Travel Professional Kelly Berry is a seasoned Africa specialist and Instagram jetsetter where she documents her travels on her aptly named account, @going_gone_girl. Click through to discover more about Rwanda's culture, nature and how you can document your experience while staying at one of the country's premier lodges, Volcanoes Safaris Virunga Lodge.
01 of 08
See the Colors of Rwanda
One of the first things travelers to Rwanda notice is the way the culture embraces color. From brightly painted homes to vibrant kitenges (typical wax fabric printed in bold colors and patterns), the Rwandese are not afraid to stand out. And the country’s native vegetation is as striking as its people. Rwanda sits just below the equator and teems with green of every shape, size, and shade.
02 of 08
Stay at Volcanoes Safaris Virunga Lodge
Just a three-hour drive from Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali, Volcanoes Safaris Virunga Lodge is home to one of Rwanda’s most unforgettable views. Perched atop a hill, Virunga’s east-facing villas overlook twin lakes Burera and Ruhondo, where its west-facing villas enjoy stunning vistas of three of the region's most prominent volcanoes – Gahinga, Muhabura, and Sabyinyo.
03 of 08
Visit Local Artisans
Rwanda is a small country with an enormous talent for artisanship. Pottery, textiles, woodcarvings, and (admittedly my favorite) baskets are crafted daily by women and men around the country. These particular baskets were hand-woven by women of the Mwiko community that use sisal and natural dyes to create these environmentally and economically sustainable souvenirs.
04 of 08
Sip Rwandan Coffee
I stumbled across this advertisement while driving through downtown Kigali. Because of the way the sun had bleached the sign, I assumed it must have been decades old – a monument of a company and time long since gone. Funnily enough, when I returned back to the US and researched The Rwanda Trading Co., I found it was, in fact, a coffee company, founded in 2009, that processes and exports Rwandan coffee to countries around the world, still active today. Well, I still like the photo…Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Take in Rwanda's Panoramic Views
Rwanda is aptly called, ‘the land of a thousand hills’, an epithet that could only be made more accurate if ‘hills’ was replaced with ‘colossal volcanic mountains that are so lush and fertile that even the most stubborn crops grow like weeds.’ Lucky for visitors and natives alike, these colossal, volcanic mountains provide some of the worlds most breathtaking panoramas.
06 of 08
Sleep in a Luxury Lodge
The bandas at Volcanoes Safaris Virunga Lodge offer all the comforts of a luxury hotel whilst showcasing Rwandan décor and craftsmanship. The batiked quilts and hand-made baskets complement the lodges hardwood floors and stonework, delivering a bush-chic vibe that plays the perfect stage for any ‘Out of Africa’ adventure.
07 of 08
See the Sunrise
While in Rwanda, be sure to set your alarm and take advantage of as many of the sunrises and sunsets as you can. The innumerable hills of Rwanda’s terrain create a magical kaleidoscope effect, causing these moments of transition to be truly transcendental.
08 of 08
Visit the Gorillas
There are less than 900 mountain gorillas left in the wild, and they all live in the forests of the volcanic and mountainous region shared by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. Rwanda is home to 10 families of habituated gorillas that visitors are invited to see on a trek in Parc National des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park). Once you’ve hiked uphill for a few hours, you come upon the gorillas in their natural habitat - try your damnedest not to squeal. These majestic creatures are so human-like it’s almost as if they are the ones observing you.