Volcanoes national park
This corner or northwestern Rwanda is a breath-taking unforgettable place where culture, adventure and conservation intersect.
The “Parc National de Volcans” (or PNV as it’s known by locals) lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a short two hour drive from Rwanda’s capital of Kigali, the park is a central location for exploring some distinctly Rwandan experiences. While a visit to the mountain gorillas is often at the top of visitor, the dramatic landscape also offers thrilling hiking and visits to the fascinating golden monkeys.
PNV is also one of Rwanda’s conservation epicenters, where many non-profit organizations base their operations. Visitors can pay homage to the legendary scientist and gorilla advocate Dian Fossey with a hike to her tomb or a visit to the Dian Fosse Gorilla Fund that continues her legacy of research and advocacy to this day.
Near the park, the bustling and vibrant markets of Musanze are a place to immerse yourself into everyday Rwandan culture. Go deep into the earth with Musanze’s caves – one of the area’s newest attractions.
Akagera national park
A stunning National Park where the past has been revived
Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Although founded in 1934, much of the park was re-allocated as farms and in 1997 the park was reduced in size from more than 2,500 sq km (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122 sq km. Since 2010, a joint venture with African Parks has seen Akagera return to its former glories.
It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.
Akagera combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP to offer a great safari element as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.
Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera is an important ornithological site with nearly 500 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities such as the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands in large numbers.
When it comes to birding, Rwanda is amongst Africa’s most exciting destinaitons – within this relatively small and compact country, there over 1450 bird species of which 27 are Albertine Rift endemics.
Highlights include the Red-Faced Barbet, Shoebill Stork, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Papyrus Gonolek and the Miombo Wren-Warblers.Rwanda has seven Important Birding Areas (IBAs) including the three National Parks—Volcanoes, Akagera and Nyungwe. The other IBAs are at: Rugezi Swamp, Akanyaru, Nyabarongo and Cyamudongo.
Rwanda’s location in the Albertine Rift makes for an ideal and stunning landscape for bird enthusiasts. Bird-watching in Rwanda can appeal to every level visitor – from the absolute novice (who maybe only visited for the primates) all the way to the most serious of birders, due to the diversity and appeal of certain species. Birding is experienced throughout the year, with the migrant bird season being from December through to February.
For more Information, go to: http://rwandatourism.com