South Africa, East Africa, Kenya, and Rwanda


This is a spellbinding and hugely diverse destination offering everything from wine routes to safari excursions, natural marvels to political sites, and from wild coasts to lush gardens.

Practically speaking, South Africa is in virtually the same time zone as the UK, which means there’s no jet lag, but South Africa’s biggest lure is its countrywide open spaces teeming with wildlife. The most famous of its safari parks, the Kruger National Park, situated in the east on the border with Mozambique, offers a good chance of seeing all of the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, and leopard) and also has the benefit of being open to self-drive visitors. Other top spots are private reserves such as Phinda and Madikwe, plus animal rehabilitation centres where rhinos, elephants, and other animals are nursed back to health.

On the west coast, Cape Town is a must-visit city as well as a great starting point for trips both into the hinterland and along the coast. Highlights in the city include the unique conservation area and viewpoint of Table Mountain, accessed via a revolving cable car, Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and the colourful Malay Quarter. We also recommend Cape Point’s Boulder's Beach with its famous penguins, and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

When to visit

South Africa is a brilliant year-round destination with lots of fabulous festivities and events to immerse you in local life. May to October is the best time to visit, as this is when the weather is at its coolest, driest, and most comfortable. 





Best for wildlife spotting





Best for beach days





Best for whale-watching





Best for festivals and visiting Cape Town

Interesting fact

South Africa is a land of superlatives: it’s home to the largest land mammal (elephant), fastest land mammal (cheetah), tallest animal (giraffe), largest reptile (leatherback turtle), largest bird (ostrich), largest fish (whale shark) and largest antelope (eland).

Interesting fact

South Africa has nearly 9,000 privately owned game reserves, together with dozens of protected areas, including the iconic Kruger National Park.

Interesting fact

There are more than 2,000 shipwrecks around South Africa’s coastline, most of them more than 500 years old. In the Cape Town area, an array of fascinating wreck dive sites includes Smitswinkel Bay (with five wrecks), the Maori, and the SAS Pietermaritzburg.

What to do

South Africa is many worlds in one. Whatever you are looking for from a holiday, here you will find plenty of opportunity to explore, relax, and try something new. From its beautiful beaches and bustling cities, to its delicious cuisine and rich culture, South Africa is the ideal destination for all ages.

Franschhoek Wine Tram

There's nothing quite like exploring the rolling vineyards of Southern Africa while sipping on the finest wines the region has to offer. Choose between five different lines that wind their way through the heart of Franschhoek Valley, stopping at some of the area's top wine estates along the way. Along with picturesque views of the surrounding mountains, you'll have the chance to learn about the area's rich history and winemaking process. Whether you're a wine connoisseur or simply seeking a unique adventure, the Franschhoek Wine Tram won't disappoint.

See the penguins at Boulders Beach

It's not every day you get to see these captivating creatures outside of a zoo or aquarium, which makes witnessing them in their natural habitat even more special. The beach itself is stunning, with crystal clear water and white sands, but the real attraction are the friendly penguins who inhabit the area. While you can see the penguins throughout the year, the best time to visit is during summer. In September and October, the beach is much quieter as the penguins spend most of their time feeding out at sea.   

Safari in Kruger National Park

Witness the beauty of the African wild and get up close with the Big Five - lions, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, and rhinos. A safari in Kruger National Park is an unforgettable adventure that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the natural world. Head on with an expert guide for incredible game drives, stay in the park for true immersion in the savannah, and don’t forget to visit some of the nearby wildlife rehabilitation centres to see how the local community is working hard to ensure the survival of the region’s most vulnerable species.

Take in the views atop Table Mountain

One of the most remarkable hikes you can take in Africa is up Table Mountain, where the views from the top are nothing short of breathtaking. Whether you're an experienced hiker or a newcomer to the trails, the ascent is accessible for most activity levels. Don’t fancy the walk? You can take the cable car up to the top in just five minutes compared to the two-hour journey on foot. From the ridges, you can see Cape Town and the expansive ocean below, so be sure to take a deep breath and drink in the scenery.

