June 1

The Most Underrated Destinations in Rwanda


June 1, 2018

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

Lake Kivu was formed by a tectonic rift
The calm waters of Lake Kivu

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.

Lake Kivu and surrounds is considered one of the most beautiful places in Africa
The scenic journey down clear waters

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

The Congo Nile trail is a quick way to experience one of the most beautiful places in Africa
Views from the Congo Nile trail to Cyangugu
Photo credit: Leah Feiger / Culture Trip

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.

The Congo Nile Trail is considered the best bikepacking route in East Africa
Biking through the Rwandan forest
Photo credit: Bikepacking.com

Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Forest National Park is a tropical rainforest with a large biodiversity of flora and fauna
The diverse landscapes of Nyungwe National 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.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the most beautiful places in South Africa
The canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Photo credit: Nature Trails East Africa

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.

Mount Bisoke

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.

Mount Bisoke is a dormant volcano within Volcanoes National Park, one of the most beautiful places in Africa
Mount Bisoke Crater Lake
Photo credit: Timbuktu Travel

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.


You may also enjoy 

About the author 

Thanda Mhlanga

An enthusiastic globe-trotter born in Mpumalanga, South Africa, Thanda is back in Cape Town after a year of amazing adventures abroad. When not scouring Soundcloud for her next music obsession, she’s plotting a weekend sho’t left or scrambling to keep track of friends who're scattered all over the world.

  • Great post! I’ve visited Rwanda last year and explore the unbelievable beauty of the country. It is too bad that the things that happened in the past still overshadow the present. Before out trip, so many people asked me if I was crazy to go to Rwanda since it is such an unsafe country. Most people don’t know about the incredible development and growth Rwanda has been going through. Right now, Rwanda is one of the cleanest countries in the world and the 6th safest country in Africa: https://197travelstamps.com/safest-countries-in-africa/
    I can’t wait to go back there one day the see the many smiling faces again 🙂

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}