Home Eastern Africa Self Driving Around Rwanda: Best Places to Visit

Self Driving Around Rwanda: Best Places to Visit

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The easiest way to get around Rwanda is to hire your own car. Though most people think that Rwanda Car Hire is expensive, it is important to rent a car for your travels within the country. This is the due to that the country has not yet attained a decent public transport system that tourists can use in Rwanda. If you want to visit Akagera National Park, you will need to join a tour or use your own 4 wheel drive vehicle. The same goes for Volcanoes National Park; no flexible public transport runs to the entrance of the park. However, if you are just around the cities and towns, there is no reason to hire a car. There are dozens of moto-taxis waiting to take you around at reasonable rates. The best part is that the drivers don’t inflate their prices and you don’t need to waste time haggling. Places to visit include the following;

City tour

Kigali city itself is one of the top places tourists should not miss to visit when in Rwanda. It is Rwanda’s capital city full of life, color and energy and on top of all, it was declared Africa’s most beautiful city by the United Nations. It is one of the cleanest and safest places in Africa. Kigali city tour offers an in-depth concept of Kigali and the history of Rwanda as a whole. While at Kigali city, you can visit Kandt House museum (oldest building), you will also visit the first modern building on which the city was first founded, Inema Arts center, Ivuka Arts center, Museum of National History, the Presidential Museum, the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, State house museum and the Miyo Art Gallery. Spend your time hopping between the city’s art galleries and happy hours, taking in the land of a thousand hills from the top of Mount Kigali and exploring the vibrant markets.

Musanze caves

These caves are situated in north west of Rwanda in Musanze district. The district is a home to the twin lakes, plenty of volcano hikes. The caves are the most visited among the 52 surveyed caves in Musanze District. It is about 2 km long, has 31 entrances with the main entrance being 10km wide. The Musanze caves harbor a colony of bats which also add to the memorable visitor experience as they walk through the caves. The caves look like a house with several rooms and stairs.

Lake Kivu

Several lakes exist in Rwanda and tourists can enjoy the scenic and serene views of these marvelous Lakes. They include Lake Kivu the largest fresh water lake in Rwanda. It is set on lush green hills and shared with the Democratic Republic of Congo and offers the best relaxation time for tourists. Water sports including canoeing, kayaking and windsurfing take place while at this Lake or just hang out in the coastal towns of Kibuye and Gisenyi.

Rwanda’s only big five game park.

Akagera National Park is located in the North Eastern part of Rwanda on the Tanzanian and Ugandan borders. Akagera National Park the only Rwanda’s savannah park received its name after the river that runs through it. Akagera National Park is known as one of the most scenic savannahs in East Africa that offers an opportunity to enjoy wildlife in game drives also to view gentle hills blending with lowland swamps and water bodies. Akagera National Park is rich in birds with over 525 species; this reflects the extremely wide diversity of habitat. Bird watcher who come to the Park are impressed by what they find as a variety of birds ranging from water to forest and including Savannah and migratory bird species. A game drive offers opportunity towards nature to present out its treasures in the form of scenic wonders. Wildlife such as Elephants, Buffaloes, Antelopes (Topi or Elands), Burchell Zebras, Maasai Giraffes, Savannah Birds, Monkeys, Leopards, Civets, Hyenas, Lions, Serval Cats, Rhinos and many more. The drive is about 2 hours in length and gives you a different perspective of Akagera National Park during the night. When it comes to Primates, you will find groups of the Olive Baboons, Vervet Monkeys and the rarely seen Blue Monkey, the wide-eyed bush babies can also be found in the park. You might also come across the black-tailed Mongoose, Catlike Genet, black- masked Civet, Serval Cats, Warthogs, Bush Pigs, rarely seen Lions.

