 6pm local Rwandan time. Its closed on 7th April and on Umuganda day from 11 am to 6pm.
The Kigali genocide museum is another outstanding spot you can’t miss while on a Kigali city tour. Here are remains of some of the victims of the Rwandan genocide and a list of names of other victims. A visit to this museum clearly shows you the great recovery journey Rwanda has had over the years.
To get to know more about the local people, you can visit the local markets, reconciliation village and craft markets.