Rwanda is a rising luxury travel destination in Africa. The country is clean, green, safe and organized, and the contrast is huge when crossing the border from any of the neighboring countries. They don’t call it the Switzerland of Africa for no reason! Rwanda is the perfect destination for first-time visitors to Africa.
One reason for the clean environment is that Rwanda has banned plastic bags altogether and when entering the country, your luggage will be searched, and all the plastic bags are confiscated. Keep this in mind when packing your luggage!
Things to Do in Rwanda
Rwanda has pristine rainforest and incredible natural diversity, and it offers some of the most spectacular natural experiences like a possibility to see mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in the wild. While the mountain gorilla trekking is a lot more expensive than for example in the Democratic Republic of Congo where I did the trek, in Rwanda you can be sure to have safe and hassle-free experience.
Volcanoes National Park is the place for gorilla trekking, but Nyungwe Forest National Park also offers some great experiences like chimpanzee tracking. This national park is the most important area of biodiversity in the country.
Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is a unique city in Africa. In some parts of the city, you feel like you’re in Europe, not in Africa. It’s a very clean and organized city, and there’s no garbage on the streets. The best way to get around is to use a moto taxi like the locals do. In Rwanda, the drivers also have an extra helmet for the passenger, which isn’t usually the case in Africa.
While Kigali might not offer plenty of tourist attractions, I liked walking around and enjoying the city’s amazing views. If you fancy some shopping or just want to experience authentic Kigali, go to Kimironko Market.
Kigali Genocide Memorial
To learn about the dark history of the country (no, it hasn’t always been this lovely and peaceful in Rwanda), you should head to Kigali Genocide Memorial. It’s a very powerful and moving memorial, and the exhibition is well made.
Where to Stay in Kigali
For the ultimate luxury experience, stay at Kigali Serena Hotel which is a 5-star hotel in the heart of Kigali. The facilities include a pool, spa, gym, restaurant, bar and reliable wifi.
What I especially enjoyed was the gorgeous pool area and one of the biggest and well-equipped hotel gyms I’ve seen in Africa.
Gisenyi, Lake Kivu
A visit to Rwanda is not complete if you don’t visit Lake Kivu. This is a place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Gisenyi is also the closest town you can get before crossing the border to DR Congo, so if you’re visiting the country as I did, you’ll most likely stay in Gisenyi at least for one night.
Where to Stay in Lake Kivu
If you have stayed at Serena Hotel in Kigali, Lake Kivu Serena might not feel as luxurious, but it’s still definitely the best option in the area. There’s a small gym, pool area and sundeck, restaurant, bar, and what I enjoyed the most – a private beach. The location is perfect, and you can get some spectacular lake views from your room.
Like Kigali Serena Hotel, their Lake Kivu Hotel also offers excellent dining options. The dinner was delicious, and the breakfast buffet also offers tasty vegan options like fresh juice, bread, beans, grilled tomatoes, potatoes and fresh fruits.
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