Safari Bucket List Adventures To Start With In 2023

When some one mentions destination East Africa, there are a number of bucket list adventures that come to mind. The region has diverse wildlife species and is currently a must visit for nature lovers. The past years have been hard with the COVID 19 Pandemic effects but the year 2023 will be a great year as many countries have fully recovered from COVID. With this, an African safari is highly recommended as you get to tick some adventure activities off your bucket list. Let us look at the top experiences that you must not visit while in East Africa.

This primate trekking experience tops the bucket list of many travelers to the region. Mountain gorillas live in the forested mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virunga massif. They have over 95% DNA similar to humans and are therefore among man’s closest wild relatives. Mountain gorillas live in families that are headed by a dominant male called Silverback and can be up to 20 individuals in one family.

They are pure vegetarians with their diet mainly comprised of plant vegetation, wild fruits, and bamboo shoots. Meeting the mountain gorillas in their most preferred habitats is very remarkable and a once-in-a-lifetime experience you must do while in East Africa. There are 4 main gorilla national parks in the region. They include Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable national parks in Uganda, and Virunga national park in DRC.

Because of the ongoing civil conflict in DRC, Virunga national park is currently closed and at the moment even gorilla trekking adventures are not possible. But the other three national parks are safe and open for tourist visitation. Important to note is that gorilla trekking is highly demanded and it is important to book the permits in advance.

This annual animal migration in Serengeti and Masai mara is an interesting event that is highly anticipated by wildlife enthusiasts. Millions of wildebeest, hundreds of Thompson gazelles, zebras and other major grazers move over the Serengeti and Masai mara ecosystem for fresh pasture. They stretch over the open plains in a journey that attracts predators, especially the big cats as they seek to get prey for their own survival.

The wildebeest migration is a life and death journey that as many are hunted, many are also given birth to especially in January. This rejuvenates the herbivores’ crowds and the migration cycle continues. Seeing animals in large numbers as it usually is the case for the migration is incredible. It is very ideal for wildlife viewing as game drives in national parks are all about that. On the wildebeest migration however it is even more impressive with not only the numbers but the variety of wildlife species present.

Crossings of the Mara and Gremeti Rivers are a game changer as the wildebeest meet their other major obstacle on the course, the Nile crocodiles. Some are giants and have over the years thrived on the wildebeest migration as they also readily take down their prey as the major grazers attempt to cross the Rivers.

The best time to catch with the wildebeest migration is from September to June. This time features the calving period, the River crossings and a start of the journey back up north through central and western Serengeti. It is important to know where the wildebeest are in a particular month to book the most appropriate accommodation. There are some temporary under canvas tents that move with the migration and can be great options to consider. Visit East Africa this coming year and get the wildebeest migration off your bucket list!

An African safari without the big five mammals is usually not considered a successful one. Africa’s and savanna’s big five mammals include elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, and Rhinos. All of these have over the years been threatened by poaching, and habitat loss due to encroachment because of the increasing human population among other factors. Because of these, the population of major wildlife species has greatly reduced but destination east Africa thankfully still has many of these species.

In some places, species like the rhinos had gone extinct because rhinos are highly poached for medical purposes. These have however been reintroduced to foster conservation and ensure an ecosystem balance. A case in point is Rwanda’s Akagera national park which now has both black and white rhinos. The park now has all the big five mammals and safari game drives are very enjoyable. In Uganda’s Murchison falls national park, there are four of the big five with the exception of the rhinos. These however live at the Ziwa rhino sanctuary in Nakasongola about a 2 hours drive from the park. With this, you are able to experience the big five while on an adventure safari in Uganda. All safaris to Murchison falls national park features a stop over at the rhino sanctuary for rhino tracking.

Kenya and Tanzania’s wilderness’ beat Uganda and Rwanda when it comes to the big five. In Kenya’s Masai Mara national reserve, you get to see all of these and more while on game drives. In Tanzania, safari destinations like Serengeti, Selous, Ruaha, Tarangire, and many others have all or four of the big five. Here you get to enjoy classic African safaris either on game drives, nature walks, or hot air balloon safaris. Selous and Ruaha are among the less traveled paths and offer exclusive safari adventures.

East Africa is a birders’ haven and a variety of bird species. The various ecosystems in the area are home to the many bird species including endemics that occur only in the region. There are various important birding areas including Nyungwe forest in Rwanda, Akagera national park that is the largest protected wetland in the area among others.

