I spent 2 weeks in Rwanda in January 2017.
Here is a summary of my experience.
Hope it helps - Do not hesitate if you have any questions.
If you want to read more: http://grandescapades.net/grand-escapades-travel-guide-to-rwanda/
Detailed breakdown of expenditures: http://grandescapades.net/grand-escapades-budget-guide-to-rwanda/
And a few pictures: http://grandescapades.net/rwanda-a-selection-of-30-pictures/
Itinerary And Time Of The Visit
In January 2017, I spent 2 weeks in Rwanda. Of course I went to the Parc National des Volcans & Tracked Mountain Gorillas - This was one of my motivations for returning to Uganda & discovering Rwanda.
I also visited 4 different Memorials of the Genocide, one of the darkest episodes in Human History, each actually showing a different aspect of those horrid events: Kigali Memorial Center, Nyamata Genocide Memorial (near Kigali), Murambi Genocide Memorial (near Butare / Huye) and Bisesero Genocide Memorial (near Kibuye / Karongi).
But there are various other aspects of the country that really deserve your attention and at least a few extra days! I also discovered:
• Kigali & Nyamata;
• Nyanza, Huye (Butare) and Nyamagabe in the South;
• Musanze (Ruhengeri) & the Volcanoes National Park in the North;
• And last but not least scenic Lake Kivu to the West, especially Karongi (Kibuye) and Rubavu (Gisenyi), conveniently linked by a ferry that covers this route twice a week in each direction.
Why Travel To Rwanda? Highlights Of The Trip
Let’s start with the big concern many people have. YES, traveling in Rwanda is safe, very safe! Actually, Rwanda is one of the safest countries in Africa, as far as I can tell. The Genocide happened 23 years ago and the country has recovered from this very dark period and is now absolutely stable.
Rwanda is actually the easiest country to travel in Africa I have experienced so far. There are good reasons why the country is known as “The Switzerland of Africa”. Yes, Rwanda could be considered the ideal “Africa for Beginners”.
Of course you will go there for the Mountain Gorillas. It is a very expensive undertaking, but it is also one of the most stunning Wild Life experiences I ever had, an experience of a lifetime. Rwanda is without a doubt the place where both the National Park & the Gorillas are the easiest to reach and where it is also the easiest to secure a Gorilla Permit, especially since you do not need an agency!
A trip would not be complete if you do not confront one of the darkest moments in Human History, and visit one or several Memorials of the Genocide. It is a haunting experience, but one that is definitely necessary.
Apart from those aspects, Rwanda do not offer real “Highlights”, things that you will rave about for years when back home. Nonetheless, there are numbers of aspects of the country that deserve your attention and a few days of your time:
• Scenic Lake Kivu ”: Relaxed Kibuye / Karongi, Resort-Town Gisenyi / Rubavu, and last but not least the Boat-Ride from Kibuye to Gisenyi
• Discovering Rwanda’s Culture & History ”, like the Ethnographic Museum of Butare (Huye), the Royal Palace Of Nyanza, and why not one of the Cultural Walks near Musanze
• Buzzy African Markets ”: once you have reached a Market in Rwanda, you know that you are indeed in Africa…
Challenges Organizing The Trip - What Would I Have Wished To Know?
It is very easy to organize a trip to Rwanda, and you actually do not need any booking ahead but for the Gorilla Permit (especially during European School Holidays), that you should secure weeks, if not months in advance in the peak season. There are a few points you should not overlook before you go, though:
• It is close to impossible to find fellow travelers to cut costs, except maybe on the shores of Lake Kivu. Most tours are extremely pricey, so beware that you will have to either ignore those tours, or to dish out significant amounts of cash.
• Most tours on offer are actually not that special. No matter if a boat tour in Kibuye / Karongi, if a tour to the twin lakes in Musanze… This is mostly poor value for money. Focus more on discovering the country and the way of life. “Cultural Walks” are much better priced, though, and definitely interesting!
• Be ready to be the only tourist if you go “deeper” in the country (actually away from Lake Kivu & Musanze). It is a great experience to be the only foreigner in town, but it can be a lonely experience, too!
• Note that I haven’t visited any of the National Parks in Rwanda (except Gorilla Tracking), as Uganda apparently offers a much better experience for Chimpanzees and for Game Viewing (though for a “traditional Safari”, I would consider other countries like neighboring Kenya or Tanzania).
How To Go Off The Beaten Track?
More on http://grandescapades.net/grand-escapades-travel-guide-to-rwanda/
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