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Why choose to visit Rwanda?

Rwanda is a country in Central Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. It is located a few degrees south of the Equator bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.

Rwandans are drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda although within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa.  Christianity is the largest religion in the country and the principal language is Kinyarwanda spoken by most Rwandans, with English and French serving as additional official languages.

Rwanda’s developing economy suffered heavily in wake of the 1994 genocide, but has since strengthened. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture whereby Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export.  Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country’s leading foreign exchange earner. Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely and visitors pay high prices for gorilla tracking permits. Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture. Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, including imigongo, a unique cow dung art.

Below are some of the attractions that can you cannot miss out while on your tour in Rwanda.

Walk in the Footsteps of Famed Primatologist Dian Fossey

Visiting the former research home site of Dian Fossey is the perfect complement to any mountain gorilla trek. Hiking up her grave shrine is an experience that appreciates education, courage, advocacy, celebration, and tragedy. Fossey was known for her work as a primatologist, both studying the gorillas and spearheading efforts to protect them. In 1967 Ms. Fossey began a research effort that would ultimately become her life’s work, as well as the foundation for developing a deep, personal connection to the primate species and to many of the individual gorillas with whom she spent her time. Her most beloved gorilla was a silverback she named Digit. After first spending time in the Democratic Republic of Congo studying mountain gorillas, Fossey was taken prisoner by soldiers. She escaped and relocated to Rwanda, where she established the Karisoke Research Center. The prevalence of poaching at the time had taught the gorillas to be fearful of humans, but Fossey was able to gain their trust with her quiet patience, diligence, and respect.

The Captivating Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda

Thanks to the incredible work of Dian Fossey and other global conservationists, Africa’s mountain gorillas have captured the hearts and minds of people around the world. If seeing these creatures in the wild is your ultimate dream, tour their natural habitat in Volcanoes Park. Efforts to protect mountain gorillas from the effects of habitat destruction, poaching, and other threats have led to the creation of an amazing infrastructure that provides the privacy and support the gorillas, need to not only survive in the modern world but thrive for generations to come.

The heartwarming scene will highlight the close bonds between the members of the gorilla family, as well as the playful antics of gorilla infants. The presence of a powerful silverback will stir your emotions as he sits quietly, ever watchful of his family, with a gentle nature that makes human onlookers feel connected in an unexpected way. Participating in a mountain gorilla trek in volcanoes National park requires a great deal of coordination, as relatively limited permits are issued each day. Working with Ssemambo Alex Tours & Travel to arrange your mountain gorilla trekking and other activities in Rwanda helps to ensure that you will have a captivating experience with these creatures.

The Cultural People of Rwanda

The three cultures of Rwanda once clashed, largely over socio-economic differences, but today the Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa peoples represent a common commitment to the betterment of all Rwandan people. Through unity, collaboration, and absolute dedication, the people of Rwanda take every measure to ensure that the fabric of their country is never again torn by genocide and other crimes against humanity. Meeting some of the people from these three tribes allows you to see the value of each of their cultures and their pride in the homeland and they’re sensitive to the preservation of Africa’s indigenous tribes, cultural activities and the local communities.

World-Class Hiking & Trekking

If you daydream about climbing, hiking and trekking in the African highlands bush, Rwanda is the preeminent destination for your outdoor vacation. Both Nyungwe Forest and Volcanoes Park offer superb networks of trails that take you into some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet.

For a unique view of the rainforest, the novice level Canopy Trail takes you to observation points above the treetops. History buffs will love the chance to step back in history on Karamba Trail and visit a former gold mine, an army camp, and a local market. Photographers will be thrilled by the stunning the beauty of Rwanda’s wildflowers along the Igishigishigi Trail. For a change of pace, take the Kamiranzovu Trail to the park’s wetlands and swamps to discover large and small creatures that inhabit these unique ecosystems, or pack a picnic lunch and head to Ngabwe Trail to enjoy a lovely outdoor meal with impeccable views. Simply imagine your ideal hiking and trekking holiday, and Rwanda will deliver an experience like no other!