In the open plains of the vast savanna are a number of bird species. Many of these are seen on birding safaris in the different protected area. The best birding season in the reason is from November to May when the migratory birds from Europe are in the region as well.

Birding in East Africa is very rewarding and highly recommended among the must do bucket list adventures in the region.

Join Kwita Izina 2022 As More Baby Gorillas are Named

Kwita Izina 2022 is set for 2nd September in Volcanoes national park as more baby gorillas will be named. Kwita Izina is a naming ceremony of baby mountain gorillas that started in 2005. It was started to foster mountain gorilla conservation, give back to the community and recognise individuals who are directly involved in the day to day conservation efforts like the rangers, Veterinary doctors and many wildlife conservation enthusiasts.

The Kwita Izina 2022 will be the 18th edition and so far 354 mountain gorillas have been named so far. The mountain gorilla population had greatly declined because of civil war and poaching but thanks to the conservation efforts the numbers have steadily increased.

A number of delegates are expected to grace the Kwita Izina 2022 as Rwanda celebrate yet another great milestone in mountain gorilla conservation. This will be a great opportunity to get to know more about destination Rwanda. The country has diverse wildlife species including endemics to the region.

About Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are apes with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They are covered with black fur with a silver lining on the back especially for fully grown mountain gorillas. They live in families ranging from 1 to 20 and sometimes more. Each mountain gorilla family is headed by a dominant male gorilla called Silverback.

These gentle giants are vegetarian with their diet mainly comprising of plant vegetation. They prefer to live in the forested mountains and it is where their name mountain gorillas was derived from.

Mountain gorillas are rare and endemic to the Virunga massif that include Volcanoes national park Rwanda and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Being among man’s closest relatives they offer a more personal and relatable experience with a feel of meeting one’s long seen relative.

During this Kwita Izina 2022 ceremony you can be part of the gorilla trekking adventures in volcanoes national park. The park has about 12 habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourist visitation each offering a unique experience.

A trek to the Virunga mountains in Volcanoes national park for mountain gorillas also offers you an opportunity to see other wildlife species in the park. You can see a number of species, different plant vegetation and if lucky you can spot other mammals like forest elephants.

The Gorilla Trekking Experience

This starts early morning with a briefing at the park headquarters at 7:00 am. Here guests going to the forest mountains are briefed about the gorilla trekking rules and regulations. These include ensuring to stay with colleagues in the group, minimising noise on the course of the trek and in the presence of the mountain gorillas, avoiding flash photography as it could irritate the mountain gorillas.

Once you get to the mountain gorillas you are recommended to stay at least 7 meters away from them. They can charge if they feel threatened and given that they way more powerful than an average human being it is always better not to challenge them.

The hike takes a 1 to 6 hours depending on the movement of the mountain gorillas. It is always recommended to take packed lunch because you can not determine where you will encounter the gorillas. Once you get to them, you will be allowed to be in the presence of the gorillas for an hour. Here you get to know more about the mountain gorillas, take photos while keeping the 7 meters.

Other Park Activities for Kwita Izina 2022

Apart from mountain gorillas, Volcanoes national park is home to golden monkeys. During this Kwita Izina 2022 you can also do a golden monkey trek in the park where you will meet golden monkeys other rare primates in the park. Golden monkeys are endemic to the Virunga massif and Volcanoes national park is among the few places where you can see them.

Just like their name, golden monkeys are covered with golden fur. They also live in families of up to 20 individuals. Tracking golden monkeys is a great complementary primate trek to the gorillas and it works well for those with at least 3 days in the park.

Mountain Hiking is another adventure you can engage in while in Volcanoes national park for the Kwita Izina 2022. Mount Karisimbi the highest of the Virunga massif mountains can be hiked in 2 days spending a night in the mountain. Hiking this mountain offers you a chance to see the wildlife starting from the different vegetation types at the different mountain ranges.

Mount Bisoke is also very magnificent to hike and has a crater on its summit. While on the hike you get to have great views of the Virunga massif. You will also see other wildlife especially birds.

The Dian Fossey hike to Karisoke is also recommended. Here you will hike up to where Dian Fossey was buried near her favourite gorilla digit as you get to know more about her conservation works.

Where to Stay

There are a number of accommodation facilities in Volcanoes national park ranging from budget to high end luxury facilities. Since September is also a peak tourist season, a number of lodges are already fully booked and it is better to cross check and book in advance.

