Top National parks in Rwanda For The Best African Safari
What are the top national parks in Rwanda for the best African safari? Rwanda happens to be the smallest country in the whole of east Africa but it has so many things to offer when it comes to wildlife. The country has 4 national parks spread in different areas of the country and each of the parks has its unique activity. The first national park is called volcanoes national park Rwanda and this is situated in the northwestern part of the country harboring mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and 5 Virunga mountains namely Bisoke, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Muhabura, and Gahinga.
The other national park is Nyungwe forest national park which is situated in the southwest harboring the endangered chimpanzees in the whole country, the next is Akagera national park in the northeastern of the country with a variety of wildlife species that do include the nig 5 African mammals – lions, buffaloes, leopards, rhinos and elephants. Lastly is Gishwati Makura national park which is newly gazetted in the south harboring chimpanzees.
The following are the top national parks in Rwanda for the best African safari;
Volcanoes national park
Volcanoes national park is one of the national parks in Rwanda and it happens to be the most visited in the country. The park is home to mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, 5 Virunga volcanoes, and Dian Fossey’s grave. So many activities are available for tourists in volcanoes national park and these are mountain gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, birding, hike to Dian Fossey grave, and volcano hiking. The mountains available for hiking in volcanoes national park are 5 and these are Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Bisoke.
Hiking any of the Virunga mountains in volcanoes national park exposes you to so many beautiful things such as neighboring mountains, twin lakes Burera and Ruhondo, Lake Kivu, vegetation, carter lake at the summit of Bisoke, and much more. Hiking Virunga volcanoes in volcanoes national park will also expose you to several animal species such as buffaloes, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, elephants, duikers, different monkey species, and different bird species.
The most interesting activity in Volcanoes national park is gorilla trekking. The activity gives trekkers above the age of 15 years an opportunity to be around mountain gorillas for 1 hour and this helps them to learn about their habits, watch them do daily activities, and take photos. The gorilla trekking activity in volcanoes national park starts with a briefing at the park headquarters before the armed ranger guides lead the trekkers into the jungle to look for these apes.
The other reason that makes volcanoes national park popular is the grave of Dian Fossey. She was a great American primatologist who moved to this park after she had been imprisoned in Virunga of DR Congo. Dian Fossey loved the mountain gorillas so much, she slowly taught them how to get used to the human presence around them, she made the local people love mountain gorillas after teaching them about their importance to the community, bought equipment for local people to use, and chased away poachers.
Dian Fossey was unfortunately killed and her body was found in her cabin on the 25th of December 1986. Her body was taken and buried at her research center in the gorilla cemetery near her favorite gorilla called Digit. Tourists that want to know more about Dian Fossey can be part of the hike to her grave while on a safari in the park.
Summery of activities to do in Volcanoes national park;
Golden monkey tracking
The Volcano hike
Exploring the Musanze Caves
Experience Rwanda’s culture at Iby’Iwacu Village/ Gorilla Guardians Village
Nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe forest national park is another primate park in Rwanda harboring endangered chimpanzees. A visit to this park will give you an opportunity to trek chimpanzees and be with them for 1 hour in their natural habitats. You will be able to watch them do daily activities, learn about their habits, and take photos.
A visit to Nyungwe forest national park also gives you an opportunity to be part of the canopy walk one of its kind in East Africa. The canopy walk begins with a briefing at the park headquarters and after the ranger guides do lead you on a 90-meter long bridge that is raised 50 meters above the ground for 2 hours. The canopy walk gives tourists an opportunity to have an aerial view of the park’s surroundings, trees, primates, and different bird species.
Summery of activities to do in Nyungwe forest national park;
Colobus monkey tracking
Akagera national park
Akagera national park is the other Rwanda national park and it’s located in the northeastern part of the country. The park is the only place to have game drives and it’s home to over 1000 large mammals including the big 5 mammals. If you want to explore the different wild animals of Rwanda then you need to visit Akagera national park and have a game drive in the morning, evening, or nighttime.
Akagera national park game drives are best done in the dry season when the game trucks are dry and to have the best of the safari, you need to use a comfortable 4×4 wheel safari vehicle to be able to view animals such as rhinos, impalas, lions, topis, elephants, zebras, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, hyenas, leopards, waterbucks, duikers, roan antelopes, cape elands and kobs among others.
Summery of activities to do in Akagera national park;
Hiking and Guided Nature Walks
Community Cultural Experiences
Behind the Scenes adventure
Gishwati Makura national park
Made up of 2 forests Gishwati and Makura, the national park is the newest in Rwanda covering a total area of 34 sq. km. The park was gazetted in 2015 and as of today it protects so many wildlife species but what has tried to make it famous are the chimpanzees. There are other animals in the park such as buffaloes, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, L’hoest’s monkeys, and blue monkeys to mention but a few.
Summery of activities to do in Gishwati Makura national park;
Hiking and Guided Nature walks
Biking or Cycling through the Congo Nile Trail
What is the best time to visit the national parks of Rwanda?
All the national parks of Rwanda have always been open throughout the year just that there are better months you need to visit these places that we think are better than the rest. The drier months are the best to have a visit to any of the national parks in Rwanda and these occur from June to September and December to February every year. The drier months are the best to visit the national parks of Rwanda because they are characterized by little or no rainfall, the trekking trails in the primate parks are less muddy and not slippery, the game trucks are dry, the vegetation is thin giving clear views of animals and the roads to the park are passable.
Tourists can still visit any of the national parks in Rwanda for tourism activities in March to May and October to November but they need to know that during this season, there is plenty of rainfall that makes the trekking trials and game trucks muddy and slippery, the vegetation in the parks is thick giving unclear views of the parks’ wildlife, and the roads leading to the parks are impassable. The rainy season favors budget travelers since accommodation facilities do give huge discounts.