Rwanda’s been on intrepid travelers’ bucket lists for years now, primarily due to its popularity among visitors hoping to see the endangered mountain gorillas that populate the northern part of the country. But with an evergrowing roster of world-class resorts and logistical improvements that make visiting more accessible than ever, 2020 is prime time to check this one off your list.
This tiny country, roughly the size of Maryland, has overcome a horrific past—a genocide and civil war, resulting in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans—to become a modern-day tourism success story, with eco-friendly and progressive measures that rival its “developed” counterparts. Rwanda banned plastic bags and packaging 12 years ago, has implemented mandatory education and universal healthcare and boasts more women serving in Parliament than any other government. Not surprisingly, it’s also among Africa’s safest countries.
Tourists have taken note—and with $400 million in tourism revenue in 2016, the supporting infrastructure needed to become a vacation destination has followed. One&Only just opened its intimate Gorilla’s Nest, situated in the foothills of the Virunga mountains with views of Pyrethrum farmland, while eco-friendly Singita opened the Kwitonda Lodge, an eight-suite compound, and Kataza House, a private villa, in August. A stay at either won’t come cheap, but both companies actively support initiatives in reforestation and conservation, ensuring that generations to come can enjoy Rwanda’s natural beauty and wildlife wonders. One of the original lodges in the region, Volcanoes Safaris’ Virunga Lodge, celebrated its 15th birthday in 2019 and is undergoing a complete refresh, set to be finished before the end of the year.
As an added perk, making the trip has never been easier. Rwanda implemented a simple visa-on-arrival system in 2018, and the highly-regarded national carrier, RwandAir, is looking to launch a direct flight from New York to Kigali sometime this year. — Laura Ratliff
Original Source: Tripsavvy