The country of Rwanda in central Africa is one that has had a very troubled recent past, but one which does seem to be becoming more peaceful over recent years. However, this highland country also has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and wonderful natural sights that have to be seen to be truly enjoyed, making it a country that is growing in popularity for visitors. Today the welcome that visitors receive in Rwanda is warm and welcoming, and while it is a traditional and conservative country, it is a charming country in stunning surroundings.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
The Nyungwe Forest is a rainforest that is to be found in the south west of the country, and is at the hilly watershed between the Nile and Congo river valleys. There are several species of primate that are to be found in the forest, including baboons, chimpanzees and the dramatically colored Vervet Monkey, as well as some species that are considered to be endangered. Because of the high altitude of the forest many of the species here are endemic to this region of Africa, which has helped it to become a conservation priority, and the rainy climate means that there are many species of amphibian and reptiles to be found here too.
The Volcanoes National Park is to be found in the north west of Rwanda and is part of a network of three national park that include the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda that cover the border region between these countries. This part of Rwanda is important because of the Virunga Mountains which has eight volcanoes in the three countries, which has helped to make an unique habitat. This region is covered in forest with a prevalence of bamboo, which has helped to make it a haven for the mountain gorilla, which is what draws so many people to the region.
As well as the Mountain Gorilla, the park also has populations of Golden Monkeys, buffalo and Spotted Hyena, and a small number of elephants that are rarely spotted by visitors.
Akagera National Park
Covering part of the eastern border of Rwanda, the Akagera National Park is an area where the rolling savannah, swamps and mountains converge to make a very diverse and interesting natural area. Tourism in this area isn’t quite as developed as some of the other natural sights in the country, and a safari here can allow visitors to see giraffes, hippos, zebras and a few elephants too. With the recovery of Rwanda over recent years there are plans to improve the park and to reintroduce lions and black rhino to the region, but even with the current animal population it is still a beautiful and interesting place to visit.
While Rwanda is a landlocked nation, the shores of Lake Kivu on the western border of the country do offer some beaches for visitors to enjoy, with the lake itself straddling the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the most interesting aspects of the lake is that it is an ‘exploding lake’, meaning that it will periodically experience a dramatic change in the proportion of carbon dioxide in the water. There are several hotels serving visitors to the area on the Rwandan part of the shore, and it is also possible to arrange trips to track gorillas in the nearby hills.