10 Reasons why one must visit Rwanda
Rwanda is a small country that lies just 2 degrees south of the equator to the east of Congo in East Africa. A country which has risen like the phoenix in record time and carved a niche for itself as a fast developing African nation. The country which is dubbed as a land with a thousand hills and a million smiles is indeed a revelation and a paradise for any traveler looking for some amazing adventures and unique moments to cherish for a lifetime.
The country is bound to enthral you with its enchanting landscapes which seem straight out of the imagination of a poet or a painter and set your hearts aflutter with its scintillating wildlife. Rwanda is a country that mesmerises you and surprises you around every bend in the road. However, before you visit Rwanda, you need to take heed of this statutory warning. Traveling to Rwanda is dangerous as you will be so captivated by its beauty, you may never want to return.
So here are are 10 reasons why one must visit Rwanda.
Visit Rwanda to Get Up and Close to the Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park
The top most reason to visit Rwanda is a tryst with the mountain gorillas. Your heart will start beating faster as you trek across fields, hills and slushy narrow paths to reach the thick of the jungle. As you walk with bated breath, cutting a narrow path in the almost impenetrable and thick vegetation, the excitement builds to a crescendo. The climax is when you are face to face with a huge but gentle silverback Gorilla or see a female gorilla nursing a baby just an arm’s distance away. That moment is bound to be frozen in your mind for life. This kind of encounter is possible only in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
The park is home to the rare Mountain Gorillas who are an endangered lot and less than a thousand inhabit the world today. The Volcanoes National Park is at a distance of about 80 kilometres from the capital city of Kigali and a two and half hour drive would get you there. One needs to reach the Park by 7 AM as this is necessary to get to the Gorillas early before they move deeper in the Jungle. It is also advisable to book early as the Gorilla tracking permits are limited to around 80 per day. The Rwanda Development Board which is the governing body for tourism in Rwanda can be contacted on [email protected] for advance booking of Gorilla tracking Permits.
Visit Rwanda to have Encounters of the Wild kind in Akagera National Park
As you peer out of the jeep in anticipation, you are caught unawares as a graceful zebra suddenly blocks the road and gives you a quizzical look, as your eyes meet, the eyes of the zebra seem to be questioning your purpose for encroaching on his territory. In the twinkling of an eye the graceful zebra gallops away in a graceful sinewy movement into the bushes. Scenes like these are going to unfold before you as you settle comfortably in your ringside seat in the jungles of Rwana at the Akagera National Park. The Akagera National Park is home to the big 5 which means you are likely to sight Leopards, Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, and Rhinoceros, apart from Zebras, Giraffes, different species of deer and monkeys.
The Akagera National Park also has the lake Ihema which spans over 90 square kilometres and is rich in biodiversity. The lake waters are home to Crocodiles and Hippopotami apart from sheltering more than 550 species of birds that include rare birds like Shoebill and the Papyrus Gonolek. A boat ride on the lake Ilhema is indeed an exhilarating experience. The Akagera National Park itself covers an area of 1,200 square kilometres and consists of savannah, swamp and mountainous regions. The Park has within its precincts environment friendly accommodation in the form of tents as well as luxury accommodation. Safaris ranging from half a day to full day are offered by the Park. The Akagera National Park is located around 80 kilometres from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
Visit Rwanda to take a blissful walk high up on the Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forests
One of the best preserved montane rainforests in Africa is the Nyungwe Forest, the Nyungwe Forest National Park covers a distance of approximately 970 square kilometres and envelops in its fold varying landscapes of rainforests, bamboo forests, swamps and grasslands. The Nyungwe Forest National Park is at a distance of about 220 kilometres from the Rwandan capital Kigali. The drive from Kigali to the Nyungwe Forest National Park takes approximately 6 hours and is in itself an enchanting experience as you drive between verdant tea plantations. The Nyungwe Forest National Park is a paradise for hikers and offers more than 10 different natural trails with expert guides. These include treks to track Chimpanzees, Monkeys and to do the Canopy Walk.
The hike to reach the Canopy Walk takes one across a slippery path deep in the rainforest, one has to descend down a sloping trail which can be quite steep and difficult at times. But the hike itself is a lovely experience as you listen to the voices of the forest and move along as if in harmony with nature. Once you reach the Canopy Walk, your adrenalin is sure to start pumping as you walk on the shaking rope bridge suspended 50 metres above the ground. As you reach the centre of the Canopy Walk, you are sure to experience moments of bliss as you watch the white fluffy clouds parading in the distance, probably tinged by the golden hue of the setting sun. Exotic birds fly below and above you, their sweet melodies serenading you and if you are lucky you may even be able to see monkey traipsing among the trees. The experience of the Canopy Walk is one of those travel experiences that you relive again and again.
Visit Rwanda for Chimpanzee Tracking at the Nyungwe Forests
The beautiful and rich biodiversity of the Nyungwe Forests is indeed remarkable and something that one must experience when in Rwanda. Tracking of Chimpanzees is yet another Rwandan experience waiting to happen in the Nyungwe Forest National Park. The Cyamdungo forest is a small forest within the Nyungwe Forest National Park and is home to around 500 odd chimpanzees.
