Rwanda: A timeless treasure!

It is with great pride that we present Rwanda – Home of the rare Mountain Gorillas, an ancient land of history and nature, and country termed as “The land of a thousand hills”. With a legacy that dates way back as far as 60 centuries, Rwanda is a land of mystery with regions yet unexplored.

As a tribute to this legacy, the UN Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added Rwanda among the entries to its “World Heritage Sites” declaration. Volcanoes National Park found on the Rwanda’s side of the Virunga Mountains a straddle that harbors three countries; that is Rwanda, Uganda and DR. Congo, is the home to half a population of world’s endangered mountain Gorillas the other half of about 480 individuals live in the neighboring Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Ugandan side

Perhaps due to her location, being near the equator, Rwanda experiences good tropical climate throughout the year. Experts recognize Rwanda to have as many as 16 different agro-climatic zones and rank it as one of the top 12 countries known for having richest bio-diversity, that’s why safaris to Rwanda have become so popular in the recent years

The most remarkable valley on the planet, the Great Rift Valley cuts across Rwanda creating a string of lakes, Rivers, Volcanic Mountains rich in all life forms that supports habitats to variety of wildlife including birds that are endemic to this Albertine rift.

Clouds-mother-baby-gorillaRwanda’s 3 national parks are known as much for their unique animal and bird life as for fabulous nature. An impressive array of fauna includes many endemic species like the great apes, Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees; this has attracted Rwanda Gorilla Safaris to this small nation of Central and East Africa. other endemic primate species include the endangered Golden monkeys, Olive Baboons all that can be tracked in Volcanoes National park, Chimps in Nyumgwe Forest one of the Africa’s oldest rain forest. Game drives are done at Akagera National Park for the Big five hunt, other Animals to lookout for include: Zebras, Giraffes, Crocodiles, different Antolope species and variety of birdlife most of which are said to be endemic to Albertine rift.

Rich too in cultural heritage, endow this ancient land. Nearing 60 million inhabitants, Rwanda is Africa’s third most populous nation, so it follows that there exists a bounty of exotic costumes (Umushanana), colorful ceremonies and celebrations, Genocide Memorial sites, arts, crafts, music and dance that like distinctive Intore dance which is also known as the “Dance of worriors”, tradition and fascinating character.

Added pleasure can always be found in Rwanda’s tropical climate, in rain or shine, Rwanda can be visited. With all its varied and dramatic contrasts, Rwanda is certain to create fulfilling memories not only for Gorilla Adventure Traveler but for anyone who is enthusiastic to an enchanting new experience. Taste the wilderness of Rwanda…and vow to return to her again one day to repeat amazing Rwanda Safari.

We invite you to inquire for further information on how to experience the best of Rwanda. All you need do is, ANTICIPATE AN UNFORGETTABLE ADVENTURE … and we’ll take you there.

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Magnificent Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda

During my leave decided to go for a Rwanda gorilla tour in Africa together with my family we decided to travel with a group we worked with at an orphanage in the capital Kigali City, to visit the rare mountain gorillas that live in the Virunga National Park, which borders The Congo and Uganda in central and East Africa.

The sceneries along this two-hour drive northwards to volcanoes national park in Ruhengeri are spectacular, the two lanes Road (built by the Chinese) kept on going higher with the abundance of green foliage that simmered before our eyes. Perhaps this gives Rwanda its name “Land of a thousand Hills” But even that lovely assault on the senses didn’t prepare us for what was to come.

We were stunned to sleep in Gorilla Nest Lodge, just outside the Volcanoes National Park. Imagine a luxury hotel, superbly crafted from local stone, wood and bamboo, tucked into the jungle at the bottom of a blue-green volcanic range.

Top that off with beautiful spacious rooms, fine dining and friendly service from people that speak English, French, Swahili and Kinyarwanda (the national language) and you have a virtual Shangri-la in the middle of Africa.

Finding the Family
Following such a peaceful night stay we were driven to the Volcanoes Park entrance by 7:00am local time and met our guide, Fidel, who has worked as a park ranger-guide for a period of fourteen years. He briefed us about Gorilla tracking tips and informed us that we would be walking for about three hours to find the family group we were assigned to observe.

