While close encounters with endangered mountain gorillas in northwest Rwanda have long been a major drawcard for visitors venturing into the fourth-smallest country on the continent, Rwanda’s rebirth in recent years has revealed that it has countless other natural wonders and experiences on offer.
From the misty forests of the enchanting Nyungwe National Park to the primordial Lake Kivu (known as Rwanda’s Riviera region), not to mention the cosmopolitan capital city Kigali with its mix of African fusion food, the allure is evident. This explains why cultured travellers with a taste for East Africa’s unique appeal are starting to insist that Rwanda is included in their safari itinerary.
In fact, given Rwanda’s proximity to other coveted East African destinations, such as Tanzania’s iconic Serengeti, it’s fast becoming the perfect complement for an unforgettable African journey that encompasses the thrill of a wilderness safari with the spiritual experience of intimate forest encounters.
At Tailormade Africa we love the fact that Singita’s six lodges and camps in the Serengeti are perfectly positioned for such tailormade circuits and offer uninterrupted savannah views and some of the best game viewing in Africa.
The country’s remarkable recovery from its painful and complicated past has also ingrained the entire nation with a spirit of hope, vibrant creativity and contemporary African style that resonates with travellers looking for inspiring hidden gems in this wonderful country.
In the past two decades, Rwanda has made significant inroads in its socio-economic development, and, as Forbes Africa so aptly named it earlier this year, “Africa’s poster child for progress” has become a destination of choice for business summits from across the globe. After Cape Town and Casablanca, Kigali is now the third biggest conference and event destination in Africa.
Adding to Rwanda’s increasing appeal, there’s been a major improvement in accessibility with the introduction of direct flights from the UK’s Gatwick Airport to Kigali, and flights from JFK to follow shortly – making air access that much easier to this spectacular part of the world.
Rwanda's allure as a growing business hub comes as no surprise, given Kigali’s exceptional charm. Its clean streets positively hum with endless energy, and there is so much to take in, from vibrant art galleries to a lively restaurant scene where local delights, such as the beloved brochettes (skewered cubes of grilled savoury meat or fish) often take centre stage.
Appealing to public tastes, French and Belgian culinary influences are still abundant in the capital too, masterfully merged with local flavours at the numerous small bistros with their carefully curated menus.
What’s more, Rwanda’s rolling hills, volcanic soil and temperate climate make it ideal for growing coffee, and the city’s steadily increasing number of quirky fair-trade coffee shops offer some of the best brews in East Africa reaching far afield.
There are some great local cultural activities, the various walking tours through Kigali’s gently sloping hills are highly recommended – especially if they include stopping at local sewing shops to meet the seamstresses who create various keepsakes from the beautifully printed kitenge-fabrics that are so quintessential to East Africa.
Rwanda’s three major national parks are all within easy reach from the capital Kigali. Volcanoes National Park is set on the steep slopes of the Virunga mountain range, and its dramatic scenery and gorilla trekking guarantee life-changing encounters in the wild.
In the southwest, Nyungwe Forest National Park’s unique canopy walks provide an intoxicating aerial view of the park’s plentiful birdlife and dense forests, while Akagera National Park cradles central Africa’s largest protected wetland.
Although Rwanda is landlocked, the shimmering waters of Lake Kivu are still something of a well-kept secret, although the lake has been a unique holiday destination for Rwandans and foreigners in the know for a while. Conveniently located between Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Park, lunch on the shores of its emerald waters is the ideal way to pause between experiences in these two parks, and lingering longer means being treated to spectacular sunsets.
It is against the backdrop of Volcanoes National Park that Singita is opening its two ultimate experience lodges, Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House in August 2019. They will offer guests a nurturing space in which to appreciate the transformative experience of coming face to face with the forest’s gentle giants. Boasting breathtaking views of the Sabinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura volcanoes and surrounded by magnificent unspoilt forests, Singita’s Kwitonda Lodge and the exclusive-use Kataza House promise experiences unlike any of Singita’s other destinations.
Known affectionately as “The land of a Thousand Hills” due to the endless stretches of undulating hills in its typography, this tiny country offers a multitude of experiences too. And Rwanda’s warm heart and gentle spirit are increasingly beckoning likeminded travellers to embrace its beauty.
Bookings for Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House are now open. Get in touch and book a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to avoid disappointment.