In this latest series, I will be going through all the countries I’ve travelled to on my mission to visit every single country in the world. In this article, we will be covering country #79: Rwanda. If you haven’t gotten a chance already, read this story first to find out why I’m trying to visit all 193 UN-recognized countries.
Rwanda is a country I was looking forward to visiting because of its history and vicinity to other African countries. I would end up going in and out of Rwanda as I also visited Uganda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
VIDEO – Country #79: Rwanda
Blog post on Rwanda
- 9 Days of Travel To Rwanda, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo
- Is It Safe To Travel To Rwanda?
- Complete 9 Days Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda Spending Breakdown
- Akagera Game Lodge Review – Staying Inside Akagera National Park
- A Complete Guide To Doing An Akagera National Park Safari in Rwanda
- 6 Places To Check Out When Doing Your Own Kigali City Tour In Rwanda
- Visiting the Kigali, Ntarama, and Nyamata Genocide Memorial in Rwanda
- Rwanda-Burundi Border Crossing From Start To Finish (Kigali to Bujumbura?)
- Tipping Etiquette in Rwanda (My Personal Experience)
- Money Saving Tips When Booking Accommodations in Rwanda
- How To Go Gorilla Trekking In Uganda (A Comprehensive Guide!)
To Uganda and back
As soon as we got out of Kigali airport, the car rental company picked us up and have us meet up with the driver we hired. When travelling in Africa, you oftentimes need to hire a driver and rent a car. This is the most economical way to visit African countries.
Our first destination was Uganda to do some gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park the next day. After an awesome time doing gorilla trekking, we came back to Kigali and used some of our Marriott points to stay at the Marriott hotel.
This was a great decision since we were filthy from gorilla trekking and badly needed a nice shower.
Burundi, Nyamata, and Ntarama Genocide Memorial
The next day, the driver (Emmanuel) and I drove to the Burundi border. It’s my goal to quickly visit Burundi and then I would head back in Rwanda.
On the drive back to Kigali, I also stopped by two genocide memorials. The first one was the Nyamata Genocide Memorial. This place was the most graphic of all the memorials as you can see the clothes and skulls of the Tutsi victims in this place.
Next, we also stopped by the Ntarama memorial.
While not trying to be inappropriate, there is some dark humour when I visited this place. The caretaker of this genocide memorial showed me around and took me to the classroom where the atrocities occurred. At one point, he started demonstrating to me how the Hutu bashed the head of the Tutsi against the wall. He was doing it so animatedly that I felt that he might bash my head on the wall also. I calmly excused myself and left in slight fear that might be the case.
Kigali Genocide Memorial
When we arrived back in Kigali, Emmanual and I picked up my sister and girlfriend and headed for the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial started with a video before proceeding to explore the museum. I regret paying for the audio tour as it was not very good. You can easily read the plaques at each station if you want to learn more about the place.
If you’re feeling kind, you can also leave a donation.
For the next part of our trip, we were planning on going to the Democratic Republic of Congo to do an overnight trek up Mount Nyiragongo at Virunga National Park.
We decided to stay the night at the border city of Gisenyi.
It was quite funny how we ended up booking our accommodation at the Kivu Peaceview hotel. Before leaving Canada, I messaged the hostel caretaker and wanted to book a room for three individuals.
He said he has a room that fits us three but there’s only one bed. My sister pondered how this was going to work but the caretaker said “it’s a biiiiiiiig waaaaan”. So we took his word for it and when we arrived, he was right, the bed was huge and fit us three no problem.
The hotel also served really delicious food. Probably some of the best we’ve eaten while in Rwanda. The view is fantastic also.
The next day, we crossed over to the Democratic Republic of Congo and would be staying there overnight.
Driving to Rhino Lodge
After crossing back to Rwanda, we drove all the way to the east side of the country where Akagera National Park is located. We decided to stay overnight at Rhino Lodge which is an eco-lodge. I didn’t know what an eco-lodge was and it’s basically a very open type of accommodation.
There were tons of spiders running on the pathways and insects buzzing around. The shower was also outdoors and the toilet was out in the open. If you want to do your business, it all goes inside a pale that the lodge caretakers clean up the next morning.
The customer service was fantastic; but, I am not a fan of the eco-lodge concept. I’ll never do that ever again.
Akagera National Park day safari
The next day, we entered Akagera National park and paid the $50 USD entrance fee. We also hired a guide for $50 USD for the entire car and he helped us find animals in the park.
The guide seems to be a college student and he told us what modern life in Rwanda was like as well.
Akagera National park night safari
Predators don’t come out during the day and we were forced to stay the night at the Akagera game lodge. This hotel has horrible customer service and it’s overpriced. But, it’s the only way to be allowed to do a night safari.
The night safari was pretty uneventful and we wondered if it’s worth the $40 USD each that we paid.
But, at the very end of the safari, we got very lucky and came across a leopard. The leopard is the hardest of the big 5 animals to see. We definitely got lucky. I just need to see the lion now to complete seeing all the big 5 animals.
The next day, I asked Emmanuel if I can drive the car and do our own safari. It was super fun and I loved driving around looking for animals.
After we were done, we had a long drive back to Kigali. Along the way, we had quite a few heart warming experience when friendly African kids would run out of their house and wave at us.
We decided to stay at a hostel this time around. The hostel we stayed at is Yambi hostel and it’s easily in my top 3 most favourite hostels of all time. The room was comfortable, the shower was clean, and the food was fantastic. Their customer service was also very good and I highly recommend it to everyone. I think we paid about $45 CAD each for the private room with three beds.
Kigali city tour
The next day was our last full day in Rwanda. We decided to do a city tour of Kigali and visited Gadaffi’s mosque first. Apparently, the controversial former dictator of Libya gifted the mosque to Rwanda.
Next, we visited the Parliament Museum of Kigali. The highlight of this place was definitely the bullet holes on the side of the wall from the genocide period.
Next, we visited the quirky Inema arts gallery. If you are a hipster, you will like this place.
One of the highlights of the city tour is the Kimironko market. Here, we engaged with the locals are my sister had fun bargaining for souvenirs. At one point, a bunch of black guys went up to me and tried buying my sister for me. They told me she’s worth at least 20 cows. It was such a memorable and hilarious experience.
Our last stop was a restaurant where we can eat local food. Afrikan Bite had very taste African food. I’d definitely come back here again because it’s cheap and delicious.
Flying out of Rwanda
In the evening, Karen and I would be flying out first and my sister Eunice would fly out the next day.
Getting into the airport was tough as there were several check points in order to enter the airport facility itself. We said goodbye to our awesome driver, Emmanuel, before going inside the airport to continue with the check-in process.
Because we had used our Aeroplan miles to book a business class flight, we got to use the expedited line a few times. I think going to the airport would have been a long tedious process had we not flown in business class.
Rwanda is a fantastic country to visit for anyone who wants to travel to Africa. I would say that it’s the safest African country in the entire continent of Africa. Despite its horrible past, it’s now behind them and it’s actually a very tourist-friendly travel destination.