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Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda

Rwanda is one of the few places to see wild mountain gorillas.

Rwanda

Rwanda safaris and holidays

To come face to face with a mountain gorilla is one of the most compelling natural experiences on earth.

Rwanda

Roaming the thick forests of Volcanoes National Park, these gentle, communicative animals are without doubt Rwanda’s greatest attraction. With their complex personalities and extraordinary depths of understanding and emotion, they leave a lasting impression on every human visitor.

As you watch a lounging silverback tolerating the toddlers tumbling around him, or a nursing mother adjusting the weight of her infant and peering up in bemusement through the trees at a high-altitude jet, they seem to be persons of another kind.

While the gorillas are an absolute must-do, the quilt-like “Land of a Thousand Hills” has much more besides. Head south-west on switchback roads to track chimpanzees and watch stunning birdlife in the verdant cloudforests of Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Swim or kayak in the clear, warm waters of Lake Kivu, with its Mediterranean-like shoreline. Or venture east to the archetypal savannahs and lakes of Akagera National Park where the “big five” can all be seen, along with (if you’re extremely lucky) the elusive shoebill stork.

Rwanda came to the world’s attention during the 1994 genocide. Much of the healing process since has comes from the way this remarkable country has coped with the tragedy – from neighbourhood courts reconciling survivors with perpetrators to numerous monuments and museums, including Kigali’s poignant Genocide Memorial.

Combined with the many opportunities you’ll have to discuss the country’s past and present with your driver-guide and other hosts, the memorial leaves an indelible impression.

Rwanda’s safari areas & key destinations

Volcanoes National Park in the north-west of the country is the most famous of Rwanda’s parks, renowned for its resident mountain gorillas. Not surprisingly, it is also the place that most people come to on holiday: Rwanda’s gorilla trekking is its biggest attraction.

Less well-known holiday options are Akagera National Park on its eastern border and Nyungwe Forest National Park in the south.

The only park with a savannah environment in Rwanda which can offer more “traditional" 4WD safaris is Akagera, which has good wildlife and opportunities to view it, albeit not on the scale of the parks in Kenya or Tanzania. But Akagera’s scenery is beautiful – it could be described as Rwanda’s Lake District – and it’s worth visiting for that alone. In stark contrast, Nyungwe features dense cloudforest, offering interesting hiking trails, birdwatching and primate spotting.

Rwanda’s national parks are easily accessible by road, so a circuit of all three, perhaps including the beautiful shore of Lake Kivu and the capital, Kigali, can make a fascinating and diverse holiday.


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Volcanoes

8 places to stay

Volcanoes National Park is home to more than half the world's mountain gorillas – a handful of family groups moving gently through the high forests. It's the best place in Africa to meet them.

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Kigali

6 places to stay

Kigali is Rwanda's attractive capital, and invariably features on Expert Africa road tours as an overnight stop. Stays invariably include a visit to the poignant Genocide Memorial.

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Lake Kivu

5 places to stay

The Rwandan side of Lake Kivu is a picturesque lakeshore region with some comfortable lodges. The new lakeside road weaves above the lake through eucalyptus and banana groves.

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Akagera

3 places to stay

Scenic Akagera covers 1,100km² of grasslands, lakes, swamps and woodlands and is home to the so-called Big Five as well as many other mammals and hundreds of species of birds.

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Nyungwe Forest

2 places to stay

Nyungwe Forest National Park is the largest swathe of tropical montane forest in East Africa, and home to a bewildering range of flora and fauna, including 13 species of primates.

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Gishwati-Mukura

1 places to stay

This new national park connects the Gishwati and Mukura forests in western Rwanda and aims to provide first-class forest birding and eventually chimpanzee-viewing.

Our best wildlife holidays in Rwanda

If the focus of your trip to Rwanda is exclusively gorilla trekking, you can accomplish this in just a few days. However, Rwanda has much more to offer, so a longer trip would allow you to visit parks such as Nyungwe Forest and Akagera. Or consider combining the country with one of the neighbouring wildlife destinations.

The suggestions below have a range of durations, each incorporating all-inclusive safari lodges, excellent guiding and gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Longer trips take in a suggested circuit of this beautiful country, while still others take you from Rwanda to Tanzania or Kenya, or – for the truly adventurous – on an epic “highlights of Africa” trip.

As all our trips are tailor-made, these are just ideas. Whatever your interests – whether canoeing on Lake Kivu, tracking chimpanzees or spotting the “big five” – take a look, then give us a call and let us help you create your dream trip to Rwanda.


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Golden Monkey Safari

12 days • 5 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

Combine four key areas of Rwanda on this excellent-value trip, for a true wildlife and cultural experience. The perfect itinerary for those who want to see all the highlights of Rwanda.

US$9,710 - US$11,270 per person

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Mona Monkey Safari

9 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

This example of a luxury holiday explores the wildlife of Nyungwe Forest, the scenic shores of Lake Kivu and the mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park, all accompanied by a private guide and vehicle.

US$12,160 - US$17,600 per person

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L'Hoest's Monkey Safari

7 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

Meet three iconic primates – gorillas, chimps and golden monkeys – and explore Rwanda's fascinating culture on this excellent value privately guided adventure.

US$5,570 - US$6,320 per person

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Gorillas and Serengeti Safari

11 days • 4 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KILIMANJARO AIRPORT

Combine three iconic experiences – mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and the Serengeti plains and awe-inspiring Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.

US$12,620 - US$14,390 per person

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Gorillas and Maasai Mara Safari

9 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

This trip combines two of Africa's most unforgettable wildlife experiences – Rwanda's mountain gorillas and Kenya's Maasai Mara.

US$11,260 - US$14,090 per person

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Mountain Gorilla Safari

5 days • 2 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

Staying in great-value lodges, with a private driver-guide and 4WD, this adventure includes two treks to get up close with groups of mountain gorillas.

US$5,830 - US$6,120 per person

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Gorillas and Migration Safari

9 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KILIMANJARO AIRPORT

This luxury safari combines two iconic wildlife experiences: trekking to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, then flying to the northern Serengeti in search of the wildebeest migration and spectacular river crossings.

US$17,070 - US$23,410 per person

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The Highlights of Africa

17 days • 7 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

An epic adventure taking in some of Africa’s most incredible sights and wildlife experiences, from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, the Maasai Mara and an encounter with mountain gorillas.

US$14,310 - US$18,170 per person

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Silverback Gorilla Safari

4 days • 1 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

Fly into Rwanda and you can be trekking to meet a family of mountain gorillas the next morning. An itinerary like this could easily be combined with a safari in Kenya or Tanzania.

US$10,170 - US$13,040 per person

Our travellers' most recent reviews of Rwanda holidays

Whenever our travellers return from their trips to Rwanda, and elsewhere, we ask for their feedback; their honest reviews are integral to the way we work.

