Discovering the Rich Tapestry of Rwanda on a Safari Rwanda Tour

Gorilla trekking Rwanda Tours - A gorilla family in Volcanoes National Park
Hanging out with Mountain Gorilla in Rwanda

If you’re planning a Rwanda safari, thrilling gorilla treks up the Virunga mountains are possibly top on your list of things to do. Rightly so since the lush green landscapes of the volcanic range are home to the endangered mountain gorilla found only in Rwanda and Uganda.

Nestled in the heart of East Africa, Rwanda is a landlocked country often referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills.” Known for its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, primates, and vibrant culture, Rwanda has emerged as a must-visit destination for travellers seeking a unique and enriching experience. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best places to visit in Rwanda, offering a glimpse into the beauty and charm that this African nation has to offer.

Book Your Holiday Safari to Rwanda With Us

From gorilla trekking safaris to wildlife spotting safaris in Rwanda’s national parks and lakefront retreats we invite you to contact us via phone or WhatsApp at +254-704-532-105. You can also connect with us via email at or  

Our senior consultant James Gatheru is available to answer your questions and get all the arrangements sorted to make your stay in Rwanda smooth. We also offer tour packages (honeymoon packages, family tours, solo travel and group adventure) to neighbouring East African countries like Kenya and Tanzania.

Remarkable Rwanda - Photos by Our Clients

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Exploring Rwanda's Safari Highlights

Exploring Rwanda on a safari Rwanda tour - Zebra grazing in the sunset
Gorgeous sunsets in the wild lands of Rwanda

The land of a thousand hills is not as famous as its neighbours in East Africa. But Rwanda holds its own as far as remarkable landscapes and incredible wildlife are concerned. Owing to its small size, tourists on a Rwanda safari can explore the country quicker and enjoy several outdoor activities ensuring you maximise your visit.

You’ll enjoy the best wildlife safaris in savannah national parks, hike up Virunga mountains on gorilla trekking safaris, and go mountaineering, and birding, among other adventures. Speaking of parks, Rwanda’s stunning national parks are the country’s crowning jewels. They include:

  • Volcanoes National Park, which offers once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trekking adventures
  • Akagera National Park, which is known for its diverse and abundant wildlife
  • Nyungwe Forest National Park, which offers amazing primate encounters

Volcanoes National Park: Home to Mountain Gorillas

Rwanda gorilla tours to Volcanoes National Park - Views of Virunga Mountains
The mist-clad Virunga Mountains

In the far northwest part of Rwanda is Volcanoes National Park where half the wild mountain gorillas roam freely in the bamboo-covered slopes of Virunga mountains. These magnificent mountains are part of an ancient volcanic range that spans three countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

A short 2-hour drive from Kigali is Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, a perfect mix of bamboo and evergreen forest, heath, swamp, and open grassland. The park is one of the few places where the wild mountain gorilla thrives. 

The late Dian Fossey, a primatologist spent time at this park studying mountain gorillas earning their trust, caring for them and advocating for their preservation. Many of her strategies are still used today in the habituation of these gentle giants. Her work didn’t sit well with poachers who considered Dian Fosset a threat to their “business.”

Today Dian Fossey is buried in Karisoke Research Station (on the slopes of Mt Karisimbi) near her favourite mountain gorilla—Digit, among other primates.

Top activities at Volcanoes National Park include

  • Gorilla treks to spot mountain gorillas and spend one hour with them
  • Golden monkey trekking. As with mountain gorillas, golden monkeys can also be seen in Volcanoes National Park. 
  • Following the trail to the Dian Fossey grave shrine to pay tribute to this great primatologist while enjoying gorgeous scenery and birding activities
  • Hiking up any of the five mountains in the park i.e. Mount Bisoke, Gahinga, Sabyinyo, Muhabura and Karisimbi.
  • Canoeing in Mukungwa River to soak in some gorgeous views and watch birds.
  • Visiting the Musanze caves where ancient Kinyarwandan tribes crowned their kings. In recent times, the caves sheltered refugees who escaped the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
  • Cultural tours to Iby’iwacu cultural village where you can learn about the local communities and culture, and enjoy their performances.  You can also try out their traditional weapons or learn how to prepare traditional medicine.

Akagera National Park: A Wildlife Paradise

Wildlife viewing on Safari Rwanda - Impalas
Impalas on high alert

On the North Eastern side of Rwanda is Akagera National Park, a beautiful wildlife park comprising grassy wide plains, shrubs, forests, swamps and small lakes. The park is home to the Big 5 animals along with other predators, prey and primates making it an excellent choice for a Rwanda safari tour.

Fun activities include game drives, nature walks, birding, and boat cruises in the shallow Lake Ihema to spot hippos and Crocs. For tourists interested in sport fishing, the tour operator can help arrange for this at Lake Shakani. While the idea is to release your catch into the waters, you’re allowed to take some for dinner.

