TOP FIVE reasons to visit Rwanda
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.