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Reimagining Travel

Established in 2023, Reimagining Travel is redefining the travel experience: by being on a mission to make travel more sustainable, innovative, and inclusive.

Our journey began 15 years ago with a vision of change, and now we’re officially here to rewrite the rules of exploration, for our purpose is clear: lead the travel industry towards sustainability, enhance the travel experience through technology and innovation, and promote responsible, ethical, and inclusive tourism.

Travel that benefits the environment, ecosystems and community.

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Rwanda Tours & Safaris

A Dream World in Real Life
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Rwanda's Historical Background and Economic Overview

Rwanda, a tiny nation in Central Africa, boasts a history steeped in pre-colonial kingdoms and prosperous cattle-owning dynasties. It managed to evade the devastating effects of the transatlantic slave trade but later fell under the rule of the Germans and then the Belgians. Independence finally dawned in 1962, marking the beginning of Rwanda's post-colonial journey, which has been marked by various challenges. The darkest chapter was the 1994 genocide, but since then, the country has made remarkable progress and gained prominence in regional affairs. The Rwandan economy is predominantly agrarian, with agriculture contributing to 40% of the GDP and employing 90% of the workforce. However, most of this agriculture revolves around subsistence farming, leaving little surplus. Cash crops like tea and coffee, as well as mining for rare metals, generate foreign revenue.

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Rwanda's People, Culture and Belief

Rwanda, a lush and fertile nation, has a history of settlement dating back centuries. With over 11 million people residing in a land mass smaller than Belgium, it ranks among the most densely populated countries in Africa. Its early inhabitants were the pygmy Twa, a group of hunter-gatherers who later yielded to migrating Hutu farmers, constituting over 80% of the present-day population. Following them were the Tutsis, known for their cattle-raising practices, who once held sway over traditional power structures until the era of independence. Modern Rwanda, shaped by its complex history, generally tends to overlook such ethnic distinctions. The country boasts a youthful population, with over 40% under the age of 15, and a predominantly Catholic population, closely followed by Protestants.

Rwanda officially recognizes Kinyarwanda, French, and English as its languages. It is widely regarded as a welcoming, safe, and accessible destination for travellers. The cultural landscape is enriched by music, particularly the rhythmic art of drumming, and vibrant traditional dances. A strong oral tradition is evident, featuring diverse forms of expression, from poetry to folklore.

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Rwanda Landscape and Wildlife

Rwanda, often referred to as the 'Land of a Thousand Hills,' is a landlocked gem nestled at the heart of Africa. Characterised by its volcanic terrain, dense mountain ranges, pristine lakes, and meandering rivers, Rwanda holds a unique place in the Albertine Rift Valley, a region teeming with biodiversity. While much of Rwanda's hill country and grasslands have been converted for terraced agriculture, the country retains three vital wildlife reserves. The most renowned of these is the Volcanoes National Park, home to approximately half of Africa's remaining mountain gorillas and the famous gorilla trekking industry.

Nyungwe Forest provides sanctuary to various primate species, including chimpanzees, and Akagera National Park, situated in Rwanda’s flatter and warmer eastern region, serves as the country’s sole savannah reserve. Bird enthusiasts will find a haven in Rwanda, with a recorded 670 species adding to the country’s vibrant wildlife tapestry.

Rwanda's Capital City

Kigali

Rwanda's Population

13 million

Rwanda's Currency

Rwandan Franc

Rwanda's Language

Kinyarwanda, French, English, Swahili

Rwanda's Calling Code

+250

Discover the exceptional beauty of Rwanda, a nation renowned for its remarkable biodiversity, lush highland rainforests, and iconic mountain gorillas. Unlike many destinations, Rwanda offers a unique opportunity to experience these incredible creatures up close. The country’s inviting atmosphere and warm-hearted people make it a must-visit destination. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or an adventurer seeking to explore more of East Africa, Rwanda has something for everyone.

Rwanda’s diverse landscape goes beyond its verdant hills. The country is also home to the Nyungwe Forest National Park, where playful chimpanzees frolic and the skies are adorned with a rich tapestry of birdlife. In eastern Rwanda, the Akagera National Park beckons with its savannah landscapes, offering thrilling encounters with safari heavyweights such as lions and elephants.

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Enchanting Encounters with Mountain Gorillas and Wildlife

Rwanda boasts some of the world's most captivating primate tracking experiences, set against a backdrop of rolling hills, lush forest canopies, and majestic mountain peaks. With over half of the world's surviving mountain gorilla population, it's no surprise that wildlife enthusiasts flock to Rwanda for the chance to track and spend time with these critically endangered primates up close.

