The Ultimate Weekend Gateway: Five Things to Do in Musanze

A three and half-hour drive from Kigali International airport leads you to Musanze, a district in the Northern Province of Rwanda. The journey is an exciting one and after crossing the Nyabarongo River to enter the northern province, you quickly realize why Rwanda is called the land of 1000 hills. Breath-taking views of the rolling hills in Rulindo and Gakenke District will leave you stunned while taking in fresh air from the natural forest along the way. 

Arriving in Musanze, you will be welcomed by friendly locals who you can talk to and learn more about the Musanze. Strategically placed in the foothills of the Virunga Massif, Musanze is attractive for tourism, business, and agriculture. With an endless variety of activities to indulge in, it is crucial to know the ones you shouldn’t miss out on. Here are five. 

Gorilla tracking at the volcanoes national park

The park is 130 square kilometers large and home to the endangered mountain gorilla. At the Volcanoes national park, you will be welcomed by the park rangers who will brief you about the history of the park and give you a few guidelines to follow during the tracking. The life-changing opportunity to see gorillas in their natural habitat is an experience that is unique and unforgettable

Karisoke Dian Fossey Research center

Dian Fossey was a great primatologist and was the first to study mountain gorillas in detail. She was the one who discovered how to make mountain gorillas comfortable in the presence of people hence enabling gorilla trekking. To pay homage to this great primatologist, you can arrange to visit the grave of Dian Fossey and her former research Center on the slopes of Mountains Karisimbi and Bisoke. The area is remote and at a high altitude but you will get a chance to learn a lot about her work with the gorillas and her legacy today. If you are lucky, you might encounter gorillas and golden monkeys on the slopes of the mountains.

Explore the Musanze Caves 

These caves are over 1 million years old. They were formed during the creation of the volcanoes in the area. Lava spewed out, flowed, cooled at the top, and left molten rock moving underneath. The caves are a complex group of tunnels some stretching over 20 kilometers. These caves have played various roles in Rwanda’s history, for instance, they were used as shelter by the kings of Rwanda during the war with neighboring tribes. 

Lake Burera and Ruhondo 

These two lakes are close to each other and are often referred to as the twin Lakes of Rwanda. They are in scenery and tranquil location at the foot of the Virunga volcanoes. The lakes are only a 20-minute drive away from Musanze but you can also use a bike to reach there. Once on-site, you will have the opportunity to participate in different activities such as a village walk, canoeing, camping, and bird-watching.

City tour

 As a small town, a tour on foot is possible and can take about 2 hours. You can start with the city markets to check out the local fabrics and fruits. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International offices are built at the center of Musanze and are worth a visit. Don’t forget to visit the local restaurants to enjoy traditional Rwandan dishes and for those interested in Western dishes, La Paillote has got you covered with their famous pizza. Don’t miss out on Café Crema, popular for its homegrown Rwandan coffee.

Let’s talk: accommodation and transport.

With a cheap and efficient public transport system, it is quite easy to get around Rwanda and Musanze is no exception. It is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from the capital, however, you can treat yourself to a helicopter ride from Kigali international airport to Ruhengeri national airport.

When it comes to accommodations, there are plenty of options from AirBnBs to five-star hotels. Reservations can be made through various platforms like airbnb, bongalo,, and many others. To make your trip easier, I am going to recommend a few hotels with a good reputation and great reviews. Here are five.

One & Only Gorilla’s nest: For those looking for the ultimate luxury, this is the place to be. The hotel lies on the edge of the rainforest at the foot of the volcanoes and offers an intimate immersion into nature.  It offers an exclusive front-row view of Africa’s greatest national park and the mountain gorillas roaming, wild, and free. 

Bisate Lodge: Since opening in 2017, Bisate has racked up 34 awards and continues to inspire superlatives. Bisate lodge is located on the edge of volcanoes National park and is one of the most thrilling safari destinations in Africa. The lodge offers five-star hotel services with terrific amenities, and most importantly, it is surrounded by incredible views to stock in.

Ingagi Park View Lodge: The lodge is a nine minutes drive from the Volcanoes National Park which gives it the advantage to get breath-taking views of the park. From your suite terrace, you will have unobstructed views of the volcanos while enjoying the endless lodge amenities. 

Five volcanoes Boutique hotel: This hotel is 6.1 mi (9.7 km) from Volcanoes National Park and 24.3 mi (39.1 km) from St. Francis Hospital Mutolere. Make yourself at home in one of the 11 guest suites featuring all amenities for a five-star suite and take in the views on the private balconies or patios. Pamper yourself with onsite massages or enjoy recreation amenities such as an outdoor pool and wrap up your day with a drink at the bar/lounge. 

Tiloreza volcanoes ecolodge:  For budget travelers, This is the lodge for you, it is just 4.3 mi (6.9 km) from Musanze Caves and 8.3 mi (13.3 km) from the Cathedral of Ruhengeri. Make yourself at home in one of the 14 suites featuring private balconies or patios. Relax at the full-service spa and grab a bite at the restaurant, which features a bar/lounge, or stays in and take advantage of the room service. 

Musanze is on track to become the melting pot for tourism in Africa and part of what makes Musanze unique is how affordable it is. Regardless of your means, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Your only enemy is the time you have.

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