We set out for our Rwanda gorilla trek, eight in all and made our way into the thick forest up the hillside past planted fields and traditional mud huts; over the stone wall, which was built by villagers (who were paid by the government) to keep out elephants and buffalo and to delineate the park boundary.

We were well prepared for what is usually a muddy and wet misty experience into the Jungle (with our boots, raincoats and packed Lunch), but were lucky and blessed with sunny weather and Climate and above all a clear trail.

Our guide
We were lucky to have such a resourceful guide, as we continued with this Gorilla Safari into the forest, Fidel told us that the dominant male in that family group (the Silverback) is called “The President”. He said if there is no dominant male in the group, then a female takes up the responsibility as the leader.

Just Like Us

Male gorillas turn adults and attain silverbacks at the age of 10years,” Fidel said quietly. “From eight years on females are called adults because they can have babies. Gorillas can live up to forty years. Gestation period for pregnancy is about eight to nine months.

“Female Gorillas usually live longer than males. They are vegetarians. They sleep, play, socialize and eat just like us. Perhaps this is why they are termed as our closest cousins. Their DNA is ninety-seven percent the same as humans.”

He suddenly held up his hand and whispered, “straight ahead.” We heard the sound of twigs breaking and grunting noises before we could see anything.

Our guide gently pushed aside some bamboo sticks and my wife was staring face to face with a 500-pound silverback ten feet in front of her who was contently sitting down to lunch on some freshly stripped morsels of bamboo leaves. She froze, as we lined up alongside her; our mouths agape at the spectacle.

The thriller

Shortly a number of females alongside their toddlers and a newborn joined the silverback. We enjoyed as we watched their children play, climb tree branches and being pulled back to their mothers when they got too far away or too close to the spectators.

We were deep in thought. Imagine we were the ones with the camera equipment, but if the gorillas could take our picture, they would probably be laughing hysterically at images of our grinning stupefied faces.

As required, we left the gorilla family after an hour’s viewing and made our way back down the mountain. We were in such awe that there was little conversation probably meditating how thrilling the Rwanda gorilla tour is.

Everyone come to understand that the $750.00 per person we had paid for Gorilla permits to see the gorillas were the best money we had ever spent. The funds from the Rwanda gorilla trips permits help the rangers protect the gorillas, continue research like Dian fossey research Centre which located in this park, also provide funds for the surrounding communities to build schools, health clinics and crafts centers.

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A mature gorilla feeding

Positive Support

Rwanda is becoming increasingly noticed worldwide for its environmental policies, gender equality, stable government, family life and breathtaking beauty. Positive internal and international support for infrastructure, education, investment, security and eco-tourism have made it assessable, affordable and one of the safest destinations for adults and children in Africa as well as travelers who enjoy Rwanda safari trips to see the beauty of this central and East African tiny Nation.
After your breathtaking moment with the mountain Gorillas, you can spice up your Rwanda safari with Kigali City tour which enables you see the National Museum to learn about the cultural history of Rwanda. Pay tribute to Rwanda Genocide victims by visiting Kigali Genocide memorial centre or other Genocide memorial sites in other districts. For other stunning wildlife arrange with your tour company to visit Nyungwe forest national park and Akagera National park as well.
How to get there;
The cheaper flights from London to Rwanda are via Kenya or via Johannesburg, South Africa.

Their largely spoken national language is Kinyarwanda, but many people also speak English, Swahili or French and there is a big push for everyone to learn English language.

Immunization certificate or immunization cards are required.

Currency is the Rwandan franc which equals about 550 francs to every US dollar.

Kenny at Select Safaris Africa Ltd has been arranging trips including Gorilla trips for families to Africa for thirty years. Email; info@selectsafarisafrica.com or info@rwandasafaritrips.com. Phone: +256 774 873 278. Click here to Visit their Website

Great Ape encounter- mountain gorilla

While on Rwanda Gorilla tour, if the sight of gorillas doesn’t leave you breathless, then altitude at 9,000ft above sea level, may well do. What happens when you come face to face with an endangered mountain gorilla? I opted to crouch. I had fallen behind, with my back to the rest of our trekking group, when suddenly I was confronted by a young male coming the other way. It was a moment I’ll long never forget. Dark, unblinking eyes fixed me in an instant. Then, all huge knuckles and hairy shoulders, he approached. Fascinated, I was rooted to the spot. He sauntered past, no more than a foot away.