For easy accessibility to the park it is better to book the lodges and hotels in close proximity in the park. Incase you have very limited time in Rwanda you can do a day tour from Kigali with a pick up from your Kigali Hotel at 4:30 am. It takes a 3 hours drive from Kigali to the park to be able to reach in time for briefing before going for gorilla trekking.

Incase you are staying in Gisenyi you would need to be picked up at 5:00 am for a transfer to Volcanoes national park.

Gorilla trekking and the different park activities can be done throughout the year. Incase you miss this years Kwita Izina you can still visit Rwanda for these adventures when it is more convenient for you.

You can also visit other leading safari destinations in Rwanda like Nyungwe forest and Akagera national parks. Nyungwe forest is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda and it is home to chimpanzees and many other primates. Here you can do chimpanzee trekking, colobus monkey trekking, guided nature walks and so much more.

Akagera national park on the other hand is home to the big five mammals. It is Rwanda’s only savanna park where one can enjoy games drives, Rhino tracking, boat cruises, birding among others.

Kigali Hosts CHOGM 2022

Rwanda is the host of the commonwealth heads of government meeting CHOGM scheduled from 20th to 25th June this year. Commonwealth is an association of 54 countries most of which are former colonies of Britain. The commonwealth was instituted in the mid 1900’s when a number of British empires started gaining independence from British Rule. It was formally established in 1949 by the CommonWealth foundation that established the member states free and Equal.

Since 1971, leaders from commonwealth countries meet every two years for CHOGM. Each meeting is held by a different member country on a rotational basis with the last one held in the United Kingdom in 2018.  The one happening in Rwanda was supposed to happen in 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID pandemic.

Various leaders from all the Commonwealth countries are expected to be in Kigali for CHOGM. They will hold a series of meetings to discuss policy and how to improve the lives of their citizens.

This years theme is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. This years’ CHOGM was kick started by the Commonwealth Youth Forum that started today and will end on 21st June. This will be followed by the Commonwealth Women’s Forum from 20th to 21st at Kigali Serena Hotel. On Wednesday 22nd June and Thursday there will be ministerial meetings. It will be officially opened on 25th June then followed by executive sessions and the closed on Saturday 26th.

What to do in Rwanda During the CHOGM week

Kigali City tour

Kigali Rwanda’s capital city is very vibrant and the cleanest city on the African continent. The city has a number of attractions ranging from the Art centers, local markets, genocide memorials, Restaurants, craft shops and others. The city can be explored on foot giving one an opportunity to interact with the very hospitable Rwandan citizens.

Kigali city is very green and organized and very safe for a guided walking tour. For those who would like to explore more destinations outside the city center can still do so as there is a lot to see in the land of a thousand hills.

This will be showcasing local Rwandan and international commonwealth fashion. It will feature a number of designers showcasing their works. The fashion week will have a series of activities all aimed at uplifting designers worldwide.

The fashion week will be taking place at different venues and will also feature shop tours plus visiting artisans in the city. This will be one stop center to be as you will get an opportunity to learn about diverse African art and craft industry. With the different art works on display, one will be able to buy some souvenirs.

A visit to Rwanda is not complete without a mountain gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park. The park is located in Northwestern Rwanda just a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital city. Volcanoes national park is home to half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga massif. It has 20 habituated gorilla families that are open for tourism.

Each mountain gorilla family is tracked by 8 tourists a day in an awesome primate once in a lifetime experience. Mountain gorillas are special primates with over 95% DNA similar to humans. Just like humans they live in families headed by a dominant male called silverback. They are predominately vegetarian and feed on plant leaves and bamboo shoots and occasionally on small insects.

The gorilla trekking experience starts with a briefing at the park headquarters where you are briefed about the do’s and don’ts of gorilla trekking. You are then guided in the light bamboo forest amidst sighting of a number of wildlife including birds. You are allowed to stay in the presence of the mountain gorillas for an hour taking photos and getting to know more about them. From here you are led back to the park headquarters for your certificates of participation.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time in Kigali a gorilla trekking tour is doable. You can do a 1 day tour with an early morning (4:30 am) pick up from Kigali. You will then take a 3 hours drive to the park arriving in time for the gorilla trek and later be transferred back to Kigali. For those with more time you can do a 2 or 3 days tour that can include golden monkey trekking.