Not only do they help us and other travellers to plan their own trips, they also help us to keep fully up to date. They’re also appreciated by those working in Rwanda, who value feedback that is guaranteed to be genuine.

All of our Rwanda holiday reviews are published in full, without us editing them. See all 171 reviews here, or click on a card below to read one of our most recent reviews in full.


99%
171 reviews since August 2007
Excellent
162
Good
8
Average
1
Poor
0
Terrible
0
The D Family from France

Arrived 28 Jan 2024, 11 nights

"Fantastic Jan 2024 trip"

"Outstanding, unforgettable trip combining Kenyan plains and Rwandan rainforest …" Read The D Family’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

FamilyB from Los Altos

Arrived 23 Dec 2023, 14 nights

"My Dec 2023 trip"

"This was the best family vacation we’ve ever taken. …" Read FamilyB’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

A&L Polo from USA

Arrived 18 Dec 2023, 20 nights

"My Dec 2023 trip"

"We didn’t have to worry about anything. It was wonderful. Thanks a lot!!! …" Read A&L Polo’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Gina Dai from NYC

Arrived 6 Oct 2023, 11 nights

"My Oct 2023 trip"

"This trip is by far my favorite trip I've ever taken! …" Read Gina Dai’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Kris from Arizona

Arrived 14 Oct 2023, 10 nights

"My Oct 2023 trip"

"I couldn't have asked for a better experience!!! …" Read Kris’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

The Rileys from Cincinnati

Arrived 15 Jul 2023, 19 nights

"Africa - Our Long-Awaited Adventure - July 2023"

"All of the details were what we'd so painstakingly planned except better …" Read The Rileys’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr & Mrs R from California

Arrived 15 Jul 2023, 18 nights

"My Jul 2023 trip"

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr S. from Albuquerque

Arrived 21 Jul 2023, 7 nights

"My Jul 2023 trip"

"Very enjoyable. …" Read Mr S.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr & Mrs A from London

Arrived 7 Jul 2023, 11 nights

"My Jul 2023 trip"

"Very happy with the service received …" Read Mr & Mrs A’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Lola from Canada

Arrived 11 Jan 2023, 8 nights

"My Jan 2023 trip"

"Amazing trip! I would highly recommend. …" Read Lola’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

See all Rwanda reviews

Our travellers' wildlife sightings across Rwanda

Rwanda is renowned for its wildlife, above all the primates. Whenever our travellers set off on a safari to this extraordinary country, we ask them to consider keeping a record of their sightings of key species, from mountain gorillas and chimpanzees to lion and to black rhino.

For many travellers, this adds another layer of interest to their trip, and in turn their information helps us to build up a unique picture of where and when you are likely to find Rwanda’s key wildlife species: citizen science in action. Read how this survey works.

For more detail on what you’re likely to spot from individual camps and lodges, see our interactive map showing the best locations for key wildlife species in Rwanda.


Chimpanzee

100% success

Giraffe

100% success

Hippo

100% success

Mountain Gorilla

100% success

Zebra

100% success

White Rhino

100% success

Lion

80% success

Eland

80% success

Leopard

60% success

Roan antelope

50% success

Black Rhino

40% success

Buffalo

39% success

Elephant

16% success

Spotted Hyena

10% success

Pangolin

0% success

Aardvark

0% success

Sable antelope

0% success

Sitatunga

0% success

Where to find Rwanda’s key wildlife species

Every wildlife sighting report from one of our travellers enhances our understanding of the best places and times for sighting the country’s main animal species.

You can find these results on our website – on our reviews of individual camps and reserves, on our dedicated wildlife pages, on our maps and on our individual holiday pages.

Whether your primary interest is mountain gorillas, or you’d love the thrill of spotting a giraffe in Rwanda, take a look at our data to work out the best places for seeing them amidst the country’s varied wildlife.

For a map of the best locations to see a given species, click on a card:


Buffalo

Buffalo

Syncerus caffer

One of the ‘Big Five’, buffalo earned a fearsome reputation in hunters’ tales. By contrast, big herds of these sociable bovids are placid, but mount formidable defences against predators.

83% SUCCESS

2,504 sightings from 3,021 observations

Where to see buffalo in Rwanda

Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee

Pan troglodytes

The chimpanzee is our closest living relative. This highly intelligent great ape is a forest animal with a sophisticated social life. Any encounter in the wild is a memorable experience.

100% SUCCESS

28 sightings from 28 observations

Where to see chimpanzee in Rwanda

Elephant

Elephant

Loxodonta africana

By far the biggest of the so-called Big Five – indeed, the largest land animal on the planet – the elephant shapes the very landscape it inhabits and is a defining presence on any safari.

91% SUCCESS

3,537 sightings from 3,891 observations

Where to see elephant in Rwanda

Giraffe

Giraffe

Giraffa camelopardalis

The world’s tallest land mammal, giraffes are herbivores which have evolved many unique adaptations. Their iconic outlines tower above the bush in many of Africa’s wildlife areas.

86% SUCCESS

3,413 sightings from 3,953 observations

Where to see giraffe in Rwanda

Hippo

Hippo

Hippopotamus amphibius

The territorial calls of the hippo create a signature soundtrack to Africa’s rivers & wetlands. Despite an endearing smile, this aquatic herbivore has a notoriously aggressive disposition.

89% SUCCESS

2,591 sightings from 2,910 observations

Where to see hippo in Rwanda

Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyena

Crocuta crocuta

The spotted hyena may be thought of as ‘ugly’ and ‘cowardly’. In fact, this versatile and intelligent carnivore is one of Africa’s most fascinating and warrants attention on any safari.

55% SUCCESS

2,127 sightings from 3,841 observations

Where to see spotted hyena in Rwanda

Leopard

Leopard

Panthera pardus

The most numerous of Africa’s big cats, leopard occur across many habitats, from wild tracts to populated areas. Their grace and their elusive nature make them a unique safari drawcard.

47% SUCCESS

1,889 sightings from 4,029 observations

Where to see leopard in Rwanda

Lion

Lion

Panthera leo

Lions are at the top of the food chain and also most safari wish-lists, but with their numbers falling fast, any encounter with these majestic apex predators always feels like a privilege.

81% SUCCESS

2,964 sightings from 3,641 observations

Where to see lion in Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla

Mountain Gorilla

Gorilla beringei

The world’s most impressive primate, the mountain gorilla inhabits a handful of locations in Africa’s equatorial cloud forests, where guided treks offer an intense wildlife experience.

100% SUCCESS

42 sightings from 42 observations

Where to see mountain gorilla in Rwanda

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

Diceros bicornis

The black rhino is the smaller and rarer of Africa’s two rhino species but has the more fearsome reputation. Shy and heavily persecuted, it tends to stick to cover.