An early morning trek into the Cyamdungo Forest with a guide is indeed a revelation. As you set off on the track of the chimpanzees, you walk through narrow paths through thick forest cover and are treated to some breathtaking views of the valleys below. Strange sounds of the forest sound like music to your ears and the fresh, fragrant air of the forests ensure that your lungs go into a rapture. You hear the chimpanzees before you see them. Sometimes they are high up in the trees, having their breakfast and if you are lucky you may be able to see them at lower levels too. Watching the chimpanzees as they play, fight and love each other is indeed a revelation.
Visit Rwanda to take a Cruise on Lake Kivu
Rwanda which is known as the land of a thousand hills is also blessed with abundant water bodies in the form of lakes and rivers. The largest of these is the Lake Kivu which is one of the African Great Lakes and covers an area of approximately 2,700 Square Kilometres. The lake is a fresh water lake and is one which undergoes Limnic eruptions because of which it is also known as an exploding lake. The clear waters of the lake surrounded by hills and greenery all around, blue skies with white clouds dancing away merrily, make for an idyllic setting for a relaxed cruise.
A cruise on the placid waters of the lake is indeed a soothing indulgence for all the senses. An ideal way to take a leisurely cruise on the Lake Kivu is to board a houseboat at Kibuye which is about 120 kilometres from Kigali and cruise to Rubavu which takes about 4 hours. One can relax on the upper deck of the boat as the boat gently cruises along the serene waters. Rubavu is ideal for a stay before proceeding to the Volcanes National Park, which is about an hour’s drive away.
Visit Rwanda to pause to pray at the Kigali Genocide Memorial
Any visit to Rwanda would be incomplete without a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The Memorial is built as a silent tribute to the millions who perished in the genocide that ripped through Rwanda in 1994. There is a museum which documents those harrowing times through exhibits, pictures and videos. The beautiful and strangely somnolent gardens contain the mass graves of those who perished in and around Kigali are buried together. Kigali Genocide Memorial is a story of destruction and a prayer for peace.
The Memorial is a silent reminder to mankind about the depths of depravity to which Man can plummet and a lesson to the World to live in peace and harmony. The Kigali Genocide Memorial is open on all days of the week except the last Saturday of the month between 8.00 AM to 5.00 PM. On the last Saturday of every month, the Memorial is open from 1.00 PM to 5.00 PM. A visit to the Memorial is sure to leave you in an introspective mood but also leave you with hope for the future as you behold a country which has risen like the Phoenix.
Visit Rwanda to experience a slice of history at the Kings Palace
Some 88 kilometres from the capital city of Kigali in a place called Nyanza is the intriguing reconstructed Palace of King Mutara III. The palace built in traditional style is very interesting and the explanation by the guide about the heritage, history and culture associated with the palace is really captivating. Along with the traditional Palace one can also see the modern Palace that was built by the Belgians for the King in the year 1932.
One of the star attractions of the Palace is the herd of royal cows which are known as Inyambo. The physical appearance of the cows is distinctive because of their extraordinary long horns. These cows hold a special place in the culture of Rwanda as they were trained to take part in ceremonial parades of the King and were bred with special care and attention.
Visit Rwanda to experience the unique Umuganda
As you enter the beautiful country of Rwanda, one thing that is going to strike you is the impeccable cleanliness of the streets, villages, towns and cities. Not a piece of paper, plastic or any other debris is visible. All this is possible because of a unique community movement called Umuganda. Every last Saturday of the month is declared as Umuganda day and the entire population of Rwanda comes together and joins hands to work on community projects.
The projects range from cleaning the surroundings to building schools. The day sees all establishments closed and everyone including visitors joyfully participate in an exercise that has worked wonders for Rwanda. One should be in Rwanda on Umuganda day to be a part of this movement which is the nation’s pride and also a means of connecting people with each other and nature.
Visit Rwanda to connect with Nature in Remarkable Rwanda
Rwanda is a country that seems to have been doubly blessed by nature. As you traverse across the country, you are sure to be spellbound the by the rich and varied landscapes. Tea gardens and Coffee Plantations grab your attention, while the hills and countryside leave you mesmerised. Rainforests and volcanoes present a grand tableau of nature while elsewhere beautiful lakes and waterfalls serenade the visitor around every bend in the road. When in Rwandan you will never be far from a mesmerising spell of Nature.
Visit Rwanda to pay homage at the Dian Fossey Tomb
Dian Fossey was an American Zoologist who immersed herself in the research of the Mountain Gorillas in the forests of Rwanda for 18 years. Dian Fossey has been acclaimed as one of the foremost primatologists. Dian Fossey gave her entire life to study the behaviour of the Mountain Gorillas and set up the Karisoke Research Centre in the remote rainforest between two volcanoes. Dian Fossey died under mysterious circumstances, murdered in her own house in the forest. Her tomb is located where she lived and worked with her beloved Gorillas.
If you visit the Volcanoes National Park, you can head to the tomb. It requires a trek through the forests that would take about 2 to 3 hours through dense foliage and comes with an opportunity of viewing elephants, primates and different species of birds. The trek takes one to the house where she lived and died. Nearby is her tomb where she lies in peace beside her favourite Gorilla named Digit and some 20 other Gorillas who died either at the hands of a poacher or because of other reasons. The trek to Dian Fossey’s tomb is indeed a humbling experience and one that cannot be easily forgotten.
Rwanda is indeed a veritable paradise that one must visit once in a lifetime. Visit Rwanda to experience paradise on this earth. It is a place that retains a purity which is so endearing to the senses. A place where life literally coexists with nature. Lonely Planet aptly calls it a front-row seat to the Jungle.
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