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Why Rwanda holidays and gorilla safaris are truly unique...

Nestled just south of the equator, Rwanda is commonly known as ‘Le Pays des Milles Colines’ or ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’ and mystifies with its undulating luscious mountains and chain of seven volcanoes that punctuate Central Africa’s landscape. Although primarily known for its gorilla safaris, offering one of the most emotional and spellbinding wildlife experiences known to man, Rwanda holidays offer much more to the intrepid traveller from tracking chimpanzees to climbing volcanic peaks.

Rwanda Holiday Highlights

  • Mountain Gorillas of Volcanoes National Park – tracking the mountain gorillas is one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences and at the top of many a bucket list around the world.
  • Chimpanzees of Nyungwe – often overshadowed by the gorillas, chimpanzees are one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom and tracking them is an exhilarating experience.
  • Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project – take the time to meet the professionals doing a vital job in ensuring the ongoing health and success of the mountain gorillas.
  • Kigali’s Genocide Memorial – a stark reminder of the tragic events that passed in Rwanda, in April 1994.

Forest Primates

Rwanda overview, forest primates

Rwanda offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in Africa, be it the dramatic Virunga volcanoes bordering Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo or the forest of Nyungwe, one of the largest montane forests in Central Africa, home to chimpanzees and large groups of Colobus monkeys. Parc National des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park) is located in northwest Rwanda and is an area of thickly vegetated rainforest and bamboo providing shelter to endangered golden monkeys and approximately one third of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. It is also where primologist Dian Fossey carried out her seminal work, and which was her adopted home and place of rest. Dian expressed the feeling of coming face-to-face with silverback mountain gorillas as "The expression in his eyes was unfathomable. Spellbound I returned his gaze - a gaze that seemed to combine elements of enquiry and acceptance." It is an experience only those who have lived can fully understand. 

Deep within the thickets of Nyungwe lies another gripping wildlife encounter. Here chimpanzees crash noisily through the forests, and witnessing these distant relatives and their human-like behaviour is another highlight of any Rwanda holiday. Conservation also plays an important role in local tourism and there is a strong ethos of preservation of rare primates; many visitors find it rewarding to know that they are reinforcing the good work of the local organisations by contributing to park fees and permits. 

Where to go in Rwanda

  • Volcanoes National Park – one of the most iconic national parks in Africa and home to some of the last few remaining mountain gorillas. Characterised by the steep volcanic slopes blanketed in thick tropical rainforest. The base for legendary researcher Dian Fossey, whose research and subsequent status thrust the plight of the mountain gorillas into the public eye and helped to create eco tourism as we know it today.
  • Nyungwe Forest National Park – it is one of Africa’s most bio diverse areas and home to a wide range of endemic species as well as a host of primates, including the chimpanzees and Ruwenzori colobus monkeys, which can be found here in a troop of almost 400 individuals, thought the be the largest troop of arboreal primates anywhere in Africa.
  • Akagera National Park – Rwanda’s oldest national park and the closest you can find in this part of Africa to the classic safari. Reachable in under two hours from Kigali, Akagera is rich with plains wildlife such as buffalo, elephant, impala, giraffe, zebra and many antelope.
  • Lake Kivu – straddling the border between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, Lake Kivu is a huge lake with the feeling of being an inland sea. An excellent base from which to explore rural life in Rwanda; relax on the shores, sunbathe, bird watch and enjoy water sports.

Everyday Rwanda and Safari Combinations

Rwanda gorilla safari

Aside from the primate world, Lake Kivu is the largest lake in Rwanda, where the towns of Kibuye and Gisenyi afford terrific lake views. This idyllic lake is also home to some of the best inland beaches on the continent, remote island communities and there are ample activities such as canoeing and windsurfing on offer. With the widely documented problems of 1994 and the Tutsi genocide firmly in the past, Rwanda is a prosperous country and tourism has played a vital role in its recovery, which is evidenced in the heart-warming reception you will receive from Rwandans.

Did you know...

With mountain gorillas being a critically endangered species it is essential every effort is made to secure their future. Eco tourism is a vital part of a successful drive towards saving both the gorillas and their habitat. In recent years mountain gorilla populations have shown positive trends that give hope for the future, central to this success is the environments ability to sustain a local economy of which eco tourism is at the very heart.

Great for family holidays

Jack Hanna’s cottage is a hidden gem on the outskirts of Volcanoes National Park; it is an ideal base for families due to its complete exclusivity. The cottage is only available to be rented on a private basis and comes complete with a private chef, shared living room and a terrace area. Mornings are generally spent tracking gorillas, golden monkeys or visiting Dian Fossey’s grave, Jack Hanna’s cottage is the perfect place to relax in the afternoon and recount your days adventures.

