A dry month, great for gorilla trekking and other animal sighting. Ideal month for hiking or trekking or to combine with a beach destination.
Great month to travel for gorilla trekking and chimpanzees viewing. Also the end of high season, prices are better.
Start of the rainy season and trees flourish. Food becomes easy, making it a perfect time for Chimpanzee trekking.
Rainy month, specially in the mountains and forest areas. Gorilla trekking is not recommended at all. Chimpanzee trekking is easier to see as they gather for food.
Rainy season and trees flourish. Food becomes easy, making it a perfect time for Chimpanzee trekking.
Start of dry season and peak time. Go for Gorilla trekking or Game viewing in Akagera. Great time to combine with another African destination as well.
One of the best months. Great weather to go for Gorilla trekking, gold monkey viewing or Game viewing in Akagera. Great time to combine with another African destination as well.
Peak season. Great weather to go for Gorilla trekking or Game viewing in Akagera. Great time to combine with another African destination as well.
End of dry season. Still good to go for Gorilla trekking, visit the country and combine with another African destination.
Short rainy season making it great for bird watching. Trees and plants are flowering and visible birdlife is abundant. Also excellent conditions for amazing photography.
For chimpanzees, this is a great time to travel to Rwanda, but not great for gorilla trekking. Excellent for stunning photography.
Start of peak season marking an excellent time to travel to Rwanda. Great for gorilla trekking and other animal sighting.
Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda, and the only ethnic language of the country. It is one of the country's official languages and is widely spoken in the country, with about 93% of the population using Kinyarwanda. Being an official language, Kinyarwanda is used as a medium of instruction in Rwandan institutions, administration, in media, and commerce for daily business transactions.
English became an official language in Rwanda in the late 20th century. In 2008 the government changed the medium of education from French to English. The transition from French to English was triggered by the desire to break the influence of French and to align Rwanda with the East African community, where English is the official language. By 2018 the Rwandan government had introduced French as a foreign language class at the primary school level, and French was still widely used by members of the upper classes.
Swahili is spoken by a minority mainly for trade purposes.
The Constitution of Rwanda provides for freedom of religion and the government has usually respected this right. Statistics show that 56.9% of the Rwanda's population is Roman Catholic, 26 % is Protestant, 11.1% is Seventh-day Adventist, 4.6% is Muslim (mainly Sunni), 1.7% claims no religion. However quite a large number of Rwandans still hold to traditional beliefs and these centre around a supreme being they refer to as the ‘Imana”. Informal ceremonies are still held to ask for Imana’s blessing. There is a common belief that “Imana helps in the creation of children inside the wombs of their mothers by shaping the clay which forms us; so women sometimes are known to leave a few drops of water in a jar at night which the potter will use to work the clay.”
Unlike many other countries in Africa, Rwanda has been a unified state since precolonial times, populated by the Banyarwanda people who share a single language and cultural heritage. The people of Rwanda are very community based and in villages they all know each other. Rwandans traditionally eat food in public settings only for ceremonial purposes, but otherwise eat only at home. While the system of clans has diminished sharply in importance in Rwanda, most Rwandans will still not eat the totemic animals associated with their clans.
1300s - Tutsis migrate into what is now Rwanda, which was already inhabited by the Twa and Hutu peoples.
1890 - Rwanda becomes part of German East Africa.
1916 - Belgian forces occupy Rwanda.
1957 - Hutus issue manifesto calling for a change in Rwanda's power structure to give them a voice commensurate
1959 - Tutsi King Kigeri V, together with tens of thousands of Tutsis, forced into exile in Uganda following inter-ethnic violence.
1961 - Rwanda proclaimed a republic.
1962 - Rwanda becomes independent with a Hutu, Gregoire Kayibanda, as president; many Tutsis leave the country.
1978 - New constitution ratified; Habyarimana elected president.
1993 - President Habyarimana signs a power-sharing agreement with the Tutsis in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, ostensibly signaling the end of civil war.
1994 - Genocide. April - Habyarimana and the Burundian president are killed after their plane is shot down over Kigali; extremist Hutu militia and elements of the Rwandan military begin the systematic massacre of Tutsis. Within 100 days around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus are killed;
1995 - UN international tribunal begins charging and sentencing a number of people responsible for the Hutu-Tutsi atrocities
1996 - Rwandan troops invade and attack Hutu militia-dominated camps in Zaire in order to drive home the refugees.
1997 - Rwandan and Ugandan-backed rebels depose President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire; Laurent Kabila becomes president of Zaire, which is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo.
1998 - Rwanda switches allegiance to support rebel forces trying to depose Kabila in the wake of the Congolese president's failure to expel extremist Hutu militias.
2000 March - Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, resigns over differences regarding the composition of a new cabinet and after accusing parliament of targeting Hutu politicians in anti-corruption investigations.
2001 October - Voting to elect members of traditional "gacaca" courts begins. The courts, in which ordinary Rwandans judge their peers, aim to clear the backlog of 1994 genocide cases.
2001 December - A new flag and national anthem are unveiled to try to promote national unity and reconciliation.
2002 July – Rwanda and DR Congo sign peace deal.
2005 July - Government begins the mass release of 36,000 prisoners. Most of them have confessed to involvement in the 1994 genocide.