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Beautiful Silverback Gorilla

Beautiful Rwanda a country determined to make the most of its natural assets; is renowned for its mountain gorillas and in fact they didn’t disappoint. Found in the far north-west of the country, in the Volcanoes National Park, ten groups of eight visitors get to spend an hour each day with each family group and proximity to some of this planet’s last remaining mountain gorillas.
While at park headquarters Fidel, our guide, briefed us highlighting the dos and don’ts throughout this Rwanda gorilla tour. “ we’re assigned and visiting the Sabyinyo family group,” he explained. “this family comprises 12 gorillas, including the largest silverback, Guhonda. His name means ‘chest beater’. All these gorillas have names; we distinguish them by the shape of their noses.”

Our Gorilla trek through thick and bamboo forest, fat-leafed foliage was relatively sedate, but at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, it still occasionally had me panting for breath. During our hour with the group, which passed incredibly quickly, we were also lucky enough to get very close to Guhonda. He, too, eyed us up, almost posing. Further turns around clumps of bamboo brought us to a huge blackjack, a smaller male and a tiny baby. We watched enthralled as he clambered and tumbled around in the bamboo. He was charming. Father looked on unperturbed as visitors feet away snapped like mad with their cameras. It was so close, so intimate, I felt almost embarrassed.
The gorilla family group we were assigned was apt. The lodge where we were staying was called Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge was outstanding, one of the most comfortable of the accommodation around this park. so made the gorilla safari trip enjoyable. It was here I was asked an unexpected question. “How is the Queen?” Merarry, the receptionist, was a keen royalist; he even knew the national anthem! But why? Despite the country’s lack of prior connection with British colonialists, Rwanda’s membership was officially welcomed to the Commonwealth last year; the 54th and newest member.
The future is what everyone in this tiny East African country is fixed on. Putting past horrors behind them, a new generation of Rwandese is making ambitious plans for development, build a new Rwanda. This includes tapping into the business and cultural opportunities the Commonwealth offers, and new allegiances with anglophone neighbours – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Unsurprisingly, tourism is an integral part of the mix. The Rwanda Development Board (RDB), which looks after tourism, is working hard to encourage visitors to do more than just offering gorilla safaris. Develop a diverse tourism sector for longer visitor stay.
A two-hour drive brought me to Kigali City, the capital. The road dipped and swooped past tiny mud huts perched precariously on steep hillsides, each an island in a sea of banana and cassava plants. The warm air was full of the scent of eucalyptus and cooking smoke. Previously a backwater, Kigali now throbs with urban life – but with little of the chaos of many African cities. I shared a dinner at funky lounge bar Republika with friends.
We drank cold beer and munched burgers laced with hot piri piri sauce, surrounded by the hubbub of Kigali’s movers and shakers. And they certainly know how to move. Rwandans love to dance. The dance floor at Top Tower nightclub on a Friday night was stacked with waggling bottoms and flailing arms to an eighth-floor backdrop of the night-time cityscape.
After the urban excitement of Kigali, I took a Rwandair internal flight to Kamembe in the far south-east of the country. A one-hour drive brought me to another of Rwanda’s park highlights – Nyungwe Forest National Park. Nyungwe is a big part of RDB’s tourism plans. Covering an area almost the size of Hampshire, it’s the largest slice of protected medium-altitude rainforest in Africa, stuffed with species – orchids, birds, reptiles and, in particular, chimpanzees. It’s the kind of place visitors ought to hang around longer to see. Previously the problem used to be the accommodation stay: just a cheap hostel or campsite. But that has changed. I was booked and slept into the beautiful Nyungwe Forest Lodge. Hidden among slopes covered with tea plants, it features designer chalets with balconies overlooking the rainforest.
A 4.30am start meant there wasn’t long to enjoy its comforts, but the early start was worthwhile. Above me the night sky was cloudless, with a sprinkling of stars; the wind in the rainforest was the only sound. We picked up our excellent guide, Kambogo, and bumped along in a 4WD for an hour. Dawn revealed pools of cloud in the valleys below, which the rising sun turned from white to gold in moments.
We set off following a signpost marked “Rukizi Trail”. Kambogo led at a cracking pace. “The trackers radioed to say the chimps may move soon!” he said. We forked onto a smaller trail. The slope became much steeper and the rainforest mulch under my boots more slippery.