Takebacks:

  • Embark on year-round Rwanda gorilla trekking adventures
  • Encounter golden monkeys, chimpanzees, and forest birds
  • Gain insights into the life and work of Dian Fossey
  • Explore the Nyungwe Forest National Park and the renowned Volcanoes National Park
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Kigali: The Modern Heartbeat of Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda's capital, has risen from its tumultuous past to become one of Africa's most welcoming and vibrant cities. It serves as the ideal starting point for your Rwanda safari adventure. With a clean and safe environment, the city features bustling shopping malls, boutique shops, and cozy coffee shops, making it the heart of Rwanda. Kigali's scenic layout, spread across several hills, offers plenty of activities to keep you engaged for days.

Takebacks:

  • Visit the Kigali Cultural Village for live music and art workshops
  • Savour the world’s finest Fair-Trade coffee at Hingakwa Women’s Coffee Cooperative
  • Time your stay with cultural events like the Kigali Film Festival, Hobe Rwanda Festival, or the Kigali Fashion Show
  • Pay your respects at the Genocide Memorial Centre, a somber but essential visit
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Sustainable Gorilla Safaris: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund & Ellen DeGeneres Campus

On the bamboo-covered slopes of Rwanda's Virunga Volcanoes, the late Dian Fossey dedicated 20 years to studying the behaviour of endangered mountain gorillas, a story depicted in the film ``Gorillas in the Mist.`` Today, you can not only witness this unforgettable wildlife encounter but also actively engage in the monumental efforts to protect the species. Participate in gorilla trekking and collaborate with local scientists in their innovative research spaces.

Takebacks:

  • Take a behind-the-scenes campus tour with a gorilla researcher
  • Immerse yourself in a half-day activity at the Price Research Center
  • Join a private, 2-hour masterclass in gorilla conservation
  • Experience gorilla trekking with a Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund researcher
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Convenient Travel and Seamless Combinations with Other Destinations

Rwanda is small, compact, and easily navigable, making it the perfect choice for those seeking accessible gorilla trekking experiences. Upon arriving in Kigali, the capital city, you are only a few hours away from the legendary Volcanoes National Park, where habituated yet wild gorilla families await authentic and awe-inspiring treks. Additionally, Rwanda can be effortlessly combined with other renowned safari destinations, including Kenya and Tanzania with their vast open plains, or the idyllic white-sand beaches of Zanzibar.

Takebacks:

  • Easily combine Rwanda with Big Five safari destinations and island escapes
  • Enjoy fly-in travel options and customizable itineraries
  • Experience the most accessible gorilla trekking adventures
  • Extend your gorilla trekking journey with a trip to Uganda or the Congo
  • Embark on a Rwanda safari and discover a world of natural wonders, captivating culture, and unforgettable wildlife encounters.

Rwanda, although one of Africa’s smallest nations, boasts a remarkable wealth of wildlife diversity. Its compact size ensures that getting around is convenient, which is a blessing considering the array of stunning destinations to explore in Rwanda. Despite its small dimensions, Rwanda offers an awe-inspiring environment and the warmth of its people, providing truly unique experiences. With an incredible range of species inhabiting its volcanoes, highland rainforests, and expansive plains, your safari tour in Rwanda promises encounters with many endemic animals.

Rwanda is approximately 1.5 times the size of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and most points of interest are just a four-hour drive from Kigali, the capital. In Rwanda, you can anticipate hiking with endangered mountain gorillas, scaling towering volcanoes, and unwinding beside the serene Lake Kivu. Here are some of the standout Rwanda tourist attractions to help plan your dream itinerary in this captivating East African country.

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Kigali: The Gateway to Gorillas

Kigali, the capital city, serves as your entry and exit point for incredible gorilla trekking adventures in Rwanda. You'll typically fly in from logistics hubs in East Africa, such as Entebbe or Nairobi, and then proceed either directly to Volcanoes National Park or opt for an overnight stay in this compact and safe city. Kigali also offers immersive and captivating city tours and safaris. For travellers arriving from South Africa's Johannesburg, Rwanda provides a seamless opportunity to add a gorilla trek to a Kruger, Cape Town, or Victoria Falls holiday. There are also regular connections from Lusaka in Zambia, making it ideal for those exploring the Lower Zambezi or South Luangwa National Park.

Kigali stands out as a clean and safe city, with residents actively participating in ‘Umuganda Day’ every month, a compulsory community cleanup event. It’s taken seriously, and Rwandans take pride in their capital. In an effort to combat litter and pollution, Rwanda has banned all forms of plastic bags. If you spend a full day in Kigali, you can visit the Genocide Memorial, a deeply moving and inspiring experience, as well as explore the ‘old’ and ‘new’ parts of the city, a rewarding and essential tourist attraction in Rwanda.

