Rwanda is a land locked country, south-west of Uganda.
Rwanda is also referred to as the land of a thousand hills. Rwanda has five volcanoes, 23 lakes and numerous rivers. Her mountainous topography is a product of her position on the eastern rim of Albertine rift valley, part of the Great Rift Valley which cuts through Africa from the red sea to Mozambique.
Rwanda has three main conservation areas: the Volcanoes Park, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park. Each of these protects a very unique ecosystem and combination of mammals.
Rwanda is a wonderful destination for bird watchers with an incredible 670 species recorded in an area which is smaller than Belgium and has less than a half the land surface of Scotland.
Rwanda can be visited at any time of the year. The long dry season June – September is the best time for tracking gorillas and hiking in Nyungwe since the ground should be dry under foot, and the odds of being drenched are minimal.
With the highest population density in Africa, Rwanda as a former French colony has three spoken languages including Kinyarwanda, French and English and Christianity and Islam as the dominant religions not withstanding animist communities’ therein. After independence, Rwanda established an office of tourism and national parks (ORTNP) to ensure the promotion of a sustainable tourism and conservation of wildlife.
Tourism and Major Attractions in Rwanda
Genocide memorials: On the south of Kigali, you would find two major tourist attractions you could make within one day. Roughly 30 Km off Kigali there is a church that once was a scene of a horrific massacre. There is nothing left inside the church; it is now cleared and empty except for some blood stains you would observe on the walls which are constant reminders of the brutality. In the yard there is a horrific underground chamber dug in with the skulls of hundreds of people who were killed in the massacre.
This Ntarama church is about 20 Km away from Kigali and about 5 Km along the right hand fork branching from the Nyamata road and it is left just as it was cold and empty as it was since the bodies were removed. There are pieces of cloth and personal things lying so still on the floor. This is yet another place where people sought safety and hope and yet fate betrayed them and they got slaughtered.
Kabgayi Church Museum
The oldest church in the city of Kabgayi lies on the Butare road, 3 Km from Gitarama and it is dated as far back as 1925. By 1906, missionary service was already initiated in Kabgayi and it became the Catholic bishop’s first seat. From the inside the cathedral, one would feel the massiveness and the tranquillity and it’s certainly a place most visit-worthy. There is a tiny museum close by.
In Nyungwe you find the single biggest and the remaining track of montane forest in Central and East Africa. The primeval feeling would start enticing you even before you enter the forest. This forest is an amazingly diverse hotspot of biodiversity and there many different species of animals including 275 bird, 75 mammal and 120 butterfly species. There are also about 100 orchid varieties. Chimp tracking is possible at a really small expense.
There are also monkeys like the Acrobatic Rwenzori Colobus which can be found in strong troops up to 400 in number and these are really gorgeous and very much localized and hoest’s monkeys.
The Gorilla Tours Rwanda and the birds
Interestingly, the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo commonly have a share of the rare mountain Gorillas whose main sanctuary is the Virunga. The Virunga conservation area on the upper slopes of the Virunga volcanoes forms three neighbouring parks namely: Parc national Des Volcans in Rwanda, Mgahinga national park in Uganda and Parc des virunga in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Going into some more details about the Gorilla Tours Rwanda, you would be surprised to know that there are over 300 mountain gorillas (half of the world’s populations live in this region. Over 180 bird species have been recorded in these parks including handsome francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori batis, starnge weaver, dusky crimson – wing, shelly’s crimson – wing and Archer’s ground robin.
Akagera National park
This national park is named after the river Akagera that’s found along the Eastern boundary. The park is pretty warm and it is found on relatively low ground. The undulating plains act as a cover of defence especially with the trees with broad leaves and also the distributed, rolling grasslands. On the eastern portion of this park you would find numerous wetlands and lakes linked by voluminous swamps and massive convoluted waters streams connected to the great Akergera River.
2 km off the Gisenyi road lays the Musanze cave in Ruhengeri. The main and the largest cave is said to be about 2 Km long and its entrance is said to be as large as that of a cathedral and inside it there is an amazing bat colony. One opening of the cave which is a large ditch is littered with black volcanic rubble and at the other end you can find a bridge naturally made by the lava from one of the Virunga volcanoes. There is also a legend which says musanze was the construction of one local king and that on some occasions in history it was used as a refugee.
There were also more recent reports stating that during the genocide, this cave was used as a place of massacre and that until recently there were human remains inside.