We burst onto a wider trail to meet up with our trackers. They guided us at gentler pace to a clearing that dropped away, offering views of enormous fig trees. It took a while to spot them, but there we eventually saw a family of chimps, swinging high in the trees, cramming their mouths with figs. As with the gorillas, our watching time was limited to an hour, but we were unable to get anywhere near as close.
The Nyungwe forest isn’t just for hard-core trekkers, though you do need a level of fitness. There are guided walking trails, waterfalls, remarkable bird life and lots of monkeys. The latest attraction is a 220ft-high aerial walkway offering immense rainforest views. But just as we arrived it began to rain. “We can’t do the walkway if it’s raining. It’s a safety precaution,” says Kambogo. Secretly, I’m relieved. I get vertigo. That drop was already making my head spin.
As we walked back, the rain became heavier. The final stretch of path revealed a huge gap in the canopy. I stepped into the gap and looked out at precipitous hills unrolling towards Lake Kivu on the horizon. Cooling rain ran down my face. Suddenly, a brief halo of sunlight lit the rainforest, with its centuries-old trees. Amid all the excitement of progress, I thought, Rwanda’s bright future is inextricably linked to the wonders of its primeval past.

Rwanda Eco-Holidays & Vacations

Rwanda Gorilla Holiday

Rwanda located a few degrees south of the Equator, is a small sovereign landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of central and East Africa. Her beautiful weather and climate  combined with fertile soils and hilly terrain, gives her the title “Land of a Thousand Hills” and supports one of the densest populations in Africa.

The country’s landscape is majorly mountainous and deep valleys and not surprisingly, Eco-tourism is growing. Many eco-tourists on vacation commonly participate in Rwanda primate tours, particularly the gorilla trekking as about half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, live in Rwanda.

In the Rwanda’s Volcanoes National park in the prime location Rwanda gorilla tours through the thick jungle and meet these beautiful gentle giants, the Mountain gorillas. There is also the opportunity to visit the research centre founded by Diane Fossey, who dedicated her life learning gorilla lifestyles as well as protecting and conserving these endangered gorillas and became famous through her book,” Gorillas in the Mist” which later turned into a Hollywood film. The forest is also rich with outstanding birdlife. Read about Gorilla tracking rules before booking your Rwanda Gorilla Safari

Gorilla gives birth to twins

Gorilla mother gives birth to twins

Apart from Volcanoes national park, other tourist attractions include; Nyungwe forest National Park which covers 1000 square kilometers of beautiful majestic hills which is rich in flora and fauna diversity. Here, you can spot 13 different primate species including chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkey and around 300 species of birds.

Rwanda has such a rich Cultural values and cultural tours to this small nation gives eco-tourists the opportunity to learn about the history, culture of Rwanda and Rwandan Genocide. Visits to local villages are aimed at learning about the food, traditional arts and crafts and Genocide memorial sites that exhibit the remains of 1994 genocide tragedy.

Visit the Twa, “pygmy people” these are short and the original inhabitants of Rwanda, however, now they make up only 1% of the total population. The other fraction of the population is either Hutu or Tutsi who share the same cultural background. Divisions and ethnic groups were made by the Belgians who pointed out differences in size and appearances and made them carry ID cards to distinguish themselves and little did they know how such Belgians’ activities were doomed to destroy them.read more about the Rwandan Genocide.

The Belgians claimed that Tutsi were taller and thinner while the Hutus were shorter with a shorter nose compared to Tutsis. However it is difficult and impossible to tell from their appearance. Today Rwanda commemorates the 1994 genocide every year and national celebrations take place at the national stadium. Nationals carry burners written on “Never Again” to the genocide that lasted for 100 days and claimed over 1,000,000 lives of people majorly Tutsis

The capital of Rwanda is Kigali City and the official languages are Kinyarwanda, Swahili, French, and English. Read about Kigali City the Cleanest City in Africa and is two hours drive to the famous Home of mountain gorillas Volcanoes National park.

