Make sure your walking boots are packed to explore rainforest canopies, volcanoes and jungle trails just waiting to be explored in Rwanda. Try your hand at picking tea and get involved in some of the country's most successful community projects. Rwanda offers some of the most diverse wildlife opportunities in Africa.
Gorilla Tracking in the Virunga Mountains
Watch Primates in the Nyungwe Forest
Go on a Bird Walk
Pick Tea at the Gisakura Tea Estate
Explore Volcano & Jungle Trails
Visit the Ellen de Generes Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
TRACK GORILLAS IN THE VIRUNGA MOUNTAINS
For many, the biggest draw to Rwanda is the rare chance to get up-close to gorillas in their natural habitat of the Virunga Mountains. A permit allows you to spend an incredible hour in the company of a troop but take note, the trek to reach them can often be challenging: it takes anywhere between two hours and a full day, often with steep climbs through wet and muddy conditions. It’s more than worth it though. Sometimes babies roll around in front of you or play hide-and-seek, peeking out of the bushes; another time, you might watch an intimate grooming ritual. The best time to go is December and February, and June to mid-September.
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WATCH PRIMATES IN NYUNGWE FOREST
Mountain gorillas aside, one of the best places in Rwanda to track primates is in the Nyungwe Forest National Park. Red Savannah can arrange an expert primate specialist as a guide who will take you through the rainforest trails and help identify the many different types of monkeys along the way, including the colobus monkey, silver monkey, red-tailed monkey, golden monkey and grey-cheeked mangabey monkey. Chimpanzees are prevalent here too, so keep your eyes peeled.
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ENJOY BIRD WALKS
Recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International, the beautiful Nyungwe Forest National Park has recorded more than 300 species including the regal sunbird, red-faced woodland warbler, rwenzori nightjar and the unusual red-collared mountain-babbler. The dense forest canopy makes it an ideal habitat – just keep looking up. The best time to go is between December and February, and June to mid-September.
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PICK TEA AT THE GISAKURA TEA ESTATE
Tea was introduced in Rwanda in 1952 and – thanks to the temperate climate, fertile soil and altitude – it has been a huge success. Now it’s one of the country’s biggest exports and various plantations can be found on the rolling hills. One of the best known is the Gisakura Tea Estate, set on the western edge of Nyungwe Forest National Park. A visit typically includes exploring the plantation itself, learning the art of tea picking and, of course, a tasting.
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EXPLORE VOLCANO & JUNGLE TRAILS
The jungle of the Nyungwe Forest National Park is rich with flora and fauna – and ideal for immersing yourself in nature. There are 15 scenic trails to choose from including the Igishigishigi (for novices) and the Imbaraga (aimed at those with more experience): both offer access to the Canopy Walk, a suspension bridge that sits high above the treetops and is fantastic for photo opportunities. We can arrange a local guide who will share their knowledge on everything from primates and mammals to birdlife and exotic plants. Visitors wanting more of a mountain climb, should head to the Virungas – specifically Muhavura volcano or Mount Sabinyo.
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VISIT THE ELLEN DE GENERES CAMPUS OF THE DIAN FOSSEY GORILLA FUND
Founded by the hugely inspirational conservationist Dian Fossey in 1967, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has worked tirelessly to save and protect Rwanda’s dwindling gorilla population. Over the years, it’s grown exponentially from humble beginnings with limited resources – and now with a 300-strong staff, the Ellen de Generes Campus has provided the charity with its first proper home. Located close to the entrance of the Volcanoes National Park, the 12-acre site is a state-of-the-art hub of research and education, packed with libraries, classrooms, laboratories, accommodation for visiting students and scientists, plus immersive exhibitions open to the public, tasked with shining the spotlight on the charity’s important conservation work. Built using locally-sourced materials and creating thousands of jobs for the local community in the process, the campus is a sight to behold – and well worth a visit on your way into or out of the park.