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Rwanda’s top tourist attraction is the mountain gorillas that inhabit the Virunga Mountains, a string of magnificent freestanding volcanoes that run along its northern border with Uganda and the Congo. Protected in the Volcanoes National Park, these mountain gorillas were originally habituated by Dian Fossey in the 1960s — the film Gorillas in the Mist was shot on location here — and are still visited daily by tourists, arguably the most magical wildlife encounter Africa has to offer. Other attractions in Volcanoes National Park include habituated troops of the endemic golden monkey and day hikes to the site of Fossey’s former ...

Rwanda’s top tourist attraction is the mountain gorillas that inhabit the Virunga Mountains, a string of magnificent freestanding volcanoes that run along its northern border with Uganda and the Congo. Protected in the Volcanoes National Park, these mountain gorillas were originally habituated by Dian Fossey in the 1960s — the film Gorillas in the Mist was shot on location here — and are still visited daily by tourists, arguably the most magical wildlife encounter Africa has to offer. Other attractions in Volcanoes National Park include habituated troops of the endemic golden monkey and day hikes to the site of Fossey’s former encampment on the forested slopes. In the south, Nyungwe National Park protects the largest remaining montane forest in East Africa, home to 14 species of primate including chimpanzee and several very localized bird species, while Akagera National Park on the Tanzanian border supports a habitat of swamp and savannah inhabited by elephant, buffalo and other plains wildlife. On the western border, Lake Kivu is a pretty inland sea enclosed by the towering Rift Valley escarpment and serviced by the quaint ports of Gisenyi, Cyangugu and Kibuye. To the outside world, Rwanda will forever be remembered for the brutal genocide that took place there in 1994. However, the country has enjoyed a high level of stability since the current regime assumed power in late 1994. The Genocide Museum in the capital Kigali is one of several poignant memorials to this horrific event, which claimed an estimated million lives in the space of three months. Nearby, the former capital of Butare is Rwanda’s main university town and site of the fascinating national museum.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Republic of Rwanda is a small landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of east-central Africa. Home to approximately 9 million people, Rwanda supports the densest population in continental Africa, with most of the population engaged in subsistence
  • Language: Kinyarwanda, French, English
  • Currency: Rwandan Franc
  • Research: Rwanda | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight