National Parks in Rwanda
The "Parc National de Volcans" (or PNV as it's known by locals) lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a short two hour drive from Rwanda's capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences. While a visit to the mountain gorillas is often at the top of most visitors bucket lists, the dramatic landscape also offers thrilling hiking and visits to the fascinating golden monkeys.
Near the park, the bustling and vibrant markets of Musanze are a place to immerse yourself into everyday Rwandan culture. Go deep into the earth with Musanze's caves - one of the area's newest attractions.
Tracking the endangered mountain gorillas on the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes is a magical experience. Hike through mountain forests to experience these gentle creatures or make your way through airy bamboo forests to find the charming Golden Monkey.
Also available is the ‘Dian Fossey Tomb Trail’ – a beautiful yet challenging hike to 3,000 meters up the slopes of Mount Bisoke or a hike to the beautiful Ngezi Crater Lake at the top.
Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing” and with good reason. With only an estimated 880 Gorillas left in the world, to see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unique moment.
Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Trek to see them and you’ll be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to one of the fully-habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away, whilst the gorillas go about their daily lives.
Hikes in the mountains can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours + depending on the family allocated to your group and their location. The journey back can take just as long, but you are often carried along by the euphoria you feel at seeing the gorillas!
Covering over 1000 square kilomtres, Nyungwe is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine mountain rainforests. It’s believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity.
Home to habituated chimpanzees and 12 other primates species (including a 400-strong troop of habituated Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus), it’s also a birder’s paradise with over 300 species, including 16 endemics, and is home to 75 different species of mammal.
This majestic rainforest is filled with nature and wildlife experiences for you to emerge yourself in. Hiking or even biking the beautiful terrain, tracking the famous chimpanzees, experiencing the canopy walk, witnessing beautiful birds, relaxing by waterfalls are just a glimpse of activities that Nyungwe offers.
Visitors to Nyungwe National Park can experience the rainforest from a new perspective: the Canopy Walkway. Hanging 60 meters above the forest floor between giant trees and towers, East Africa's only Canopy Walkway provides a stunning view of the park's amazing wildlife and nature. The Walkway is accessible as part of a specialized guided tour along the Igishigishigi trail or if you're not part of a tour, hiking the Imbaraga or Umuyove trails.
Nyungwe’s steep landscape makes it as an ideal destination for hikers - whether they're novices or experienced - as the park boasts an extensive network of hiking trails. The trails are blessed with an amazingly diverse landscape and represent the most scenic way of exploring the forest. The ones listed below are a must for travelers seeking a challenging, yet enjoyable experience.
Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Although founded in 1934, much of the park was re-allocated as farms and in 1997 the park was reduced in size from more than 2,500 sq km (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122 sq km. Since 2010, a joint venture with African Parks has seen Akagera return to its former glories.
It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
Akagera combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP to offer a great safari element as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland.
Of the larger predatorsleopard, hyena, side-striped jackal and lion, which was re-introduced last year arepresent.
Birding safaris are popular amongst regular visitors and the immense variety and abundance of species will not fail to impress. From the vast concentrations of waterfowl to the myriad of savanna species, there is never a dull moment, with more than 500 species recorded in Akagera. Serious birders can seek out several endemic species as well as rare gems such as the near threatened papyrus gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri), which is restricted to papyrus swamps, the localised red-faced barbet (Lybius bidentatus) and the sought after swamp flycatcher (Muscicapa boehmi).