Exploring The Finest Hiking Trails in Rwanda

To truly experience its wonders, there's no better way than venturing on foot along the hiking routes of Rwanda. Immerse yourself in the local culture and traverse the magnificent mountainous landscapes by choosing from our top hiking trails in Rwanda.

Explore the magnificent landscapes of Rwanda through these premier hiking trails that offer unforgettable trekking adventures.

Rwanda, a small landlocked country, boasts impressive natural beauty, from mist-shrouded volcanic crater lakes to dense rainforests teeming with endangered gorilla species. Through its journey of overcoming a sad history, Rwanda has remarkably transformed into one of Africa’s most coveted destinations, capturing the attention of avid travelers seeking to explore its treasures. To truly experience its wonders, there’s no better way than venturing on foot along the hiking routes of Rwanda. Immerse yourself in the local culture and traverse the magnificent mountainous landscapes by choosing from our top hiking trails in Rwanda.

Exploring the Nature Walking Trails of Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Exploring the Nature Walking Trails of Volcanoes National Park

Within the Virunga Massif, a collection of six dormant and three active volcanoes stretch across altitudes ranging from 2,400m to 4,507m. Safeguarding the Rwandan section of this majestic range is the Volcanoes National Park, while the remaining slopes extend into Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While the park is renowned for its gorilla trekking experiences, there are many other attractions to discover on foot trails. Among them is the delightful hike to Lake Ngezi, a picturesque small lake nestled within a volcanic crater at the base of Mount Bisoke.

Quick notes

  • Volcanoes National Park hikes are in a protected area.
  • Animals live in their natural habitat.
  • Guide and permit are needed.
  • All levels of fitness: easy, medium, challenging.
Ascending Mount Bisoke on a Hiking Adventure in Rwanda

Ascending Mount Bisoke on a Hiking Adventure in Rwanda

Standing at an impressive altitude of 3,711 meters above sea level, Mount Bisoke is a dormant, perfectly-conical volcano straddles the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Embarking on a hike up this majestic peak promises a remarkable experience. The journey typically takes around three hours to complete, offering a relatively manageable yet highly rewarding expedition. Along the trail, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter wildlife and enjoy breathtaking vistas of the Congolese forests.

Upon reaching the summit, a breathtaking sight awaits—a bottle-green crater lake surrounded by mist-kissed rainforest, with panoramic views of the Rwandan countryside. The duration of the hike can vary from five hours to a full day, depending on your walking pace and the frequency of stops. As you make your way, you’ll traverse bamboo forests, encounter blooming Lobelia bushes, and have the chance to spot elephants and rare bird species. Additionally, there is the potential to catch glimpses of endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, both endemic to the Virunga ranges.

For a complete experience of the captivating surroundings, it would be worth considering a stay at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. This lodge is sits just 2.5 miles away from Mount Bisoke. It is located amid the rainforest, providing a charming getaway for the evening.

  • Starting point: Bisoke Parking
  • Duration: 5 hours (x2)
  • Distance: 6.5 km (x2)
  • Fitness Level: Challenging
  • Entry: You need a permit & guide
Conquering the Majestic Mount Karisimbi

Conquering the Majestic Mount Karisimbi

At an impressive elevation of 4,507 meters above sea level, Mount Karisimbi proudly claims the title of Rwanda’s highest peak. As the fifth-highest summit in Africa, scaling this stratovolcano is a challenging yet immensely rewarding two-day hike involving overnight camping along the route.

Renowned as the pinnacle of Rwanda’s mountains, Mount Karisimbi showcases its grandeur with a prominent white-capped cloud cover at its summit, which inspired its name—Karisimbi, meaning “white shell.” The hike up this majestic peak presents a demanding yet fulfilling adventure along muddy trails, which can become slippery during the rainy season. As you navigate through this territory, inhabited by gorillas, other primates, and a diverse array of bird species, you may be fortunate enough to encounter these remarkable creatures along the way.

Traversing the dense rainforest, you’ll gradually ascend toward the snow-capped summit, keeping a keen eye out for the presence of mountain gorillas. To commence your journey to Mount Karisimbi, you can access it from Ruhengeri, where the Garden Place Hotel offers a comfortable resting place before and after your exhilarating hike.