Nyungwe forest National Park

Rwanda is home to one of Aftica’s last remaining high altitude tropical rainforests, found in Nyungwe Forest National Park. It is one of the most bio-diverse forests in the world, and is home to more than 1080 plant species as well as 250 Albertine Rift Endemic bird types, an attraction which brings in bird-watchers from all over the world. The park is located in South-western edge of Rwanda, bordered by Burundi in the South and DRC in the West and covers a total area of 1020 square kilometers. It was established in 2004 to diversify Rwanda’s tourism from over relying on gorilla tourism. The Park is about 4-5 hours drive from Kigali town. 75 species of mammals are inhabited in this park including 13 primate species for example over 400 Chimpanzees, Black and white colobus monkeys, and the park is a home of over 300 species of birds out of which 16 species are Albertine Rift endemics. Any trip here must include a high canopy walk, where visitors can take to the treetops to view the forest in its full majesty.  Several hiking trails in Nyungwe forest include the Ngabwe trail, Bigugu trail, Kamiranzovu marsh trail, and Isumo waterfall trail, Source of the River Nile trail, Karamba birding trail, Imbaraga trail, Rukuzi trail and irebero trail among others.

Volcanoes National Park

This is a small national Park of 160 square kilometers located in North-western Rwanda and is bordered by DRC and Uganda. It is situated around 105 kilometers west of Kigali town. This Park is a home to the famous and unique critically endangered mountain gorillas. Visiting this park will bring you face to face with these Giant Apes (mountain gorillas). A visit to Rwanda offers you with the unforgettable gorilla safari in the Volcanoes national park, home to10 habituated gorilla families existing in different locations of the park. Besides the mountain gorilla, other attractions include over 75 species of mammals like Elephants, Buffaloes, and Giant forest Hogs, Bushbucks and spotted hyenas among others. The park is also a home of over 180 species of birds whereby 26 species are endemic to Virunga and Rwenzori mountains. Besides the wildlife species, other attractions include Dian Fossey grave, Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke.

King’s palace Museum in Nyanza:

This Nyanza based Palace was the residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa until his death. It was built in 1932 by Belgium government and is located about 88 km south of Kigali city. This museum is a cultural center that provides apprehension into Rwanda’s monarchy tradition over the past 200 years. The museum offers a view of Rwandan traditional seat of the King.  Most of the traditional materials and objects in the museum were destroyed while others stolen during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. However, in order to restore it to its authentic 19th century state, certain traditional materials were added and these include Traditional cows locally known as “Inyambo” because it present the culture of the Rwandese. While at this museum, you get the chance to visit Rwanda burial grounds of King Mutara III and his precious wife Rosalie Gicanda on a neighboring hill of Mwima.

Genocide sites

Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide whereby over 800,000 Rwandan people lost their dear lives, some specific sites were used as their resting places to commemorate the 100 days of trauma. Currently eight (8) Genocide Memorial Sites exist in Rwanda for. They include the following; Murambi Genocide memorial site in Nyamagabe district, Gisozi Memorial site in Gasabo district, Gisenyi Memorial Site, Nyamata Memorial Site in Bugesera district, Bisesero Memorial site in Karongi district, Nyarubuye Memorial Site, Nyanza Memorial Site and Ntarama Memorial Site. These sites include the bones, clothes of the victims of the Rwandan genocide. The memorial sites act as a remembrance to the history of the country.

National Museum of Rwanda

The museum that was built in 1987 and inaugurated in 1989 is situated in Huye/Butare, about 130 km South of Kigali town. It is one of the 6 fascinating Museums that form the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda and it being the first to be opened in Rwanda, it has continuously been referred to as the best museum in East Africa. The Museum has 7 galleries with objects grouped according to the themes that showcase ethnographic, historical (how Rwanda was like before colonization), artistic and Archeological artifacts. The museum is meant to tell a story on the social and the cultural aspects of Rwanda, artifacts and symbols of Rwanda’s culture and heritage which include “Kagondo hut”, “Isinde” among others.’

Iby’iwacu cultural village:

This cultural village is located in Musanze district around Volcanoes National Park. Iby’iwacu is a Kinyarwanda word meaning “Treasure of our home” the cultural village exhibits cultural practices of the three tribes of Rwanda that is Hutu, Tutsi and the Batwa. They have several tourists’ activities that tourists can enjoy and these include learning how to prepare traditional foods, 8 different traditional dances are presented (Intore, Ikembe, Amakondera and Ingoma among others). Tourists also participate in community walks, visit to the former king’s palace, visit the traditional herbalists and clinics. For sure, Iby’iwacu cultural village is a place where nature meets culture.

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