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Best Hiking Trails in Rwanda

Overview

Known for gorilla tracking, the eastern African country of Rwanda is known as the ‘land of a thousand hills’ and has plenty of mountainous trails to explore. The main areas for hiking are the Virunga Mountains, containing Volcanoes National Park (and the highest peak of Mount Karisimbi) and Nyungwe Forest National Park. As well, there is the Congo Nile Trail, a long distance trail alongside Lake Kivu. The best months to hike in Rwanda are December to February and May to September. Read on for more information on where and when to hike in Rwanda. 

Capital: Kigali

When To Hike in Rwanda?

May – September; December – February: In the northwest, June – August and December – February are the best months whereas in the southwest, May – September are the best months
April; October: In the southwest, these months could be ok
November – March: Rainy

Climate: Tropical highland climate – wet and dry seasons; due to the altitude of the country, temperatures don’t get too high.  It’s often cloudy.  Volcanoes National Park is quite rainy, there doesn’t seem to be really be a dry season. There are two rainy seasons: March – May; October – November

 

Rwanda Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Medium: There are established trails but you need to go with a guide in some places and also obtain permits which can be expensive. 

Transportation required: Car; hiring a driver

Top Places to Hike in Rwanda

The two main areas for hiking are in the Virunga Mountains in the northwest of the country, and in Nyungwe Forest National Park in the southwestern part of the country. Much of the central west part of the country (ie. North of Kigali) is mountainous but hard to find information on that area. Highest Mountain: Mount Karisimbi (4507 m), in Volcanoes National Park

Filter out hiking places of Rwanda by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Nyungwe Forest National Park

Virunga Mountains

  • This area, on the border with DRC and Uganda, gets the most attention when it comes to hiking in Rwanda
  • Volcanoes National Park – this is the premier destination for hiking; beautiful national park that most people come to for gorillas, but there’s stunning scenery and lots of trekking options, home of Rwanda’s highest point 
  • Other volcano hikes in the Virunga Mountains

Rwanda's Long Distance Trails

  • Congo Nile Trail: 227 km trail that runs along Lake Kivu and is quite up and down (peak elevation of 2630 m) – The Congo Nile Trail (Bikepacker’s Edition)
  • Cyinzobe Trail: 25 km trail that opened in 2023, going through Nyungwe National Park
  • Mount Karisimbi

Rwanda's Walking & Hiking Resources

Rwanda Hiking Books: 

  • Rwanda Bradt Travel Guide, by Phillips Briggs, Sean Connolly, 2018, Bradt Travel Guides
  • Walking with Gorillas: How to see East Africa’s gentle giants, by  Charlotte Beauvoisin, Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Sue Watt, Ian Redmond OBE, 2019, Horizon Guides
  • Lonely Planet East Africa, by Lonely Planet, Anthony Ham, Ray Bartlett, 2018, Lonely Planet Global Limited

 

Best Hiking Trails in Rwanda:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from official hiking website, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist offices:

  • Congo Nile Trail
  • Mount Karisimbi – Volcanoes National Park
  • Mount Bisoke – Volcanoes National Park
  • Mount Muhabura – Volcanoes National Park
  • Mount Gahinga – Volcanoes National Park
  • Uwinka Trail – Nyungwe Forest National Park
  • Irebero Trail – Nyungwe Forest National Park
  • Mount Kabuye

Easy Hiking Trails in Rwanda:

  • Mount Kigali
  • Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk

 

Rwanda Hiking Websites:

 

Rwanda Weather websites:

 

Rwanda Official Tourism Site:  

 

Rwanda Hiking Apps: 

 

Rwanda Hiking Maps:

What Else To Do

  • Mountain gorilla trekking – this is likely the biggest draw for visitors to Rwanda; they are an endangered species
  • Other wildlife in Akagera National Park
  • Visit the genocide memorial

Other Important Points