31% SUCCESS

615 sightings from 1,995 observations

Where to see black rhino in Rwanda

Pangolin

Pangolin

Smutsia sp.

Pangolins appear to be more pine cone than animal in their unique armoury of scales. These nocturnal, ant-eating oddities are not only highly elusive but also increasingly rare.

2% SUCCESS

54 sightings from 3,238 observations

Where to see pangolin in Rwanda

Aardvark

Aardvark

Orycteropus afer

The aardvark is one of Africa’s most bizarre and enigmatic animals. A shy, nocturnal termite-eater, signs of its presence may be scattered about the bush whilst sightings remain elusive.

2% SUCCESS

67 sightings from 3,241 observations

Where to see aardvark in Rwanda

Eland

Eland

Taurotragus oryx

Africa’s largest antelope, eland are culturally important from prehistoric rock art to modern game farms. Though widespread, they are also shy so sightings are uncommon and often fleeting.

49% SUCCESS

1,438 sightings from 2,916 observations

Where to see eland in Rwanda

Zebra

Zebra

Equus sp.

The zebra is a quintessential African animal: the horse in stripy pyjamas at the end of every child’s A–Z. There are three species, of which the plains zebra is much the most common.

84% SUCCESS

3,723 sightings from 4,412 observations

Where to see zebra in Rwanda

Roan antelope

Roan antelope

Hippotragus equinus

Africa’s second largest antelope and one of its most handsome, with a powerful build and distinctive markings, roan are wary of people, but renowned for their bravery against predators.

23% SUCCESS

458 sightings from 1,965 observations

Where to see roan antelope in Rwanda

Sable antelope

Sable antelope

Hippotragus niger

Perhaps Africa’s most beautiful antelope, sable are renowned for their combative nature, even holding off lions. Shy and restricted in range, sightings of sable are always special.

22% SUCCESS

436 sightings from 1,954 observations

Where to see sable antelope in Rwanda

Sitatunga

Sitatunga

Tragelaphus spekii

The sitatunga is the most aquatic of Africa’s antelopes and specially adapted to its swampy habitats. Though widespread across Africa, only a handful of places offer reliable sightings.

19% SUCCESS

60 sightings from 317 observations

Where to see sitatunga in Rwanda

White Rhino

White Rhino

Ceratotherium simum

The white rhino is the largest and most numerous of the world’s five rhinoceros species. They are larger, easier to see and generally more approachable than the black rhino.

44% SUCCESS

481 sightings from 1,090 observations

Where to see white rhino in Rwanda

When to see gorillas & safari in Rwanda

A holiday in Rwanda is possible all year, but the most popular times to travel are in the long dry season, from June to September, and the shorter dry season around December to February.

With the trails relatively dry, these can be the best months for gorilla trekking, but you’ll need to plan your holiday well ahead to secure permits – especially around the busiest season, between July and September.

Rwanda’s main rainy season is from March to May, with shorter rains in October and November. During these times, slippery trails can make gorilla trekking more challenging, but the landscape is lush and green, and it’s an excellent time for birdwatching.

To find out more, see Rwanda’s weather and climate information.


Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Rwanda in January

January falls into the shorter dry season in Rwanda and conditions can be good, however expect some showers during your stay. Christmas and New Year can be a very popular time of year to travel and lodges book up early. The high demand and favourable conditions lead to high prices for the more luxurious lodges.

Travellers spending at least two nights in another of Rwanda’s national parks, in addition to the Volcanoes National Park, can take advantage of lower prices for one gorilla permit. This makes it great-value to do a longer trip to Rwanda, taking time to explore Nyungwe Forest and Akagera National Park. January can be fantastic for birding too, with plenty of migrant species found in the forests.

  • Generally good weather although with some rainy spells.
  • Popular time of year to travel, particularly around New Year.
  • Advance booking advised, particularly for high-end trips.
  • Good for birding with migrant species present.
  • Special offers are great for exploring the other national parks.

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in January

Rwanda in February

As February progresses the likelihood of more rain increases as Rwanda heads towards the heavy rains in March and April. This can still be a good time of year to visit, particularly at the start of the month, and you are a likely to experience a mix of dry days and rainy spells. Your days are likely to be warm, however as with the rest of the year nights can be cold. This is particularly true of the Volcanoes National Park which is at higher altitude.

February can be a good time of year to combine gorilla trekking in Rwanda with seeing the wildebeest migration in Tanzania as the vast herds gather in February on the southern Serengeti plains for the calving season.

  • Transitional month, with the chance of rain increasing towards March.
  • Warm days and cold nights, particularly in Volcanoes NP.
  • High-end lodges are expensive, although demand is lower.
  • Migrant birds present with great birding to be had.
  • Good time of year to combine with the wildebeest migration.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in February

Rwanda in March

The heavy rains typically start in March, often continuing through to early May. This is generally not a great time to visit Rwanda and conditions are likely to be fairly wet and muddy underfoot. Many people still visit at this time, taking advantage of lower prices at the more luxurious lodges and good availability of gorilla permits. The rain clears the air and it is likely to be far less hazy at this time, making it very good for photography.

The green season can be particularly good for bird watching with many migrant species visiting Rwanda at this time. This can also be a good time of year for chimpanzee trekking, as their food is plentiful in March and troops are not likely to travel as far.

  • Heavy rains make gorilla trekking conditions not ideal.
  • Lower prices and good availability for gorilla permits.
  • Good for bird watching with plenty of migrant species present.
  • Typically shorter distances to walk for chimpanzee trekking.

Our view

This is not a great time to visit

Weather in March

Rwanda in April

April is typically one of the wettest months in Rwanda, with an average rainfall of around 150mm. It is still possible to visit during April, however be prepared for heavy rain and muddy conditions in the mountains. April is the low season for high-end lodges and prices can be significantly cheaper at this time.

Comparatively few people choose to visit during April, meaning that it is likely to be fairly quiet and relatively easy to secure gorilla permits. The 7th of April marks ‘Kwibuka’, an annual ceremony which begins three months of remembrance for the victims of the genocide. During this time the whole nation enters a period of reflection, with a number of events being held in commemoration.

  • Expect heavy rains throughout the month.
  • Few visitors means it is fairly easy to secure gorilla permits.
  • It is the green season for luxury lodges, with much lower prices.
  • Good time of year for birding.
  • Kwibuka remembrance ceremony on 7th April.

Our view

This is not a great time to visit

Weather in April

Rwanda in May

May is often a transitional season in Rwanda, following on from the rains in April. Heavy bursts of rain can be expected at times, however it will often start to dry up as the month progresses. Any rainy spells are likely to last a few hours rather than all day. With the heavy rain earlier in the year it can often remain muddy underfoot when trekking the gorillas and chimpanzees and it’s advisable to wear gaiters.

