Activities to do before or after gorilla trekking in Rwanda in 2024-2025
Activities to do before and after gorilla trekking in Rwanda in 2024-2025. Gorilla trekking is the main activity carried out by tourists in Rwanda, attracting almost 99% of the tourist population. Mountain gorillas are a sight since they can only be seen in their natural habitat and are currently only carried out in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Most Popular Safaris
Volcanoes National Park is the most visited national Park in Rwanda, and this is because of the Mountain gorillas. Volcanoes is one of the world’s three Mountain gorilla trekking destinations, with over 400 Mountain gorillas and 10 habituated families open for trekking.
Several activities can be carried out in Rwanda before or after a gorilla safari, and these include the following:
Explore the National Parks
Akagera National Park: Akagera National Park is located along the border of Rwanda and Tanzania and is the largest national Park in the country. It is home to a wide range of wildlife best seen during the drier months of June, July, August, September, December, January, and February. During the 1994 genocide, the Park suffered a major blow when locals encroached on the parkland, leading to most animals felling the Park, whereas others were poached for food. The Park has, however, been restored to its former glory with the reintroduction of animals like black rhinos in 2017 and lions in 2015 to add on the already existing wildlife like buffalos, spotted hyenas, bushbucks, elephants, and leopards, among others.
Nyungwe Forest National Park: Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to different wildlife species but is best known for having the highest number of primate species in Rwanda including chimpanzees, Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, L’Hoest monkeys, olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, Ruwenzori colobus monkeys and vervet monkeys among others. Chimpanzees are the main attraction in Nyungwe Forest with two chimpanzee families including Cyamudongo and Uwinka. Other activities that are carried out in Nyungwe include the canopy walk which is the longest canopy walk in East Africa, primate walks around the Park, forest nature walks, bird watching, and cycling along the Congo Nile trail among others.
Gishwati Mukura National Park: Gishwati Mukura National Park is located along the ridge that separates the Nile water and Congo catchment areas along Lake Kivu. Unlike other parks, the National Park was designated in 2015 to protect the Montane rainforests after locals cut down most trees for cattle rearing during the genocide. Gishwati is less popular than other national parks, making it the best for tourists trying to avoid large crowds. The National Park is home to various primates including 20 chimpanzees, blue monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, and over 60 tree species. Gishwati is also home to different bird species, some of which are endemic to the Albertine region. A visit to Gishwati Mukura National Park not only gives you an insight into the preserved nature of the Park, but you also get to visit the local communities and learn more about their culture and their community-based activities like beekeeping, handcraft and an encounter with the traditional healers.
Visit the genocide memorial centers
Kigali Genocide Memorial Center: Located in Gisozi, the Kigali genocide memorial center is a 10-minute from Kigali city center. The centre is home to more about 250,000 Rwandese nationals who were killed during the 1994 genocide and it is under the management of AEGIS an NGO that has committed itself to stop genocides around the world. The building has different sections with some showcasing the skulls, personal belongings, and photographs of those who lost their lives, another section has photographs showcasing the brutality that was seen during the genocide, and when you get outside the building, there is a mass grave where survivors of the genocide and those that lost their loved ones come to remember and connect.
Nyamata Genocide Memorial Center: Located in Bugesera, Nyamata was previously a church where the Tutsi people gathered seeking refuge from the war. The church doors were opened using grenades, and to this day, you will find clothes stained with blood, including the Alter cloth, national IDs for all those that lost their lives along the church pews, and outside the church lies 25000 people buried in the mass graves.
Ntarama Genocide Memorial: This is an hour’s drive from Kigali city center, where 5000 people were killed. It was a small catholic village parish church where the Tutsis came seeking refugee from the militias who attacked the church and killed everyone inside.
Murambi Genocide Memorial: This was a technical school where the Tutsis were told to hide with the hope that the French army would protect them. There are various mass graves, and it is the most difficult memorial site to visit because of the display of skeletons that are on display, and you can easily recognize someone if they were related to you. Some of the classrooms now act as exhibition centres to tourists.
Nyarubuye memorial site: This was a catholic church where 2000 Tutsis were raped, maimed and killed. It is believed that the mayor of the district, Gacumbitsi Sylvestre, encouraged the militia to kill the people who had sought refuge within the church by providing them with arms. The church, however, has since been restored and used by the locals, but there is a memorial Centre adjacent to it.
Bisesero memorial site: 40,000 people lost their lives here. This is where Tutsis, who had very little to fight with, put up a resistance against the Hutus by hiding in the hills, where they used stones and sticks to fight their enemies.
Other genocide centers worth visiting include the Nyanza Genocide Memorial site, where the annual celebrations of the genocide anniversary in April happen every year graves of over 10,000 victims, and the Gisozi Memorial site, where 30,000 or more Hutus and Tutsis were killed.
