7 GREAT TOURIST LOCATIONS TO VISIT IN RWANDA

Despite the brutal genocide of the post-war period, Rwanda is nothing like the country it once was. Today, the nation remains a beacon of hope for many of the other Central African nations trying to shed a painful past.
Stable government and regular democratic elections are the name of the game, while cities like Kigali and Huye have awoken to become centers of culture and art and even nightlife. Economic wealth is being generated by sustainable industries like coffee growing, alongside not-so-sustainable ones like mineral mining.

1. Kigali

Since the dark days of the Rwandan genocide, the city of Kigali really has done a U-turn.

Where once marauding gangs and death patrols roamed, today there are bustling markets and spice-scented street stalls.

The ramshackle barrios now ooze the energy of day-to-day bustle, while the appearance of shimmering steel skyscrapers on the horizon is just another sign of the flow of foreign investment in these parts.

There are a couple of things you simply need to see: the moving Genocide Memorial and the grand presidential palace.

Apart from that, it’s just a case of taking in the newfound national confidence, shopping Rwandan handicrafts in the bazaars, and sinking cold ones in the raucous nightclubs.

2. Kigali

Since the dark days of the Rwandan genocide, the city of Kigali really has done a U-turn.

Where once marauding gangs and death patrols roamed, today there are bustling markets and spice-scented street stalls.

The ramshackle barrios now ooze the energy of day-to-day bustle, while the appearance of shimmering steel skyscrapers on the horizon is just another sign of the flow of foreign investment in these parts.

There are a couple of things you simply need to see: the moving Genocide Memorial and the grand presidential palace.

Apart from that, it’s just a case of taking in the newfound national confidence, shopping Rwandan handicrafts in the bazaars, and sinking cold ones in the raucous nightclubs.

3. Volcanos National Park

While most African hinterlands away from the Great Rift Valley are forced to compete with the likes of Kruger and Maasai Mara, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, when it comes to the wild, mist-topped backcountry of Rwanda’s Volcanos National Park, all bets are off! Yep, this truly breathtaking conservation area – contiguous with Virunga across the border – is topped by the once-smoking calderas of mighty mounts like Karisimbi and serrated Sabyinyo.

All around these craggy volcanic peaks, visitors discover lush montane forests and thick groves of African redwoods.And within those there’s another treasure: the uber-rare mountain gorilla!

4. Kibuye

Kibuye juts its way into the blue-brown waters of Lake Kivu in a series of curved headlands and steep-sided bays.

Surely one of the most handsome towns in all of Rwanda, it’s surrounded by high hills that come dressed in wisps of mist by morning and offering sweeping views of the lake waters and the islands by afternoon.

Between the streets, there are some earthy little eco lodges on the shores, along with one interesting Catholic church, and a memorial to the Rwandan genocide.

There’s also a smattering of empty beaches around the center, and oodles of boats available for tours away from the banks.

5. Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park is the same savannah and riparian swamp mosaic you’d expect to find in the super-famous game parks of the East African Rift.

Safaris are slowly becoming popular, with outfitters now organizing game drives and game walks from the smattering of lodges that exist.

And the environments are beautiful too, with the meanders of the Kagera River giving way to shimmering Lake Shakani, oodles of papyrus swamps and protected birding areas are plenty.

6. Gisenyi

The gateway to that great speck of blue that is Lake Kivu, sitting amidst the verdant hills and mountains of the Albertine Rift Valley, Gisenyi is a place where the African jungles cascade down grassy hills in sporadic bouts of palm trees and exotic cassiyas.

They fall to meet the muddied waters of the lake, where flitting insects and boatman flies cause ripples on the surface.

Although shared with larger Goma across the border with DRC to the west, the banks of the lake are the real draw.They are peppered with bamboo built shacks and eco lodges – perfect for those eager to immerse themselves and escape in the Rwandan wilderness.

7. Nyanzi

There was once a time when Rwandan royalty trod the dusty lanes and roadways of far-flung Nyanza; when ancestral monarchs wandered under the great bulbous domes of the adobe and thatched ancient King’s Palace.

One of the last capitals of the pre-colonial Kingdom of Rwanda, this spot in the southern reaches of the country is steeped in history and tradition.

Come and trace the story of the nation’s onetime leaders, unravel sobering and moving episodes of the Rwandan Genocide, and tour the museum collections that lurk in the old court rooms.

Nyanza is also the home of the Rwesero Art Museum; perhaps the most prestigious and rich in the country.

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