Visit Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto

A huge part of South Africa’s history and culture, the simple and unassuming red-brick house that was Mandela's home on and off for 14 years is a must-visit on any trip to the region. The house now serves as a museum and hosts an array of personal artefacts and memorabilia that honours Mandela's life and legacy. The house tour is a spiritual journey for all who visit. Getting the opportunity to stand where Mandela once lived and comprehend his struggle and eventual victory is a rare and profound experience.

What to eat

According to a recent survey, food is one of the top reasons that travellers choose to come to South Africa, and with good reason. The country is renowned for its unique and flavourful cuisine, featuring a blend of influences from the indigenous population, as well as Portuguese, Dutch, and Indian settlers. Be sure to try specialties like biltong (thinly sliced air-dried meat), boerewors (a type of sausage), bunny chow, and braai (a type of barbeques meat) to fully immerse yourself in the culinary culture of this stunning destination.



The local seafood, including kingklip, snoek, tuna, oysters, and mussels. Great venues range from Cape Town’s trendy, sustainably minded Galjoen with its harbour-like feel and set tasting menu that limits food waste, and Plettenberg’s Ristorante Enrico with its wooden tables, beach views, and live music.

Tasting menus

Tasting menus

Tasting menus such as the seven-course offering based on sustainable seafood, local lamb and venison, edible plants, wild herbs, rockpool seaweed, and its own garden produce, at award-winning Wolfgat in Paternoster. Many wine estates also offer great tasting menus, including Chorus on the Waterkloof Wine Estate in Somerset West, and the Creation Wine Estate & Restaurant in Overberg.



‘Burnt meat’ – traditional South African shisa nyama (barbecue) dishes at the likes of Sakhumzi in Soweto. Other places taking their meats very seriously in Johannesburg include Trumps Grillhouse & Butchery, and Marble with its coal-roasted dishes including ribeye or sirloin steak.

Where to stay

South Africa is many worlds in one. Whatever you are looking for from a holiday, here you will find plenty of opportunity to explore, relax, and try something new. From its beautiful beaches and bustling cities, to its delicious cuisine and rich culture, South Africa is the ideal destination for all ages.

Cheetah Plains

Spanning 65,000 hectares adjacent to Kruger National Park, Cheetah Plains is an intimate lodge tucked away in Sabi Sands Game Reserve that offers unrivalled wildlife encounters, including the Big Five. Three designer bush homes provide luxury accommodation, each equipped with a private vehicle and guide. Guests embark on exhilarating game drives, led by expert guides, to witness Africa's stunning sunrise and sunset scenes, and with only two vehicles allowed per area, exclusivity is assured.

Kapama River Lodge

The essence of safari meets the joy of community at Kapama River Lodge, situated near Kruger National Park on 16,000 hectares. Ideal for social safari experiences, guests here gather around the rim-flow pool, enjoy cocktails at the bar, and share stories in the Siyadla lounge. During the day, explore the Big Five on game drives, visit the anti-poaching unit, or enjoy elephant interactions. As evening falls, delight in 600 South African wines and kosher options at the Rhino Boma, or for something romantic, dine under the stars or opt for a sleep-out experience.

Shamwari Game Reserve

Wildlife roams freely across 25,000 hectares at Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Encounter the Big Five on interactive game drives, led by passionate rangers, and return to the comfort of luxurious lodges before feasting on traditional African dishes in the boma or dining room. Here, families can find joy in child-friendly activities and a dedicated kids' club, while adventurers and wildlife lovers can embrace the call of the wild with Born Free big cat sanctuaries and guided walks.

Inspirational itinerary

This 'Best of South Africa' itinerary includes all the must-see sights, from Cape Town and the Franschhoek Valley to spotting the Big Five in a private game reserve situated near Port Elizabeth, over 11 days and 10 nights.

This is the ultimate safari destination, with the world’s biggest variety and concentration of large mammals as well as around 1,500 bird species and thousands of insects and reptiles. But the wildlife is only part of the story. East Africa’s landscapes are just as magnificent, ranging from snow-capped volcanic peaks looming over vast plains to superb Indian Ocean beaches. And the history and culture are amazing too.

Our favourite parts of East Africa include Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda, each with its own identity and very different offerings. The first two provide the world’s best safaris, in the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti National Park respectively, and that is what the vast majority of visitors come for. Each offers sightings of Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino) as well as being home to the awe-inspiring natural spectacle of the Great Migration of wildebeest.

