The Four Rwanda National Parks
Rwanda has a total of four National Park including Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe National Park, Akagera National Park and Gishwat-Mukura National Park. Thanks to recent conservation efforts visitors who visit Rwanda National Parks can now encounter the iconic Big 5 animals of Africa, Gorillas and Chimpanzees if they combine a visit to both primate parks and the Savannah National Park. The Rwanda National Parks and other tourism activities are managed by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Each park of Rwanda features a distinct ecosystem and variety of animals and landscape making Rwanda a great place to visit on your safari in Africa.
1. Volcanoes National Park
Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is one of only for places in the whole world where you can see the endangered Mountain Gorillas in the wild. The other three places being Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Volcanoes National Park is situated in the north-west of Rwanda. The national park is located about 3 hours drive from Kigali city. It is part of the Virunga Mountains, which is a chain of 8 free-standing volcanoes that span across the three countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Congo and covers 3 national parks of Mgahinga, Virunga and Volcanoes.
2. Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in low lying eastern Rwanda. This Rwanda safaris park is where the tropical forests of Central Africa give way to the dry savannahs of East Africa.
Akagera features an interesting mix of wetlands and rolling wooded grasslands. It is where to go in Rwanda for the chance to spot the iconic Big Five animals and other classic African safari animals such as hippo, giraffe, zebras, hyenas, crocodiles, and many antelope species.
This is a relatively small park and is approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Kigali city. In addition to guided Big 5 game drives, Akagera National Park also offers private safari boat cruises sunset cruises, and night game drives.
3. Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe National Park protects the largest single tract of montane forest in both East and Central Africa. The park is the best reason you need to further tour of Rwanda after your memorable bout of gorilla trekking adventure. It is one of the oldest rainforests in Africa and home to an astonishing variety of birds, rare butterflies and beautiful orchids. However, the stars of the show in Nyungwe Forest National Park are the 13 species of primate. These include Owl-faced monkeys, Common chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s monkey, and megatroop of 400 Angola black-and-white colobus monkeys- that make the park their playground.
In addition to excellent trails for hiking and spectacular views, the Nyungwe forest canopy walkway is an excellent way of spotting beautiful blue monkeys living in the treetops. Regardless of whether you are after an immersive stay in magical scenery, or have been dreaming of spotting a chimp, Nyungwe National Park is where to go in Rwanda for an all encompassing African experience.
4. Gishwat-Mukura National Park
Gishwati-Mukura National Park was gazetted in 2015. It the newest of is the Rwanda national parks. It comprises the Mukura and Gishwati Forests, which are around 50 kilometers apart. The area between them has been set aside for reforestation. In 2002 the area was nearly depleted due to illegal farming and mining. Since then, big forestation efforts have accelerated the restoration of the Gishwati and Mukura Forests, which protect 60 tree species including many hardwoods and bamboo.
The main activity is guided forest walks through the Gishwati sector. These come with a good chance of encountering semi-habituated chimpanzees, as well as golden monkeys and L’Hoest’s monkeys and a variety of forest birds including several Albertine Rift endemics.
The guided walks are only available to people staying at Gishwati’s community-owned guesthouse. No organized activities are available at the Mukura sector, but the forest here is rated highly by bird-watchers.
Other Places To Visit In Rwanda
Rwanda’s capital city has modern infrastructure and many of coffee shops and restaurants. The Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum is a must-visit if you have a few hours to spare on arrival day or before you head out to the Rwanda national parks. We recommend visit the genocide memorial museum at the beginning of your Rwandan safari tour, to allow you to better process and contextualise the emotional nature of this profound experience. Kigali city is blessed with a wide selection of hotels and guesthouses.
Lake Kivu is located on the western border of Rwanda. It is a massive expanse of water ringed by verdant hills that offer excellent hiking, bird watching and canopy walks. Lake Kivu has also become a benchmark for the unparalleled scenery you will encounter at the top Rwanda tourist attractions. Here you’ll stay at Gisenyi, a small resort town on the northern shore from which you can go kayaking or boating. Kivu is a tranquil place to relax after the rigours of gorilla trekking and the many other incredible tours in Rwanda.