The hills surrounding Lake Burere shrouded in the morning mist.
Land of a Thousand Hills
In colonial times, the thrilling beauty of Rwanda’s rolling mountainous landscapes earned it the sobriquet “Land of a Thousand Hills”. This small Central African nation leaped to fame as the Land of “Gorillas in the Mist”, adopted home of Dian Fossey and the most important refuge for the rare mountain gorilla. In the late 19080s, Rwanda established itself as a popular travel destination.
"In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat," wrote Dian Fossey, "are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest - the Virungas". Gorilla tracking in the Virungas is the country’s premier attraction, supplemented by the mesmerizing savannah and plains wildlife of Akagera National Park, the incredible biodiversity of the extensive Nyungwe rainforest, and a range of montane and lakeshore around the expansively beautiful Lake Kivu. Gorilla tracking permits are limited so they should be purchased well in advance.
Although Rwanda has experienced some turbulence in the past, today it has reclaimed it’s place as one of the world’s finest adventure and ecotourism destinations. The mountain gorillas are still in forests, every bit as awe inspiring as ever, as are the elephants of Akagera, and the chimpanzees and monkeys of Nyungwe. Rwanda is also one of Africa’s top birding countries, with over 600 different birds recorded within an area the size of Wales.
Away from the main resorts, Rwanda's lakes offer travelers rewarding glimpses into ancient African lifestyles. Here, fishermen ply the water in dugout canoes unchanged in design for centuries, while colorfully dressed ladies smoke traditional wooden pipes and troubadours strum sweetly on stringed iningire (traditional 'guitars'). And, the birdlife is fantastic: flotillas of pelicans sail ponderously across the open water, majestic crowned cranes preen their golden crests in the surrounding swamps, while jewel-like malachite kingfishers hawk silently above the shore.
Rwanda is a truly welcoming country, whose attractions are complemented by comfortable facilities, fine food, and a rich cultural heritage. Select a safari from the menu on the left to see what wildlife and cultural adventures await you in the Land of a Thousand Hills.