Following the rains the air can be clear, without any haziness, and this leads to great photographic opportunities at this time of year. For many of the high-end lodges May is classed as the low season, which can make this month great value for money, with fairly good weather and comparatively low prices.

  • Weather can be variable, mostly dry with some rainy spells.
  • Be prepared for muddy conditions when trekking the gorillas.
  • Good air clarity leads to great photographic opportunities.
  • Can be good value for money if you’re looking at a high-end trip.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in May

Rwanda in June

The weather in June can be fantastic and this is one of the best times of year to visit Rwanda. This is the start of the main dry season in Rwanda and the rainfall in June typically averages only around 20mm. It is likely to be warm and dry during the day, however the odd rainy shower remains possible. Conditions for gorilla trekking can be very good, although you are still likely to experience mud underfoot in parts.

This is the peak season for the high-end lodges and prices rise significantly. Rwanda is exceptionally popular between June and September and the luxurious lodges regularly fill up well over a year in advance, so we advise planning early.

  • Dry weather can lead to excellent conditions for gorilla trekking.
  • High-end lodges increase their prices and trips can be costly.
  • Very popular time of year, advance booking is strongly recommended.

Our view

Fantastic: the very best time to visit

Weather in June

Rwanda in July

July is a great time of year to visit Rwanda, this is in the middle of the longer dry period and conditions for gorilla trekking can be excellent. Expect long dry days, although always with the off-chance of rain at some point during your stay. As with the rest of the year, temperatures are likely to average around 20-25ºC during the day, though nights can be chilly.

July is a very popular time of year to travel to Rwanda and we advise booking at least 12 months ahead, particularly if you’re looking for a high-end trip. Prices at the top end of the market can be very high in July, however many of the mid-range lodges have the same prices throughout the year, making these options great value at this time.

  • Excellent conditions with dry weather for much of the month.
  • Very popular time to travel with a limited number of gorilla permits.
  • Advance booking is required to for the best choice of accommodation.
  • High-end trips can be expensive at this time of year.
  • Many mid-range lodges have the same price throughout the year.

Our view

Fantastic: the very best time to visit

Weather in July

Rwanda in August

August is one of the most popular times of year to visit Rwanda. This is the middle of the longer dry season and conditions can be very good. While it can still be muddy underfoot this is unlikely to impact your trek. Our top advice for travel in August is to plan early as many of the more popular lodges will regularly book up well over a year in advance at this time.

Many people visiting Rwanda will choose to combine this with a safari in the Serengeti and August is one of the best months for this. The wildebeest migration is in full swing, with the vast herds being up near the Mara River and river crossings likely.

  • Fantastic time to visit with dry weather and great conditions.
  • Very popular time to travel, we advise booking early.
  • Lodges book up and gorilla permits can be hard to secure.
  • Higher prices for the top-end lodges.
  • Great time of year to combine with a safari in the Serengeti.

Our view

Fantastic: the very best time to visit

Weather in August

Rwanda in September

The dry season comes to an end in September, with the rains increasing towards the end of the month. For the most part you are likely to experience dry conditions, but be prepared for rainy showers and cold nights. September remains a popular time to travel, especially for those combining the gorillas with the wildebeest migration.

The Kwita Izina festival (the official naming ceremony for all baby gorillas born in the past year) takes place ever year, usually in September. It’s a time of celebration for everyone involved in their conservation. The exact date varies. Chat to us if you’d like to plan your trip around this event.

  • Conditions typically good but expect some rain.
  • Popular time to travel and early booking is advised.
  • Great time of year to combine gorillas and the wildebeest migration.
  • The Kwita Izina festival, usually in September, names baby gorillas.

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in September

Rwanda in October

The short rains have typically started by October with the month’s rainfall averaging around 110mm. This rain normally falls in short, heavy bursts and you’re likely to have plenty of dry spells too. As with the rest of the year, days can be warm, although nights can be cold, and this is especially true around the Volcanoes National Park where lodges set log fires to keep you warm in the evening.

Lots of people choose to visit Rwanda at this time and prices remain high for the top-end lodges. Booking early is recommended, particularly if you plan to stay at one of the smaller, more exclusive lodges around the Volcanoes park.

  • Good time of year to travel although with an increased amount of rain.
  • Days are warm however nights can get cold.
  • October is popular, particularly for the high-end lodges.
  • Prices remain high at the top end of the spectrum.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in October

Rwanda in November

The rains typically continue into November and this can be one of the wetter months of the year. This can still be a good time to travel, as there are still likely to be plenty of dry periods and the gorillas can still be trekked. However, expect quite a bit of mud. The high-end lodges drop their prices in November, making it much more affordable for luxury accommodation.

Between November and April there is also a special offer from the parks authorities, providing a discount on your first gorilla permit if you spend at least two nights in one other national park. This special offer combined with lower prices for luxury lodges makes Rwanda great value for money in November.

  • One of the wetter months however gorilla trekking is still possible.
  • Far less busy, making it easier to secure gorilla permits.
  • Reduced prices for high-end accommodation.
  • Special offers to encourage travel to multiple national parks.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in November

Rwanda in December

Rwanda has a second short dry season which typically runs from December to January. Conditions at this time can typically be fairly good, although not as ideal as June – August, and you can still expect rain at this time. Many of the forest tracks can be muddy and nights can be cold.

Many people choose to travel to Rwanda over Christmas and New Year and we advise booking early, particularly if you have preferred lodges in mind. The special offer for a your first gorilla permit at a reduced price remains in place for all travellers spending at least two nights in another park, making Rwanda excellent value for money in December.

  • Short dry season, however rain is still possible.
  • Conditions for gorilla trekking can be good, but expect mud.
  • Cold at night, warm clothes are recommended.
  • Very popular over Christmas and New Year, early booking advised.
  • Special offers make December good value for money.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in December

Country guide

Useful information for a Rwanda safari

Not much bigger than Wales, or New Jersey, Rwanda packs quite a punch. Many visitors come just to see its famous mountain gorillas, or as an add-on to a safari in Kenya or Tanzania. Yet there is so much more to see on a Rwanda holiday.

With three established national parks (Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe Forest and Akagera) and a fourth – Gishwati-Mukura National Park – newly gazetted in 2015, wildlife is far more diverse than you many expect, including chimpanzees, golden monkeys and other primates, as well as all of the “big five”.

Spectacular mountain scenery at every turn, the calm of Lake Kivu, and the thriving capital, Kigali, deserve further exploration – as does the opportunity to understand a little of the country’s history and culture.


Where to go on a Rwanda safari

Where to go on a Rwanda safari

Without doubt the jewel in the crown of Rwanda’s wildlife destinations is Volcanoes National Park, home to more than half the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Here, too, you’ll find troops of golden monkeys in the lower bamboo forests, making this an ideal introductory walk before embarking on a gorilla trek.