  • Starting point: Bisoke Parking
  • Duration: 2 days
  • Distance: 12 km (x2)
  • Fitness Level: Challenging
  • Entry: You need a permit & guide
A Stroll to Karisoke Research Centre - hiking trails and routes in Rwanda

A Stroll to Karisoke Research Centre

Situated within the saddle region flanked by Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke lies the renowned Karisoke Research Centre. This distinguished center, a testament to the legacy of Dian Fossey, who founded it in 1967, holds not only a treasure trove of scientific knowledge but also stands as a poignant memorial at the site of her final resting place. The trek towards this remarkable destination spans approximately one to one and a half hours, commencing with a brisk 30-minute drive from the park headquarters.

As the journey unfolds, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas, each step unveiling a deeper connection to Rwanda’s captivating landscape. The ascent offers a window into the heart of the country’s rich biodiversity, while the Karisoke Research Centre itself provides an opportunity to delve into the pioneering work undertaken to conserve and protect endangered species, particularly the awe-inspiring gorillas that call this region home.

Walking through this premier hiking trail in Rwanda isn’t merely a nature walk; it’s a chance to traverse time and immerse yourself in the unfolding stories of conservation, research, and natural beauty that have shaped Rwanda’s trajectory. Whether you’re a dedicated adventurer or a curious soul seeking to unravel the mysteries of this captivating land, the journey to the Karisoke Research Centre promises an experience that transcends the ordinary.

  • Starting point: Bisoke Parking
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Fitness Level: Medium
  • Entry: You need a permit & guide
Hiking Mount Muhubura Heights

Hiking Mount Muhubura Heights

Amidst the many enchanting trails found within Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, hiking Mount Muhubura is a challenge that is both demanding and immensely gratifying. This full-day endeavor leads intrepid explorers to a lofty summit perched at an elevation of 4,127 meters, an accomplishment that rewards with panoramic views that stretch across the horizon. To pin your focus, the park draws your attention to the twin gems of Burera and Ruhondo Lakes, offering a picturesque embrace of nature’s beauty.

While an alternative approach involves a car ride to a vantage point overlooking the lakes, hikers can expect to share this enchantment with fellow visitors. For those yearning for a fresh perspective, a serene lake voyage beckons, allowing the option to engage in a leisurely cruise by hiring a boat. Whether you’re a devotee of challenging heights or a seeker of tranquil waters, the journey up Mount Muhubura promises a symphony of adventure and awe.

  • Starting point: Nyagahinga
  • Duration: 8 hours (x2)
  • Distance: 9 km (x2)
  • Fitness Level: Challenging
  • Entry: You need a permit & guide
Trekking Mount Kabuye in Rwanda

Trekking Mount Kabuye

Located just outside the boundaries of Volcanoes National Park in the southeast, Mount Kabuye stands as one of the popular hiking trails, particularly favored by volunteers working within Rwanda. Reaching an altitude of 2,700 meters, the ascent to the summit typically takes around five hours. Notably, Mount Kabuye is one of the few peaks in the country that does not require a permit to climb, making it an accessible and cost-free hiking option. You can easily reach the mountain by car or bus.

As you traverse Rwanda’s picturesque hilly farmland, you’ll encounter warm-hearted villagers and groups of barefoot children who may enthusiastically join you on your journey. With their agile steps, they effortlessly scamper ahead through the enchanting Eucalyptus tree woods, their giggles resonating despite the altitude. For accommodation, consider staying at La Locanda in Ruhengeri, the closest town to Mount Kabuye and Volcanoes National Park, ensuring a convenient base for your adventure.

Lake Kivu along the Congo Nile Trail in Rwanda

Walking Adventure on The Congo Nile Trail

  • Hiking through the community.
  • No permit needed
  • You can take a guide if you prefer.
  • No dangerous wild animals.

Running alongside the captivating Lake Kivu, the Congo Nile Trail beckons both cyclists and hikers to immerse themselves in Rwanda’s diverse landscapes, including rainforests, bracken fields, and bamboo forests. Stretching for 227 kilometers from one end to the other, completing the trail on foot typically takes 10 days. However, it is also possible to explore certain sections of the route or opt for a cycling adventure instead.

