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Rwanda is nicknamed the "Land of a Thousand Hills" for a reason. Its landscape doesn't stop rolling, and the hills are dotted with plunging ravines, waterfalls, and ancient forests. Rwanda is also one of the only places on earth where travelers can trek among 13 species of primates, including the world-famous mountain gorillas and the rare golden monkey.
With a serene and modern capital city and excellent national park infrastructure, the country's tumultuous past can feel worlds away—for travelers interested in learning more about Rwanda's somber history and honoring the victims of genocide, there are many opportunities in Kigali and beyond.
When is the best time to visit?
Rwanda has a tropical climate, meaning there's a chance of rain no matter what time of year you visit. There are technically "dry" and "wet" seasons—which unsurprisingly align with the high and low seasons for tourism. Rwanda can be visited year round, but the best time for gorilla trekking is during the short dry season from December-February, or the long dry season lasting from June-September. You may need to procure a permit further in advance, but you'll appreciate the mud-free trails.
Where should you go?
Most travelers fly into Kigali, the pristine capital city. It's worth staying a day or two and taking a guided city tour—there's a lot to take in, from culture at the Inema Art Center to colorful markets and the critically important Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum. From there, you'll be hopping between some of the world's most heralded national parks.
Perhaps the most unique and sought-after activity in Rwanda is trekking among the famed gorillas of the Virunga Mountains in Volcanoes National Park. While there, you can also spot golden monkeys, visit the Diane Fossey Museum, take a mountain biking tour, and more. For chimpanzees, head to Nyungwe Forest National Park, and Akagera for birdwatching. Rubavu, on the shores of Lake Kivu, is an hour away from Volcanoes and makes a good stopover on the way to or from Nyungwe.
How many days do you need?
With 5 days in Rwanda, travelers should prioritize visiting the gorillas. Head straight to Volcanoes National Park for two days of gorilla trekking, and spend the last half of your trip in Nyungwe Forest for a canopy walk and chimpanzee trek. Double that timeframe, and your options double along with it. In ten days, you can start with a game drive and boat cruise in Akagera National Park, continue to Nyungwe and Volcanoes parks for chimpanzee and gorilla tracking, and end in Gisenyi with a Lake Kivu boat cruise. Two weeks is equally easy to fill—add a visit to Buhanga Eco Park, observe golden and colobus monkeys, and enjoy guided city tours in Kigali and Kibuye.
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