Not to be outdone, Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to 13 species of primate, among them troops of chimpanzees. Although they tend to remain in dense forest, making sightings harder than those of gorillas, their playful nature is exceptionally engaging, even from a distance.

Entirely different is the scenic Akagera National Park, who’s rolling hills, deep valleys and low-lying savannah harbour the classic safari “big five”: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and both black and white rhino.

Akagera also boasts a population of shoebill storks, though access is far from easy. Better by far for birding in Rwanda is Nyungwe, where the lucky may spot endemics such as the Albertine owlet.

How many gorillas are in Rwanda?

The Virunga Mountains that straddle the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are home to around 480 mountain gorillas, more than half of the world’s entire population; the rest live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

In Volcanoes National Park, the Rwandan part of the Virungas, ten gorilla groups are currently habituated for gorilla safaris, more than anywhere else in the world.

Look into the eyes of a large silverback gorilla and he'll look back with a thoughtful, intelligent gaze, mindful that you're another individual. Any apprehensions or nerves you might have had during your trek will melt away the minute you see your gorilla family. Gorilla-trekking safaris offer a magical encounter that transcends any other “wildlife” experience we know.

Primate holidays in Rwanda

Although mountain gorillas are the unrivalled stars of the show, there are plenty of other primate-tracking opportunities while on holiday in Rwanda.

In Volcanoes National Park, where the mountain gorillas live, two groups of endangered golden monkeys have also been habituated for visitor tracking. Pretty and playful, they’re a delight to watch. Seeking them out also offers an opportunity to acclimatise before a day of gorilla trekking.

In the south of the country, Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to 13 different primate species, among them chimpanzees and Rwenzori colobus monkeys, both of which can be tracked. Indeed, Nyungwe’s colobus monkeys can sometimes be seen in spectacular troops of several hundred, believed to be among the largest numbers worldwide.

Travelling around Rwanda

Lush and mountainous, Rwanda is ideally suited for exploration by road. Surfaces are generally good, with many new asphalt roads being constructed to replace dirt roads, and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views at almost every turn.

For travellers on our privately guided trips, Rwanda is very comfortable. You’ll have a private 4WD vehicle with air conditioning and plenty of space, and your own driver-guide, who will have a significant role in your trip.

Flexibility is key to these trips. Typically you’ll discuss the options with your guide each evening, from where you’d like to stop on a journey to how you’d like to spend your free afternoons, but there’s room for spontaneity, too.

Focus on the things that are important to you, whether it be gorillas or chimpanzees, history and culture, hiking or kayaking. Take time to chat to your guide and to the people of Rwanda.

Rwanda’s genocide

Rwanda is a surprising and inspiring country for a holiday, not least because of the remarkable way it has united in the years since it tore itself apart during the horrific genocide of 1994.

While it would be naïve to suggest that the entire nation has moved on, a visit here leaves you with an overwhelming sense of the people’s optimism and national pride, and their determination that genocide must never happen again.

Today, people call themselves Rwandans, with no distinction between Tutsis and Hutus. Yet with remembrance as much a part of the country’s healing process as reconciliation, commemorations called Kwibuka take place each year, from April to July.

At any time of year, a visit to Kigali’s Genocide Memorial is important in understanding Rwanda’s history and the events leading up to the genocide. A beautiful, peaceful place, it is testament to Rwanda’s strength and spirit of reconciliation.

Maps of Rwanda: two styles

With our two different styles of mapping, the topography of Rwanda is thrown into relief. Zoom into the areas and then the lodges and reserves on our maps for a vivid indication of the lie of the land, dotted with hills or “collines”.

At a glance, it’s clear that the country’s western fringe is dominated by Lake Kivu, which in turn leads up to the lush forests of (Volcanoes, Nyungwe Forest and Gishwati-Mukura national parks – beloved of the primates.

Heading east brings you to the lower-lying plains of Akagera National Park, whose swathes of savannah are populated by more traditional safari animals.

Click onto any of the markers and follow the links in the bubbles until you find maps of these areas, with precise locations for the various safari camps and lodges.


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Understand more about Rwanda

For most visitors to Rwanda, the focus of their trip – often a holiday of a lifetime – is the mountain gorillas.

Whether or not you choose to explore further, there is information that will underpin your trip, and practical details that will help to make your trip run smoothly.

Here we take a look at some of these, from the history behind gorilla trekking in Rwanda to how our privately-guided trips work. You’ll also find a little about the background to the country, along with information on Rwanda’s attitude to LGBT travellers, and our advice on the subject of tipping.


Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda
Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda

Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda

Tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda is the ultimate wildlife experience and the reason why most people come here on holiday: for serious wildlife enthusiasts, sitting within a small family group of gorillas is a must.

Rwanda is where Dian Fossey first brought the world’s attention to the plight of these majestic primates in the late 1960s, when only around 250 survived. The 2011 census recorded some 880 individuals and, encouragingly, numbers since 2017 have stabilised at over 1,000 mountain gorillas, split between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. About half of them live in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

The survival of mountain gorillas is one of Africa’s greatest conservation success stories, and tourism has played its role in this. Rwanda is regarded as probably the best destination for a gorilla-trekking safari. Although permits aren’t cheap, the hour that you’re allowed to spend with these great apes promises to be a priceless encounter that will remain with you long after your holiday is over.

Gorilla trekking safaris in Rwanda

Rwanda general information

In 1994, Rwanda's civil war dominated the world's headlines. With hundreds of thousands of people killed, this became known as the “Rwandan genocide”. It is still what most people think about when Rwanda is mentioned.

Today, the country has been at peace for many years. Rwanda's democratic government promotes harmony, many Rwandese are eager to tell of their past, to let the world know what happened – and to protect their country against it ever happening again.

Rwanda has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. It has more women in Parliament than any other country in the world (holding at more than 60% for some years) and is considered to be one of the safest and most friendly countries on the continent.

Compared with most of its neighbours, Rwanda is tiny, just 26,338km², but its high volcanic mountains have earned it the nickname “Switzerland of Africa”, or “the land of a thousand hills”.

Rwanda general information

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel to Rwanda

We’ve sent many people to Rwanda since 2004, including LGBT travellers, and we have yet to hear of any issues raised or problems encountered as a result of a visitor’s sexuality.

Although same-sex marriage remains illegal, there are no laws against homosexual behaviour. Rwanda is party to the UN statement condemning violence against LGBT people, and in 2016, President Paul Kagame stated that living as an LGBT citizen in Rwanda “…hasn’t been our problem. And we don’t intend to make it our problem”.

That said, openly amorous behaviour, for both hetero- and homosexual couples, can cause offence, especially in rural areas, so we’d still advise all our travellers to be cautious, regardless of sexual orientation.