A safari to Akagera national park is another activity you should not miss while attending GHOGM 2022 in Kigali. Akagera national park is located in eastern Rwanda and its the only savanna national park in Rwanda. It is home to the big five mammals that include Elephants, lions, buffaloes, Rhinos and Leopards. Most of these had been extinct but were recently restored in the park all thanks to the great conservation works.

Akagera National park stands out because of its diverse ecosystem and wildlife species. The big five safari experience here is complemented by sighting of other savanna favorites like the giraffes, Topi’s while on game drives. Rhino tracking is among the newly established activities in Akagera National Park giving one an opportunity of a close encounter of one of the big Five.

A tour to Akagera is doable in 1 day with enough time to explore the park. For more chances of wildlife viewing though it is good to visit for 2 or 3 days. A boat cruise a long Lake Ihema is a must do as you will get to see Nile Crocodiles, hippos and a number of bird species.

As you attend the CHOGM 2022 let’s celebrate our culture, wildlife and heritage and you can a part of the above mentioned experiences. There are many more experiences that Rwanda has to offer. You can also check out Nyungwe forest National park located in the southwestern part. It is home to chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and many other primates.

Remember June is the start of the peak tourist season. You will therefore have to book your accommodation and activities in advance to avoid missing out. For any other information about your other favorite destination in East Africa, you can check on our blog page.

Rwanda is a center of various activities including sports events. The country for example had the Tour du Rwanda cycling event in February. This CHOGM event is yet another big one to be held this year.

Tour Du Rwanda 2022

Tour du Rwanda
Tour du Rwanda. Courtesy Photo

Tour du Rwanda is a cycling race based in Rwanda and of the most famous sporting activity worldwide. The cycling competition in Rwanda was started around 1988 and has over the years evolved into an internationally recognised competition. Tour du Rwanda is organised by the Rwanda cycling federation and its success saw its inclusion by the Union Cycliste Internationale in their continental circuits.

Since 2009, tour du Rwanda has been part of the Union Cycliste Internationale Africa tour rated as category 2.1. The Union Cycliste Internationale organises a series of road bicycle racing competitions worldwide to expand cycling.

The competition is ongoing in Rwanda having starting on 20th February. It will end on 27th February with the champions being crowned. 19 teams were selected and are participating in this years tournament. Majority of the cycling teams are from the African continent however teams from other continents are part of it. Some of these are from Europe’s famous cycling competitions like Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana, the Giro d’Italia among others.

The routing is a bit challenging given the hilly terrain of the land of a thousand hills. Nevertheless, Rwanda is still a very beautiful country with perfect weather and the participants will still have a great time.

Rwanda has over the years not only become a leading tourist destination but also an international hub for different sporting activities. The country has a number of tourist attractions and one can engage in a number of activities as below.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Rwanda is a leading mountain gorilla trekking destination and 1 of the 3 countries with Mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are endangered apes that live in the forested mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and the Virunga massif.

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda live in Volcanoes National park located just a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital. The park is home to about 20 habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourism visitation.

Gorilla trekking offers a once in a lifetime experiences as people get to meet their wild relatives. The tour du Rwanda routing features Musanze near Volcanoes National park and if in Rwanda for the cycling expedition you can add gorilla trekking on your bucket list adventures.

Rwanda is a primates haven with not only mountain gorillas but chimpanzees as well. The chimpanzees however live in the Nyungwe forest National park located in the southwestern part of the country.

Nyungwe forest is one of Africa’s oldest forests having survived the Ice age and its a home to many other wildlife species. Chimpanzee trekking is the most famous activity here and very rewarding as you meet man’s closest primates.

While on a visit to Nyungwe you can engage in other primate trekking adventures featuring colobus monkey trekking. A canopy walk, guided nature walks, birding adventures are among other wildlife activities to consider while on a visit to Nyungwe.

For Savanna wildlife experiences Akagera national park would be an ideal destination. Here you can engage in a number of activities including game drives, ballon safari, boat cruise among others.

The cycling competition is not only an opportunity to show case potential of the cyclist the beauty of Rwanda. The country is also expected to host the GHOGM event in June and many heads of state will attend. Follow us for more updates.