Rwanda at 20th Anniversary Since Genocide

The first time i went to Rwanda was in February 2000, to search for my Rwandan friend from whom I’ hadn’t heard from since the genocide. I assumed he didn’t survive, but hoped some of his family might have survived. A country at a time painted by Western media as: volatile, inhospitable and dangerous. ‘Don’t miss to see beautiful mountain gorillas,’ the Rwandan ambassador in London urged me as I collected my visa, but I wasn’t expecting an enjoyable visit. However, the tourist office in Kigali was half-heartedly open (its staff were completely demoralized, barely meeting my eyes) so I bought a gorilla permit – and of course fell under their spell. I and a Swiss couple, visiting friends in Kigali, were the only trekkers that week, whereas now there can be up to 80 in one day. We had to press ourselves back against the vegetation beside the track as the group walked by, so close that I could feel their warmth; and a female rested her knuckles on my shoulder in passing as if I were a tree-stump, her leathery almost-human fingers just brushing my skin.

This Rwanda safari trip to Volcanoes National Park gave me a glimpse of how stunningly beautiful it is, this ‘Land of a Thousand Hills found in the heart of Africa. Cross-country public mini-buses were ancient and battered but seemed to be functioning, so I set off for my adventure. At every bend of the twisty roads new landscapes unfolded: beautiful valleys, lakes, rivers, banana groves, farmland, forest, clusters of thatched huts – and everywhere the hills, whether stretching mistily into the distance, towering steeply above the road or glowing gently pink in the sunset. People were reserved but polite, clearly still scarred by what had happened. Inside the mini-bus they sat quietly, not chatting. Someone explained to me: ‘You just don’t know what your neighbor may have done.’ Sadness was everywhere, but Rwanda had already been a tourist destination (because of the gorillas) and I felt it had potential for a guide. Hilary Bradt agreed, luckily Philip Briggs was available to cover the wildlife sections, and between us we researched and wrote the first edition – to the astonishment and disbelief of Rwandans, who doubted that tourists could ever be persuaded to return and remains the only dedicated English guidebook to post-genocide Rwanda. Before the genocide, tourism in Rwanda was the country’s third most important source of foreign exchange, after coffee and tea, and regaining this income was vital. The guide reassured travelers and international tour operators that the country was safe and had enough tourist attractions on offer – including, of course, the gorillas. Gradually the number of tourists on Gorilla Safaris increased, from a trickle to a steady flow; so more hotels and lodges at the destinations as well as tourist attractions opened, which in turn brought more visitors. Today, Rwanda’s tourism has become the country’s most valuable ‘export’; in busy months there’s a waiting list for gorilla-viewing permits, and growing numbers of Rwandans have jobs in the tourism industry. Additionally – and crucially – about 10% of the income from tourists’ park entry fees is used locally to benefit rural communities living around the parks, paying (for example) for school equipment and income-generating activities such as bee-keeping or market gardening. So tourists buying their permits are indirectly helping the ‘small people’, rural Rwandans they may well never meet but for whom this support is a lifeline. Last year in Dec. 2013, the UK’s Rough Guides mentioned Rwanda among its top ten travel destinations worldwide, citing the ‘dizzying natural assets’ of its parks; and National Geographic places Nyungwe National Park, Akagera National Park among its top ten destinations for 2014.

There are ten habituated groups of mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park now, and some impossibly cute youngsters have been born. Many more tourist attractions have opened, including the 227km Congo Nile Trail (walking, cycling or 4×4) following the length of Lake Kivu, and visitors can join in traditional activities like “Kwita Izina” gorilla naming ceremony. Kigali City is a safe, clean, sophisticated capital, with high-rise buildings and some striking modern architecture. Unusually, the World Bank’s Doing Business Report names Rwanda as the second easiest country in Africa in which to do business, beaten only by Mauritius. School attendance is at its highest ever, and the country even has its own contributory health insurance scheme. Only very faint traces remain of the vulnerable and shell-shocked nation I encountered in 2000. Of course every town in Rwanda has its genocide memorial site, there is an annual period of mourning in April, and Heroes’ Day in February recognises some of the many acts of personal heroism that occurred amid the carnage. Rwanda takes seriously its responsibility to pass on to the world the stark and urgent message of ‘Never Again’; the dignified and moving Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali has informative background material for visitors who want to understand more. Sadly my friend was among the Genocide victim, as were his father, brother, sister, wife and baby daughter, but I traced other members of his family and we remain in touch. I hope to visit them when I return for another Rwanda Safari. Their older children will graduate from college soon, while the younger ones are part of Rwanda’s new, post-genocide generation that will carry the country forward into the future. In only twenty years, Rwandans have achieved an unimaginable amount. I feel so privileged to have been involved.

