Rwanda~ The Land Of Thousand smiles
Welcome to Le Pays des Milles Collines (Land of a Thousand Hills). Rwanda is a lush country of endless mountains and stunning scenery, and nowhere are the mountains more majestic than the peaks of the Virunga volcanoes in the far Northwestern Rwanda. In Parc National Des Volcans, the volcanoes form a natural frontier with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, and hidden among the bamboo and dense jungle of their forbidding slopes are some of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas. It is the opportunity to encounter these contemplative creatures at close quarters that continues to draw visitors to Rwanda.
There’s more to Rwanda than magical mountain gorillas, however. The shores of Lake Kivu conceal some of the best inland beaches on the continent. Deep in the southwest, Parc National Nyungwe Forest is the most extensive montane rainforest in the region, and home to many primates. But it’s not all monkey business – Kigali is safe and sophisticated.
Rwanda is all too often associated with the horrific events that unfolded in 1994. It has been etched into the world’s consciousness as one of the most savage genocides in history. What happened is beyond belief, but the country has taken giant strides towards recovery.
Many visitors are unsure about travelling to Rwanda given its history. However, as long as security and stability persist, Rwanda is a refreshing country in which to travel, where tourists remain a relative novelty and the rewards of the present outweigh the risks of the past.
Rwanda officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a sovereign state in central and east Africa. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate of the country is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.
The people of Rwanda are of three major tribes: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The Twa are a pygmy people who descend from Rwanda’s earliest inhabitants, but scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some believe that they are derived from former social castes, while others view them as being races or tribes. The Kingdom of Rwanda emerged in the mid-eighteenth century led by Tutsi Kings that centralized power, and later enforced anti-Hutu policies.
With Christianity as the largest religion in Rwanda, and the principal language Kinyarwanda, Rwanda was colonized by Germany in 1884 and later invaded by Belgium in 1916 during the First World War. Both European nations ruled Rwanda through the Kingship and perpetuated pro-Tutsi policy who were dominant by then. In 1959 the Hutu population revolted, massacring a large number of Tutsi and ultimately establishing an independent Hutu-dominated state in 1962. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front launched a civil war in 1990, which was followed by the 1994 Genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The RPF ended the genocide with a military victory that year.
Rwanda’s economy suffered heavily during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, but has since strengthened. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now Rwanda’s leading foreign exchange earner; Rwanda is one of the only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely, and visitors are prepared to pay high prices for gorilla tracking permits. Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture, particularly drums and the highly choreographed intore dance, Rwanda people, community and culture tour.
Volcanoes National Park
The National Park lies in north western Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rainforest and bamboo.
The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey. Vegetation varies considerably due to the large altitudinal range within the park. The park is best known for the Mountain Gorillas, other mammals include: golden monkey, black-fronted duiker, buffalo, Spotted Hyena and bushbuck. There are also reported to be some elephants in the park, though these are now very rare. There are 178 recorded bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains.
Book at least 6 months to a year in a advance to ensure that requested dates are available. Gorilla tracking can be challenging, therefore ensure fitness. The tracking experience starts early in the morning with a short briefing prior. Trekking can be anything from a couple of hours to at least 8 hours or more, it all depends on where the gorillas are situated on the day.
What to Bring:
• Wear good waterproof hiking boots suitable for steep muddy slopes and carry a rain jacket.
• Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with jungle sounds.
• Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable), sunglasses and insect repellent.
• Photographic accessories – batteries and charges, film and memory cards
• Personal first-aid kit (headache pills, antihistamine cream etc)
• Snacks and water
For conservation reasons, visits to the gorillas are tightly controlled. The following rules apply and must be strictly adhered to:
• No one with a communicable disease (e.g. flu, diarrhoea) is allowed to enter the park.
• Stay together in a tight group while with the gorillas, don’t surround them.
• Don’t get closer than 7 metres (21 feet) to the gorillas.
• Don’t eat or smoke when with the gorillas or within a distance of 200 metres from the gorillas.
• Turn away from the gorillas if you have to sneeze or cough. Cover your nose and mouth in the process.
• Burry all human faeces a minimum of one foot deep and ensure that the hole is properly covered.
• If a gorillas moves into your direction, please move out of his way slowly.
• While being close to the animals, please do not make any funny noises and try not to move quickly
• Don’t leave litter. All litter must be carried out of the park and disposed of properly.
• No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.
• Don’t spit on vegetation or soil when in the park – use a handkerchief.
• Your group must not be more than 8 tourists and must all be over 15 years
Vehicles: Comfortable 4×4 Land-cruisers (fully equipped with all the necessary on-safari accessories – for comfort, safety and security).
Spending money: Clients are advised to bring enough money to cover the purchase of curios, tips for the guide and additional entertainment. US Dollars (small denominations) and local currency the Rwandan Franc are best the most practical and convenient currencies.
First Aid: Our guides are trained in basic first aid. Preventative Malaria medication should be taken before the trip and throughout its duration and it is advisable to consult a doctor prior to departure. Yellow Fever vaccinations are compulsory – please contact your Travel Clinic before departure.
Travelling Times and Distances: All travelling times are affected by road conditions, border crossings, detours and weather conditions, therefore on certain days travelling times may be longer than anticipated especially where there is a lot of distance to be covered. Please keep in mind that the time it takes to travel 100 km in your home country is not equivalent to the time it takes to travel 100 km on African roads, therefore we encourage you to sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery Africa has to offer. Where possible additional stops will be made to ensure your travelling comfort at all times.
Insurance: It is compulsory for all travellers to have insurance covering their personal requirements, medical expenses and personal possessions. This is to be arranged before leaving your home country. Jenman Safaris has comprehensive public liability insurance.
Meals: As stated in the itinerary. Please advise us of any special dietary requirements in advance.
Luggage: Maximum baggage allowance: 12 kg. Wild Africa Travel Company stipulates this luggage allowance, as an overloaded vehicle is a danger to both the clients and the guide. This does not include photographic equipment and a small daypack. Please bring soft-sided luggage (e.g. a backpack or soft barrel bag), not a suitcase. Don’t bring too much clothing, as there are washing opportunities along the way. Please adhere to the allowance specified as space for luggage is limited.
Visas: The onus is on the client to organize all visas required to visit Rwanda, prior to departure.
We have a range of Rwanda tours & safaris available which can be customised with more or less nights as well as activities.