Rwanda, affectionately known as the land of a thousand hills, is a small yet mighty country located in East Africa. Bordered by the neighboring countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda offers adventure, luxury and cultural experiences that are sure to leave a lasting imprint on your travel soul.
Unfortunately, the perception of Rwanda globally continues to be marked by its dark past. While it’s essential to acknowledge this part of its history for greater understanding, it would be both unfair and inaccurate to end the story there. Rwanda is an undeniably beautiful country that, in many ways, feels unspoiled by over-tourism, like other popular destinations.
When selecting the next destination to visit in Africa, Rwanda delivers more than a few reasons to add it to your bucket list. Kigali, the capital city, is where most of the action happens, however, the most magnificent aspects of the country are outside of the city.
Here are four reasons that will make you fall in love with Rwanda.
Gorgeous Natural Landscapes
Most people think of Bali and Thailand when they want a lush getaway, but there’s a special feeling that comes with having similar experiences on The Continent as a Black traveler. To describe Rwanda as scenic doesn’t appropriately do it justice. Its landscape is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Rwanda’s nickname, the land of a thousand hills, comes from the endless rolling hills and mountains of its landscape.
No matter where your travels find you in the country, there are stunning views to take in as far as the eye can see. From the massive volcanoes inside Volcanoes National Park to Lake Kivu in Gisenyi, Rwanda’s beauty will leave you wanting more.
Safety and Cleanliness are a Top Priority
Although the feeling of safety is subjective and the idea of safe versus dangerous destinations has been weaponized against Black and Brown countries, Rwanda continues to rank highly as one of the safest countries in Africa. Rwanda has put considerable effort into ensuring the safety of residents and visitors by prioritizing its security measures over the years.
Within minutes of arriving in Kigali, you’ll also notice how immaculately kept the city is. Kigali has been named the cleanest city on the continent. When venturing out to more rural parts of the country, it maintains its standard of cleanliness. This is partly due to Umuganda, a national clean-up day on the last Saturday of each month. Citizens nationwide participate in the practice, including prominent leaders such as the country’s president.
Delicious Cuisine in Rwanda
A concern for some travelers is whether there will be food options that fit their tastes and budget. The good news is Rwanda has more cuisine than you’ll be able to try during your stay.
From street food favorites to upscale dining, there’s no shortage of culinary experiences throughout the country. Some dishes may have a different flair than you’re used to, but there are tons of restaurants, especially in Kigali. A few popular local dishes include ugali (corn/cassava porridge), isombe (cassava leaf stew), and mizuzu (fried plantains). Make sure to visit Nyamirambo for local African dishes and restaurants with Asian cuisine.
If you’re not much of an adventurer when it comes to food, there are still plenty of options for you. Many restaurants serve grilled meats, fish and other types of seafood in addition to vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Unique Adventure Activities in Rwanda
Perhaps the most popular of all the adventure activities in Rwanda is gorilla trekking. The outdoor adventure is typically what draws many visitors to the country. A modest 96 people per day are able to hike through Volcanoes National Park for close encounters with silverback gorillas.
In Kigali, Fazenda Sengha is a family-friendly outdoor recreational center that offers several activities for adults and children. Only 15 minutes from the city center, the outdoor park offers horseback riding, ziplining, archery, quad bikes, a bungee trampoline, hiking and paintball. Guests also can enjoy a picnic in the property’s beautiful gardens, which sit on Mount Kigali overlooking the Nyabarongo Valley.
Akagera National Park is the best place to enjoy a safari game drive to spot the Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffaloes. You can stay at four lodges, one of which is a bush camp for the ultra-outdoorsy traveler. There are approximately 10 lakes within the park, Lake Ihema being the most common. One-hour boat cruises are available to spot hippos, birds and other wildlife native to the region.
Other adventurous activities for your bucket list trip include kayaking on Lake Kivu, hiking in Nyungwe National Park and cycling the Congo Nile trail.