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Volcanoes National Park: Gorilla Treks and Bird Watching

Gorilla trekking is the premier attraction in Rwanda, and Volcanoes National Park is the place to be. The park's mountainous terrain and dense forests make for challenging but immensely rewarding hiking conditions. The lush surroundings are teeming with butterflies, birds, and a variety of primates, with habituated mountain gorilla families taking centre stage. To enhance your chances of an unforgettable gorilla encounter, consider visiting during the dry months, the best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park is the historic site of primatologist Dian Fossey's Karisoke Research Station, where she dedicated two decades to studying gorillas in the wild.

You can embark on a two-hour hike to her tomb, a moving and inspiring experience, or learn more about the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. This hike is considered one of the most intimate and immersive tours in Rwanda, offering an excellent opportunity to spot primates, hogs, forest elephants, and a diverse range of bird species. You can also encounter troops of habituated golden monkeys, whose antics are a delight to watch. Golden monkeys are endangered, and trekking permits are required for this unique experience.

Understanding the local culture can enhance your travel experience. Take a guided community walk to Iby’Iwacu village, where you can partake in traditional dances, learn about banana beer brewing, and visit a local healer.

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Nyungwe Forest National Park: Chimps, Primates, and Birds

Nyungwe Forest National Park, protecting one of the largest tracts of montane forest in East and Central Africa, is a compelling reason to explore Rwanda beyond gorilla trekking. As one of the oldest rainforests in Africa, Nyungwe boasts a rich diversity of birds, rare butterflies, and exquisite orchids. However, the true stars of the show are the 13 primate species, including chimpanzees, L'Hoest's monkey, owl-faced monkey, and the black and white colobus monkeys, which call the park their playground. In addition to excellent hiking trails and breathtaking vistas, the forest canopy walk offers a unique opportunity to spot blue monkeys in the treetops.

Whether you seek an immersive experience in a mesmerising natural setting or dream of encountering chimpanzees, Nyungwe is the place to be in Rwanda for an all-encompassing African adventure.

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Akagera National Park: Savannah Game Viewing

Situated in eastern Rwanda's low-lying region, Akagera National Park marks the transition from the tropical forests of Central Africa to the dry savannahs of East Africa. This park, a captivating blend of wetlands and rolling grasslands, offers the chance to spot classic African animals, including elephants, buffalo, hippos, giraffes, leopards, and a variety of antelope species. Akagera is relatively small and is approximately a three-hour drive from Kigali. In addition to guided Big Five game drives, Akagera also offers private boat trips, sunset cruises, and night drives, making it one of the most wildlife-rich destinations in Rwanda.

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Lake Kivu

Located on Rwanda's western border, Lake Kivu is a vast body of water surrounded by lush hills, offering excellent hiking, chimp trekking, bird watching, and canopy walks. Lake Kivu is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, making it a benchmark for the unparalleled beauty you'll encounter at Rwanda's top tourist attractions. Gisenyi, a small town on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, serves as an ideal base for activities such as kayaking and boating. The tranquil ambiance of Lake Kivu makes it a perfect place to recover from long-haul flight fatigue or to relax after the excitement of gorilla trekking and the many other extraordinary tours in Rwanda.

The ideal time for a trip to Rwanda is during the dry season, which typically spans from June to September. This period not only offers the best weather conditions but also presents the prime opportunity to witness the majestic mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Hiking conditions are at their finest during these months, and there’s a lower risk of encountering malaria.

While it is possible to embark on mountain gorilla treks and explore Rwanda during other times of the year, it’s essential to consider the potential challenges. The wetter seasons bring rainfall, resulting in steep and muddy hiking trails, which can make the trek more challenging. It’s crucial to be in reasonably good physical condition when setting out on your journey, as you’ll be venturing into the dense, tropical jungles of Rwanda to meet the mountain gorillas.

During these months, high and medium-altitude regions, including Kigali, Lake Kivu, Volcanoes National Park, and Nyungwe National Parks, experience warm days and cool evenings. Low-lying areas like Akagera National Park enjoy warm days and evenings. This time is popular for Rwanda safaris, offering the opportunity to revel in the country’s stunning landscapes. The warm climate and ample sunshine create ideal conditions for memorable forest treks. However, it’s worth noting that prices tend to be higher during this dry season, so planning well in advance is advisable.

March marks the start of the rainy season, with showers continuing into mid-May. Despite the wet weather, this period remains suitable for primate trekking in Rwanda’s mystical landscape. It’s essential to have quality rain gear to navigate the dense, wet forests. April and May also bring wet conditions, making hiking around the Virungas challenging. However, by mid-May, the rains begin to subside. This is a less crowded time to visit, and last-minute gorilla trekking permits may be more accessible. May is especially rewarding for birdwatchers, as it falls within the breeding season, with vibrant, winged species gracing the skies.