In general, we’d suggest that you stick to a “don’t ask, don't tell” approach while travelling.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel to Rwanda

Tipping in Rwanda

Although giving gratuities can be a complicated subject, it is a normal part of Rwanda’s culture and service industry. Here, as in most countries, tips are at your discretion, usually dependent on the quality of service received.

In Rwanda, your private driver-guide will be key to a successful trip, and is normally tipped separately. The same goes for trekking guides and rangers, whereas it’s normal practice to tip trackers as a group.

When staying in a lodge, do remember that many people are involved in the smooth running of your trip. Contributing to the general tip box at the end of your stay will ensure that each individual is rewarded for their work.

Do remember, though, that more affluent travellers can impact disproportionately on the local economy, tipping the balance of social and economic factors, so keep that in mind when tipping staff and guides during your holiday in Rwanda.

Tipping in Rwanda

Privately guided Rwanda safaris

With its compact size and diverse landscapes, Rwanda is an ideal destination for privately guided trips. These journeys offer unparalleled flexibility and immersion in the country's culture and natural beauty.

Hence all of our Rwanda safaris include a private driver-guide and vehicle, travellers can explore at their own pace, focusing on their interests, whether it's encountering mountain gorillas, kayaking, or delving into Rwandan history and culture.

This highly personalized approach allows for very natural and genuine interactions with locals and plenty of spontaneous moments along the way, whilst you relax in the care of a top professional guide.

We’ll work with you to choose your accommodation and main activities along the way, to help provide an authentic Rwandan experience, from rustic camps to upscale lodges. Traveling by road cmakes it easier for travellers to gain a comprehensive understanding of Rwanda's landscape and culture, with opportunities to visit villages, coffee plantations, and historical sites.

Your guides will be very knowledgeable about Rwanda's past and present, and ensure a personalized experience tailored to your individual preferences.

Starting from Kigali, the capital city, you’ll embark on a route visiting iconic destinations like Volcanoes National Park, Akagera, or Lake Kivu, all accessible via well-connected roads.

Privately guided Rwanda safaris

Safaris to Rwanda: beyond gorilas

Rwanda’s mountainous terrain and rainforest national parks are a major attraction, and many visitors' primary focus is visiting the mountain gorillas. If time is tight, that makes sense – and it’s possible to fulfil your dream in just four days.

Broadening the options, you could incorporate chimpanzees into your trip, or extend it to explore the whole country, from the cultural heart of Kigali to the “big five” that roam the plains of Akagera.

Whatever your interests, however long you have, remember that all our trips are tailormade. Take a look through the suggestions below, then give us a call – and let us create your perfect holiday.

Looking further afield, Rwanda works well in combination with other countries in the region, perhaps with a safari in Kenya or Tanzania, or – on a true adventure of a lifetime – transforming into a full-scale “highlights of Africa” trip.


Showing 1-9 of 9
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Duration
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The Highlights of Africa

17 days • 7 locations
CAPE TOWN AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

An epic adventure taking in some of Africa’s most incredible sights and wildlife experiences, from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, the Maasai Mara and an encounter with mountain gorillas.

US$14,310 - US$18,170 per person

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Gorillas and Serengeti Safari

11 days • 4 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KILIMANJARO AIRPORT

Combine three iconic experiences – mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and the Serengeti plains and awe-inspiring Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.

US$12,620 - US$14,390 per person

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Gorillas and Maasai Mara Safari

9 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

This trip combines two of Africa's most unforgettable wildlife experiences – Rwanda's mountain gorillas and Kenya's Maasai Mara.

US$11,260 - US$14,090 per person

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Mountain Gorilla Safari

5 days • 2 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

Staying in great-value lodges, with a private driver-guide and 4WD, this adventure includes two treks to get up close with groups of mountain gorillas.

US$5,830 - US$6,120 per person

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L'Hoest's Monkey Safari

7 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

Meet three iconic primates – gorillas, chimps and golden monkeys – and explore Rwanda's fascinating culture on this excellent value privately guided adventure.

US$5,570 - US$6,320 per person

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Golden Monkey Safari

12 days • 5 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

Combine four key areas of Rwanda on this excellent-value trip, for a true wildlife and cultural experience. The perfect itinerary for those who want to see all the highlights of Rwanda.

US$9,710 - US$11,270 per person

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Silverback Gorilla Safari

4 days • 1 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

Fly into Rwanda and you can be trekking to meet a family of mountain gorillas the next morning. An itinerary like this could easily be combined with a safari in Kenya or Tanzania.

US$10,170 - US$13,040 per person

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Gorillas and Migration Safari

9 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KILIMANJARO AIRPORT

This luxury safari combines two iconic wildlife experiences: trekking to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, then flying to the northern Serengeti in search of the wildebeest migration and spectacular river crossings.

US$17,070 - US$23,410 per person

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Mona Monkey Safari

9 days • 3 locations
KIGALI AIRPORT TO KIGALI AIRPORT

This example of a luxury holiday explores the wildlife of Nyungwe Forest, the scenic shores of Lake Kivu and the mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park, all accompanied by a private guide and vehicle.

US$12,160 - US$17,600 per person

Showing 1-9 of 9

Let us help you customise your trip

All of our holidays on this site are just ideas; none are fixed. All of our trips are tailor-made, so we'll always adapt them to suit you. Talk to an Expert and let us help you to work out your perfect trip.


Talk to an Expert

Call us now! We’ll match you with the Specialist in our team who is best suited to help you. Then together we can start planning your trip.

Set up your itinerary

Based on our experience and your ideas, your specialist will create a detailed, costed itinerary. We’ll refine it together, until we have a trip that you’re perfectly happy with.

Prepare for your trip

The same Specialist will make the seamless arrangements for your trip, send you detailed travel documents, and be available to answer any questions before you depart.

Travel with peace of mind

After you set off, you’ll be cared for by our partners in Africa, most of whom have worked with Expert Africa for decades. And if you ever need us urgently, we’re available 24/7.

When you return

We love to learn about your trip, and so will always be grateful if you’ve the time to give feedback to your Specialist when you return.

What to do in Rwanda besides gorillas

On our Rwanda safaris, there’s a remarkable array of possible experiences. Your guide will suggest some along the way, but many of the key activities need arranging in advance - see below for some of our favourites.


Gorilla Trekking Safari

Gorilla Trekking Safari

Half day: one hour with the gorillas

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is a magical experience, transcending any other wildlife encounter we know. Meeting a gorilla family in their forest home, led by a dominant male silverback and a cluster of females and young, is a natural adventure that fully repays the cost in unforgettable memories and images. Your driver-guide from Kigali will operate your transfers to the park headquarters and introduce you to your trekking group and parks guide.

