While crossing the Rwanda pavilion at OTM (Outbound Travel Mart ), 2018 in Mumbai, the catchphrase ‘Remarkable Rwanda’ caught my fancy. In my first impulse, I wanted to ignore and walk past it but then I paused for a moment and tried raking my brain for the tiniest thing that I knew about Rwanda. My little brain tried hard but soon it went into a state of comatose. It was hard to accept the fact that I hardly knew anything about Rwanda except that that it was located in Africa and it enjoyed a unique wilderness bliss.
Just when I was about to give up, there came a voice which said, “Hold on, I knew something else too”. This was something very special about Rwanda. I had some vague memories of my globetrotter friend telling me about his encounter with endangered mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. I specifically remembered he had told me that the experience had been one of its kinds.
Honestly, I also thought that it wasn’t safe to travel there. I think this was the reason why I dint know anything about it. I had made a perception about it and thus I was never enticed to know more about it. See, this is how we fancy some attractive places and ignore other more beautiful gems. I am glad I sat down to listen to change my view.
One conversation that followed!
I stopped to talk and learn more about the country. One of the officials was very eager to share a number of things about Rwanda. He immediately got my attention the moment he said Rwanda has amazing wildlife and diverse habitats. If you love birding, a visit to Rwanda will reward you with many rare bird species.
There were some shocking revelations for me when I learned that Rwanda is rated as one of the cleanest and safest countries in Africa, one of the richest biodiversity in Nyungwe, the largest protected rain-forest, coffee plantations and many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. I would definitely love to list down everything that I learned from him and the books that I read later.
CULTURAL HERITAGE CORRIDOR
- 1.Rwanda is more than just home of the iconic mountain gorilla. The southern province has incredible cultural and historical sites in the Cultural Heritage Corridor.
- 2. King Mutata III Rudahigwa’s 1931 Royal Palace Museum in Nyanza, stands today as it did when the King was in residence along with the “Inyambo”, traditional Rawandan cows which are known for their long horns.
- 3. There is not just King’s palace but there exists Rwesero Art Museum, and also serves as the National Art Gallery.
- 4. The Ethnographic Museum in Huye houses one of Africa’s finest collections of pre and post colonial ethnographic, artistic and archaeological displays.
- 5. IBY’IWACU Cultural Village in Musanze is a living museum of Rwanda’s ancient ways supporting the local community.
- 6. There is Notre -Dame de kibeho, a place of pilmgrimage and apparitions and the only shrine in Africa officially approved in 2001.
- 7. Divine Mercy Statue of Jesus – a bronze statue, 16 ft tall and weighing 2 tons brought to Rwanda by the Marian Fathers in 2004 and Nyanza Christ the King Catholic Parish built in 1935 is the one of the oldest churches and it gets it a fame from the fact that King Rudahigwa was baptized.
LIFESTYLE & ADVENTURE
- 1. Some of the world’s best tea and coffee is grown in Rwanda. The rich volcanic soil produces winning quality tea and coffee products.
- 2. If you are looking for adventure and a unique place to travel to, explore Rwanda through a kayaking tour on Lake Kivu or go biking/hiking through the spectacular Congo Nile Trail.
- 3. Rwandan food is not at all spicy but it is made from fresh grown local vegetables. Ugali is the national dish of Rwanda.
- 4.56.9% of the Rwanda’s population is Roman Catholic.
- 5. It takes 4,507 meters to be at the top of the highest volcano, Mt. Karisimbi.
- 6. Kigali Genocide memorial is where 259,000 victims have been buried. Rwanda is committed to fighting the ideology of genocide. This memorial serves to educate about genocide around the World in the 20th century.
- 7. Rwanda is peaceful, vibrant and forward looking country. Kigali is the capital city. One of the best things about Kigali is that is safe, has amazing cleanliness on the streets, offers range of three to five star accommodation options, art, fashion, culture and more.
VERDANT and DIVERSE LANDSCAPES
- 1. Rwanda has caves that date back 65 million years. It lies within the volcanic region where lava flow created the Albertine Rift Valley. Some stunning rock formations exist here. Hundreds of bats rebound through the caves.
- 2. Bhuanga Eco Park, a sacred forest is a site of ecological importance. This is place of cultural significance where Rwandan Kings underwent their initiation ceremonies. Tourists can visit this place to experience majestic dragon trees, birds, butterflies and more.
- 3. Karongi (Kibuye) is one of the prettiest and most relaxing and romantic of Lake Kivu’s towns. Tourists opt for lakeside recreation, night fishing and visiting Amahoro Island. Lake Kivu has green emerald waters and it is Rwanda’s largest lake and sixth largest in Africa.
- 4. Rwanda’s location in the Albertine Rift and its dense forests and mountains are unique. This is a perfect place for birding.
- 5. Rwanda boasts the highest concentration of birds per square kilometer in Africa with a bird list of over 700 species and the second highest number of Albertine Rift endemics than any other country.
- 6. There are seven important birding areas including 3 National Parks.
- 7. Ruvabu is a large town on the northern edge of Lake Kivu, just an hour’s away from Volcanoes National Park. People generally prefer come here to relax after the gorilla trekking. From Ruvabu, the Congo Nile trail extends to 227 kilometers.
BEST OF WILDLIFE
- 1. Akagera National Park is home to lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals, giraffes, buffaloes and several antelope species. One will also find Elephants and hippos around the Lake Ihema. And the water also has Asia’s largest freshwater predator, the Nile crocodile.
- 2. Akagera gets its name from Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary. This land was founded in 1934, the largest protected wetland in central Africa and last remaining refuge for Savannah-adapted animals and plants in Rwanda.
- 3. There is 4000 hectares of bamboo forest in Rwanda.
- 4. There is one and only canopy walkaway in East Africa, some 70 meters above the Nyungwe Forest floor.
- 5. Volcanoes National Park (VNP) is named after the chain of dormant volcanoes making up the Virunga Massif. Trekking endangered mountain gorillas through the mysterious intimacy of the rain forest, alive with the calls of colourful birds.
- 6. Nyungwe National Park is famous for its largest protected mountain rain forest. The park boasts of rain forest, bamboo, grassland, swamps and bog habitats. There are 1000 kinds of plant species, Black and white colombus monkeys. It is a birder’s paradise. It is world’s one of the most remarkable natural treasures.
All the pictures have been used from PIXABAY and they were free for commercial use!