The dry season between June and September is widely regarded as the best time to visit Rwanda. The climate is comfortable for gorilla trekking, with occasional light cloud cover. June is a special month, featuring the annual Kwita Izina Ceremony, where baby gorillas born in the past year are named. September brings the Rwanda Film Festival, showcasing local and international films.

If you plan to visit Rwanda during these months, you’ll encounter the short rainy season. Brief showers are common but are often followed by clear blue skies. This period may offer cost-saving opportunities for gorilla trekking permits, accommodations, and Rwanda lodges. If you don’t mind a bit of mud and rain, this can be an excellent time to explore Rwanda without the crowds. Keep in mind that the best time for your visit depends on your preferences and priorities, whether it’s enjoying dry, sunny weather, experiencing unique cultural events, or taking advantage of cost-effective options.

Rwanda Travel Advice

Get your holiday curated by our travel advisors at Reimagining Travel, as soon as you select Rwanda, an adventure paradise.

Currency: Rwandan Franc (advisable to carry US dollars (bills post-2003) or euros in cash as traveller’s cheques tend to result in unfavourable exchange rates.)
Transaction: For banking services, it’s best to handle such matters in Kigali since opportunities are limited outside the capital. Bureau de change establishments typically offer the most favourable exchange rates. While credit cards, notably MasterCard, are accepted in some upscale Kigali hotels and restaurants, their use is less prevalent in other areas.

Recommended: When embarking on a gorilla trek, tipping is not obligatory but is highly appreciated. The amount can vary depending on the size of your group and the level of assistance required. It’s advisable to engage a porter during the trek as they can assist with challenging sections of the hike, provide support, and even carry your daypack if fatigue sets in.
Others: In urban restaurants and bars, it is common to offer a 10% tip when a service charge is not included.

Average Temperature (yearlong): 12- 27 °C
Rainy Season: March – April and October to mid December
Gorilla Trekking Season: Dry Season from June to September and late December to February

Regular/Everyday: To prepare for gorilla trekking in Rwanda, packing appropriately is essential. Long, thick trousers and long-sleeved tops are a must, as are long socks or gaiters to protect against ants. Light gloves for defence against nettles, a hat, a raincoat, and sturdy, well-worn hiking boots are crucial. Given the potential for cold and damp conditions at higher altitudes, having a change of clothes and a warm fleece in your daypack is advisable.
Additionally, include sunscreen and insect repellent in your packing list. Stinging nettles, a primary food source for gorillas, are prevalent, so wearing the thickest trousers possible is recommended to shield your legs from scratches.

Specific: Avoid wearing strong fragrances, as they may deter animals, and dress in natural, earthy colors such as browns and greens. These colors blend with the environment and won’t create contrast that could startle wildlife. Conversely, avoid black or blue attire, as they may attract tsetse flies and other insects. Lastly, make sure your insect repellent is environmentally friendly. If possible, bring extra stationery, toys, or footballs for the village children to give back to the local community.

Prior to your trip, consult your doctor or travel clinic for vaccinations and altitude-related medications if needed, and consider packing anti-motion sickness medication for the winding roads.

Did you know that you can book your flights through Reimagining Travel? For further information and answers to frequently asked questions, please contact one of our Travel Experts.

Rwanda’s main point of entry is the Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport, located just a short drive from Kigali. You can access Rwanda via direct flights from Brussels or from nearby hubs such as Entebbe, Nairobi, Lusaka, or Johannesburg. The journey from Kigali to the gorilla trekking destination in Volcanoes National Park takes approximately 2.5 hours. Transfers within Rwanda are typically conducted using 4X4 vehicles, although you can opt for a helicopter flight from Kigali to Nyungwe Forest National Park. Rwanda is a small country, and the maximum driving distance between major attractions is about four to five hours. When in Kigali, an efficient and enjoyable mode of transportation is a local scooter, offering an authentic taste of the city.

A valid passport with at least six months of validity is a prerequisite for all visitors to Rwanda. Visas are mandatory for most travellers, except citizens of the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong, Kenya, and South Africa. Multiple-entry tourist visas can be obtained from the nearest Rwandan embassy or consulate. These visas are valid for three months and can usually be extended on a month-by-month basis in Kigali.

Gorilla Trekking Permits
Securing a gorilla trekking permit is essential for this unique experience. It’s important to note that children under 15 are not allowed to participate in gorilla treks.

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Desired Trip Length to Rwanda

No. of days: 7

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Adults above 12
Children age 2-12
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