More about Gorilla Trekking
99% (74 reviews)
Golden Monkey Trekking

Golden Monkey Trekking

Half day; one hour with the monkeys

Spend a morning trekking to find the golden monkeys in the Volcanoes National Park. These endangered monkeys are endemic to the Albertine Rift area and are characterised by their golden-orange fur. You’ll be able to enjoy an hour watching them jump through the bamboo and hunker down to chew bamboo leaves, curiously watching you, as you watch them. Your driver-guide from Kigali will operate your transfers to the park headquarters and introduce you to your trekking group and parks guide.

More about Golden Monkey Trekking
91% (42 reviews)
Kigali Tour and Genocide Memorial Visit

Kigali Tour and Genocide Memorial Visit

Half day

You'll be driven around Kigali to see the highlights of the city, with a main stop at the Genocide Memorial and museum. This will give you a fascinating, though sobering, insight into Rwanda's modern history. It is remarkable to learn just how far Rwanda has come in such a short period of time and it certainly adds a deeper understanding about the Rwandan people.

More about Kigali Tour & Genocide Memorial Visit
95% (39 reviews)
Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe Forest

Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe Forest

Half day - one hour with the chimpanzees

Trekking to see the chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park can be exhilarating. While sighting them in dense forest can be challenging, to watch them cavorting in the tree tops, their all-too-human characteristics to the fore, makes this an exceptionally rewarding half-day excursion.

More about Chimpanzee Trekking
88% (17 reviews)
Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest

Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest

Two - three hours

The Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest opened in 2010 and was one of the first high-level bridges of this kind to cross a forest canopy on the African continent. You'll be amazed by this easy walk high above the forest canopy.

More about Canopy Walk
87% (11 reviews)
King’s Palace & Museum Visit

King’s Palace & Museum Visit

Half day

If your trip in Rwanda incorporates travelling south from Kigali, a visit to the King’s Palace and Museum gives an interesting insight into Rwanda’s cultural history and monarchy. It's also ideally placed to break up the long journey to Nyungwe Forest.

More about King’s Palace
93% (11 reviews)
Canoeing in Rwanda

Canoeing in Rwanda

Half day - approx. 3 hours on the water

This half-day adventure takes place through lush farmland, on the meandering Mukungwa River near Musanze town. Discovering Rwanda’s countryside in a canoe is great fun: the launch spot is just half an hour from Volcanoes National Park and you'll be guided along the shallow waterway by an expert local canoeist. Your driver-guide from Kigali will operate your transfers and introduce you to your canoe group and guide.

More about Canoeing
96% (9 reviews)
Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe

Colobus Trekking in Nyungwe

Two hours approx, morning or afternoon

Visiting the black-and-white colobus monkeys of Nyungwe Forest is a highly enjoyable excursion. A gentler walk than trekking in search of chimpanzees, it takes you through lush green tea plantations surrounding an isolated patch of rainforest, where these striking primates can be spotted jumping around the trees.

More about Colobus Monkey Trekking
90% (10 reviews)
Mount Bisoke Trek

Mount Bisoke Trek

Full day

For something a little different, set out on a one-day hike to the summit of Mt Bisoke in the Volcanoes National Park, home to Rwanda’s famous mountain gorillas. Discover the beautiful scenery of the Virunga Mountains, spot birds and wildlife, and enjoy spectacular views from the crater lake.

More about Mount Bisoke Trek
95% (4 reviews)
Bird Walk in Nyungwe Forest

Bird Walk in Nyungwe Forest

Two–four hours

For many, the wealth of birds that inhabit Nyungwe Forest is the park’s greatest attraction. Spend a morning or afternoon exploring in the company of a birding specialist, following forest trails as you watch out for the colourful, the secretive and sometimes the extremely rare birds of this ancient tropical rainforest.

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100% (2 reviews)
Akagera Sunset Boat Safari

Akagera Sunset Boat Safari

Half day - one hour on the water

Akagera’s Lake Ihema is a beautiful contrast to the rolling hills of the east of Rwanda, and the flatter plains to the north. Relax and enjoy the peace and quiet on your cruise, while watching the sunset over the lake and the national park beyond.

More about Sunset Boat Safari
80% (1 reviews)
Trek to Dian Fossey’s Grave

Trek to Dian Fossey’s Grave

Half day, usually five hours

Dian Fossey is best known for her research and conservation work with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. She dedicated her life to researching and protecting these ‘gentle giants’ from harm, however she was tragically found murdered at her research camp in 1985. Today visitors can join a local guide to trek through the tropical forest to visit her grave, and learn about the impact of her work.

More about Dian Fossey Trek
100% (1 reviews)
Mount Karisimbi Trek - 2 day trek

Mount Karisimbi Trek - 2 day trek

Two days - overnight on Mt Karisimbi

Set out on a two-day hike to the summit of Mount Karisimbi, which at over 4,507m is one of the highest in Africa. This is a challenge for the adventurous! With a local guide, you’ll traverse bamboo forests and rugged terrain, then camp on the slopes of this dormant volcano before enjoying sunrise from the summit.

More about Mount Karisimbi Trek
100% (1 reviews)

Special types of holiday to Rwanda

If wildlife is your passion, Rwanda would be hard to beat. Not only does it offer Gorilla-trekking in the Volcanoes National Park, but it also harbours 13 species of primate in Nyungwe Forest National Park, including chimpanzees, and the “big five” in Akagera National Park.

Hikers, too, will be in their element in the mountains – when the treks to see the primates can be an adventure in themselves. Check out, too, the swamps and waterfalls of Nyungwe Forest, or the canopy walkway through the tops of the trees.

Not far from Volcanes National Park, canoeing comes into its own on the Mukungwa River. You’ll explore with a qualified guide, paddling past local communities and through the occasional small rapids, whereas on Lake Kivu, kayaking is a peaceful way to explore the lake and its islands.

Exploring Rwanda on a privately guided trip offers the perfect opportunity to understand something of the local culture as you drive through bustling villages, lush farms and plantations of tea and plantations. But for a truly eye-opening introduction to the country, it’s worth starting at Kigali’s genocide memorial.

These and more can be included in a trip designed specially for you. Take a look at the options, then talk to us and let us help you plan your trip.


Birdwatching

Birdwatching

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Cultural experiences

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Honeymoons

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Romantic safaris and castaway island retreats.

Luxury

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Solo Travel

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Walking

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Explore Africa's untouched wildernesses on foot.

Wildlife safaris

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These trips include hard-hitting game and fascinatingly elusive species alike, as well as superb guiding and a variety of diverse ecosystems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rwanda FAQs

Mention Rwanda, and many people raise their eyebrows – leaving a confused impression with lots of unanswered questions.

Yet such questions are important, so here we’ve tried to answer some of those that are likely to come up in conversation, from how to prepare for gorilla trekking to what you can expect to eat.

Our team of experts know Rwanda well from personal experience. No matter how apparently trivial your question, we will do our best to help, so please do give us a call.