Rwanda is more than just mountain Gorillas: First Impressions

When you talk about Rwanda what comes to mind: the horrific, tragic genocide of twenty years ago. When we mentioned that we were looking forward to visiting Rwanda, we weren’t entirely surprised by the confused looks and cocked heads: “Why?”

Our visit to Rwanda was not to do gorilla tracking as most people visiting East African Nation purely for tourism in Rwanda might do. We’d read about Gorilla trekking, volcanoes, hiking and lakes, but mainly we were curious and wanted to see the country for ourselves. Atrocities should not be forgotten, but we know that people and places are resilient and they evolve, that life moves on. We were interested to learn more about the Rwandan genocide and its causes, our focus was to understand better Rwanda’s present and the future it hopes to build.

1) Rwanda = the “Singapore of Africa”!
The “Singapore of Africa” or “Switzerland of Africa.” Whichever analogy you choose, the meaning is clear: order, cleanliness, calm, rules enforced. To a surprising degree.

We arrived in Rwanda “The Land of a thousand Hills“after a long bus ride from Kampala, Uganda. Even at the border, we could sense a different feeling crossing into Rwanda – greater calm, slower movement. Streets were wide and clean, with little to no trash to be found. Motorcycle taxi drivers wore helmets and safety vests. Honking was almost non-existent. There was none of the frenzy of humanity and movement we’d become accustomed to in Kampala. This order isn’t reserved for cities, either. As we trekked through villages in Musanze district, we found front yard gardens and paths there were also well maintained.

This is an image of Rwanda vastly different than most people imagine — with genocide, chaos, and lawlessness still in mind. After speaking to both locals and expats who had lived there for a while, the emphasis on order began to make sense. To rebuild a country after an atrocity like the genocide, where 100 days in the spring of 1994 left more than one million Rwandans dead (approximately 14% of the population), a society that hoped to recover at all might need a sense of security and stability. In some cases, order and rules can help achieve this.

With stability –- and an eye to human rights as a basis of discourse — reconciliation and rebuilding can occur.
2) Ubiquitous Rwandan genocide reminders

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Kwibuka At the National Stadium, 20 year on

Our visit this year to Rwanda coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. The calendar year is packed with events for remembrance, Kwibuka in the local language of Kinyarwanda.

Throughout the country, we found memorial signs that read Kwibuka 20: Remember, Unite, Renew. Signs were everywhere, in big towns and small, serving as a reminder that every village and every person was affected by the genocide.

We visited the Genocide Memorial in Kigali city to learn more about the conditions that led up to an environment where such systematic killing could occur. It very well done and provides the historical and socio-economic background of the Hutus and Tutsis, as well as the propaganda and psychological games that were used to motivate ordinary people to kill their neighbors. The narrative is also quite damning of the role of the Belgian colonial powers in actively fomenting distrust between Hutus and Tutsis. It shines a light also on the fact that the international community turned a blind eye to the events even as United Nations officials working in Rwanda called for help. Although some may argue the exact figures, it’s estimated that as few as 4,000 U.N. troops sent in at the beginning could have prevented the slaughter that unfolded over the next 100 days.

All that said, the memorial’s message is as even and even-handed as one could imagine emerging in the wake of such an atrocity. If you visit Rwanda, we highly recommend spending a few hours there.

We didn’t make any special trips to other genocide museums or memorials, including those that marked mass graves or churches where people were slaughtered. Quite honestly, there was only so much we could digest emotionally.
3) Rwanda, more than mountain gorillas

Most travelers come to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas at Volcanoes National Park and leave, often to nearby countries as part of a broader trip in the region. This is really a shame as the country has some incredibly beautiful landscape, including lakes, volcanos and mountains. Not to mention the opportunity to visit local markets and villages to get a feel for everyday life in Rwanda. Note: We did not go mountain gorilla trekking in Rwanda as we were fortunate to see them in neighboring Uganda.
Rwandan Kids – Musanze, RwandaPlaying games with school kids on their way to class.