The Congo Nile Trail offers a remarkable opportunity to experience Rwanda’s beauty on foot, navigating a labyrinth of dirt roads that wind through jungles, terraced hills, and the picturesque shores of Lake Kivu. As you embark on this journey, you’ll catch glimpses of rural Rwandan life, passing through fishing villages nestled along the lake. Witness local women gracefully draped in vibrant patterned fabrics carrying bundles of firewood or bananas into town. The trail meanders between the Nile and Congo rivers, treating you to some of the most breathtaking scenery in this small, mountainous African country. Prepare to be enchanted by views of the Rift Valley escarpment, cascading waterfalls, and the sparkling, islet-dotted Lake Kivu.

Hiking The Congo Nile Trail in Rwanda

The trail

You’ll probably start the Congo Nile Trail from the town of Gisenyi, where you’ll find INZU Lodge, a splendid accommodation situated on the shore of Lake Kivu. As you venture along the trail, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in daily life in traditional villages, explore historic churches, indulge in swimming and paddling along the lake shore, and savor locally produced coffee in its place of origin.

The Congo Nile Trail is a very famous hiking destination in East and Central Africa, featuring twelve coffee-washing stations, three tea plantations, three cities, multiple villages, and a variety of breathtaking natural landscapes such as beaches, coves, waterfalls, valleys, and scenic vistas.

While the trail presents both challenges and rewards, as it winds along the lake’s edges and ascends Rwanda’s verdant hills, reaching a peak elevation of 2,630 meters, it promises a fulfilling physical workout.

For those seeking accommodation, campsites are available along the route, and you can find guesthouses in the towns for those desiring a bit more comfort. Get refreshments from small shops conveniently located along the trail, ensuring you stay energized throughout your journey.

hiking the congo nile trail in rwanda- the route map

Exploring the Buhanga Sacred Forest on Foot

The Buhanga Sacred Forest walk of the top hiking trails offering a profound cultural experience that holds immense significance for the people of Rwanda. This extraordinary place served as the very foundation of the kingdom, with Buhanga translating to “creation,” and it witnessed the coronation ceremonies of all Rwandan kings. You can even visit the cave where these momentous ceremonies took place, immersing yourself in the historical legacy of the land.

As you venture through the forest, you’ll traverse paths carefully crafted using lava stones. These paths wind their way amidst towering ancient ficus trees adorned with graceful creepers clinging to their trunks. The ambiance of the forest is captivating, allowing you to truly connect with its spiritual and natural beauty. Keep an eye out for rare orchids, vibrant butterflies, and other unfamiliar species that add to the enchantment of the surroundings.

A day trip to the Buhanga Sacred Forest provides ample time to fully absorb its cultural and natural treasures. Immerse yourself in the serenity of this sacred place, allowing its ethereal atmosphere to rejuvenate your spirit. For accommodation, consider staying at Davinci Gorilla Lodge, which offers breathtaking mountain views and convenient proximity to the Buhanga Sacred Forest, ensuring a memorable and immersive experience.

Nature Hiking Trails in Nyungwe National Park Rwanda

Nature Hiking Trails in Nyungwe National Park

  • All Nyungwe hikes are classified as hiking in protected area/National Park
  • Animals live in their natural habitat.
  • Guide and permit are needed.
  • Treks start at Uwinka visitor center

The steep and picturesque terrain at Nyungwe National Park in southwest Rwanda provides a perfect escape for hikers of all skill levels. The park’s vast network of scenic hiking trails offers a chance to fully experience the beauty of the natural surroundings. Let’s explore some of the most exciting hiking trails you could try walking when visiting Rwanda with us.

For novice hikers, the Igishigishigi Trail presents a comfortable 2.1 km trek that rewards with breathtaking views of the Canopy Walkway and vibrant wildflowers. This trail can also be combined with the longer Imbaraga or Umoyove Trails for a more immersive experience.

The Karamba Trail, situated on the grounds of a former gold mine, market, and army camp, offers another relatively easy hike. Flanked by numerous fern trees, it is considered one of the best spots for birdwatching in Nyungwe.