How hard is gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

How hard is gorilla trekking in Rwanda?

You don’t have to be super-fit for a gorilla-trekking safari but it does help if you have a general level of fitness, if only to enhance your overall enjoyment of the experience. It also helps to have the right clothing.

Depending on which group of gorillas you track, and the time of year you go (gorillas tend to move down the mountains in the rains), you might find yourself walking on some pretty steep and sometimes muddy slopes for several hours. On the other hand, you could reach your group after a leisurely 30-minute stroll.

Either way, walking will be at a slow pace, with time for breaks if needed. But slopes are often steep, and the altitude, at over 2,500m, can be tiring, so it’s best to be prepared for the most active option. If nothing else, a few hill walks before you leave home would be beneficial.

What do I need to take for a gorilla-trekking safari?

Paths on gorilla treks can be slippery, muddy and steep so sturdy walking boots are essential. Some people take thick gardening gloves because of the brambles and nettles along the way, and you should wear long trousers rather than shorts. Though bear in mind that temperatures can be warm; it’s easy to over-heat.

A waterproof jacket could well come in handy and take some water and a snack in case it’s a long trek. You might also find a walking stick or pole helpful; these are available at the start of the trek.

For a small fee of around US$10, porters are available at the trailheads to carry your backpacks and to offer a hand during tricky parts of the hike. Even if you don’t really need this service, hiring a porter is a helpful way to contribute directly to the local economy, and chatting to them as you walk can broaden your understanding of local life as well as enhancing your gorilla trek.

How can I get the best photographs of the gorillas?

For keen photographers, a camera is a must: taking your own pictures of mountain gorillas is one of the most magical photo sessions you’ll ever experience.

That said, this isn’t an environment for a massive, tripod-mounted lens; it's better to work with something that can be hand-held, or perhaps steadied with a monopod. We’ve found a zoom lens (80–200mmm f2.8) is very good, coupled with a high ISO setting.

It’s as well to remember that the light can be poor in the rainforest and that use of flash is not permitted. You would be wise to have a bag which limits the effect of humidity on your camera, and perhaps even a cover to protect it against rain whilst you’re holding it.

What can I expect from the hotels in Rwanda?

The location of the camps on our private guided trips around Rwanda is very important. You can expect to be somewhere with a real feel for the destination, perhaps in the foothills of the Virunga Mountains, home to the mountain gorillas, or overlooking the expansive waters of Lake Kivu.

Although Rwanda is not renowned for its luxury accommodation, times are changing, and while the simpler options remain, there are now more upmarket lodges, with accommodation and service to match. Even so, the quality of service and food can, at times, be a little lower than you'd hope for, as many staff are new to tourism.

What is the food like in Rwanda?

The food in Rwandan lodges and hotels varies from mediocre to very good. Fresh fruit and the Belgian-inspired cuisine are usually good; otherwise, whilst hygiene standards are generally high, results can be variable.

For most local Rwandan people, the diet consists mainly of sweet potatoes, peas, corn, beans, millet and fresh fruit, including avocados, mangos and papayas. Umutsima (cassava and corn), isombe (cassava leaves with eggplant and spinach) and mizuzu (fried plantains) are some of Rwanda's traditional dishes. Drinks include local beer and ikigage, a locally brewed beer made from sorghum.

How much does it cost to see gorillas in Rwanda?

You can only make a visit to the gorillas in Rwanda when in a group guided by the national park’s guides – it’s very strictly regulated. We will book your ‘gorilla-trekking permits’ well in advance, with the rest of your trip.

Securing permits for trekking gorillas, especially during the popular periods between July and September, can be difficult at short notice, so you should plan well ahead. Our team of experts will make all the arrangements for buying your permits.

For 2024, no more than 96 gorilla-trekking permits are available each day, each costing US$1,500 per person for a one-hour visit.

Travellers who are also spending a minimum of three days in either Nyungwe Forest National Park or Akagera National Park between November and May are entitled to a 30% discount, reducing the costs to US$1,050 per person.

Amongst other things, the permits pay for a 24-hour guard for each gorilla group (armed teams constantly track each habituated group – like royal bodyguards in the UK!). The fees also help to strengthen conservation efforts and to support the development of local communities.

Our other African destinations

At Expert Africa, we specialise in safari destinations, each of them unique – and none more so than Rwanda.

While the “big five” are present in Rwanda, take a look at its eastern neighbours, Tanzania or Kenya, for a more traditional safari – either alone or in combination with Rwanda.

To the south, Zambia and Zimbabwe – on either side of the great Zambezi River and both bordering the Victoria Falls – also offer superb game viewing.

Equally compelling, albeit far more exclusive, are the superb private concessions of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, while for a self-drive adventure, Namibia comes out on top.

Many travellers want to finish a safari holiday with a watersports or beach destination, and here Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa all excel. You could even consider an idyllic island add-on to Zanzibar, or the Seychelles.

The choices are many and varied, so do get in touch; we’re here to help.


Botswana

Botswana

With big game, glamorous lodges and one of the greatest unspoilt wildernesses on Earth, Botswana is perhaps Africa's most exclusive safari destination.

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Kenya

Kenya

Humanity’s ancestors lived in Kenya, which is now home to people speaking 42 languages, and some of Africa’s rarest, most magnificent wildlife.

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Malawi

Malawi

With tropical rivers, Rift Valley plateaux, the crystal-clear waters of Lake Malawi and a stunning lakeshore, Malawi invites relaxed exploration.

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Mozambique

Mozambique

An ocean paradise protected by world-class marine parks, Mozambique’s idyllic archipelagos offer heavenly hideaways, outstanding diving and laid-back luxury.

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Namibia

Namibia

Spectacular scenery, diverse wildlife and a rich cultural heritage await discovery by air, with a guide or on a self-drive adventure.

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Seychelles

Seychelles

The ultimate glamorous getaway: the lush islands of Seychelles are enchantingly beautiful and stylish sanctuaries for both wildlife and ocean-lovers.

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South Africa

South Africa

Cosmopolitan Cape Town, world-class wineries, brilliant ‘Big Five’ safaris and spectacularly diverse scenery make South African holidays fabulously exciting and enjoyable.

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Tanzania

Tanzania

East Africa’s biggest country has a wide range of parks to explore and some of the Indian Ocean’s best island retreats.

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Zambia

Zambia

Home to walking safaris, exceptional wildlife, superb guiding and the mighty Victoria Falls, Zambia is Africa at its most alluring.

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Zanzibar

Zanzibar

The ultimate Spice Island: Zanzibar’s mystique, marine life and chic beach retreats make it Africa’s most alluring archipelago.

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Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Stunning national parks teeming with game, plus Africa's finest professional guides and the spectacular Victoria Falls: Zimbabwe is enthralling.

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Elephant safari
in Linyanti

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