Musanze is the largest city in northern Rwanda and the gateway to Volcanoes National Park—home of rare mountain gorillas—which recently announced its expansion from 62 to 76 sq. mi. by 2027, an endeavor that will reduce human-wildlife conflict by 80%. A limited number of $1,500 daily gorilla-trek entry fees enable farmers and reformed gorilla poachers to make a living, while not encroaching on the animals’ habitats. The opening of the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Gorilla Doctors campus, both of which invest in the conservation and research of endangered mountain gorillas, have brought global attention to the area.
Red Rocks Rwanda, an amenity-rich, nonprofit hostel, strives to bridge the gap between locals and visitors through storytelling, banana-beer making, and Rwandan dance. Private homestays, many of which include cooking lessons and pottery-making workshops, are arranged by the community-led nonprofit Gorilla Guardians. And Musanze-based tour operator Beyond the Gorillas Experience brings a break from all things gorilla with guided cycling and treks through Volcanoes Park. A stop at the Inshuti Art Gallery rounds out the experience.