But there’s plenty more besides. In Kenya, for instance, you can discover the culture of the capital as well as its not-for-profit Giraffe Centre, saving Rothschild giraffes, while Nairobi National Park has wild-roaming black rhino, giraffe, lion, and leopard, and Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.

Among Kenya’s 26 national parks and game reserves, others worth considering are Hell's Gate National Park and Meru National Park (where 'Born Free' lioness cub Elsa was raised). Meanwhile, the country’s vast coastline includes the fantastic beach resorts of Mombasa, Malindi, and Watamu Bay.

Tanzania, meanwhile, has the Ngorongoro Crater, a natural amphitheatre for watching wildlife including black rhinos, bull elephants, and big cats. In Tarangire National Park you can expect both spectacular game viewing (zebra, buffalo, eland, kudu, lion, leopards, hyena, and more) and bush walks with Masai guides, Masai village visits, and community enterprise tours

There’s also Lake Manyara National Park with its pink flamingos and hiking trails through the jungle of the Kilimanjaro National Park. And when you’ve happily exhausted yourselves exploring some of these, you can retreat to the pristine white sands of the archipelago of Zanzibar for a post-safari beach break.

And last but not least, Rwanda is a unique destination for its trekking to see wild gorillas in Volcanoes National Park – a transformative, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When to visit

Most people come to East Africa in the long dry season (June to October), for the best game viewing and easiest travel. But these are also year-round destinations.

For instance, you might come to Kenya in the short dry season (January and February) for some winter sun: wildlife viewing, and travel are still good. Or you might visit during the long rainy season (March to May) to see the first interactions between mothers and new babies and, if you’re lucky, some newborn animals’ first steps.

Similarly, if you visit the Serengeti in Tanzania between the short dry season and the wet season long rains, you might catch the calving season of the migrating herds, while March and April are great for birdwatchers.

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas can also be visited year-round, but hiking conditions are at their best during the long dry season (June to September) and the short dry season (mid-December to early-February). September is a particularly special time because of the annual Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony which features music and dancing, conservation talks, and guided tours.

Interesting fact

Hundreds of languages are spoken in East Africa, including English everywhere but in the most remote areas. The common language of Tanzania and Kenya is Swahili, a Bantu language that spread inland from the coast along 19th-century caravan routes. Rwanda’s national language is Kinyarwanda.

Interesting fact

Kenya’s national animal is the lion, which was chosen in 1965 to symbolise strength and courage. Today there remain about 2,500 lions in Kenya, including 850–900 in the Maasai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancies.

Interesting fact

Wildebeest are also called gnus and can weigh up to 270kg. Members of the antelope family, they are related to oryxes and gazelles and can run at a top speed of about 64km/h.

Interesting fact

East Africa is also the bird capital of the world, with nearly 1,450 species recorded in the region as a whole. Kenya alone has an incredible 1,158 bird species, while Tanzania trails just behind with 1,126.

Interesting fact

Tanzania is the only country with access to all three of Africa’s great lakes –Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi – as well as being home to the highest peak in Africa, Kilimanjaro.

Interesting fact

Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda are all linked by the Great Rift Valley, which actually begins in Lebanon in the Middle East and runs as far as Mozambique in the south – a distance of around 6400km.

What to do

Whatever you seek from your travels, East Africa offers ample opportunities to immerse yourself in diverse cultures, thrilling adventures, and breathtaking landscapes. From the rugged terrain of Kenya and Tanzania to the lush forests of Rwanda, East Africa offers something for everyone.

Experience authentic Maasai culture

Learn about Kenyan tribal life with a visit to a traditional Maasai village, where you can witness customs and practices that still form part of this nomadic tribe’s everyday life. You’ll meet Morans – men aged 14–30 who train as warriors to protect their communities.

Explore Kenya's wilderness

As well as Kenyan game drives, consider camel safaris, guided bush walks, horse riding, or e-biking, and don’t miss the chance to talk to rangers – the Loisaba private conservancy in Laikipia is highly recommended.

