Rwanda offers majestic landscapes and fascinating wildlife experiences that appeal to families who love nature and adventure. Whether you are going for a short visit or are eager to embark on a journey exploring the charm of Rwanda’s national parks, visiting Rwanda’s top attractions will immerse you in the natural and cultural beauty of the country. Below, check out the five amazing destinations to visit Rwanda with the family.
Kibuye lies in the Western Province of Rwanda, home to the scenic Lake Kivu. The city straddles a series of hills intertwined with the lagoons of the lake. It’s connected by a decent road from Kigali, making it a popular day trip for those visiting Rwanda’s capital city.
It’s hard to believe that amidst the city’s peaceful atmosphere is a turbulent history. During the genocide, the city experienced the most killings of Tutsis, with over 10,000 casualties. Nowadays, you will hear the chirping of the birds and the laughter of kids playing by the lake.
Kibuye is a favourite weekend getaway spot for locals. Yet, it still feels like a hidden gem. Here, you will spend your days relaxing by the lake, strolling through the town’s main road, and indulging in delicious foods. Although there are not too many culinary options in the city due to its small size, head to the centre of the town, where you’ll find brochette stands and delightful restaurants. For the more active families, enjoy a kayaking adventure on the lake. You will find local travel companies that can arrange half-day or full-day kayaking excursions and boating trips.
Akagera National Park
As with most African countries, Rwanda is a popular spot for a safari adventure. Many places in Rwanda offer the perfect setting to discover wildlife, and Akagera National Park is one of these. This enchanting national park lies in East Rwanda, home to scenic lakes and papyrus swamps occupying almost a third of the park, considered one of East Africa’s most protected wetlands.
Majestic mountains offer a dramatic backdrop to the park, featuring scenic sights from the raging Akagera River to the lush forests and savannas. As you move from one location to another on your safari, you’ll witness an ever-changing habitat, which makes for an incredible wildlife exploration experience.
Akagera’s name is from the meandering Kagera River nearby that feeds a vast and varied wetland complex of dense swamps and open lakes, connecting the lagoon channels along its border with Tanzania.
During the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, the park, unfortunately, suffered terrible poaching as many refugees settled by it. Today, it is undergoing rehabilitation under the supervision of the African Parks Network, a non-profit organisation taking over most aspects of its day-to-day management.
Volcanoes National Park
One of the most popular activities in Rwanda is gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, suitable for adventurous families who want to come face to face with mountain gorillas. The Volcanoes National Park is home to these fascinating creatures, which share over 90% of their genetic codes with humans. During your trek, you’ll see them playing and feeding with their young in their natural habitat.
The Volcanoes National Park occupies the Rwandan section of the Virunga Mountains alongside Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Linked by fertile saddles and formed by lava flows, the lush mountains are home to East Africa’s fascinating wildlife species. While the gorillas are your trek’s highlights, you could spot buffalos, elephants, and other animals.
About 300 mountain gorillas reside among the lush forests on the upper slopes of the Volcanoes National Park. More than half of these primates live permanently along the Rwandan sector of the mountains, and gorilla trekking is one of the highlights of your family trip to the country.
It’s worth noting that gorilla trekking is only possible for kids at least 15 years old. Younger kids are not allowed since the truck to the jungle can be rigorous. Also, they could panic as soon as they see the gorillas up close.
Nyanza is the administrative capital of the Southern Province of Rwanda and is an ideal stopover on your way to Nyungwe National Park. It’s one of the country’s largest cities, and its main attraction lies in its cultural heritage. One of the highlights of Nyanza is the King’s Palace, a reconstruction of Rwanda’s traditional royal residence featuring a beautifully crafted thatched dwelling that looks like a beehive. At the back of the village, you’ll find long-horned Ankole cattle, whose keepers carefully tend, even singing to them.
During the early times, Rwandan kings are fond of moving from one residence to another, scattered throughout the kingdom. But around the 19th century, the growing presence of colonialists risked undermining the crown’s authority. To counteract this, King Musinga Yuhi V decided to make the permanent royal capital of Rwanda and kept its status until the country became a republic. While the hillsides of Nyanza no longer have the roundhouses and the royal court has long been dispersed, it still remains one of Rwanda’s most important cultural centres.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
Considered one of the oldest rainforests in Africa and the second national park of Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is rich in biodiversity and spectacular beauty. The mountainous region boasts fascinating wildlife species, including a small population of chimpanzees and other primates.
Hiking is the top thing to do in Nyungwe National Park. It has over 15 trails taking you through the lush forest and into some of the world’s most beautiful rivers. Unfortunately, the national park’s unique shape and topography have exposed it to various threats, including illegal mining, poaching, and agricultural encroachment, significantly endangering its unique biodiversity. However, several non-profit organisations are working hard to restore and protect the park, especially its wildlife.
There are over 70 mammals that dwell in Nyungwe, and you could come across them during your hike. These include Congo clawless otters, mongoose, and leopards. Many tend to be shy, so sightings are not always guaranteed.
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