There’s a reason Rwanda was crowned Africa’s Leading Destination at the World Travel awards in 2017. One of the fasted growing destinations for travellers the world over, it has magical landscapes, including wildlife-teeming national parks, people that are renowned for their warmth and hospitality and magical, secret destinations that though underrated are some of the most beautiful places in Africa.
Lake Kivu & Surrounds
A freshwater lake, one of Africa’s greatest, Lake Kivu takes up the entire western border of Rwanda and offers one of the most remote adventures where blissful escapism meets rural charm. Lake Kivu covers more than 2,700 square kilometres and along its tranquil waters lie quaint fishing villages, gorgeous tropical islands and scenic expanses worthy of the title ‘paradise’. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Africa with winding drives through these “towns” featuring Eucalyptus trees along the road, untouched nature and welcoming locals.
A favourite in the Lake Kivu area is the town of Kibuye (also known as Karongi), which lies on hills along its shores and has beautiful turquoise waters and idyllic islands. Gisenyi, on its northern shore, is a worthy stop for those with kayaking in mind. Once a colonial beach resort, it is now signified by withering old mansions and resorts, some of which lie alongside palm-fringed beaches, definitely one of the most fascinating and beautiful places in Africa.
Click here for accommodation in the Lake Kivu region.
The Congo Nile Trail
Lining the expanse of Lake Kivu and offering panoramic views of its glorious surrounds, The Congo Nile Trail delivers one of the most unforgettable experiences in Africa. Hikers, bikers and kayaking enthuisiasts will enjoy this network of trails and roads that run from Gisenyi in the north of the lake to the town of Cyangugu at its southern end.
For 227 km, this stretch of ancient dirt roads and trails twists through jungle and farmland, rows of banana trees and vast coffee plantations as Lake Kivu’s coastline and undisturbed waters lie in the majestic backdrop. The route continues, past emerald tea plantations, to the divide that separates the Nile and Congo rivers and into the thick of Nyungwe rainforest where 13 species of primates reside. The Congo Nile Trail can be completed in 5 days by bike, 10 days by hike or 8 days by Kayak.
Considering an adventure in this area? Take a look at these Nyungwe Forest National Park Lodges.
Nyungwe Forest National Park
A breathtaking mountain rainforest, believed to be one of the oldest on the continent, Nyungwe Forest National Park covers over 1000 square km. Within its vast stretch live a dozen primate species, including habituated chimpanzees and Ruwenzori Black-and-white colobus. Bird watchers adore this area where 300 bird species soar and there are 75 different species of mammal for hikers and bikers to track.
A favourite is the canopy walk where, from 50 metres in the air, you can savour the panorama of this Afromontane forest. The 200-metre-long walkway leads deep into the thick of the misty peaks and for close to two hours hikers can sight Blue Monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Black-and-white colobuses, Red-tailed monkeys and more.
One of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains and straddling the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mount Bisoke could literally not be better positioned. Not only does it overlap two splendid African states but the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Congo.
The bigger part of the volcano, which includes the summit, lies on the Rwandan side and is signified by two magnificent crater lakes – one on the summit and the other (Ngezi) 11km away.
Bisoke draws mountain climbers who scale to its peak in a single day from the Rwandan side – most often from Musanze (Ruhengeri). Considered steep but not too challenging, the volcano’s two main hiking trails both lead to one of the crater lakes. On the hike, you can track Golden monkeys and encounter Mountain gorillas while immersed in Bamboo and Hagenia-hypericum forest and Senecio-lobelia bush and certainly one of the most beautiful places in Africa.
Fascinated by this whole region? Click here for the best destinations in East Africa.