The Land of a Thousand Hills offers one of the greatest tourism experiences in Africa. With a rich history and culture, epic volcanoes and national parks, the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world and many other notable wildlife species – Rwanda packs a big punch for such a small landlocked nation. If you are planning to travel to this East African gem we highly recommend booking one of the best tours in Rwanda mentioned below.
While independent travel is still possible, many of the wildlife adventures can only be enjoyed by attaining permits and joining guided tours. This is good news because trying to navigate the dense forests of Volcanoes National Park or Nyungwe National Park would be impossible to do by yourself. Rwanda’s travel industry has blossomed over the past few decades and there are some fantastic eco-friendly companies to book with.
None are better than Rwanda Eco Company and Enclose Africa Safaris. The former are Rwanda specialists whose tours lead you to the “soul” of Le Pays des Mille Collines, while the latter offer packages with a philanthropic mission. Activities like gorilla trekking and visiting the genocide memorials are must-do’s but there is so much more to do in Rwanda. In the tours listed below, you will venture to hidden gems well off the beaten path.
Best Tours in Rwanda
1. Gorilla Trekking Safari in Rwanda (4 Days)
This tour is a popular option for travelers heading to Rwanda on a short trip. Rwanda Eco Company will greet you at the Kigali Airport and take you on a thrilling four day adventure in Volcanoes National Park to see mountain gorillas. Upon arrival, guests will be welcomed and then transferred to their accommodation in Kigali (the capital of Rwanda). The next day is when your adventure begins! First stop is the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
Here you will learn about the Rwandan Genocide that took place in 1994 where over 250,000 Tutsi lost their lives. After this sobering visit, head to Musanze – the gateway to Volcanoes National Park. Stay overnight in a nice hotel or lodge and then wake up the next morning full of anticipation for what’s to come. Trek into the rainforest with your tour guide who will track down a mountain gorilla family. Enjoy an hour with the gorillas.
Gorilla tracking can take anywhere between half a day or a whole day, depending on the movements of the animals. The final day is all about seeing golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park. Then it’s back to Kigali where your adventure began and transfers to your hotel or the airport if you wish to fly home. This tour with Rwanda Eco Company includes gorilla and monkey permits which are required to see the primates.
2. Gorilla Trekking & Lake Kivu in Rwanda (6 Days)
For those who would like to stay in Rwanda a little longer, the 6-day gorilla trekking and Lake Kivu tour is a wonderful way to spend almost a week in the country. Be picked up at Kigali Airport by your safari driver who will brief you on the itinerary and transfer you to the hotel in Kigali for the night. Dinner is included at the hotel, so you can relax and fight off any jet lag that is still lingering if you have just experienced a long haul flight from afar.
Check out of the hotel after breakfast and visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial for a chilling reminder of Rwanda’s past. Then be transported to Musanze in the northwest where you can relax for the rest of the day. In the morning, get briefed from park officials while sipping on coffee and head off on the adventure of a lifetime. Trek into the depths of Volcanoes National Park where you can admire the endangered mountain gorillas.
Day four takes you to Gisenyi – a town situated on Lake Kivu. Chill at the lodge for the afternoon and then join a fishing experience in the evening. Learning about the life of local fishermen is one of the highlights of this tour. On day five of the itinerary, guests will head to Kimbiri for a coffee excursion. See how coffee is grown in this lush part of the country. The final stop is Rubavu for a city tour and then it’s back to Kigali for your departure.
3. Rwanda Wildlife Adventure Tour (7 Days)
A full week of adventure awaits on this wildlife tour with Enclose Africa Safaris. Explore two of the best Rwandan national parks – Akagera and Nyungwe national parks – and enjoy tours in Kigali and Lake Kivu along the way. Commencing in Kigali, this seven day journey kicks off with a city tour around the capital where guests will get to experience a local market, have lunch at a popular restaurant and see the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
Day three brings you to Akagera National Park for wildlife viewings. This park borders Tanzania. Your guide will lead a boat trip on Lake Ihema where cool creatures can be spotted such as hippos, elephants, crocodiles and an array of colorful birds. The next day, partake in a game drive safari with the chance to shoot sensational photos during sunset. Lions, elephants and buffalo are a few of the animals on display during this time.
On the fifth day, guests will be driven to the western province to discover the awesome Nyungwe National Park. Chimpanzee trekking is perhaps the biggest attraction of Nyungwe. Another highlight is the canopy walk where you can take in superb views of the forest from a 90 meter high suspended bridge. The last full day entails a visit to Lake Kivu for a sunset boat ride before returning to Kigali for your evening departure flight.
4. Rwanda Cultural Experience Tour (8 Days)
The Cultural Experience Tour with Rwanda Eco Company has it all. It would be hard to beat this eight day itinerary if you tried. Beginning in Kigali, the first activity is exploring the capital by visiting landmarks and discovering its history (both pre-genocide and post-genocide). Day three and it’s off to Muhanga to meet locals in their hillside environment. Here guests will immerse in the art, food, traditions and customs of the locals.
Next on the agenda is a trip to Butare with a stop at the King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza en route. Following these cultural attractions, nature and wildlife begin to feature as you travel to Nyungwe National Park to go chimpanzee trekking. There is usually enough time to spend at least one hour with these cheeky primates. Cap off this phenomenal adventure with a tea plantation and tasting tour at the lovely Gisakura Tea Plantation.
The second half of the tour sees you hiking a canopy walk in Nyungwe, staying in Lake Kivu and meeting fishermen, trying coffee at Kinunu Coffee Plantation and resting your head in Rubavu for a night. And if you thought the tour couldn’t get any better then think again! On day seven you have the option of gorilla trekking or golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes National Park. All of this before finishing back in Kigali where you started.
5. Experience Rwanda Safari (10 Days)
Our final recommendation for the best tours in Rwanda is the Experience Rwanda Safari with Enclose Africa Safaris. Relish the opportunity to see large swathes of this incredible country throughout a ten day itinerary. Three national parks are included – Akagera, Nyungwe and Volcanoes – as well as Lake Kivu and a few secrets along the way. After a short stint in Kigali, head to Akagera National Park for your first big adventure on tour.
Activities at Akagera involve a boat trip on Lake Ihema to go wildlife viewing from the water, a game drive on land to see big mammals and relaxing at the Akagera Game Lodge. The next park on this schedule is Nyungwe where 13 different species of primates wait for you. You will get to go chimpanzee trekking in addition to hiking an invigorating canopy walk. Then it’s Lake Kivu time with its fishermen and lake attractions.
Last but certainly not the least of the parks that you will visit is Volcanoes National Park. Of course, gorilla trekking is the main feature at Volcanoes. Head into the jungle with your safari guide to track down these majestic animals. The cherry on top is a golden monkey trekking experience at Volcanoes National Park before eventually driving back to Kigali to finish the tour. From here you can continue traveling East Africa or fly back home.