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A Country Transformed: 10 Reasons Rwanda Should Be on Your Bucket List

HuffPost logo HuffPost 13/10/2015 AFKTravel

A view over a part of the capital Kigali, in Rwanda. © AP Photo/Ben Curtis A view over a part of the capital Kigali, in Rwanda. Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa, but it punches above its weight in terms of things to do and see. And while it did have a troubled past, the country has long since turned around and is now one of the safest places to visit on the continent. Here are 10 reasons you should add Rwanda to your bucket list.

1. The food is delicious.

© Elan Tal/Wikimedia Commons, Provided by The Huffington Post From brochettes to ugali to mandazi, Rwanda has an incredible array of foods that will make your mouth salivate. While the country incorporates cooking styles from other east African countries, it also manages to create fantastic combinations that are uniquely Rwandan.

2. You can see some of the last wild mountain gorillas.

© Carine06/Flickr, Provided by The Huffington Post One of the main reasons people head to Rwanda is the fantastic opportunity to interact with some of the last mountain gorillas in the world. Most of the gorillas are concentrated in Volcanoes National Park, and tourists come from all over the world to trek through the mountainous terrain and observe them.

3. You can explore the busy streets of Kigali

Construction cranes operate at the site of the Kigali Convention Center in Kigali, Rwanda. © Will Boase/Bloomberg Construction cranes operate at the site of the Kigali Convention Center in Kigali, Rwanda. Kigali has something for everyone and is one of the cleanest and safest cities in Africa. There is plenty to do here to occupy your time, from exploring museums and arts collectives, to eating tasty cuisine at international restaurants and mingling with the locals at cozy bars.

4. Up your coffee game by learning about it at the source.

© Wikimedia Commons, Provided by The Huffington Post It's no surprise that Rwanda has some of the best coffee in the world. And you can impress your friends back home by visiting one of the many communities that offer tours and information on the coffee growing processes. You can even spend the night at some of the plantations, though you might not be able to sleep after sampling coffee all day.

5. You can learn about the history of the Rwandan genocide.

© configmanager/Flickr, Provided by The Huffington Post The 1994 genocide in Rwanda is one of the most tragic events to ever occur on the African continent. But visiting and learning about it will help to ensure that something like that never happens again. You can go to the memorial and museum in Kigali to learn and pay tribute to those who lost their lives.

6. You can discover a new culture.

© wlablack / Shutterstock, Provided by The Huffington Post The culture in Rwanda is varied, vibrant and accessible, with several organizations offering interaction with locals through homestays and art collectives. It's guaranteed to be a life-changing experience

7. You can stay at the real Hotel Rwanda.

© Courtesy of, Provided by The Huffington Post Stay at the infamous hotel where hotel owner Paul Rusesabagina (portrayed by Don Cheadle in the movie Hotel Rwanda) saved 1,300 people from certain death. Although it has a murky past, today the hotel has been revamped as the Kempinski Hotel des Milles Collines and offers quite the luxury experience.

8. You can visit palaces where former royalty lived.

© Amakuru/Wikimedia Commons, Provided by The Huffington Post If you head south to Nyanza, you'll find the former royal palace and grounds of the ancient Mwamis (kings) of Rwanda. Visitors can go on a tour of the palace and learn about Rwanda's history. At Nyanza, even the cows are royal and have horns which reach six feet across.

9. You can get lost in a rainforest.

Nyungwe Rain Forest. © Flickr/Rachel Strohm, Provided by The Huffington Post Nyungwe Rain Forest. Well, not literally lost... but you know what we mean. Nyungwe National Park in southwestern Rwanda features a rain forest that is thousands of years old. The whole area is well-preserved and its wide variety of biomes allows for hundreds of species to thrive. Allow several days to explore this wondrous natural area.

10 You can get your safari kicks.

© Image Credit: Shutterstock, Provided by The Huffington Post While many head to Rwanda exclusively to see the country's famed mountain gorillas, you can double the wildlife quotient and see hippos, elephants and zebras too. Just two hours from Kigali, Akagera National Park has numerous animals, including one of the largest populations of hippos in east Africa.

By Joe Kennedy

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