Rwanda is a lush country of endless mountains and stunning scenery, and nowhere are the mountains more majestic than the peaks of the Virunga volcanoes in the far Northwestern Rwanda. In Parc National Des Volcans, the volcanoes form a natural frontier with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, and hidden among the bamboo and dense jungle of their forbidding slopes are some of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas. It is the opportunity to encounter these contemplative creatures at close quarters that continues to draw visitors to Rwanda.
There’s more to Rwanda than magical mountain gorillas, however. The shores of Lake Kivu conceal some of the best inland beaches on the continent. Deep in the southwest, Parc National Nyungwe Forest is the most extensive montane rainforest in the region, and home to many primates. But it’s not all monkey business – Kigali is safe and sophisticated. This tiny, landlocked country—the continent’s most densely populated.
Rwanda is all too often associated with the horrific events that unfolded in 1994. It has been etched into the world’s consciousness as one of the most savage genocides in history. What happened is beyond belief, but the country has taken giant strides towards recovery.
Many visitors are unsure about travelling to Rwanda given its history. However, as long as security and stability persist, Rwanda is a refreshing country in which to travel, where tourists remain a relative novelty and the rewards of the present outweigh the risks of the past.
Population: 8,722,000 people
Capital: Kigali; 656,000 people
Area: 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 square miles)
Language: Kinyarwanda, French, English, Kiswahili
Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Adventist, Muslim
Currency: Rwandan franc