2006 November - Rwanda breaks off diplomatic ties with France after a French judge issues an international arrest warrant for President Kagame, alleging he was involved in bringing down Habyarimana's plane.
2008 August - Rwanda accuses France of having played an active role in the genocide of 1994, and issues a report naming more than 30 senior French officials. France says the claims are unacceptable.
2009 November - Rwanda is admitted to the Commonwealth, as only the second country after Mozambique to become a member without a British colonial past or constitutional ties to the UK.
2017 August - President Kagame re-elected with 98.8% of the vote in polls denounced as unfair by independent observers.
2018 September - Rwanda pardons more than 2,000 prisoners
The cuisine of Rwanda is simple yet unique with the typical Rwandan diet consisting of sweet potatoes, beans, corn, peas, millet and fruit. Interestingly, the Rwandans do not eat meat more than a few times a month, but more fruits and vegetables. Those people who live near lakes also incorporate fish into their diets, particularly tilapia. In more urban areas like Kigali, various International cuisines like Indian, Chinese, Italian and other African styled restaurants are available. Dairy products are also widely consumed, particularly a traditional drink of curdled milk. Those who can afford to do so also eat meat, primarily beef, goat, and chicken.
Rwanda has a large commercial brewery, however, many people tend to brew their own beer and alcoholic beverages. Ikigage is a locally brewed beer made from dry sorghum, some people believe it has medicinal properties. Urwagwa is a beer made from fermented bananas mixed with sorghum flour. Finally, Ubuki is an alcoholic drink made of fermented honey and has an alcohol content of about 12%. Beer often features in traditional rituals and is generally consumed by men.
The current population of Rwanda is 12,787,858 as of June 2019, based on the latest United Nations estimates. The population density is 519 per Km2 (1,343 people per mi2), a densely populated country. 35.1 % of the population is in Kigali, the capital city. Other larger towns are Gitarama, Butare and Gisenyi, all with less than 100,000 people. The median age in Rwanda at first birth is 19.6 years, with a fertility rate of 4.11 children per woman. This makes Rwanda a very young population with full growth potential.
The people of Rwanda are known as Rwandans since the end of genocide. Even though the people are comprised of three primary groups: the Hutu (84%), Tutsi (15%) and Twa (1%) people, there is no race difference in the country anymore. The Twa are forest-dwelling pygmy people who descended from the earliest inhabitants of the region. The people of Rwanda, post genocide, have reconstructed themselves as well as their country and now all live peacefully and in forgiveness.
Nestled along picturesque hilltops, Kigali is a thriving African city renowned for its cleanliness, order, hospitality and safety. Kigali is a great place to begin or end any Rwanda journey as it’s conveniently located in the geographic centre of the country. Travellers will also enjoy exploring the great cultural activities - including The Kigali Genocide Memorial and Caplaki Crafts Village selling traditional handicrafts.
Named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes, the park forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic reserves in Africa, where you can also many game animals and about 500 species of birds, permanent to the park because of the wetlands. A must visit!
Volcanoes national park is the oldest national park in Africa. It lies along the Virunga Mountains, with 8 ancient volcanoes, which are shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The national park is known as a haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. While there, visit also the bustling market of Musanze, a great immersion into everyday Rwandan culture.
Nyungwe National Park is an untouched natural rainforest, believed to be one of Africa’s oldest forests, staying green even through the Ice Age, which explains its diversity. You can see chimpanzees and 12 other primates species, over 300 species of birds including 16 endemics and 75 different species of mammal. Hiking or even biking the beautiful terrain, experiencing the canopy walk, witnessing beautiful birds, relaxing by waterfalls are just a glimpse of activities that Nyungwe offers.
With no hippos or crocodiles and crystal clear water, Lake Kivu is one of the safest and greatest lakes in Africa. Watch unique fishing boats plying the water and find interesting villages as well as amazing birdlife set amongst true peace and tranquility. Around lake Kivu, the sandy beaches are impressive with view over the mountains. Several activities such as kayaking, hiking and biking around the lake, coffee tours will fill up time.
Tea is Rwanda’s largest export. The fertile volcanic soil and temperate climate are perfect for growing the plants that create this popular drink. Tea leaves can be seen covering the mountains creating a stunning contrast to the blue skies, dirt roads and sunshine. Visitors can discover how tea is harvested, processed, and even get to taste the results. Tea plantation tours take place in a variety of locations across Rwanda, with the major ones being around Nyungwe National park: Gisovu and Gisakura
Beer from the local banana beers to commercial beers, you need to try. ‘Urwangwa, Primus and Mutzig. Refreshing fruit juices are also popular.
Our favorite food are beans, ubunyobwa, bananas, cassava, sweet Potatoes, Irish potatoes, fish and nyama choma (grilled meat). Ugali, a paste that is made from maize and water which is also a favorite dish throughout eastern Africa. Ibihaza made from cut up pumpkin that is mixed with beans and is then boiled. Isombe which is mashed cassava leaves with dried fish. Matolie made from baked or steamed plantains. All basic but consistent healthy food.
Spend time with the family and community, enjoy local games and sharing.
Sign up to become a member of the Travel Africa family.
Receive exclusive deals, travel tips travel stories.