Discover Tanzania by horse or bike

Aside exploring the Serengeti, in Tanzania you can go horse riding or mountain biking along the winding trails of the Ngorongoro Highlands. You can also take a tour of a working coffee farm to learn about the production of the nation's biggest export and to taste different brews.

Enjoy aquatic adventures on Indian Ocean shores

Take an Indian Ocean beach break in either Kenya or Tanzania – the latter’s Zanzibar archipelago offers snorkelling, diving, paddleboarding, and kayaking – as well as cultural tours of the capital Stone Town.

Encounter majestic wildlife in Rwanda

In Rwanda, spend about two to three days in Volcanoes National Park. Aside from an epic gorilla trek, there are other things to do, including seeing monkeys and birds, canoeing, and mountain biking.

What to eat

South Africa is many worlds in one. Whatever you are looking for from a holiday, here you will find plenty of opportunity to explore, relax, and try something new. From its beautiful beaches and bustling cities, to its delicious cuisine and rich culture, South Africa is the ideal destination for all ages.

Classic Kenyan street food including the national dish nyama choma (‘grilled meat’), slow cooked over hot coals, and the popular Kikuyu snack mutura, a kind of sausage also grilled over hot coals, can be found at street stalls all over the country.

Modern African dining featuring high-end produce including South African wagyu, which is renowned for its high levels of marbling, tenderness, and umami flavour – found at top venues such as Talisman in Nairobi, one of Kenya’s best restaurants.

On safari in Tanzania, try top-notch global cuisine, often with Indian or Arabic influences and served on huge, shared platters. Lodges here have excellent chefs who work to make the best of local produce such as rice, beans, plantains, coconuts, and maize, and also Zanzibar spices.

’Zanzibar pizza’ at the Forodhani Night Market in Zanzibar’s Stone Town is a great place for street food stalls. Resembling murtabak, these ‘pizzas’ are covered or filled with spiced meat, cheese, and vegetables.

In Rwanda, feast on local fish including tilapia from lakes including Nyarakigugu in the Volcanoes National Park, as well as local dishes such as umufa soup and agatogo stew.

Most people head to Kenya to go on safari – especially in the iconic Maasai Mara, which has one of the highest wildlife densities in the world and some of the planet’s fastest and fiercest animals. As well as game drives, you can experience a hot air balloon safari that culminates in an indulgent champagne bush breakfast.

The Maasai Mara is a vast plain that stretches through the Great Rift Valley towards Tanzania and is located 225km south of Nairobi. It offers the chance to spot Africa's Big Five: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhino. Additionally, it is home to Kenya's top tourist attraction - the Great Migration. During this event, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest surge through the muddy River Talek.

But there are a total of 26 national parks and game reserves here to choose from, so you might also consider Hell's Gate National Park north-west of Nairobi (great for birdlife including buzzards, vultures, and rare Lammergeyer eagles) and the lesser-visited Meru National Park, which was home to the 'Born Free' lioness cub Elsa. 

There’s even the Nairobi National Park, located just 10km south of the city centre but teeming with wild-roaming black rhinos, giraffes, lions, and leopards against the incongruous backdrop of the city. Don’t miss a visit to its Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, which hand-rears orphans to release back into the wild.

You can also see animals close up at Nairobi’s not-for-profit Giraffe Centre, set up to save Rothschild giraffes from near extinction. You can even see herds of giraffes as you come into land in Nairobi, along with enjoying views (on a clear day) of Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro (in Tanzania).

Nairobi itself is worth a couple of days of your time for its lively arts scene, café culture, and nightlife. After the early rises of a week on safari, you may also like to finish your holiday with some time on Kenya’s glorious coast with it excellent snorkelling and diving – we recommend the beach resorts of Mombasa, Malindi, and Watamu Bay.

When to visit

The Great Migration, when nearly two million wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson's gazelle head from the bare Serengeti to the lush green Maasai Mara, takes place from late July to October, making this the most popular time for safaris in Kenya – especially as the beginning of it also corresponds with the main summer school holidays in Europe.

This is also one of the dry seasons: the rainy seasons are March–May (long rains) and November and December (short rains). The coast tends to have the same weather as the inland regions.