Kwita Izina 2021 – 24 Baby Gorillas to be named

Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. Gorilla Tracking, Kwita Izina 2021
Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Photo by Moses Nezehose

Kwita Izina 2021 will be held on 24th September marking the annual baby gorilla naming ceremony. The mountain gorilla naming ceremony was started by the Rwandan government to improve on mountain gorilla conservation. The Kwita Izina 2021 this time around sides with the World Gorilla Day Celebration and will be a very remarkable event.

24 baby mountain gorillas are expected to be named this year by various honored guests. Gorilla tourism in Rwanda is now fully open, but Kwita Izina 2021 will still be held virtually just like last year. All this is aimed at protecting the rare primates and a way of making it easy for those who cant visit Rwanda because of the travel restrictions. 

The honored guests who will name the gorillas are yet to be revealed but we can’t wait to know them. 9 of the baby gorillas to be named were born in families protected by the Dian Fossey fund. There has been a lot of efforts towards mountain gorilla conservation and the increase in births is a sign of improvement.

Over the years, the mountain gorilla population in Volcanoes National Park has kept on increasing steadily. With more efforts on conservation and habitat protection, there is hope that population will increase even more.

The Kwita Izina 2021 is a great timing for tourism as the sector is slowly recovering from the COVID19 slump.

Mountain gorillas are apes that live in the forested mountains of East and Central Africa. They live in families led by a dominant male mountain gorilla commonly known as Silverback.

Gorillas are vegetarian and their diet is usually comprised of plant leaves and bamboo shoots. They have over 95% DNA similar to humans are therefore among man’s closest primate species.

If you desire to meet these rare primates in their most preferred habitats then gorilla trekking would be the ideal activity to do. There are 12 mountain gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park open to tourist visitation. The gorilla trek starts with a briefing at the Park headquarters and then tourists are led to the forested mountains.

Gorilla Trekking takes a 2 to 6 hours hike or more and once you get to the gorillas you are allowed to spend 1 hour up-close keeping a 7 meters distance. Here you get to know more the mountain gorillas, take photos and enjoy the moments.

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda has the highest gorilla population in the Virunga Massif. This makes it one of the best mountain gorilla trekking destinations in the region. Visit Rwanda this September and be apart of the Kwita Izina 2021 and  part of the unforgettable gorilla trekking experiences.

Apart from the gorilla naming ceremony, you can also join other Rwanda Safaris including Birding, Chimpanzee Trekking, and golden monkey trekking among others.

Rwanda Tours Not to Miss This Festive Season

Rwanda is currently many peoples dream destination especially those interested in Rwanda tours and classic safari experiences. The country is popularly known as the land of a thousand hills because of the many hills and mountains Rwanda has.

In terms of nature, Rwanda is highly gifted with diverse wildlife species making Rwanda tours remarkable. Over the years the country has attracted tourists from all walks of life including world’s most celebrated personalities.

As December begins, the festive season also sets in and many are looking for where to spend their holidays. Lets explore nature and wildlife attractions you must not miss while on Rwanda tours this December.

Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park located in the northwestern part of the country is home to the endangered mountain gorillas. The park is part of the Virunga massif and has half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga massif area.

Mountain gorillas are apes with about 95% DNA similar to humans making then unique wild animals. On the entire planet they only live in forested mountains in sub saharan Africa. Rwanda tours featuring gorilla tracking are very remarkable offering once in a life time primate safari experiences.

Gorilla tracking tours are on a high demand and are most sold tour packages in Rwanda. You should therefore ensure to buy your gorilla permits in Advance. The good news for all African citizens is that gorilla permits were discounted from USD 1500 to USD 500 therefore ensure to add this experience on your bucket list this December.

Mountain Gorilla Volcanoes national Park. Rwanda Tours
Mountain Gorilla Volcanoes national Park Rwanda. Photo by Lionel Egger

Apart from Mountain gorillas, Volcanoes national park Rwanda also has golden monkeys that are primates endemic to the Virunga Massif. Just like their names, golden monkeys are covered with blackish and golden fur that perfectly blend making them beautiful primates to watch.

Golden Monkeys live in groups of up to 30 individuals or more and a pure vegetarian mostly feeding on bamboo shoots, leaves and wild fruits. They are impressive primates to watch in their most preferred habitats.

Permits for golden monkey tracking cost USD 100 per person which is a very fair price. While on Rwanda tours this December, add golden monkey tracking on your itinerary for exclusive primates experiences.

