How to visit Rwanda in 10 days

Lake Kivu.

This is my tried and tested 10-day itinerary for showing off Rwanda to friends and family who visit. I planned it to make sure to hit (almost) all corners of the country and have visitors see each province.

This is a starting point, and of course add in your own favourite spots. Your favourite restaurant, your favourite bar, and the places that are special to you. (I took my friend to my old village in Nyamasheke and we had to skip the hot springs because the nuns insisted on feeding us lunch).

It is possible to travel by bus, taxi or moto, but is easiest if you rent a car (with 4-wheel drive!). Accommodations can be changed to fit budgets and comfort levels, so I focused on the ‘what to see and do’ more, rather than where to sleep.

Pro-tip: For those visiting from abroad, many international flights arrive in the evening, so get to your hotel/hostel/friend’s house and shower, eat something, drink lots of water and go to sleep!

SOUTHERN PROVINCE

Day 1
Morning: Drive to Nyanza to visit the King’s Palace, then drive to Huye. Visit the Ethnographic Museum, have dinner at Hotel Ibis (great people watching!) and visit Inzozi Nziza for soft serve ice cream.

King’s Palace, Nyanza.

Walk around the National University of Rwanda Arboretum, if there’s time and day-light. Stay the night at Mont Huye Motel.

Day 2
Drive to Nyamagabe, visit Huye Mountain Coffee for a tour and tasting, visit Kitabi eco centre and stay night there or drive through Nyungwe and stay a night at Nyungwe/Gisakura guest house.

Have drinks at Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel (for the view!).

WESTERN PROVINCE

Day 3
Drive back into the forest for the canopy tour. After the tour, visit the Gisakura tea factory for a tour and tasting or drive to the Bugarama hot springs for a relaxing dip.

Then drive to Cyangugu and stay the night at Peace Guest House. Have dinner or a drink at Hotel du Lac and wave at Congo from the little island (I used to do this), or enjoy a sunset dinner at Emeraude Kivu Resort.

Optional Day – stay another night in Cyangugu and do the chimpanzee trekking the next day, or stay at the guest house again and do another hike in Nyungwe (waterfall hike is highly recommended!)

Day 4
Drive to Kibuye, and take a boat ride at dusk to see and hear the fishermen sing as they fish, their voices carrying over the water.

Eat at Moriah Hill Resort. Stay at Bethany or Home Saint Jean.

Day 5
Drive up to Gisenyi, stopping at Kinunu for a tour of the coffee washing station (Option: stay the night at Kinunu Guest House).

In Gisenyi, take another boat ride or go to the beach (tip: pay to use Serena’s beach!). I don’t recommend the hot springs here – they are busy and small. It’s an experience though, if you’d like to try it out!

Eat at Inzu Lodge for the view and good food. Have a drink at Inzozi Beach. Sundowner at White Rock and enjoy live music here later in the evening. Dance at Little Paris and Lakeside. Stay at Paradis (my favourite) or Beach Garden BnB – there are MANY hotels and hostels in Gisenyi, these are just two of my favourites.

Option: stay a few nights. I love Gisenyi and could be on the beach for days!

NORTHERN PROVINCE

Day 6 & 7
Eat breakfast at Calafia Cafe and stay a few hours at Serena’s beach, or pay for Serena’s breakfast buffet!

Drive to Musanze in the afternoon and stay a night – and if a visit to gorillas is not in the cards for you, there are plenty of other activities to keep you another night in Musanze.

Eat at Migano Café and La Paillotte. Have a coffee at Crema and pizza at Volcana Lounge.

Day 8
Call ahead and book lunch at Virunga Lodge, where you can take in an amazing view of the twin lakes and the volcanoes (or just show up and have a drink with the beautiful view).

Drive back to Kigali.

Option: stop and stay a night at the Sorwathe Tea Factory Guest House

KIGALI

Day 9
Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, and explore Rwanda’s rich history — from pre-colonial to post-colonial — at the Kandt Museum (the residence of the first German colonial governor to Rwanda).

Hop on the new double-decker Kigali City Tour buses for great morning, afternoon and evening tours of the city. Visit Kigali Cultural Village; take in the views, happy hour and live music around town; visit some art galleries, or have coffee at a cute Kigali coffee shop, then hike (or drive) up Mt. Kigali.

Drive to Akagera National Park and arrive on time to do a night safari (note: arrive at the park by 5pm to gain entry, as after-hours entry is prohibited).

EASTERN PROVINCE

Day 10
After taking a walk on the wild side, drive back to Kigali and on the way, stop at Imigongo Arts Center for a nice coffee then purchase some contemporary art made in the traditional cow-dung technique imigongo, or take in the sunset with a Sundowner drink at the popular Jambo Beach on Lake Muhazi.

Imigongo art with a modern touch. / Courtesy: Imigongo Arts Center

There are so many other things to do in Rwanda and depending on your budget and activity level and desire, you can adjust. There are some great canoeing, kayaking, and cycling for those wishing for a more active visit — and so many more scenic hikes in the Land of a Thousands Hills.

All views and opinions expressed are the author’s. You can say hi & follow Ali on Instagram @veganinrwanda.

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