Nyungwe Forest National Park: Primate Wonderland

Touring Nyungwe Forest National Park on Safari Rwanda - Canopy Walk
Enjoy elevated views from Nyungwe’s Canopy Walk

There’s only one way to describe this Nyungwe Forest National Park—spectacularly beautiful. The park is home to one of the oldest and best-preserved mountain rainforests in Africa. 

Setting foot into this pristine tropical world introduces you to a fairy-like world where gorgeous orchids hang onto ancient mahogany and ebony trees. Its bamboo-covered slopes are dotted with colourful butterflies and birds, rivers flow gently through the forests and primates call to each other.

Top activities at this park include

  • Canopy walk on the suspension bridge. This thrilling two-hour stroll above the forest cover offers panoramic views over the forest and opportunities to spot primates, colourful birds, butterflies and wildlife.
  • Chimpanzee trekking. Besides gorilla treks in the Volcanoes Park, you can trek up one of the many trails in Nyungwe to seek out chimpanzees. Watching these acrobatic primates swing from one branch to the next, grooming, and cuddling is rewarding and heartwarming.
  • Primate trekking. Nyungwe forest offers 13 hiking trails allowing visitors the opportunity to spot different species including the L’Hoest Monkeys, Grey-Cheeked Mangabeys, and Owl Faced Monkeys.
  • Forest hikes. If you’re a nature buff, you’ll enjoy hiking through the forest viewing different tree and plant species, butterflies, and birds. Each one of the 13 trails comes with a diverse and amazing experience.

Lake Kivu

Lakeside escapes on safari Rwanda tours - Lake Kivu
Lakeside Relaxation in Rwanda

Bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo is Lake Kivu, one of the scenic lakes in Rwanda and the third largest in Africa. Surrounded by terraced hills and beautiful beaches, the lake is both picturesque and charming and the sound of waves gently lapping at the shores is a relaxing treat after days of gorilla trekking.

What can you do here? Pull up a beachfront lounge chair and chill, swim, kayak, fish, or explore the lake’s islands on a boat or canoe. In our opinion, it’s one of the best ways tourists can conclude their safari in Rwanda.

Essential Gorilla Trekking Information

What you need to know when Gorilla trekking Rwanda - A mountain gorilla in Volcanoes Park
Snack time for the mightly gorilla

Gorilla trekking is an incredible experience, and obtaining a gorilla permit is essential. Without one you can’t embark on gorilla safaris in Rwanda. Just like in Uganda, gorilla trekking safaris are carefully managed to ensure the mountain gorillas aren’t overwhelmed by too many visitors in their habitat.

Only eight gorilla permits are issued per group each day which means they are highly sought after. We recommend securing your gorilla permit well in advance to ensure you can spend time with a gorilla group. A gorilla trekking permit can be secured through the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or a registered tour operator and costs $1,500 per person for a one-hour visit.

Volcanoes National Park may not be as steep as the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda but the physical demands of gorilla treks shouldn’t be underestimated. A walking stick can be incredibly helpful in navigating the forest terrain, but you should be able to walk for several hours on uneven terrain and climb steep hills.

We recommend packing a pair of sturdy, waterproof hiking boots along with long socks, long-sleeved shirts, and pants. While you’re at it, throw in a waterproof since you’ll be entering a rainforest—it can rain at any moment irrespective of the season. Similarly, a waterproof backpack to keep your belongings (water, snacks, camera, etc) will be handy.

Timing is everything when it comes to gorilla trekking. The dry season, which runs from June to September and December to February, offers the perfect conditions to explore the gorillas’ natural habitat. Not only is the weather more pleasant, but the lower rainfall also makes the trails less challenging and more accessible.

The journey through the forest, the excitement of tracking gorillas, and the ultimate reward of standing close to these magnificent creatures make every step worth it.

Responsible Gorilla Trekking Practices

While experiencing Rwanda’s natural wonders, we must keep in mind our accountability towards the environment and the wildlife we encounter. Adopting responsible gorilla trekking practices facilitates the well-being of the gorillas and the sustainability of their habitat.

Respecting Gorilla Family Groups

Respecting a gorilla group is at the heart of responsible gorilla trekking. While several gorilla families have been habituated (taught to see humans as non-threats), each family has unique dynamics and behaviours. It’s critical to respect these gentle giants during your encounter, to ensure your safety.

Respect includes maintaining a safe distance, avoiding direct eye contact, and refraining from touching the gorillas. We also recommend following the guidelines provided by your guide and adhering to the rules set by the park authorities.

Minimising Environmental Impact

Gorilla trekking takes you deep into the heart of Rwanda’s fragile ecosystems. It’s crucial to minimize our environmental impact during these treks. This includes sticking to designated trails, refraining from littering, and keeping noise levels to a minimum.

