Planning a photography safari in Rwanda
Planning a photography safari in Rwanda. Rwanda is a land of opportunities and offers some of the best and most beautiful scenic tour opportunities with different safari destinations in different parts of the country. A photography safari in Rwanda is one of the safari activities carried out in the different national parks in the country, and it gives tourists a chance to explore the country fully.
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Photo safaris in Rwanda can be carried out throughout the year depending on your interests, but the best time is during the dry season from June to September and December to February. In cases where you are traveling on a budget, the best time is during the wet/low season of March to May when discounts are offered.
Cost of a photo safari in Rwanda
When planning a photo safari to Rwanda, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself and these include how long will the safari be? The different types of activities you are to engage in and the safari company you plan to use, among others. These questions and more will determine the cost of your photo safari. The cost of a safari is determined by the quality of services that you are looking and below is a list of factors that affect the cost of the photo safari.
The number of days: The cost depends on the days you plan to spend on your safari. The longer you stay on a safari, the higher the costs, and the shorter the time spent on the safari, the lower the costs because the money spent on other necessities like accommodation, transport, and food will have been reduced.
Season of travel: Rwanda provides opportunities for tourists to explore the country throughout the year for a photo safari. If you are traveling on a budget, the best time is during the wet/low season from March to May when discounts are offered due to less traffic of tourists visiting the country. The dry/peak season always has high traffic, which leads to a hike in costs on both accommodation and transport.
Safari destination: The safari destination chosen also affects the cost of a photo safari. For example, select safari destinations in the same or similar directions to reduce transport costs. Choose a safari destination that matches your interests to enjoy your photography safari in Rwanda.
Type of accommodation: There are three categories of accommodation in the different safari destinations in Rwanda: budget/basic accommodation facilities, mid-range, and luxury accommodation facilities. Although Rwanda is commonly known as a luxury destination, there are accommodation facilities that can be used by tourists visiting the country. The type of accommodation you choose will greatly impact your photo safari in Rwanda.
Transport: One of the things that you need to consider is how you are going to get around while on your safari. 4×4 safari vehicles will be provided for those who would wish to book their safari through a trusted tour operator and those who wish to self-drive, there are options for hiring a vehicle however this might be a bit expensive since you are new to the country, and not sure of the routes to use. One of the best ways of saving is by traveling in groups and saving on transport costs since each person gets to contribute a share of the total cost.
Activities: Many tourists are interested in participating in the different activities offered on a safari, but you should note that besides game drives that are part of the entrance fees in most cases, other activities are paid for separately, which then increases the cost of the photo safari. The different activities like biding, canopy walks in nuyngwe, and prime trekking, among other activities, are paid for, and the Rwanda Development Board sets the fee.
What to pack for a photo safari in Rwanda
Packing right for a safari is important because you will need to enjoy your safari without worrying about extra unnecessary luggage. Your packing list should include clothes, shoes, toiletries, documents, gadgets, and other personal items. Below is a list of items you might need for your photo safari to Rwanda
Clothes: The right clothes to pack for a photo safari depend on the destinations you plan on visiting, but all in all, you need to pack clothes you feel comfortable in. Do not pack a lot of clothes to reduce the luggage, and make sure that the clothes packed are not brightly colored, camouflaged since they are associated with the army, black because of absorbing heat, and blue because it is believed that it attracts tsetse flies. The recommended colors to pack for a safari are neutral colors like brown, khaki, or green that easily blend in with the forest. Pack long-sleeved shirts and trousers, and avoid packing jeans.
Camera: This should be the first item to pack for the safari, and we recommend the easy snap-and-shoot camera, especially if this is your first photography safari. If you do not own a camera, there are usually cameras around for hire at a small fee, but it is best if you have your camera and know how to use all the settings. Some of the camera equipment needed includes a tripod, extra lenses, a camera bag to keep all the equipment, camera stands, mid-range and wide ranges, lens cleaners, and spare batteries.
Binoculars: These are necessary as they come in handy when viewing wildlife that is a bit far from your location and locating the hidden ones. Get adjustable binoculars that will help you when game viewing, primate watching, and birding.
Hike Boots and Gaiters: It doesn’t matter which season you are planning your photo safari, but the most essential thing to note is that rains in Rwanda are a common occurrence even during the dry season, and you will need adjustable gaiters for when it rains. On the other hand, the hike boots should be well-fitting to avoid blisters; ankle boots are recommended and, if possible, waterproof.
Other essential items that you should pack include recognition books, a rain jacket, a sunhat, toiletries, wet wipes, insect repellent, a refillable water bottle, cash, sunscreen, a flashlight, biodegradable toilet paper, Garden gloves, thick socks, sandals or sneakers and a warm sweater among others.