Golden Monkey in Volcanoes National Park. Rwanda Tours
Golden Monkey in Volcanoes National Park. Photo by Jean Marie Wild
Chimpanzee Tracking Tours

Southwest of Rwanda is Nyungwe forest one of Africa’s oldest forests and home to chimpanzees. Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest in Nyungwe national park offers great primate tracking experiences as you hike through the true African jungle.

There are several habituated chimpanzee families in Nyungwe that are open for tourist visitation. Chimpanzees tracking here introduces you to other hidden wildlife treasure in the park especially birds and small insects and reptiles.

Nyungwe national park is less crowded thereby offering exclusive experiences a perfect way to end the year. Adjacent to the park are several tea plantations where you can have a tea plantation tour after chimpanzee tracking.

Chimpanzee in Nyungwe National Park Rwanda
Chimpanzee in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Photo by Jonathan Gregson
Big Five Savanna Tours

These are possible on the only Savannah national park Rwanda has that is Akagera national park. This beautiful savanna park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda and has diverse savanna wildlife species.

Africa’s Savanna big five species in Akagera include lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and Rhinos. Many of these had gone extinct because of poaching and land encroachment but they were reintroduced in the park. Rwanda tours featuring the big five mammals offer classic African safari experiences.

Other notable savanna wildlife species in Akagera national park include waterbucks, hippos, Nile crocodiles, Topis, giraffes and many bird species. Many of these are seen while on safari game drives on the different trails the park has. Akagera national park can be visited anytime of the year and December is among the best months for a safari there.

Hippopotamus Akagera National Park
Hippos in Akagera National Park. Photo by Eric Manzi

A local Guide to Rwanda The Land of A thousand Hills

Rwanda popularly known as the land of a thousand hills is located in East Africa. Its one of the East African countries that were affected by civil war in the 1980’s. Many innocent local Rwandan people lost their lives in the famous Rwandan genocide and many were resettled.

A few decades after the deadly civil war, the country has greatly recovered and economically developed. This great transformation is attributed to hard work, forgiveness and reconciliation. Because of that Rwanda, has over the years become among East Africa’s best tourist destination.

Below is a local guide to this beautiful land of a thousand hills featuring what you Must not miss.

Kigali City-Land of A thousand Hills
Kigali City. Courtesy Photo

Kigali is Rwanda’s largest and capital city strategically located in the rolling thousand hills. Kigali is a center for economic and vibrant city life one place you Must explore while in Rwanda.

The City’s main attractions include the Kigali genocide memorial where you get to know about the Rwandan genocide. About 250,000 victims of the genocide were buried here and there is a wall of names of genocide victims. A tour to this memorial makes one appreciate the journey Rwanda has been through.

You can visit the Kandt House Museum the best place to learn about Rwandan history before and after colonial era. Kandt House was a home for Rwanda’s first colonial governor Richard Kandt who founded Kigali city in 1908.

While in Kigali you can also visit the local markets and get to interact with local Rwandan People. You can easily connect to places and can even have a Kigali walking tour as the city is very safe.

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda; Virunga Volcanoes
Virunga Mountains in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Photo by Eric Manzi

Volcanoes National park is a true definition of the land of a thousand hills. The park is located in the northwestern part of the country just a 3 hours drive from Kigali. Volcanoes national park has 5 of the Virunga massif mountains that are Mount Karisimbi, Muhabura, Bisoke, Sabyinyo & Gahinga.

These Volcanic mountains are covered with montane vegetation a combination of which is a haven for the rare mountain gorillas. Volcanoes national park is home to half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga massif. It is their an ultimate gorilla trekking destination for interested in meeting these primates.

With Mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, birds and other wildlife, volcanoes national park is Rwanda’s prime wildlife destination. The park can be accessed by road and can be visited anytime of the year.

3. Gisenyi

Gisenyi Beach. Visit East Africa
Gisenyi Beach along Lake Kivu. Photo by Jule Lumma

This beautiful town is situated in western Rwanda along the shores of Lake Kivu. Gisenyi neighbors Goma, DRC’s eastern town and its a gateway for those interested in wildlife adventures in Eastern Congo.

Given that Gisenyi is along Lake Kivu, its has beautiful beaches where one can relax sunbathing and enjoying Rwanda’s weather. While here you can engage in water sport activities like snorkeling, boat cruise with singing fishermen and Kayaking.

There are various tea & plantations here and one can visit one to learn about tea and coffee growing. From the plantations you can also visit the hot springs as you interact with the Rwandan people.

