15 February 2017
Rwanda is a place that many visitors know little about and admittedly, many are still unsure about the safety factor. Yes, there were many terrible carnages during the 1994 genocide and the country has slowly regained its pride. Ongoing development and modernisation is a good sign and more tourists are showing interest in such a fascinating destination. We give you 6 reasons why Rwanda is becoming a travel hotspot:
- Gorilla Trekking in Parc National Des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park):
Tick gorilla trekking off your bucket list and hike the densely forested mountains in search of these gentle primates. Only a few visitors are allowed in at a time so add this to your bucket list. It is a good idea to start with a few days at the renowned Mountain Gorilla View Lodge in Musanze district, northern Rwanda, next door to Volcanoes National Park.
Experience unique sightings of the world’s most endangered ape, Gorilla Gorilla Berengie, or the mountain gorilla. Base yourself at the basic yet elegant lodge with exceptional views of the mountains and lush forests. Enjoy hearty home-cooked meals after trekking for hours after these magnificent creatures in their splendid habitat. Enjoy hearty meals after long treks into the forests to find the amazing gorillas and being close to Mount Karisimbi, one of the volcanic mountains that make up the Virunga Massif. Spacious stone and thatch chalets with mod cons ensure your travel satisfaction.
- Game Viewing in Akagera National Park:
Visiting Akagera after Nyungwe and the Volcanoes National Park adds flavour to a Rwandan holiday. After gorilla and primate trekking, you now get to admire incredible biodiversity in all her glory. Enjoy vast numbers of plains game species like elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland, duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala. See some wetland inhabitants such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. During the day, look out for small apes such as olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey, then bushbabies on night drives.
Predators are just as exciting to view, with leopard, hyena, side-striped jackal and lion being first prize. Soon the rare Black rhino will be added, making the safari a Big 5 adventure. Akagera is also an important ornithological site with nearly 500 bird species including the beautiful papyrus gonolek. Akagera National Park is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema.
- Orchid Hunting in Nyungwe Forest National Park:
More than 100 orchid species will dumbfound the plant lover when you discover this paradise. You can also see chimpanzees in this forest wonderland where hundreds of beautiful birds flit and sing. Many visitors rate Nungwe Forest National Park as one of the most beautiful and untouched rainforests globally. And it is also believed to be one of the oldest forests in Africa, ever green during the Ice Age all those years ago and covers a vast 1 000 square kilometres, home to familiarised chimpanzees and 12 other primate species including the Ruwenzori Black & White Colobus. Yes, about 400 species of chimpanzees are endemic to Nyungwe, one of East Africa’s last intact populations, showcasing two wild chimp communities that welcome guests in Cyamdungo and around Uwinka.
- Memorial Sites:
Gorilla Trekking may be the first attraction to a unique Rwanda holiday but there is another side to your visit to this fascinating African destination. You can learn about the traumatic history of the genocide by taking a tour of the genocide memorial sites in the capital city of Kigali. It is hard to believe that about a million people lost their lives during the war in 1994, 100 days of sheer hell. Today, Rwanda is known to have about 8 Genocide Memorial sites, established to remember the cruelty of the genocide. Two of these sites are:
Gisozi Memorial site in Gasabo district adjacent to Kigali city where most of the Tutsi victims were slaughtered by the Hutus. In 2000, victims from both sides were buried in the same area and in 2004, Gisozi became a tourism centre to remember the approximately 300,000 people that were buried. The Gisozi Memorial site has a display house, a cemetery, photo gallery and a library.
Gisenyi Memorial site in Gisenyi where the remains of 12 000 people that were killed during the 1994 genocide are stored. It is known to be the first memorial site to be supported by Ibuka and the ministry of youth, sports and culture. Look out also for the grave of Madame Carr, an American who operated an orphanage called Imbabazi in this region.
- Lakeside Living:
Head to the shores of Lake Kivu – a lakeside retreat with all the makings of a tropical Indian Ocean coastline! Discover the oasis that is Lake Kivu Serena Hotel on the lake of the same name, the sixth largest in the world. Go and find the glorious Volcanoes National Park, home to some of the last remaining mountain gorillas, the holiday of a lifetime. Immerse yourself in luxury amenities and make the most if a range of exciting activities including hiking, gorilla trekking and fishing from boats. Private beach, eco-friendly responsible tourism.
Enjoy private sandy beach, extensive gardens, lake fishing, swimming, boating, tennis, volleyball, walking, trekking. This is indeed the ideal weekend retreat for families with children and the perfect setting for the perfect wedding – receptions are hosted by charming staff in this paradise. The hotel has an eco-conscience, trying its best to use energy conservation, waste recycling, reduced air emissions, no CFCs, no pesticides, reducing noise and visual pollution, serving locally grown produce on its menus. Make the most of the Kiyaga Restaurant, Lake View Bar and Terrace and the Ziwani beach café and bar.
- Cleanest Country in Africa:
Rwanda is a country that cares deeply about the environment, tidiness and the enforcement of rules. So much so that anyone entering the country with a plastic bag automatically has it confiscated. It is estimated that roughly 80% of the Rwandan population actively practice “Umuganda”, which loosely translates as “working together”. Rwanda’s “Umuganda” program is contributing to the transformation of the country.
Citizens below the age of 65 participate in community service which is a way of bringing people together, and caring for the environment. Apparently this positive programme called Umuganda began in the 1990s where every last Saturday of the month, between 8am and 11am, people all join hands to clean and sustain their communities. They do things willingly like cutting grass in fields, repairing bridges, building homes for widows and even booking drives in certain neighbourhoods. Any non-vital movement of traffic is stopped, unless there are people seeking medical attention.