Photo safari destinations in Rwanda
The different destinations in Rwanda for a photo safari in Rwanda include the following:
Volcanoes National Park: Located in the northwest part of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is the main tourist attraction in Rwanda with over 400 recorded Mountain gorillas. The main activity carried out in Volcanoes National Park is gorilla trekking, which is done in the different parts of the park depending on the gorilla family you have been allocated to. The park shares borders with the Virunga National Park in DRC and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, where gorilla trekking is carried out. As you plan your photo safari, the first step is finding out the different activities that are carried out in the park. These include volcano climbing along the different Volcanic mountains found in the park including Karisimbi, Gahinga, Sabinyo, Muhabura, and Bisoke, gorilla trekking, Golden monkey trekking, attending the Kwita Izina ceremony that is carried out per year and where baby gorillas are named with the president of Rwanda in attendance, hiking to the Dian Fossey Tomb and nature walks around the park. Photo safaris in Volcanoes are carried out throughout the year and accommodation that you can use while on your safari includes Five Volcanoes Hotel, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorillas’ Nest Lodge, Bisate Lodge, and Virunga Volcanoes Lodge among others.
Nyungwe Forest National Park: Best known for its chimpanzee population, Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the best destinations for a Rwanda photo safari. The best to go for a photo safari in Nyungwe is between June to September and some of the activities carried out in Nyungwe include chimpanzee trekking and habituation which are carried out all year round, with chimpanzee trekking and habituation, you will have first to purchase a chimpanzee trek permit. Other activities include the canopy walk which was introduced in 2010, primate walks where you get to see the different primate species including Grey-cheeked Mangabeys, Angola colobus monkeys, L’Hoests monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, Vervet monkeys, olive baboons and Ruwenzori colobus monkeys among others, Cycle along the Congo Nile trail, go bird watching and take forest nature walks.
Lake Kivu: Lake Kivu is located along the border of DRC Rwanda and DRC and is considered one of the smallest lakes found within the Great Rift Valley. There are several activities that you can carry out around Lake Kivu and these include nature walks, exploring the different islands around Kivu some of which include Amahoro Island, Nyamirundi Island, and Munini Island among others, Kayaking, mountain biking, birding where you get to see bird species like the Tropical Boubou, African pied wagtail, and the common waxbill among others, boat rides, and spot fishing among other activities. A fun fact about Lake Kivu is that it is made up of both Methane and carbon dioxide, which can cause eruptions at any given time. Scientists believe it will one day erupt, and all the locals around it have been warned.
Akagera National Park: Located along the border of Rwanda and Tanzania, Akagera is the largest National Park in Rwanda, filled with mainly swampy areas and savannah woodlands. The National Park was compromised a bit following the genocide of 1994 when refugees returned to the country and poached on the animals while at the same time encroaching on the national parkland. In the early 2000s, Akagera was restored with the reintroduction of different animal species including lions that were introduced in 2015, black rhinos were introduced in 2017 to add to the already existing zebras, hyenas, hippos, bushbucks, antelopes, crocodiles, and antelopes among others. Akagera National Park is also home to primate species, including vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, olive baboons, and black and white colobus monkeys. It is also home to over 500 recorded bird species best seen during the wet months. Some of the activities that you get to engage in while on a photo safari to Akagera National Park include spot fishing along River Akagera, Bird watching, game drives, Boat rides along Lake Ihema, community visits to learn more about the culture of the locals and guided nature walks.
The Genocide Memorial sites: Rwanda’s history as a country has a dark past caused by the 1994 genocide that saw a fight between the Hutus and Tutsis, leading to millions of people dying and others seeking refuge in the neighboring countries. There are different sites where both locals and tourists get to remember the genocide victims and learn the history as part of the Rwandan culture, and these include the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre located right in the center of the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali. The memorial center has a mass grave where victims were buried and all the names of the victims of the war. The Nyamata memorial site, which was a church in the Bugerera district, acted as a refuge for people who were running away from the war, but it is approximated that over 250,000 people were killed here, and the evidence was left lying where it was on the day they were killed. Ntarama memorial site, also in Bugesera, was a former church where hundreds sought refuge during the war, and over 5,000 people died there. The church has since been kept as a remembrance site and display of what happened during the war. Murambi Genocide Memorial site is now an exhibition site; however, it was a former school where over 2700 people were killed; Bisesero Memorial site located in Karongi is now commonly known as the ‘Hill of Resistance’ because of the resistance that the people put up during the war and over 30, 000 people were killed here. Gisozi memorial site has a library, cemetery, and photo gallery; this is where over 300,000 people were killed and Hutus and Tutsis were buried.
Other tourist destinations in Rwanda that you can visit for a photo safari in Rwanda include the Tea plantations, including the Pfunda tea estate, known to be the largest in the country, and the Gisovu tea plantation; explore the National Museum and visit Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.
Photography safaris in Rwanda can easily be arranged if you have the right tour operators, and that is where we come in to help with the organization of a wonderful trip. Book in advance to get the best deals, especially if you are preparing to visit during the peak season of June to September.
Contact us to plan your photography safari in Rwanda.