Supporting Local Communities

Supporting local communities on Safari Rwanda Tours - dancers of iby’iwacu village
Enjoying traditional dances by the iby’iwacu village people

Supporting the locals is another key aspect of responsible gorilla trekking. This extends beyond the park boundaries to the communities that live around these parks. By hiring local porters, engaging in community tourism activities, and buying souvenirs from local artisans you can contribute to the local economy. And it helps support community development initiatives.

Combining Your Rwanda Safari with Other East African Destinations

The land of a thousand hills holds much appeal for a holiday getaway but you don’t have to limit yourself to Rwanda when East Africa abounds with incredible wildlife destinations. You can combine your Rwanda safari with other East African destinations such as Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania and turn your trip into a grand African adventure.

From the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda to the Great Migration in Kenya and the iconic Serengeti in Tanzania, the possibilities are endless.

Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and More

Combining Gorilla Trekking Rwanda with Gorilla Trekking in Uganda - Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Spotting mountain gorillas on a trail in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Just across the border from Rwanda, Uganda beckons with its own unique wildlife experiences. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to another population of wild mountain gorillas, offering another chance for an unforgettable gorilla trekking adventure.

Apart from gorilla trekking, Uganda also offers other wildlife encounters, including chimpanzee trekking, game drives and bird watching. Boat cruises at Murchison Falls Park and along the Kazinga Channel allow you to explore the wilderness. You can also head off to Kidepo Valley or Queen Elizabeth National Parks for a classic safari.

Kenya: The Great Migration and Beyond

Combining Rwanda gorilla safaris with Wildebeest Migration safari in Tanzania - Wildebeest Migrating
Views of Wildebeest migrating from Tanzania into Kenya

A safari in Kenya offers a different kind of spectacle – the Great Migration. This epic journey of over a million wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles between the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara in Kenya is one of nature’s greatest spectacles.

Apart from the Great Migration, Kenya also boasts of other wildlife-rich destinations, including Amboseli National Park, known for its large elephant herds and views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Samburu National Park offers an off-the-beaten-path experience while Kenya’s pristine coastline is the perfect getaway.

Tanzania: Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and More

Combining Rwanda gorilla tours with safari to Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania - andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Breathtaking views of Ngorongoro Crater from andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Tanzania offers a wealth of wildlife adventures. The iconic Serengeti is a must-visit for Big 5 game safaris and to follow the Wildebeest migration route. The Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another must-see, with its high concentration of wildlife including the most dense population of lions in the world.

As with Samburu Game Reserve, Tanzania’s Tarangire and Ruaha National Parks offer authentically remote experiences in the country’s wild lands. Kenya shares a coastline with Tanzania, so after spending several days in the bush, you can head over to Zanzibar for a relaxing retreat.

Where to Stay On A Rwanda Safari

Best accommodation options on Rwanda gorilla tours - Hotel Room at One & Only’s Gorilla’s Nest
The luxurious One & Only’s Gorilla’s Nest

Part of planning your safari involves knowing where you’ll retire to after a whole day of gorilla trekking, tracking chimpanzees, and game drives. Rwanda offers a wide range of accommodation options ranging from high-end luxury lodges to budget stays.

If you’re heading into Volcanoes National Park Singita Kwitonda Lodge, One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, and Mountain Gorilla View Lodge are worth considering. Magashi Camp, Ruzizi Tented Lodge and Akagera Game Lodge are some of the accommodations you can stay in while visiting Akagera Park. Nungwe Park isn’t left behind and comes with a host of lodges including One & Only Nyungwe House.


From the lush green rainforests of Volcanoes National Park to the diverse wildlife of Akagera National Park and the primate paradise of Nyungwe Forest National Park, a Rwanda safari offers an experience like no other. Whether you’re trekking to meet the majestic mountain gorillas, capturing stunning wildlife images, or supporting the locals, every moment spent in Rwanda is a memory to cherish. So why wait? Pack your bags, gear up, and get ready for an unforgettable journey into the heart of Africa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Rwanda Good for Safari?

Yes, Rwanda is a safe African safari destination and is renowned for being one of the safest countries to visit in Africa. You can trek up mountains to see the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and chimpanzees. The country also hosts the Big 5 game that you can spot on a safari in the parks.

Is Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda Safe?

Rwanda gorilla trekking safaris are highly secure and safe, as security is tight both within the country and in the national parks. There have been almost no reported cases of poaching in recent times.

Is Rwanda Better Than Uganda for Gorilla Trekking?

Rwanda offers easier trekking compared to Uganda, with open terrain and less surrounding vegetation, which provides a great view of the gorillas.

How Much Does It Cost to Trek With Gorillas in Rwanda?

Rwanda gorilla trekking permits cost \$1500 per person per day. Your tour operator can obtain a gorilla permit on your behalf. Due to high demand, you may need to book it as early as 18 months in advance. Special offers are also available for Rwandan and East African Community residents.

What Are the Best Times To Visit Rwanda for a Safari?

Rwanda is the perfect destination for a safari, especially during the dry season from June to September and December to February. These months provide the best conditions for game viewing and amazing wildlife sightings.