Nyungwe Forest National Park, Canopy Walk and chimpanzee trekking destination in Rwanda

For stunning hiking vistas of ridges, rainforests

For stunning vistas of ridges, rainforests, and exquisite flowers, the Umugote Trail is a must of the top hiking trails in Rwanda. On clear days, hikers may even catch a glimpse of Kibira National Park in Burundi. This trail is also renowned for primate sightings and birdwatching.

Experienced hikers can take on the Imbaraga Trail, a rewarding journey of approximately 10 km that unveils four scenic waterfalls along the way. These refreshing natural wonders provide a delightful respite amidst the trek and incredible photography in Rwanda.

The Bigugu Trail offers awe-inspiring sights for those who enjoy hiking. It leads to the highest peak in the park and is surrounded by magnificent flora. On sunny days, hikers can enjoy stunning views of Lake Kivu and the hills and islands that belong to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These are just a few examples of the many captivating trails Nyungwe National Park has to offer. Whether exploring tea fields, remote forests, wetlands, or camping sites, nature enthusiasts will find an abundance of beauty to discover in this remarkable park.

Nyanza Cultural Trails in Rwanda

Nyanza Cultural Trails

The Nyanza Cultural Trails in Nyanza City, the former capital of the Kingdom of Rwanda, offer a wealth of opportunities for hikers. Surrounding the city are picturesque and enchanting hilly landscapes, providing hikers with an authentic experience of traditional rural life in small communities that rely primarily on agriculture and livestock farming. These communities are not staged for visitors, ensuring an authentic encounter.

Historically, the Rwandan monarchy was nomadic, moving the court from one location to another. However, when the monarchy eventually settled in one place, Nyanza became the natural choice and served as the capital of the Kingdom of Rwanda.

Nyanza boasts a relatively well-developed tourist infrastructure, including museums and fascinating facilities that delve into Rwanda’s royal history. These combined attributes make Nyanza an appealing destination for both domestic and international tourists.

Currently, Nyanza offers three established hiking trails, and an additional four walking trails are presently being developed by Rwanda. These trails feature captivating routes with diverse natural and cultural attractions. The existing routes include the Royal Trail, the Big View Trail, and the Gatagara Trail. All of these trails conveniently start from the center of Nyanza and are connected to high-quality accommodations and dining options.

Classification:

  • No entry permit needed.
  • Hiking through the community.
  • You can take a guide if you prefer.
  • No dangerous wild animals.
Trail de Akagera - nature walks and hikes in Akagera national park

Trail de Akagera

The Trail de Akagera expedition is one of the most exciting hiking trails in Rwanda that takes you through Akagera National Park, one of Africa’s largest protected wetlands and the last remaining sanctuary for savannah-adapted species in Rwanda. This hiking expedition can be experienced over a duration of either five or seven nights.

The shorter option consists of a three-night guided Primitive Trail, spanning approximately 40 km from south to north, allowing you to explore the awe-inspiring landscapes of Akagera. The five-night guided Primitive Trail covers 60 km and includes a night at a fully catered tented camp at both ends of the trail.

Trail de Akagera - hiking trails in Rwanda

The Trail de Akagera has limited availability, with only 12 set departures per year during the optimal months of August, September, and October. These months offer the best conditions to fully appreciate the park’s scenic beauty and pristine wilderness. Each trail accommodates a maximum of eight participants, ensuring small group sizes that provide ample opportunities for solitude, silence, and personal reflection.

The necessary equipment for the trail includes a backpack, ground sheet, Nyagatare sleeping mattress, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, pillow, head torch, cutlery, cooking pot, bowl, mug, dry bags, water bottles, Kelly Kettles, mosquito net (and pegs), bivy bag, toilet paper, and matches.

Please note that certain items are not included in the trail equipment and should be brought by participants individually. These items include a quick-dry towel, personal toiletries, insect repellent, hat, sunscreen, hiking shoes, sandals, binoculars (personal equipment), and a lightweight poncho.

Written by

Exploring The Finest Hiking Trails in Rwanda
This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By using this website you agree to our Data Protection Policy.
Start Chat!
1
Let's Chat!
Chat with a human expert!
Hi there,
We're glad you're here. You look like you need some assistance. Chat with a human consultant here!