Rwanda referred to sometimes as the land of a thousand hills is a landlocked country in central Africa covering an area of about 26,338 kilometers squared. The country boarders Congo to the west, Burundi in the south, Uganda in the north and Tanzania in the East.
Rwanda is home to five of the Virunga ranges that is Mount Sabinyo, mount Karasimbi, Mount Bisoke, Mount Muhabura and mount Gahinga with the highest of this magnificent mountains being Karasimbi with an elevation of 4,507 meters above sea level.
List of Rwanda National Parks
The western part of Rwanda forms part of the great rift valley known as albertine rift valley, its also home to some of the unique national parks in Africa that can be seen below.
1 – Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is Rwanda’s top tourist destination in the country covering an area of 162 kilometers squared bordering Uganda and Congo, the park is part of the Virunga conservation area and its where you can find five of the eight Virunga volcanoes.
During Belgian rule in Rwanda, the Volcanoes national park was combined together with Virunga national park in Congo which formed the Albert national park that was established in April 1929 making it Africa’s oldest national park. Volcanoes national park is characterized by bamboo zone, rainforests, volcanoes, serene lakes, some grasslands, and valleys. The park is also home to 178 species of birds 27 of which are endemic to the Albertine region.
Gorilla trekking is the most common and done activity at Volcanoes national park, there are a number of gorilla families habituated in the park for tourism purposes. The cost of trekking gorillas is $1500 per person, there are also golden monkey trails where you can track the striking golden monkeys in Volcanoes national park.
Tourists can choose hiking as a complementary activity when visiting Volcanoes national park, you can climb any of the five Volcanoes except mount Sabinyo that can also be climbers from the Ugandan side. Porters are always available to be hired at a cheaper price to help you with luggage. Some of the volcanoes can be conquered within a day while others will require two days but all of them provide striking views from the top you can see the rest of the volcanoes, Lake Kivu, the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo and so much more. Some of these volcanoes have got beautiful craters at the summit.
2 – Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park is located in the north eastern boarder of Rwanda and Tanzania, the park was first gazetted as a reserve in 1934 and it covered an area of 2500 kilometers squared but part of the park was inhabited by refugees after the Rwandan genocide reducing to 1,122 meters squared.
Akagera national park is characterized by savannah plains, acacia woodlands, swamps, rivers, Lakes, rolling hills and wetlands making it a habitat for wildlife. River Kagera that flows from the eastern boarder of the park is also the main source of water to many animals in the park such as; sitatunga antelopes, Masai giraffes, lions, Oribis, hippos, crocodiles, buffalos, bush bucks, bush pigs, spotted hyenas, aide stripped jackals and so much more including over 500 species of birds
3 – Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe forest national park contains the oldest natural afro-montane rainforest in Africa that survived the last ice age period receiving an annual rainfall of over 2000mm making it very rich in diversity, Nyungwe forest is found in the southwestern part of Rwanda bordering Burundi and Congo covering an area of 980 kilometers squared.
Nyungwe forest was first gazetted as a reserve in 1933 and its status changed to a national park in the year 2004. Nyungwe forest national park is the only park in Rwanda that offers chimpanzee trekking experience, the cost of trekking chimpanzees is $90 per person, chimpanzees are very beautiful to behold as you are given a period of one hour to observe a chimpanzee family after finding it during the trekking. There are also other primates to be seen such as Colombia monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys and blue monkeys. The park has got a total of 13 species of primates.
The canopy walkaway is a must visit while at Nyungwe forest national park, it’s the first of its kind in the all of central east Africa high about 50 meters from the ground you can feast you eyes with the tree canopy, primate species, butterfly species, birds and so much more
4 – Gishwati Mukura national reserve
The Gishwati Mukura national reserve can be accessed within three hours drive from Kigali the capital of Rwanda, the reserve is part of the rainforest extending from Congo boasting with over 6000 plant species, over 100 mammalian species and several bird species some endemic to this area.
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