Rwanda has a variety of museums that have preserved the history and culture of the country. Short trips to the museums before or after a gorilla trek are worth it, and below are some of the museums you can check out while on a safari to Rwanda.
The King’s Palace Museum: The King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza is a replica of the palace constructed during the 15th Century. You get to walk through the open-air palace designed with European and Rwanda style, and there are several personal items for the king. Inyambo (long-horned cattle) are believed to be sacred and part of the king’s herd used during ceremonies. There are singers that you can listen to all day long trying to lull the cows with poems (a known and sacred ritual by the people of Rwanda). The palace has a fresh milk hut managed by unmarried women and completely grass-thatched. It is a place where you learn more about the Rwanda culture.
The Ethnographic Museum: Located in Butare town, the Ethnographic Museum is one of the best museums on the African continent boasting a wide range of cultural artifacts. The museum was a gift to Rwanda on its 25th anniversary of independence and has woven baskets, animal garments, traditional spears, and other handicraft that dates back over 100 years. A walk through the museum will take you back in time before colonization.
The National History Museum: Formerly known as the Kandt House Museum, the National History Museum is an important cultural site in Rwanda. It was named after Dr. Richard Kandt, the first German governor of Rwanda during colonial times. The museum is divided into three parts, with the first part of the exhibition showing the life of the Rwandan people before colonial times. The exhibition’s second part shows Rwanda during the colonial era, whereas the last section of the museum showcases Rwanda after gaining independence. The museum also showcases rare and unique wildlife, landscape, vegetation of the country, and the photos of the German and Rwanda World 1. Visit the museum to learn more about Rwanda’s history and culture.
The Presidential Palace Museum: The Presidential Palace Museum in Rwanda is the place to go if you want to learn more about what caused the 1994 Rwanda genocide. This is a former state house where the former president of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, lived and where the plane he was in was shot down on 6th April 1994. The plane landed in the compound, and the remains can still be seen to date. When the Hutus learned about the shooting, they attacked the Tutsis, which led to the start of the genocide. Tourists can still see the guns used during the war between the government and the RPF.
Cultural Tours in Rwanda
Rwanda, as a country, has a unique culture that is worth learning more about, and the best way to do this is by visiting the local communities. Rwanda’s rich culture and history are an excellent choice for a safari before or after a gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park.
Visit the Ibyiwacu cultural village: The Ibyiwacu village is also known as the Gorilla Guardians Village and is one of Rwanda’s most visited cultural villages. The beauty of Ibyiwacu is that it is closer to Volcanoes National Park, where gorilla trekking is carried out. The village not only offers tourists a chance to learn how to construct a traditional house in Rwanda, but you get to learn how the village has helped in the conservation of the gorillas, the locals also lay traps to catch birds, antelopes, and other animals. You also learn how to cook local food, enjoy the Intore dance, and enjoy traditional beer prepared by the locals. Note that the village was put in place to give work to the former poachers while at the same time showcasing the unique Rwandan culture.
The Banda cultural village: The Banda cultural village is found in Nyungwe National Park in Uwinka near the park headquarters. The Intore dancers welcome you to the village and an experienced guide will take you around the village where you get to observe the locals preparing local meals, enjoy music and dance, learn how the locals use local tools in their day-to-day lives weaving baskets, grinding maize, collecting medicinal herbs and if you are lucky, you will be able to enjoy a traditional wedding.
Enjoy the cultural festivals: Rwanda as a country holds various festivals that bring locals and tourists together to enjoy the country’s unique culture. The festivals are organized at different intervals, but all these are worth your time. Attend the Kwita Izina ceremony held yearly at Volcanoes National Park in October where newborn gorillas are given names. The event is attended by numerous dignitaries, including the president of Rwanda, politicians, and celebrities. You can also attend the Umuganda festival organized every last Saturday of the month around Kigali and all citizens are to clean the city’s streets. This is a compulsory event for all residents that starts at 8:00 am to 12:00 am and no cars are allowed on this day and offices are to be closed until the Umuganda event is complete. Although tourists are not obligated to clean, you can join in with the locals. One last festival you can enjoy is the Ukwibuka, organized to commemorate and remember the people who died during the Rwanda genocide. The event is carried out every year in April, and you can visit the Rwanda embassy to learn about how you can participate.
Explore the shores of Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is located along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda and is one of the places you can visit before or after a gorilla trek in Rwanda. Enjoy the different activities carried out along Lake Kivu, like boat rides, Kayaking, bird watching, and guided nature walks, among others.
Enjoy the fashion week in Kigali.
Kigali is a fast-growing city with a mixture of both Rwanda and modern culture. Rwanda holds two fashion weeks a year; the first is the Kigali Fashion Week, which is held in July, and the Rwanda Fashion Week in September. If you are in Rwanda, be sure to attend one of these fashion weeks before or after your gorilla safari to see a mixture of the Rwandan fashion culture and international designers.