Alternatively, you might choose to come to Kenya in the short, humid dry season of January and February, for some winter sun. The wildlife viewing and ground travel are both easy because of the sparse vegetation, but there are lower visitor levels and prices can be a bit cheaper.

That said, visiting during the long rainy season also has its own magic (as well as lower prices), as this is the calving season of antelopes and other mammals, so you might even witness births, the first mother and baby interactions, and a newborn animal’s very first steps.

Interesting facts

  • Kenya has two official languages, Swahili and English, but a total of 62 languages are spoken across the country, including the Bantu and Nilotic languages.
  • The Great Rift Valley, a 6,400km tear in the Earth's crust due to geological tension, was formed more than 25 million years ago. Its most famous spot in Kenya is Lake Turkana – the world's largest permanent desert lake and largest alkaline lake.
  • In 2004, Kenya’s Wangari Muta Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, for her work in sustainable development, democracy, and peace. Her Green Belt Movement has resulted in the planting of more than 51 million trees in the country.
  • Kenya is also famous for its long-distance runners, including Eliud Kipchoge, who won the 2016 and 2020 Olympic marathon and has run five of the nine fastest marathons in history.
  • A colony of the United Kingdom from 1920 until 1963, Kenya is now a republic with a president, a national assembly (the Bunge), and a judiciary. When parliament is in session, visitors can get a free permit for the public gallery at Parliament House to see it in action.

What to do

Explore Kenya's wild north on a camel safari of the Laikipia Plateau at the foot of Mount Kenya, taking you into backcountry that even Land Rovers can’t access. You’ll go through landscapes ranging from high-montane forest to luggas (broad sand rivers), camping as you move or staying in private bush houses.

Also, in Laikipia, visit the Loisaba private conservancy with its Mount Kenya views and sightings of rare species. You’ll get the chance to step away from a safari vehicle to discover the bush on guided walks, on horseback, or on a mountain or e-bike, and to talk to rangers at the conservancy headquarters.

Visit a traditional Maasai village to learn all about Kenyan tribal life. This nomadic warrior tribe that once occupied huge swathes of pre-colonial Kenya have been largely untouched by modern civilisation and retains many of its customs and practices, which you might see in action.

Head to the coast and to Malindi’s marine nature reserve with its fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving, including diving in the challenging Vuma Caves with their Napoleon wrasse, rock cod, soldier fish, yellow striped snapper, and potato bass.

From Lamu Island, take a relaxing trip out to the Indian Ocean aboard a traditional dhow. Vessels follow the great trade routes that brought goods from distant places, and you’ll stop off at Lamu Archipelago islands to check out the deserted beaches, isolated villages, and historic ruins.

What to eat

Modern African cuisine fused with European and Pan-Asian influences, for instance, at Nairobi’s Talisman - widely considered one of Kenya’s best restaurants and including a menu of South African wagyu.

Kenya’s unofficial national dish uyama choma (‘grilled meat’ in Swahili), slow cooked over hot coals and often served with rice, chapati, and kachumbari relish – available in restaurants and from countless street food vendors in the likes of Nairobi’s Green Spot Gardens.

The popular snack mutura that originated from the Kikuyu tribe, resembling black pudding or Spanish morcilla, rolled into a sausage shape, grilled over hot coals, and best enjoyed with a cold beer.

Kenyan’s take on a chicken curry, kuku paka, which is especially popular along the east coast where the influence from India is strongest – you’ll find it on many menus in the coastal towns of Lamu and Mombasa (one of the best places to eat in the latter is Minazi Café).

Mushkaki – Kenya goat kebabs made from marinated meat cooked over coal, best accompanied by garlic chips made from Kenyan potatoes as they are at the charming family-run Nargis in Nariboos (also known for its lamb chops and its tikkas ranging from fish to paneer).

Where to stay

Hemingways Ol Seki

Perched on the rocky ridge of Masai Mara's Naboisho Conservancy, Ol Seki Mara offers a serene safari haven where you can gather around the campfire, unwind in the lounge tent, and savour freshly prepared meals with panoramic views. Wake up in spacious, light-filled tents, before heading out to explore the conservancy on wildlife drives, encountering iconic species amidst the tranquillity of fewer vehicles. To embrace more of Africa’s raw beauty and spirit, you can also opt for guided walks, Maasai village visits, and unforgettable hot air balloon rides.

