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Rwanda has been nicknamed the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ in respect to its incredible beauty and the mountainous and irregular landscape. The rare silverback Gorilla and chimpanzees can be found here, along with birds and insects endemic to the Nyungwe Forest.
Nestled in the centre of Africa, the views, animals and plants of this economically and [now] politically stable country make any trip here truly memorable.
Rwanda is close to the middle of Africa, and is a few degrees south of the equator. It shares borders with Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the far side of Lake Kivu.
Of main interest to tourist visitors are the three national parks which are quite different to one another. Akagera National Park protects some of the landscapes more commonly found in Kenya and Tanzania; the Virunga Volcano National Park is mainly known by its French name “Parc National des Volcans” and is the home of the gorillas; the Nyungwe National Park protects the largest singe track of montane forest in East and Central Africa, and the life within its ecosystem is both rich and varied.
The Great Rift Valley lies on the border of Rwanda, and of the lakes that cover a fifth of the country’s area, the most spectacular, Lake Kivu, is a consequence of the natural geography of the valley.
Kigali is the country’s capital, and has a central location which means that most tourist attractions are no more than three hours away from the city.
The country has a violent recent history of civil war which ended in 1994. Rwanda is now a stable and friendly place to visit, there is a memorial in Kigali dedicated to the memory of those who were killed in the genocide of the war. 250,000 people were buried here and there is a museum that gives a fantastic insight into the genocide, and preserves the memories of those involved in one of the greatest tragedies in recent history.
Visitors can happily travel through Rwanda at anytime of the year, however certain times are better for particular activities. The best time for tracking gorillas and biking is the dry seasons from June to September, whilst for photographers the wet season is best as there is less haze and more greenery. This is also the best time to track chimpanzees in the Nyungwe National Park. November to March is the best time for birding as flocks of migratory birds join the native species.
There are two direct flights from Brussels to the capital, Kigali, every week. Entebbe in Uganda, Johannesburg and Addis Ababa airports run daily flights, whilst Nairobi has twice daily connections, and several flights a week to Bujumbura. It is also possible to drive to Kigali from the Goma airstrip in Goma.
Rwanda is an excellent place to go for outstanding natural beauty as well as some of the most exciting activities in the world; gorilla and chimp-trekking. The people are friendly, the tropical climate pleasing, and the travelling fairly minimal in terms of African distances, making a holiday enjoyable and unforgettable in one of the more obscure countries in Central Africa.