Rwanda, from its lush rainforests to dry savannas, is filled with impressive sights and attractions. Although this landlocked nation is theoretically small enough to traverse in a day, winding roads, sometimes difficult weather conditions, and challenging hikes make many of Rwanda’s activities tough to access. That being said, these spectacular locations absolutely merit the journey. Read on for 11 of our favorite places in Rwanda that are hard to get to, but well worth the effort.
Mount Sabinyo, one of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountain Range, provides some of the country’s most interesting views. The summit is shared between Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the day long hike up the jagged mountain is known to be fairly difficult, though absolutely breathtaking.
Located in the middle of the twin lakes in the Musanze region, Ile de Cyuza is an idyllic island on Lake Burera. From Kigali, it takes two buses, a motorcycle, and a boat to get to the island, but the volcanic views are so worth it. Intrepid travelers can camp on the island, lazing on the lake shore and immersing themselves in Rwanda’s countryside.
Nyungwe National Forest, situated in the southernmost part of Rwanda, is difficult to get to but features a lush rainforest, countless tea fields, hundreds of bird species, chimpanzees, and waterfall hikes. Public transit to the park from Kigali is somewhat available, although private transport is recommended due to the park’s large size.
Lying between the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mount Karisimbi is Rwanda’s tallest volcano. At over 4,500 metres, Karisimbi takes two days to hike. Trekkers can stay in rustic cabins midway up the mountain, while enjoying unbelievable views into both Rwanda and Congo.
Kigali’s only hike is in the lively Nyamirambo neighborhood. Even though it’s within the city itself, Mount Kigali requires several public buses, a motorcycle taxi, and confidence to locate one of the many trail heads. However, the view of the city from the top is worth it.
Located halfway between Kigali and Musanze, the Sorwathe Tea Plantation offers lunch, tea tastings, fantastic views, and a tea production tour. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get to the plantation with public transit, and the long winding road is pretty steep and rough during the rainy season. That being said, the tea and scenery are truly lovely.
Cyanagugu, the capital of the Rusizi district in southern Rwanda, can be up to a seven hour drive from Rwanda. The roads are improving, but potholes after rainy season and slow trucks can make this journey really long. However, the sparking clear waters of Lake Kivu and views into the Democratic Republic of Congo are matchless.
Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only big 5 safari park, and is characterised by sweeping vistas, wetlands, and impressive animals. Though the southern gates are just a two and a half hour drive from Kigali, the northern section of Akagera features the park’s best views.
Kibuye, a lakeside town just a few hours from Rwanda’s capital, is easily accessible by public transit from Kigali’s Nyabugogo Bus Terminal. The most idyllic lakeside property in the area, however, is located just outside of the town and requires a private taxi or motorcycle.
The Congo Nile trail runs the length of Lake Kivu on the Rwandan-side of the border, and can take upwards of a few weeks to hike, bike, or kayak. However, the views from really anywhere along the trail are stupendous.
Rwanda’s only crater lake is just a day hike away on Mount Bisoke, although a bus, car, and hike are required to make it happen. Lucky hiking groups sometimes spot gorilla families on the way up this volcano, and panoramic views of Musanze district are all but guaranteed.