Asilia Naboisho Camp

Immerse yourself in the wildlife wonderland of Mara Naboisho Conservancy at Asilia Naboisho Camp, where just nine spacious tents offer a luxurious retreat amidst Kenya's untamed beauty. With one of the highest lion populations globally, every moment here is a safari dream come true. Beyond game drives, experience the thrill of night drives, bush camping under the stars, and Maasai tribal visits. From your private verandah to the swimming pool and lounge and dining area overlooking a waterhole, every space offers panoramic views, glimpses of wildlife, and connection with nature.

Elewana Tortilis Camp Amboseli

Elewana Tortilis Camp offers unparalleled comfort and authenticity in Amboseli for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the African wilderness. With spacious tents and top-notch Italian cuisine all against the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, it promises breathtaking views and exclusive game viewing for a true safari experience. Explore Acacia Tortilis woodland on guided walks and sundowners while marvelling at Africa's highest mountain, while wildlife enthusiasts can revel in Amboseli's famed elephant populations and predator sightings.

Seeing gorillas can be a life-changing experience. Spread across much of the equatorial African rainforest, these largest living primates divide roughly into lowland gorillas and mountain gorillas - and the volcanic Virunga Massif mountain range stretching across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo harbours endangered mountain gorillas that can be tracked safely and in a fairly accessible way.

Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park has 12 fully habituated gorilla families (Susa, Igisha, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Amahoro, Agashya, Kwitonda, Umubano, Hirwa, Bwenge, Ugyenda, and Muhoza), each consisting of at least one silverback with several females and youngsters. Tending to stick to one chosen area, they are constantly monitored and protected by park rangers.

Led by expert trackers and guides, small groups of tourists are taken up bamboo-covered slopes to spend one hour watching the gorillas go about their daily lives. Encounters are as intimate and unobtrusive as possible, with just eight tracking permits issued per troop per day. 

The day starts at the National Park headquarters in Kinigi early in the morning, where you’ll be allocated a family group and briefed on protocols and rules. Which family you visit will be decided by your fitness levels: hikes take anything from 30 minutes to six hours, with altitude varying between 2,500m and 4,000m (there are porters to help with backpacks and camera equipment). You can also choose to pay homage at the tomb of Dian Fossey which is a 30-minute drive from the park headquarters followed by a two- or three-hour hike through the forest, at 3,000m.

As well as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, conservation organisations currently working in Rwanda include The Gorilla Organisation, International Gorilla Conservation Organisation, Gorilla Doctors, and Wildlife Conservation Society. A full 10% of the revenue generated by gorilla permits goes towards local communities, for schools, health centres, and roads, and a compensation fund also covers local farmers for any damage to their crops by gorillas. Gorilla tracking is a fantastic source of employment for many Rwandans, including rangers, trackers, porters, drivers, and lodge staff.

When to go

It’s possible to trek to see the mountain gorillas all year round, but the best times are during the long dry season from June to September or the short dry season from mid-December to early-February when hiking conditions are best.

You can expect daytime temperatures of about 20°C at this altitude, humidity, and possibly mist or rain. Trekkers are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers and gardening gloves so they can grab plants and branches for support. It’s very important to book well in advance, as there are only 96 permits available each day for the entire country.

Each September, the Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony is a particularly lovely time to come and see the gorillas. The ceremony itself features music and dancing, as well as talks about the great progress Rwanda has made in gorilla conservation, and also the challenges that remain. There are guided tours prior to the ceremony when you can meet National Park staff and conservationists and take part in cultural events.

