Known as the land of 1,000 hills, this country couldn’t be further from the clichéd African image of arid deserts and dry bush. Winding roads hug verdant slopes, every inch carved into fields with crops ranging from banana trees to maize. In the valleys are great sweeping tea plantations, rice fields and coffee groves.
The country is leading the way in using tourism for sustainable development and conservation. The bamboo and mid-altitude forests of the Volcanoes National Park in the north are home to the rare mountain gorilla and the high-altitude Nyungwe Forest in the south, one of the largest remaining rainforests in Africa, is home to 13 primates, including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys, rare orchids and nearly 300 different species of bird.
A landlocked country, Rwanda makes up for this with the stunning Lake Kivu, with beaches at Gisenyi and inlets and coves at Kibuye. Out in a kayak, you can paddle around forested islands and nod hello to the fishermen in dug-out canoes.
Nyungwe forest national park is one of the largest remaining high-altitude rainforests in Africa and is home to the world’s largest troop of colobus monkeys, which have a distinctive black and white colouring. A trek to spot them could have you surrounded by literally hundreds of them. This park is one of the last sanctuaries of the mountain gorilla and it is here that the well-known Diane Fossey spent 18 years studying them.