Nyungwe National Park Rwanda. Land of A thousand Hills
Tropical Rain-forest in Nyungwe. Courtesy Photo

A visit to the land of a thousand hills is usually incomplete without Nyungwe forest. The vast forest is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda covering a land area of 970 square kilometres.

Nyungwe forest is among East Africa’s oldest forests with rain-forests, grassland, swamp, bog and bamboo vegetation. These are homes to wildlife species including 13 primate species, 85 mammals, 275 birds, 38 reptile and 32 amphibian species.

The forest was gazetted into a national park and has Rwanda’s highest chimpanzee population. Chimpanzee tracking is therefore the leading wildlife activity in the park plus other primate treks, nature walks and canopy walk.

Adjacent to Nyungwe forest are vast tea plantations that you can visit as you enjoy the breeze from the forest. Here you interact with the local people as you to know more about their ways of life.
Rwanda is among the regions tourist destinations and when you Visit East Africa don’t miss out on the above.

Kwita Izina Baby Gorilla Naming Ceremony to Be Held Virtually This Year

Kwita Izina. Discounted Mountain Gorilla Permits
Infant Gorilla in Volcanoes NP Rwanda. Photo by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Kwita Izina is a baby mountain gorilla naming ceremony that’s held every year in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. During this ceremony, infant gorillas born in the past year are named just like the Rwandan human naming traditional ceremony.

Kwita Izina is a conservation avenue that helps in keeping track and monitoring all the newly born mountain gorillas. It officially started in 2005 and this they will be marking 15 years of gorilla naming.

Before Kwita Izina was officially started, baby mountain gorillas would be named by the park ranger guides and researchers. Once it was officially opened, other conservation activities and sensitisation process were introduced. The ceremony therefore usually last a couple of days where conservation presentations are made as well as exhibitions.

During the Kwita Izina ceremony, baby mountain gorillas are given Kinyarwanda names that usually have meaning in the local Kinyarwanda language. The meaning of the name is often attributed to gorilla behavior or circumstances under which they were born.

In this years naming ceremony, 24 baby gorillas are expected to be named but virtually. This is to avoid spreading of COVID-19 disease that has affected economies worldwide bringing in the need for social distancing. For the past 14 years, the Kwita Izina ceremony would attract a number of participants numbering to a thousands. These included conservation and mountain gorilla enthusiasts and world’s famous celebrities.

Baby Gorillas to be Named

There are 24 baby gorillas that were born in the past year and will be named in this years ceremony. Some of them include the following;

Isaro infant gorilla who was born on 8th August 2019 in the Musilikale’s gorilla group. The baby’s mother Isaro joined the Musilikale group in 2017 and the whole gorilla family has 22 gorilla individuals. 10 of these are juvenile and infant gorillas and therefore this is a good group for those who are interested in baby gorillas.

Faida infant gorilla was born in the Kuryama gorilla family around August 2019. The baby’s mother is called Faida and she joined this gorilla family in 2018.

Ubufatanye infant who was born in May 2020 also in the Musilikale gorilla family. The mother is just 16 years and has two other young gorillas at the ages of 5 and 3 years.

Kanama infant gorilla was born around October 2019 also to the Kuryama gorilla family and his mother also moved to this gorilla family.

Pasika infant who was born in July 2019 in the Mafunzo family. He is a male infant gorillas and his mother Pasika joined this gorilla family in 2018.

Mahirwe infant gorilla was born to Mahirwe a female gorilla around September 2019.

Other baby gorillas to be named include Akaramata infant gorilla born around April 2019 in the Pablo gorilla group.

Mudakama infant gorilla born around September 2019 to Mudakama female gorilla who is 33 years old.

There have been many other births and the names will be revealed in the Kwita Izina Ceremony on 24th September 2020.

Rwanda Discounted Mountain Gorilla Permits

Mountain Gorilla. Rwanda Safari Journeys
Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Photo By Eric Manzi

Information from Kigali indicate that Rwanda Development Board announced discounted mountain gorilla permits for the post lock-down period. This is aimed at boosting local and regional tourism after several months of lock-downs where international flights were halted.

Before the COVID19 outbreak, tourism in Rwanda was normal and gorilla permits costed $1500 per person for all tourists. Now East African community citizens including the local Rwandans can be able to track mountain gorillas at only $200.  Foreign Residents in Rwanda can track gorillas at $500 if they present a valid work permit or resident ID.

