Rwanda, in east-central Africa, is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. It is slightly smaller than Maryland. Rwanda is a lush country of endless mountains and stunning scenery, and nowhere are the mountains more majestic than the peaks of the Virunga volcanoes in the far Northwestern Rwanda. In Parc National Des Volcans, the volcanoes form a natural frontier with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, and hidden among the bamboo and dense jungle of their forbidding slopes are some of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas. It is the opportunity to encounter these contemplative creatures at close quarters that continues to draw visitors to Rwanda. There’s more to Rwanda than magical mountain gorillas, however. The shores of Lake Kivu conceal some of the best inland beaches on the continent. Deep in the southwest, Parc National Nyungwe Forest is the most extensive montane rainforest in the region, and home to many primates. Rwanda is all too often associated with the horrific events that unfolded in 1994. It has been etched into the world’s consciousness as one of the most savage genocides in history. What happened is beyond belief, but the country has taken giant strides towards recovery. Many visitors are unsure about travelling to Rwanda given its history. However, as long as security and stability persist, Rwanda is a refreshing country in which to travel, where tourists remain a relative novelty and the rewards of the present outweigh the risks of the past.
Dian Fossy’s grave is at the Karisoke Research Centre on the slopes of the Bisoke Volcano where she carried out her studies on the mountain gorillas for 18 years. She was murdered on the 27th of December 1985 at the Karisoke Research Centre and buried near Digit, her favourite gorilla. An excursion will provide excellent background information and this is a wonderful site to see!
The average daytime temperature is around 24°C, except in the higher mountains, which take up a lot of the country, where the range is 10°C to 15°C. Rwanda can be visited at any time of year. The dry season from mid-May to mid-October is easier for tracking mountain gorillas, but the endless hills are barren, a contrast to the verdant greens of the wet season. Peak season for gorilla tracking is July and August; travelling outside this time means it is easier to arrange a permit. It rains more frequently and heavily in the northeast, where the volcanoes are covered by rainforest. The summit of Karisimbi (4507m), the highest peak in Rwanda, is often covered with sleet or snow.