We focused our time in Rwanda on three areas – the town of Kibuye on the shores of Lake Kivu, Musanze district in the north and the capital city of Kigali. Although we could have explored other areas such as Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest, we were traveling with our friend, Shannon, and found ourselves content to take our time and relax after being on the road for a heavy travel month in Ethiopia and Uganda.

hotel View of Lake Kivu

Lodge room view of Lake Kivu

Our first stop in Kibuye on the shores of Lake Kivu with a peaceful (and cheap) guest house run by the Catholic church overlooking the lake was just what we needed. I’m almost embarrassed by how much time we spent on the balcony gazing out over the lake, watching the light play games and absorbing the changes in the sky as the day progressed.
Mid-morning light, the deck outside our peaceful little perch ($15/night) above Lake Kivu — near the Congo border in Kibuye, Rwanda
Lake Kivu, Calm before the Storm – Kibuye, Rwanda late afternoon clouds move in on Lake Kivu for a sunset storm.

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Volcanoes view in Rwanda

In Musanze, the jumping off point for Volcanoes National Park and Rwanda gorilla treks, we took a couple of day Safari trips by jeep and on foot to see the twin lakes (Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo), the nearby volcanoes, and a scattering of local towns and villages.

No Plastics

Sign post for No Plastic Bags at the border point

4) First country to ban plastic bags
“Open your bags, please,” the Rwandan official asked at the land border crossing with Uganda.
Whereas this is an uncommon request at borders around the world, officials often search for contraband like alcohol, drugs, banned fruits and vegetables – Rwandan officials hunt for something more curious, plastic bags.

Border officials rifled through our backpacks. When they found a plastic bag, they would force us to remove its contents and hand it over. A bit of an inconvenience, but I was happy to forfeit a few bags for a worthwhile cause. If you’ve ever seen a landscape swamped in plastic bags, you’ll understand what I mean. And you’ll understand why Rwanda takes the approach they do.

So it is that Rwanda is the first country in the world to ban plastic bags (2006). And they take it seriously.
Even attempting to understand the world takes effort, more than a passing glance. And sometimes we get stuck, observing and unlocking. Rwanda, a walk through a village yields simple homes, yet well cared for. No trash & tended gardens. “There are rules here” said one Rwandan man, while another looked out and said “maybe this country aims to be the Singapore of Africa.” This is just a little girl, the brightness of a future that knows different than the past.
As you travel through the country, you’ll notice that it is remarkably and quite beautifully — plastic bag free. And when you buy something, the store provides you a paper or woven bag instead.

5) Inimitable African head-carrying balance
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It’s not as if we had never seen women carry things balanced on their heads before, but in Rwanda this practice seems to be taken to an entirely new level of artistry and color. A common scene on the street: four or five women walking, talking, laughing and gesticulating dramatically — all while keeping their necks perfectly erect and large baskets of food or agricultural tools on their heads steady and tourists on a Rwanda safari can be given opportunity to try out this activity freely.

6) The slow food movement is taken literally in Rwanda

One feature that struck us in Rwanda was the glacial pace of food preparation and restaurant service. As in, you often must invest hours and plan ahead for meals.

First off, there is no street food in Rwanda — for hygienic reasons, we’re told. So options for a quick bite to eat are slim to none. So we often ate in restaurants, avoiding buffets where food had been sitting around, and ordering items a la carte.

We have no idea what was happening in those kitchens. At times something as simple as beans and rice, fried chicken or pasta would take an hour or two – or sometimes several – to appear. This happened consistently, independent of the price level of the eating establishment. It progressed to the point where we were forced to strategize food ordering schedules several hours in advance to avoid becoming ravenous and gnawing on our hands.

I’m all for slow food and fresh ingredients, but Rwanda took it to a whole new extreme.

7) Overnight language switch from French to English

“Parlez-vous français? Do you speak English?” This is how I approached everyone in Rwanda. I wasn’t linguistically schizophrenic. Rather, I just wanted to cover all communication bases. Older Rwandans often responded in French. Younger folks, English. Here’s why.

Until 2008, Rwandan schools and classes were administered in French language. Then one day, the government declared English the country’s official language in schools. Poof. That was it.

The reasons for the switch are many: English is more of a universal business language, most of Rwanda’s neighbors are English-speaking, and shared business language promotes trade and exchange. Not to mention, the switch further distances the country from Belgium and France and its colonial history with them.