Discounted Mountain gorilla permits is a great move that has given an opportunity to local Rwandans to track gorillas. There is an increase in the local tourists visiting Volcanoes National Park Rwanda specifically for Mountain Gorilla trekking.

Note that the discounted mountain gorilla permits offer is only valid until 31st December 2020.

New International Arrival Regulations

Kigali international airport is now open for international tourists who are required to present COVID19 negative results. These must tested not later than 72 hours before their flight to Rwanda from a credible health facility.

On arrival, tourists are further subjected to another COVID19 test with results presented within 24 hours. Here as they wait from a designated hotel before engaging in any tourist activities in the country. All these are safety measures aimed at ensuring the safety of the tourists and local Rwandan community

For international travellers, mountain gorilla permits still cost $1500 per person.  To avoid any disturbances, fill personal locator form because if you don’t, you will not be allowed on flight.

About Mountain Gorilla Tracking

Note that mountain gorilla trekking adventures can only be taken by individuals that are 15 years and above. Due to high demand of gorilla tours, ensure to book gorilla permits in advance as they easily get fully booked.

On the day of gorilla tracking, report at Volcanoes national park headquarters for a briefing. This is done by ranger guides who communicate rules and regulations to follow while in the forested mountains. After briefing, you are led to the forest to start your mountain gorilla trek.

Mountain gorilla tracking takes 1 to 6 hours depending on the movement of the gorilla family you are after. Once you get to the gorillas, you will be allowed to be in their presence for one hour.  You will get to know more about gorillas, taking photos and getting more information about the primates ecosystem.

Kigali International Airport Rwanda Opens Up for Commercial Flights

RwandAir Cabin Crew. Kigali International Airport
RwandAir cabin crew wearing Personal Protective Equipment

Rwanda has finally opened Kigali international Airport for commercial flights after over 4 months of lock-down. Rwanda closed all its borders on 20th March 2019 due to on going Corona virus disease pandemic. The Virus was spreading worldwide prompting all governments to shut down all the economies.

Individuals allowed to fly into the country have been Rwandan citizens and residents repatriated from countries they had been stranded. Cargo has also been allowed into the country as this involves transportation of essential goods and supplies needed in the country.

As Corona Virus cases kept on increasing, government became more strict to prevent spread of the deadly disease.  The Ministry of Health in Rwanda came up with safety guidelines to ensure protection of everyone in Rwanda. After these guidelines were proved to guarantee safety, Rwanda started opening up tourism slowly starting with a few tourist activities.

Safety Guidelines to be followed

Tourism activities were opened in June and at that time international travelers were allowed if they came by charter flights. Since few people travel by charter, the Ministry of Health developed more guidelines to allow commercial international flights to resume.  It was then decided that Kigali International Airport would take in commercial flights from 1st August 2020.

Guidelines to follow by travelers include showing negative COVID-19 test results taken within 72 hours of arrival in Rwanda.  Ensure to fill a  passenger Location form prior arrival to Kigali International Airport. On arrival one is required to take another test and stay 24 hours in designated hotels waiting for the results.

Accommodation at designated hotels is at own cost and you will be allowed on tour if you test Negative. 

Note that there are measures to be followed including curfew between 21:00 to 05:00 hours Rwanda Local time. These measures change depending on the situation at hand therefore travelers to Rwanda should bear that in mind.  These measures could be adjusted at a short notice especially for those travelers coming from countries highly affected by COVID19.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

You will still observe the Standard Operation Procedures of social distancing, use of masks, hand sanitizers, and avoiding crowds. This is to ensure the safety of tourists and local Rwandan people in the country who have been enduring lockdown.

Always remember to wash your hands with soap and clean water or use a hand sanitizer to keep clean. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue right away. Report or call emergency services in case you experience symptoms like difficulty in breathing, high fevers, coughs, or any respiratory diseases.

Rwanda is home to wildlife species including mountain gorillas and one of the best places to meet these primates. You can do a Rwanda gorilla tour starting from a 1 Day Gorilla Tour and More. There are Savanna wildlife species in Akagera national park where you can enjoy game drives and scenic views. Stay safe if you want to enjoy your visit to this beautiful country during these coronavirus disease times. Other countries including Uganda issued New COVID-19 Guidelines. Slowly Tourism will pick up again.