Akagera National Park (~2.5-hour drive from Kigali to park entrance)
• Rwanda's only safari park is located in the Eastern Province along the Tanzania border, about a 2-3 hour drive from Kigali. The drive is mostly paved, except for the last 30 minutes on a dirt road.
• You should be able to see lot of animals in the park, although maybe less than in Akagera's better-known counterparts like the Serengeti or Masai Mara. But don't let that put you off - you will 99% see zebras, hippos, giraffe, buffalo, antelope, and incredible birds. If you do a night drive, a boat ride or hire a guide, you also have a good chance of seeing leopards, lions, elephants, crocodiles, rhinos, and many many more.
• Note that, unlike Rwanda's two other main national parks, Akagera is mainly a drive-through experience. On the other hand, Nyungwe and Volcanoes NPs (below) can only really be appreciated by trekking and hiking through dedicated trails.
• To get to Akagera from Kigali, you can rent a car (with or without a hired driver). Or, you can arrange your transportation directly through the park itself.
• The cheapest accommodation option for Akagera is camping within the park itself.
• Depending on your budget, other options include:
o Akagera Game Lodge (rooms around USD 125)
o Karenge Bush Camp (rates start at USD 150)
o Ruzizi Tented Lodge (rates start at USD 235/person)
o Magashi Lodge (rates from USD 650/person)
• For more info on Akagera, take a look here and here.
We plan to organise a group safari here from Jul 13-15 - let us know if you'll join!
Nyungwe Forest National Park (~5 hrs from Kigali // ~4 hrs from Rubavu)
• Nyungwe Forest is Africa’s largest protected mountain rainforest, and has a wide diversity of wildlife.
• All hikes in Nyungwe need to be organized through the park directly. Funds go towards conservation of the park.
• Activities include: chimpanzee trekking (price: 95 USD; 5am start each morning!), monkey trekking (price: 60 USD, various times throughout the day), various forest hiking trails from 1hr to 3days long (price: 50 USD, various times throughout the day), and East Africa’s highest canopy walk (price: 60 USD, leaving at various times throughout the day).
• Accommodation options aren't great around Nyungwe, but there are a few places to stay near the park. The best option is camping inside the park at Uwinka campsite (contact). Other options on a budget/mid-range scale are Gisakura Guest House; Kitabi Eco Center & Nyungwe Nziza. At the pricier end is Nyungwe Top View. If you really want to splurge, check out One & Only Nyungwe House!
• In order to get to Nyungwe Forest from Kigali you can take a public bus passing through the park, a taxi for about €80 or drive there yourself with a rental car.
• Read more about this activity here and here. For more details on hiking trails and timings, contact these guys.
Congo Nile Trail (~3 hrs from Kigali // Starts in Rubavu)
• The Congo Nile Trail is a beautiful hiking/biking trail that runs along Lake Kivu all the way from Gisenyi in the north to Cyangugu in the South. The views are incredible! This is a really nice way to get a glimpse into daily life in rural Rwanda, as you pass through small villages, farms and coffee plantations along the way.
• Rwandan Adventures can help you to organize this trek, or parts of it, including bike rental if that’s what you’re interested in. Hiking guides are also available, although you can choose to do a self-guided if you prefer.
• There are guesthouses conveniently placed along the trail which each charge around €15 per room, including a hot dinner and breakfast.
• You can read more about independently hiking the northern half of this trail here.
Kibuye (~3 hrs from Kigali // ~2 hrs for Rubavu)
• Further south along the shores of Lake Kivu, Kibuye (also known as Karongi!) is perfect for a relaxing getaway.
Apart from kayaking, or taking boat rides around nearby islands (arrange through your hotel) there's not much to do in Kibuye except relax and enjoy the incredible scenery!
• Depending on the kind of place you’re looking to stay, we recommend the following:
o Budget: Home St. Jean (10 – 20€)
o Mid-Range: Rwiza Village (50-80€)
o Luxury: Cormoran Lodge (120-150€)
• From Kigali, you can take a taxi for about 80€, drive there yourself with a rental car, or you can take the bus.
• From Rubavu, you can take a taxi for about 60-70€, drive there yourself with a rental car, or you can take the bus. There are also plans to re-commence the Rubavu-Kibuye ferry, which was suspended at the time of writing.