7 Days in Rwanda
DO NOT MISS
Genocide Memorial Museum, Gorilla Trekking, lunch buffets – it’s a national tradition
Day 1: peruse downtown Kigali, visit hotel Mille Colline.
Mille Colline is where the actual location of “Hotel Rwanda” but the movie was not shot here.
Day 2: Visit Genocide Memorial Museum, Lake Nyarutarama.
This is a very well done, informative museum. I think everyone came out with tears. The Lake is a man-made lake that is less than ordinary. Not sure why it made it to the guidebook.
Day 3: Day trip to Butare.
The is where the National Museum of Rwanda is located. Again it was a comparatively informative museum. There is a live size royal hut inside that you can sneak a nap in.
Day 4: Head to Gisenyi(Rubavu). Take a walk along shores of Lake Kivu
You can swim in Lake Kivu. If you are shy about locals staring at you (and they will) you can hide in Hotel Serena. They have their own “private” beach separate from the public beach by a fence for a fee.
Day 5: Attempt to walk to cross over to Congo, Check out nearby hot spring.
Apparently visa to Congo is costly and take at least 1 week. We heard that you can bribe your way into Congo but not back into Rwanda so we abandoned the plan. The hot spring was really a scalding hot puddle on the ground (It’s so hot I think you can boil eggs). The locals bath there.
Day 6: Head to Muzanze(Ruhengeri).
Muzanze is the gate way city to gorilla trekking and other volcano hiking related activities such as visiting Dian Fossy’s Grave. You need to arrive a day early to arrange any hikes the next day. Gorilla Trekking permits should be obtained ahead of time as it is limited. Everyone I’ve talked to said it was amazing. There is also a giant traditional market in the center of town that sells anything from local produce, clothes and crafts. It’s worth checking out but note that a lot of the stalls will be closed on Sundays.
Day 7: Head to Uganda
In Kigali we stayed in a van named Judy that was converted into a guest room. It comes complete with dressers and mosquito nets. The van is parked inside a guarded mansion. It was a very unique experience. The van is listed on couchsurfing
In Gisengy there is a guest house run by a Methodist church right next to the bus station. It’s very minimal, no hot water but does the trick for low-budget traveling. For some splurge, Serena is the nicest hotel in town with private lakeside beach.
In Muzanze there are plenty of hotels since it is the gateway to gorilla trekking. There are many budget hotels surrounding the main market.
The advantage of traveling in a small country is that it takes only a few hours at most between cities and buses run frequently, almost every hour. It was not necessary to purchase tickets in advance and prices are clearly listed.
TRAVELING WITH LESS TIME…
- For nature and scenery, focus on the northern parts Gisengy and Muzanze
- For culture and history, spend more time in Kigali and Butare, the former capital
TRAVELING WITH MORE TIME…
- Gorilla Trek
- Stop in Gitarama and nearby cathedral in Kabgayi
- Visit Kibuye
- Do the Nyungwe Forest canopy walk
- Take a 1-2 day trip to Burundi