Early morning mist rising over the Nyungwe forest
Rwanda is a small (26,328 km2 in area) and landlocked country. The capital Kigali is located centrally in the country and serves as a good starting point to visit any of the main sites. Outside of the national parks, population pressure is high and much of the country has been deforested for farming, there is also continuing pressure on wetlands.
Much of the country is rugged and mountainous, particularly in the west in the Albertine Rift region; (1600-4500 m) around the Volcanoes, Gishwati, Mukura and Nyungwe. The mountains here form a divide between the Nile and Congo River watersheds and Nyungwe Forest is home to one of the furthest sources of the Nile. The scenery in the mountainous areas is spectacular.
Much of western Rwanda is bordered by Lake Kivu, which is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake itself has rather interesting chemistry and supports large numbers of White-breasted Cormorants and Pied Kingfishers. Hotels are available in Rubavu, Karongi and Rusizi. It makes a very relaxing stop over during a tour.
Most of the country lies over 1500m above sea level. The highest areas are the mountains as detailed above, the central plateau is around 1500masl, moving eastwards the altitude drops a few hundred metres. The lowest lying part of the country, the south-west, lies around 800masl.
Rainfall is varied. The mountains in the west can receive over 2,000mm per year, the eastern more low-lying areas receive around 800mm. In most years November and April are the wettest months, January and February are the “short dry season”, and June, July and August the “long dry season” VANDE WEGHE, JP. & VANDE WEGHE, GR. (2011). Due to its high-altitude temperatures are never extremely high. The average annual temperature on the central plateau is 18 to 20C, in the lower-lying east 20 to 22C and in the mountains, it can feel quite cold and damp.