Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills, and as gorgeous as that sounds, it is actually much, much more.
The heart of Rwanda, it’s captial, Kigali, is a busy city nestled into the rolling hills.
On the eastern border of Rwanda lies Akagera National Park where you can find a grassy savanna, lakes, forests, and safari animals.
The western border features Lake Kivu, a giant lake shared with the Congo.
And most famous of all is Volcanoes National Park. Or, more specifically, the mountain gorillas that call it their home.
We got to spend time in these four places, and it was simply breathtaking. Check out my favorite photos from each highlight of our trip!
You can either scroll or use this table of contents if you’re interested in one specific place.
The hustle and bustle of Rwanda’s capitol is filled with nature. People interact with nature on a daily business, whether it is for their work or their everyday view. Rolling hills are notably Rwanda’s most iconic form of nature, and you’ll find it in the city.
Banana trees, coffee plants, and other types of produce are seen along the road in Kigali.
A typical road is lined with dirt (or grass if you’re near the nicer parts of town). The unmistakable black and white curb line the streets in Kigali- some of the cleanest streets in Africa. Rwanda is known for it’s cleanliness and relative safety!
And a big part of why it is so clean is “Umuganda.” Rwandans dedicate one Saturday of each month to mandatory community service. Anyone over 18 is required to participate in Umuganda, and activities range based on what each community needs.
We captured this image at our Umuganda, where instead of working, President Kagame showed up and gave a political speech. Women carry their babies in little papooses on their backs- which I think is absolutely the cutest thing!
You can see how hilly Kigali is from this photo, but it doesn’t do it justice.
Sunset is a sight to behold in Kigali.
We captured this shot at dinner one night (at Papyrus in Kigali). Most nice restaurants have an outdoor patio, catering to the perfect climate almost year-round.
We rode horses atop Mount Kigali at Fazenda Sengha. Read more about it here!
Best Family Rwanda
We spent the first three days in Rwanda with Best Family Rwanda. We sponsor a little girl through BFR. There are three different branches of BFR, all in different spots in Kigali.
We met Sonia in her hometown, the Kinyinya sector of Kigali. She’s the sweetest little girl!
Our activities with Best Family Rwanda always included a ton of playtime with the kids. Definitely a highlight of our time in Rwanda.
Akagera has so many different animals and terrains, and you can read all about it here. But to summarize in photos, here are several of my favorite shots from this Big 5 Safari (yes, it is technically a Big 5 game reserve!).
There are picnic areas like this one scattered throughout the park.
These little guys are the first animals we saw, as they like to live close to the park entrance.
I definitely recommend going with a tour guide. We used Kagera Safaris and loved our drivers. A big reason why you should splurge is that if you do your own drive, (a) you could get lost, (b) your guides are experts at spotting wild life, and (c) the safari jeeps are way cooler than your average car.
Gorilla Trekking at Volcanoes National Park
This experience was a once in a lifetime part of our trip. There is quite a hefty fee to see the gorillas, but it is so worth it! Read about it in full detail here.
We were fortunate enough to have a one month old baby on our trek!
These dancers and drummers perform a traditional dance before the trek begins. It happens at the opening ceremony each day.
This silverback was the first gorilla we spotted! Once we saw him, the rest of his family came into view. He’s the largest of his tribe.
The beginning of the trek looked like this for us. Once we made it past all of the bamboo, we entered a layer of the jungle that looked way more like Tarzan than China.
The gorillas would sit and eat wild celery, take a nap, play, groom, and more.
The people dressed in blue are porters- people who will carry your belongings for a small fee. It’s very beneficial to the Rwandan economy to employ a porter, and they help take a load off of you (literally!).
Pfunda Tea Plantation
The hills make for some stunning plantations. This tea plantation grows the tea used to make African tea. I definitely recommend trying it- it’s got such a delicious kick to it!
Lake Kivu is shared by Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While boating on Lake Kivu, you have a clear view of the Congo, which is a bit nerve wracking considering it’s reputation for danger!
But all is calm and peaceful on the Rwandan side.
This was our little bungalow at Inzu Lodge (read more about glamping at Inzu here). It offered an incredible view of the lake.
At one section of the lake, there are hot springs heated by the nearby volcano. (Volcanoes National Park is named that way for a reason!). You can get the cheapest and best massages at Lake Kivu– just be sure to tip well because these sweet locals deserve it!
I had to include this photo of Sambaza because it became our favorite snack to order! You dip these delicious tiny fish in sauce and trust me- they are so tasty!!
Sunset at Kivu is stunning, especially when the sky and sea melt into one. How dreamy?
I hope you enjoyed these photos!
And if you’re planning a trip to Africa, check out my tips on what you need to know before visiting!
Heading to Rwanda? Check out these helpful articles!
- A 2 Week Rwanda Itinerary
- 14 Crucial Things Not to Forget When Planning Your Trip to Africa
- 12 Things You Simply Must Do in Rwanda
- Everything You Need to Know About Gorilla Trekking
- Akagera: What You’ll Find at Rwanda’s Big 5 Safari
- Lake Kivu- Hidden Beauty Glamping in Rwanda
- Is Staying at the Famous Hotel Rwanda Worth It?
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