A landlocked country, its neighbours are Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south, and, to the west, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With a total surface area of 26,338 square kilometres, it is not one of the largest countries in the world. However, Rwanda may be small in size, but it is a huge hit for mountain gorillas! The main area we sell within the country is Volcanoes National Park, in the north-west.
The history of Rwanda starts a short time following the Ice Age. The archaeological evidence reveals small populations of hunter–gatherers during the Stone Age and much larger groups of settlers during the early Iron Age. These people are the ancestors of today’s Twa, aboriginal pygmies who live in parts of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and the Congo forest, and who are skilled potters. Other early inhabitants were the Hutu and the Tutsi clans.
Like Uganda, Rwanda has a lot of lakes! The largest is Kivu, situated next to the country’s western boundary. The longest river has its source in the south-west – this is the Nyabarongo, flowing north, east, and south-east before meeting the Ruvubu and forming the Akagera, which rushes along Rwanda’s border with Tanzania in the east.
Mountains are another dominant feature, with the Albertine Rift Mountains, part of the East African Rift, located in the west. The north-west boasts the tallest peaks, within the magnificent chain of the Virunga volcanoes. Loftiest of all is Mount Karisimbi, standing at a very impressive 4,507 metres! The mountains of the Albertine Rift are clad in beautiful forests, including Nyungwe, which makes up one of Rwanda’s three national parks. The others are Akagera, situated on the border with Tanzania in the east, and, of course, Volcanoes, famous for its mountain gorillas!
Besides the gorilla experience, Rwanda has a lot to offer from a cultural and historical standpoint – the 1994 genocide is at the heart of much of this. Museums and memorials in the likes of Kigali and Murambi are easily accessible and often combined with gorilla trekking safaris.
Chimpanzee trekking is also possible in Rwanda, specifically in Nyungwe Forest National Park, where approximately 500 individuals make up the last of the chimp population in this country. However, the chimps in Nyungwe are not fully habituated, so visitors hoping to see our closest relative in the animal kingdom up close and personal are perhaps better off visiting the densely forested Kibale National Park in Uganda or Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania.