Land of Thousand Hills

When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.
– Dian Fossey

Rwanda is a landlocked mountainous country best known for its mountain gorillas. It is also the most densely populated country in Africa and is heavily cultivated with even the steepest hills tightly terraced from bottom to top. During colonial times, Rwanda was called “Little Switzerland” for its stunning beauty with mountains reaching 4,500m (15,000 feet) into the sky.

The Mountain Gorillas probably survive today because of the research and conservation efforts of Dian Fossey who immersed herself in the mountains to study these gentle primates. The movie Gorillas in the Mist was filmed on location in Volcanoes National Park, which raised international awareness of the plight of the Mountain Gorilla. A mere 900+/- survive in the wild today, about one-half in Rwanda and the others in Uganda & DRC. There are habituated groups ranging in size from a few to over 25. Eight people can visit each family group per day and that is for a one-hour visit.

The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people. Over about 100 days from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6 through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, estimates of even up to 1,000,000 or as much as 20% of the country’s total population have been calculated. It was the culmination of longstanding ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, and the majority Hutu peoples, who had come to power in the rebellion of 1959–1962 and overthrown the Tutsi monarchy.  Today, a genocide museum in Kigali allows visitors to learn and reflect on this atrocity.

Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans) in northwestern Rwanda, borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the Mountain Gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rainforest and bamboo.

Currently, there are new flying circuits in progress, for those looking for a wildlife fly-in safari experience as found in other destinations.  African Parks Foundation has worked hard to re-introduce Black Rhino into Akagera National Park, a fantastic destination to add to your Gorilla trekking experience.  See further below for all the other highlights Rwanda has to create a wonderful two week adventure.

Help from abroad always comes when the rain has stopped.
– Rwandan Proverb