Interesting facts

  • Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa, and its mountainous terrain has led to it being nicknamed ‘the land of a thousand hills’. Its highest peak is Karisimbi, at 4507 metres.
  • Of the approximately 1,000 mountain gorillas living in the wild, around 600 are in the Virunga Massif. And this number is gradually growing due to the combined efforts of governments, local communities, and NGOs.
  • Covering 160km² of rainforest, the Volcanoes National Park includes five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains: Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo.
  • Volcanoes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, as well as mountain gorillas, it provides a sanctuary for other endangered species including chimpanzees, black and white Colobus monkeys, and L’Hoest's monkeys.
  • Crossed by major African rivers - the Nile and the Congo, Rwanda is one of Africa’s most ecologically diverse places, boasting tropical rainforests, mountain ranges, and volcanoes.
  • Other National Parks in Rwanda are Nyungwe, Gishwati Mukura, and Akagera –the latter is home to black rhinos, hippos, elephants, giraffes, and the gold-crested crane, which is Rwanda’s national bird.

What to do

Bear in mind that the gorillas have been monitored by experts and ‘habituated’ to human activity over a period of up to two years before tourists are taken to see them, so they are not frightened by the sudden presence of strangers arriving on their patch. But you must behave submissively, lowering your head and remaining very quiet.

Count on hiking for an average of two to three hours. Don’t worry about your age or fitness level – gorilla trekking is accessible with a moderate level of fitness, and the guides make sure that regular breaks are taken.

Think about spending two to three days in Volcanoes National Park, to see other wildlife including monkeys and birds, to hike in other areas of it, away from the gorillas, and to enjoy other outdoor activities including canoeing and mountain biking.

After your trek, have a relaxing break just an hour from Volcanoes National Park at Lake Kivu. Here you can expect mist-shrouded mountains, kayaking, and the former colonial beach resort of Rubavu, with its sandy beach and lovely old mansions, some now turned into bars serving sundowners.

From Rubavu you might like to follow part of the Congo Nile Trail leading south to Rusizi, on foot or by bike, passing farming terraces, small villages and banana plantations, and seeing some of the country’s everyday life.

What to eat

Packed lunches while trekking, which will be provided by guides, along with water, and carried by porters. Depending on how long it takes you to track your gorilla group, you may end up having lunch when you come back down.

Global and sometimes local dishes using regional produce are served at lodges and hotels in the Volcanoes National Park. Most places will serve three-course meals at lunch and dinner, along with wine, cocktails, and spirits.

Fish dishes, especially tilapia, from lakes including Nyarakigugu in the Volcanoes National Park, are usually served whole - pan-fried or grilled. Other common ingredients in Rwandan dishes are bananas, plantains, sweet potatoes, and beans.

Umufa, a traditional soup of vegetables and beans, served at Singita Kwitonda, a luxury lodge with its own plant nursery and vegetable garden supplying daily produce and also helping to rehabilitate species that are endemic to Rwanda.

Local dishes such as agatogo stew and bean-based ibishyimbo are elevated at One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, where local chef Djafari likes to be inventive with produce including plantain, dodo (amaranth), baby aubergine, sweet potato, epinari (spinach), taro root, and cassava.

Where to stay

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest

Experience a unique immersion into the breathtaking beauty of Volcanoes National Park at One&Only Gorilla’s Nest. Surrounded by swaying eucalyptus trees and majestic volcanic vistas, this botanical hideaway invites you to discover Rwanda's vibrant spirit. With 21 lodges and suites blending seamlessly into the landscape, every moment is in close connection with nature. From fragrant roses to sparkling infinity pools, every detail sparks adventure. Venture into the realm of mountain gorillas, followed by moments of tranquillity in the spa or indulgence in seasonal culinary delights.

Bisate Lodge

An eco-chic sanctuary amidst Rwanda's mesmerising volcanic landscape, Wilderness Bisate promises endless adventure and romance. Six stunning Forest Villas, resembling giant birds' nests, provide an intimate retreat with sumptuous interiors, central fireplaces, and expansive verandas with breathtaking views of Mount Bisoke. After a captivating day of gorilla tracking and cultural village visits, indulge in farm-to-table cuisine or rejuvenate with a couples' treatment in the spa surrounded by lush rainforest surroundings.

Singita Kataza House

From farm-to-table dining to magical fireside evenings, Singita Kataza House is a sanctuary of serenity amidst the imposing Virunga mountains at the edge of Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. Crafted with local materials and inspired by its surroundings, this exclusive-use villa seamlessly blends contemporary style with African charm. With four luxurious suites, heated plunge pools, and panoramic views, guests can unwind in comfort after unforgettable gorilla-trekking experiences.