Planning your Rwanda Safari

Due to its compactness, we recommend Rwanda to those who wish to enjoy a gorilla tracking safari in a shorter amount of time. With shorter connections than similar countries, such as Uganda, it is possible to see more in just a few days. If you do have more time, Rwanda works well combined with neighbouring Uganda, or alternatively the big game destinations of Kenya and Tanzania.

Download our free gorilla tracking guide. 

See what our clients think

Rwanda Holidays – tailor-made safari 4.7 out of 5,
based on 8 reviews. Natural World Safaris tailor-make Rwanda gorilla safaris to meet your requirements. We can tailor your itinerary according to your budget and preferences, or you can consider a small group gorilla tracking safari. Below are reviews from our clients who have travelled to Rwanda with us.
Rwanda Holidays - tailor-made safari Reviewed by Deborah M. Rating: 5 / 5 We cannot say enough positive things about our experience …He [our guide] was knowledgeable, personable, thoughtful, funny, kind and easy to be with. He had lots of information, but did not overwhelm us by talking and talking and talking. It was a good balance of giving information and having quiet time for us to just 'take in' the experience of a different culture. He has an ability to make one feel comfortable (like a friend) and to maintain a respectful business relationship. The Kigali Serena was wonderful, and I would rate it excellent across the board.
The managers of Silverback Lodge are some of the best...
Rwanda Holidays - tailor-made safari Reviewed by Kirk F. Rating: 4.5 / 5 The managers of Silverback lodge (Nelis and Trace) are some the best we have ever encountered in 20 years -- always attentive, professional and accommodating. Fantastic!!!!! The facilities will be 'excellent' once renovated in April -- a bit tired (paint rubbing off on socks in room, etc).
Hope was an excellent guide
Rwanda Holidays - tailor-made safari Reviewed by Adele N. Rating: 5 / 5 Hope was an excellent guide. He made everyone feel very comfortable and safe and he was quite knowledgeable.
I enjoyed everything about this trip.
Rwanda Holidays - tailor-made safari Reviewed by Debbie J. Rating: 5 / 5 The pre-trip service and information I received was excellent. I enjoyed everything about this trip. Obviously the gorillas were the highlight and were totally amazing but I enjoyed the entire experience.
All guides were very good and knowledgeable...
Rwanda Holidays - tailor-made safari Reviewed by Patrick T. Rating: 4 / 5 All guides were very good and knowledgeable, but I think the guide in Nyungwe conveyed a sense of enjoying his job. V generous 'hours' with gorillas.
Would like to mention Charles our guide. He is very exceptional...
Rwanda Holidays - tailor-made safari Reviewed by Helena C. Rating: 4.5 / 5 They were all brilliant but would like to mention Charles our guide. He is very exceptional and i think without him it would have not been so great. He is thoughtful, knowledgeable and went out of his way more than expected. I feel that because of his background he made us understand the history and future of Rwanda very clear. The gorilla lodge was great for its location. The only change possibly would be the food. It was very average but of course it is difficult to cook without electricity on a full time basis but the staff were excellent. Kigali Serena was great also.
Our driver Joe was absolutely brilliant
Rwanda Holidays - tailor-made safari Reviewed by Rachel K. Rating: 4.5 / 5 Our driver Joe was absolutely brilliant. He was so welcoming and friendly. He was very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions. He made our trip so enjoyable and we cannot rate him highly enough. Stella who met us from the airport was brilliant. She was so welcoming and went to endless effort to retrieve my suitcase which had been lost. We are so grateful to her! 1 of our gorilla treks was led by Francoise who was amazing. He was so passionate about his work and a fantastic speaker!
You deliver at every stage so we do not have to worry about anything
Rwanda Holidays - tailor-made safari Reviewed by Peter G. Rating: 5 / 5 All transfers were flawless. The transfer from Kigali included the Genocide Memorial and the audio guide provided says that about 55 minutes should be allowed for the visit. We stayed for 2 and half hours to do it justice and it was well worth it. Staying longer did not impact the rest of the day at all as it is a 3 to 4 hour trip up to the mountain lodge through the prettiest scenery we have ever seen in Africa so far - it is just stunning and incredibly interesting.
This was our third trip with NWS and we come back because:
1. You listen to clients, get to understand them and then propose itineraries
2. We totally trust your judgement in terms of where to go, when to go and how to get the best experience
3. You deliver at every stage so we do not have to worry about anything and can just relax and enjoy the planning, booking and then the trip itself

Enquire now

Speak to one of our consultants now:

Call from UK +44(0)1273 691 642
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Call from Australia 1800 66 8890

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Free Gorilla Tracking Guide

Free Gorilla Tracking Guide

Travel Facts: Rwanda

Flight Time from UK 

12h00m (via Nairobi) 

Time Difference 


Best Time to Go 

Jun – Mar (Exc. Nov) 


French / Kinyarwanda / English 


Rwandan Franc (RWF) 

Main Airline Carrier 

Kenya Airways, Brussels Airlines 

Capital City 


Mountain Gorillas in the Wild

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