TOP FIVE rea­sons to visit Rwanda

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Travel - – Chris Lead­beater/The Tele­graph

1.

It has very big and very fa­mous an­i­mals The key rea­son to visit Rwanda is its moun­tain go­rilla pop­u­la­tion – and rightly so.

These glo­ri­ous crea­tures haunt Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park, in the far north-west of the coun­try where it rubs up against Virunga Na­tional Park in the DRC and Mgahinga Go­rilla Na­tional Park in Uganda to cre­ate one colos­sal cross­bor­der ex­panse of wildlife and won­der.

2.

But there is more to the moun­tains than pri­mates

As its name sug­gests, Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park also knows a thing or two about vast fire-breath­ing peaks.

It in­cor­po­rates five of the eight vol­ca­noes which give the ridge line of the Virunga Moun­tains a lava-born grandeur.

Mount Karisimbi is the high­est at 4,507m and snow is present on its sum­mit dur­ing the an­nual dry sea­son of June- Au­gust ( its name loosely trans­lates as “snow” in the lo­cal lan­guage, Kin­yarwanda).

For all this, it can be con­quered on foot (thank­fully, the vol­cano is re­garded as in­ac­tive).

3.

Here be li­ons, too Rwanda is rarely con­sid­ered a clas­sic sa­fari desti­na­tion, but for those seek­ing things that roar and growl in the night, Ak­agera Na­tional Park is home to the Big Five . Spread­ing out on the east flank of the coun­try, shaped by the bor­der with Tan­za­nia and the River Kagera, this ver­dant en­clave of sa­van­nah and wet­land suf­fered dur­ing Rwanda’s tur­bu­lent 90s, when poach­ing and sub­sis­tence hunt­ing robbed it of most of its in­hab­i­tants.

But it has re-gath­ered it­self since 2009, when it was taken un­der the wing of res­cue and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion group African Parks.

4.

The tree­line is alive with the flut­ter of feath­ers

There are fur­ther mem­bers of Rwanda’s Na­tional Parks club.

Pinned to the south-west of the coun­try, where it bor­ders Bu­rundi, Nyungwe For­est Na­tional Park is an ex­am­ple of Africa at its most raw – a dense patch of pris­tine jun­gle where chim­panzees leap from branch to branch, and more than 300 bird species caw and call in the up­per leaves.

5.

Its cap­i­tal is an in­trigu­ing place for a day or two

Pitched roughly at the geo­graphic cen­tre of the coun­try, Ki­gali could be called a work-in-progress, fanning out in that sprawl­ing fash­ion of ma­jor African cities, across hill­sides and slopes.

With a pop­u­la­tion of more than a mil­lion, this is no tiny conur­ba­tion, but it re­veals its charms grace­fully.

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