Primates, Primates, & More Primates!

Mountain gorillas are the best-known of Rwanda’s primates, but the country offers many other scampering creatures to delight visitors, including chimpanzees, golden monkeys, blue monkeys, and black and white colobus. Chimpanzees are considered the most human-like of primates, and Nyungwe National park is the premium destination in Rwanda for chimpanzee viewing experiences.

Birding Paradise

Wherever you are in Rwanda, your incredible trip is sure to include some of the country’s colorful birds. Rwanda is home to an estimated 650 species of birds. What’s more, the diversity of habitats means that you can experience many different types of avian life, including the second highest number of Albertine Rift endemic species. The forest canopy at Volcanoes National Park offers refuge for 178 species, including 13 species and 16 subspecies endemics to the Rwenzori’s and Virungas. Cinnamon bracken warblers, red-throated wrynecks, white-tailed blue flycatchers, and black-and-white mannikins are just some of the birds found in the park. Almost twice as many species are found at Nyungwe National Park, where 310 bird species have been recorded. Although many of the species are known to exist in unexplored sections of the park, you can easily spot Albertine Rift endemics from the road that runs along the park.

Unique & Unforgettable Beach Escape

Believe it or not, Rwanda is home to one of Central Africa’s best beach escapes! Lake Kivu is the 18th deepest lake on the planet, with a total surface area of 2700 square kilometers at an elevation of 1460 meters. Imagine spending a few days exploring Rwanda’s lush green rainforests, communing with mountain gorillas, tracking chimpanzee and walking in the footsteps of Rwandan kings, and then traveling a short distance to a sparkling lake and lovely beach for some rejuvenation. Lake Kivu offers endless possibilities for fun-filled beach days, including sailing, water sports, fishing, beachfront lounging, and much more! The splendid scenery does much to relax you. Explore the lake by way of a charter boat that will take you to one of the lakeside towns. Gisenyi is the most developed, with tranquil accommodations and post-colonial architecture nestled against sandy beaches dotted with swaying palm trees. Pine-covered hills invite guests to visit Kibuye, in the middle of the lakeshore, and Cyangugu, in the south.

Central–East Africa’s Renewed Safari Destination

Visiting Rwanda still allows a classic wildlife safari experience similar to those found in Kenya and Tanzania Founded in 1934, Akagera National Park is the oldest of the country’s four national parks. Akagera National Park gives visitors access to expansive beauty and wildlife that can only be found in this type of habitat. Its freshwater lakes and papyrus swamps constitute the largest protected wetland in Central Africa and are home to the shoebill and sitatunga, favorites on birders’ lists. Other dominant natural features include the Akagera River and several swamp-fringed lakes, the largest of which is Lake Ihema. Within the park’s boundaries are over 12,000 mammals, including what is known as Africa’s “Big 5”—lions, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, and leopards—as well as over 500 species of birds.

Kigali: The Heartbeat of Modern Rwanda

Kigali is considered one of the friendliest capital cities in Africa, and its metropolitan ambience is a great complement to your time in the Rwandan bush country. The population of the city is young, so you will find a diverse range of engaging activities blended with a bit of history and culture. As Rwanda continues to emerge from a tragic past, Kigali represents the future; it has become a thriving center for business and economic development, while maintaining its charming character. Development has been well planned to preserve the natural contours of the surrounding hillsides. The city is divided into distinct districts, with one reserved for government and administrative buildings. In another district, the city center is surrounded by shops and markets.

In Kigali, a new treasure awaits around each corner as you travel the roads that wind through the city. You can learn about the country’s flora and fauna at the Kandt House (National History Museum) which features three sections, each highlighting an aspect of Rwanda’s ecological resources. Geology lovers immensely enjoy the displays in the back section of the museum, dedicated entirely to the country’s volcanism and the astonishing volcanoes in northwest Rwanda. Discover the country’s evolving artists at Inema Art Center, Ivuka Arts Center and Niyo Art Gallery.

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