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Best things to do in Rwanda

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Where in the world: Africa  /  Rwanda

Top 15 things to do in Rwanda

1. Volcanoes National Park, Ruhengeri

Home to the majestic mountain gorilla, Volcanoes National Park encompasses a dramatic landscape of wildlife, rainforest, and active and extinct volcanoes. Lying in the northwest of Rwanda, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, the park boasts a famous abundance of mountain gorillas, with gorilla-tracking visits topping most tourist itineraries here. Uncover the thick rainforest paths of this dense mountain jungle, with trekking also available on some of the five Virunga Mountain volcanoes, or to the grave of acclaimed zoologist Dian Fossey. Gorilla tracking is limited; book early, and come prepared for challenging hikes.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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2. Nature & Wildlife Tours, Kigali

Suggested duration: 8 hours
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3. Kigali Genocide Memorial, Kigali

Reflect on some of the country's darkest moments and gain insight into an integral part of recent national history at Kigali Genocide Memorial. The final resting place for over 250,000 victims, the memorial center commemorates those slaughtered in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, while educating its visitors with an informative and harrowing presentation of history. You'll learn the political and sociological landscape of Rwanda during the build-up to the genocide of the Tutsi people, along with details of the atrocity itself through audio-visual tours, survivor testimonies, human remains, and artifacts.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Nyamata Church, Kigali

Pay tribute to the victims of the Rwandan civil war at Nyamata Church, a red-brick Roman Catholic church and a genocide memorial. A site of a large massacre in April 1994 in which thousands of people perished, the church grounds house several mass graves, and a collection of victims' skulls and bones are on display. The pews are covered with heaps of dirty, blood-stained rags to give you an impression of the number of victims in the church, which can accommodate up to 600 worshippers. Witnesses say some 10,000 people were massacred here. The tomb of an Italian missionary Antonia Locatelli who informed the Belgian authorities and the media about the massacres and was killed subsequently lies in the churchyard.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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5. Nyungwe National Park, Butare

A rainforest bordering Burundi and the Congo, Nyungwe National Park is known for its dizzying canopy walk. This 90 m (295 ft) long narrow suspended platform 50 m (164 ft) above the grounds offers unmatched views of the abundant vegetation underneath. Take one of the well-maintained trails and see scenic waterfalls and Lake Kiwu. Lush forests host large populations of primates like chimps, leopards, blue monkeys, and duikers plus an array of birds and butterflies. In addition to the rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs cover some 970 sq km (374 sq mi) of conservation area.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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6. Safaris, Kigali

Suggested duration: 8 hours
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7. Akagera National Park, Eastern Province

Take a dynamic safari in Akagera National Park, a diverse wildlife conservation area featuring savannahs, mountains, and swamps. With the mighty Kagera River, several lakes, and adjacent papyrus swamps, the park ranks as the largest protected wetlands in central Africa. Bird-watching in the savannah reveals lilac-breasted rollers, grey hornbills, and crested barbets, while shoebill storks and fish eagles live in the swamps. Elephants, lions, and 12 species of antelope make frequent appearances during jeep safaris. Arrange a separate boat trip for Lake Ihema, the largest lake in the park and home to giant hippos and crocodiles.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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8. Ntarama Church, Kigali

The site of a grisly event from 1994, Ntarama Church now serves as a museum dedicated to honoring the lives of 5,000 people killed in the building. Inside, you can view displays containing the clothing and other items that once belonged to the genocide victims.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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9. Inema Arts Centre, Kigali

Take in the contemporary African arts at Inema Arts Centre, a gallery and workshop for artists in residence. Run in a large house by two brothers, both self-taught painters, the center has installations in the garden and provides a venue for a number of art-related projects sponsored by international foundations. Browse the pieces exhibited, including colorful abstract art and spray-painted Volkswagen classics, and admire the hilltop terrace's sweeping view over the suburbs. Off site, the art center also runs a gallery in a suburban restaurant.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Spas, Kigali

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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11. Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial, Kigali

Haunting bullet holes on the walls of the main building of Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial bear witness to the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. Inside the building, see the exhibit about the genocide and the story behind the slaughter of the soldiers. The backyard contains a memorial site with ten black stone columns commemorating Belgian UN peacekeepers killed on site, while carvings on the columns represent their age. Although small in size, the memorial site creates a powerful and moving message about war atrocities.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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12. Iby'iwacu Cultural Village, Kinigi

Exploring Iby'iwacu Cultural Village allows you to learn about the country's history and traditions and support community-based tourism. The village is designed to illustrate what life used to be like here in the past, so you can see traditional dancers and actors dressed as shamans, blacksmiths, warriors, and wedding parties.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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13. Lake Kivu, Kibuye

Lounge on one of the many beaches lining the edges of Lake Kivu. The lake spreads across a vast area of over 2,300 sq km (1,000 sq mi), making it Rwanda's largest. Rent a boat or a kayak to fully explore the surroundings, or opt for a relaxing swim in the clear waters. Those feeling adventurous can delve deep into the lake on a scuba diving excursion. Take a break at the nearby restaurant where you can try the sardines, a local specialty.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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14. Kivu boat tours, Kibuye

Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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15. Congo Nile Trail, Rubavu

Encompassed by scenery of true African wilderness with a view of the Nile and Congo rivers, Congo Nile Trail provides an active vacation in nature. The trail is rustic--you'll need four-wheel drive, or plan to hike or cycle--and prepare for at least two- to three-days' journey. Besides of the beauty of unspoiled nature, the trail gives you the opportunity to glimpse the rural life through native villages. As this is a home to many African animals, consider going gorilla or primate tracking or birding as you traverse the trail.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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