However, the sudden switch meant linguistic confusion as instructors accustomed to teaching in French were suddenly expected to teach in English. Sink or swim, I suppose. As time passes, the level of English will improve as more English-speaking teachers are integrated into the school system. For now, however, it’s an advantage to speak a little French while traveling in Rwanda.

8) Umuganda: Community Days

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On the last Saturday of each month, all Rwandans are called upon for Umaganda (meaning “contribution”), a national day of mandatory community service. Rwandans are expected to show up to contribute to public projects, to help build and clean. If you don’t show up, you can expect a fine. (Expats we spoke to told us they are exempt, however. At least no one seems to pursue them should they choose not to participate.)

In addition to helping to keep the country clean and organized, community service days are also meant to strengthen social ties by encouraging all members across society to work together, to know both your neighbors and local government officials better. While this practice has been in place for over a century, it now plays a part in strengthening community ties. tourist can also participate in this community service “Umuganda” as an experience while on a Rwanda Safaris.

Rwanda Cultural Experience

Despite Rwanda’s background especially 1994 tragedy, her culture has stayed untouched since pre-colonial times, Rwanda as a nation surprisingly comprises of only one tribe of Banyarwanda people who share a single language and cultural heritage this explains well as to why their culture has with stood the test of times. Publicly Rwanda celebrates eleven national holidays all year round besides others that are occasionally inserted by the government for example Gorilla Naming ceremony and you can include this item on your cultural safari to Rwanda.

Following a horrifying 1994 Genocide tragedy, the government of Rwanda set aside a week of mourning for her fallen citizens she lost in the genocide this takes place a week following Genocide Memorial Day on 7 April

Just like any other society in Africa, It is what has kept the young men and women active in their culture. Music and move are a great piece of Rwandan services, celebrations, social get-together, and narrating. The most popular customary move is Intore, a very choreographed routine comprising of three parts – the aerial artistry, performed by ladies; the move of saints, performed by men, and the drums. Customarily, music is transmitted orally with styles changing between the social gatherings. Drums are of incredible vitality, the regal drummers having appreciated high status inside the court of the mwami. Drummers generally play together in gatherings of seven or nine.

Rwanda has a developing prevalent music industry, impacted by East African, Congolese and American music. The most prevalent types are hip-jump and R&b, regularly mixed with ragga and move pop. Well known nearby specialists incorporate The Ben and Meddy, both of whom have won honors, and later craftsmen like Miss Shanel, Kitoko, Riderman, Tom Close, King James and others.

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Tourists on Rwanda Cultural tour enjoy a local Dressing Code

Bark cloth and animal skins was the Traditional wear of the Banyarwanda before the coming of the Arabs to Trade with them.

A floor-length skirt with a sash draped over one shoulder was the traditional wear of women in local language it is called “mushanana” It is worn over a tank top or bustier. A traditional hairstyle consists of a bun decorated with beads and tied in place by two ribbons that pass across the forehead and over the bun, crossing above the ear. You can enjoy all this beautiful cultural experience while on a Rwanda safari.

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“Umushanana” Dressing Code for Ladies.

How has Rwanda’s Cultural Values and Ethic helped in the upbringing of the Next Generation of Rwanda?

Before the genocide, Rwanda’s had no recode of street kids in any way for kids like in any other society are supposed to be brought up under the care of their parents or immediate relatives. But the genocide shattered family bonds living many children orphaned, abused and at the mercy of the on lookers. Unlike her neighbors, Rwanda took a strong stand in eradicating them (Street Kids) from the street. The implementation of this was done by setting up a large orphanage were these kids were raised to be the next Rwandan leaders. As we speak Rwanda is one of the few countries in Africa whose streets have no roaming dirty kinds and beggars for it is of a bad reputation for all other members of the family from which the beggar of the street kid is from.

And Rwanda being a small country in size, it is easy to keep a close watch on each family. It is also violates the cultural values for any child to stay alone away (For example Rent an apartment or a house) from the rest of the family members and if you do it you are given a serious warning from your relative. This is a common mistake that is always done by Rwandese that have returned to the country especially if they were not born in or rose up in the country. Book this Rwanda cultural safari with a Gorilla safari experience