Rwanda Safari

 The Ntarama church was converted into a genocide memorial on the 14th April 1995 and was dedicated to over 5000 people who lost their lives in this place. Ntarama which is one of the six national Genocide memorial sites contains human clothing’s, remains and artefacts which belong to those who were killed at the church, these items have remained at display all times. During the Genocide, the tutsis persecuted much of the population who sought sanctuary in the catholic churches believing that they would be protected and safe there.  It’s also thought that church leaders informed the Hutus of the secret mass of Tutsis who were in the churches, and the Hutus stormed the churches and killed all the people.

ntarama genocide memorialNtarama is a small church and school which is 25km south of Kigali. A total of 5000 people were killed from this place, most of which were children and women. All the people who were hiding in the kitchen buildings were burned to death and the children were brought together in one school room and killed by smashing their skulls against the wall. The wall is up to now stain with red blood from this style of execution. The women were raped before being killed as well as inserting sharp pointed sticks in their viginas until these sticks came out from the head. Many women were raped by these merciless people, most of whom were HIV positive. The blood stained clothes of the victim and the instruments used in the executions are all grouped at the front of the church. This church also houses all the skulls and many other bones of the victims.

The Myamata Parish Catholic Church is a site were grenades, automatic weapons, as well as rockets were operated from and these were used to kill the people imprisoned inside the church. It’s also believed that over 1000 people were killed inside the church with another 35000 who were killed around the church compound between April 10th and April 12th of 1994. The underground crypt besides the church is filled with thousands of skulls, femurs as well as bones belonging to 45000 people that were murdered. There are also wooden coffins which are filled with bones of whole families draped in purple covers.

The church was turned into Genocide memorial site as a sign of remembrance of over 5000 people who lost their lives there. This church is of national importance since it contains human remains, clothing’s, and artefacts of the real people who were killed in the church. The project for preservation of the site in perpetuity is being undertaken.

 

Bicester Genocide Memorial centre

This genocide memorial is near Karongi- Kibuye in western Rwanda, which also commemorates the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and over 40000 people died from here. The people here offered some defence and they even appealed to the French peace keepers for some assistance. These troops had no mandate to intervene and they even withdraw from the carnage and over 40000 Rwandan people died. This is also one of the sic major centres to commemorate Rwanda genocide, the others include; Murambi memorial centre, Ntarama genocide memorial centre, Nyamata, Nyarubuye as well as Kigali memorial centre.

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The institute of national museums of Rwanda is also a government institution which was started in 1989 on September 18th with the ethnographic museum which was based in Huye district which is found in the southern province and now is officially known as the National Museum of Rwanda since the year 2004 and many other museums have been opened including; Natural history museum which was opened in Dec 2004, National Art Galley of Rwesero which is found in Nyanza opened in 2006 in May, the king’s palace museum in Nyanza opened in 2008 in May, the Museum of environment opened in 2015 in July and the presidential palace museum in Kanombe opened in 2009 in February. Its main aim is to position itself as a core stakeholder in mainly promoting Rwandan Cultural tourism, with the main aim of national economic development.

  • The National Liberation Museum Park

The National Liberation museum park is located in the northern province of Gicumbi district which is 80 km northeast of Kigali city at Mulindi w’Intwali. This museum tells the story of the Rwandan Liberation struggle which brought an end to the Genocide against the Tutsis. This struggle was brought by the political wing known as the Rwandan patriotic Front which was led by its military wing, the Rwanda patriotic Army since 1st October 1990 to 4th July in 1994.

This museum also illustrates the sequence of events before, during and after the real struggle through the visuals which included texts and artefacts. The museum has the bunker which protected the then chairmain of the high command who is now the president of the Republic of Rwanda; H.E Paul Kagame. The other many objects also embody the Arusha agreement, radio Muhabira that was used by RPF AND RPA for mobilisation, and the campaign against genocide.

  • Ethnographic Museum

This museum is located in Huye which is 132 kmkm south of Kigali city. It’s one of the six museums which make up the institute of national museums of Rwanda. It was built in 1987 and now has one of the finest ethnographic collections. Its seven galleries display ethnographic, artistic, historical and archaeological artefacts which are accompanied by visual aides which gives visitors a rich insight into the culture of Rwanda.

rwanda museum

  • The National Art Gallery in Rwesero

It’s located in Nyanza district which is about 85 kms south of Kigali city, the museum mainly displays contemporary artworks of Rwanda which shows the originality of Rwandan creativity while not overlooking either tradition or the national history. It was originally built as a palace for king Mutara 111 Rudahigwa but passed on even before occupying it.

  • The king’s Palace Museum in Rukari

This museum is based in Nyanza, which is 88 km south of Kigali city, it was a residence of king Mutara 111 Rudahigwa and the royal palace which was traditionally built. This palace offers a detailed look into the traditional seat of the monarchy of Rwanda. It’s also an impressive museum which was restored to its 19th century state and was made entirely with the traditional materials. The long horned traditional cows were introduced due to real fact that these cows form an integral part of Rwanda culture. One can also visit the burial grounds of King Mutara 111 as well as his queen Gicanda Rosalie.

  • The presidential palace Museum in Kanombe

It’s located in Kigali about 2 km from Kigali Airport. It served as a home to Juvenal Habyarimana and Pasteur Bizimungu during the 1970s up to the 1990s. This is one of the new museums found in Kigali and it gives visitors a chance to visit the former state house as well as acquire an overview of Rwanda’s history. One can also visit some of the flight debris of the FALCON 50 which is the presidential plane that went down on 6th April 1994.

  • The Natural History Museum in Kigali

This museum is known as Kandt House and its only 10km from Kigali airport, this museum is dedicated to Dr. Richard Kandat who was a German doctor and an explorer as well and embarked on an exploration of Rwanda in 1897.he searched for the source of River Nile. This museum aims at explaining the richness of Rwanda’s nature which shows that it’s only through knowledge of nature that we live in our behavior and understanding. This museum show cases many specimens and the replica of the natural wonders of the country.

 

 

  • The Museum of Environment

It’s located in Karongi district in the western province. This museum was fully constructed by the government of Rwanda from November 2010 to April 3013 and was officially opened on July 16th 2015. The museum is an educational aid for the extension of knowledge which is in relation to prevention as well as protection of the environmental as well as climate change that causes disasters including the threat to humanity, disappearance of certain animals and plants, which is a challenge to the whole world.

Its main objective is to educate the public on how to keep good relationship with their natural environment and to let them understand their own responsibility in safeguarding the whole environment in ensuring an integrated and durable development. It houses several environmental related exhibitions and is commenced with lots of sources of energy including non- renewable and renewable sources as well as traditional medicinal plants.

Since the world of environment is changing, the museum will also change in the near future on its exhibition topics including habitants, pollution, climate change as well as energy. These exhibitions will be subject to the periodical updating in collaboration with the national and international partners as well as interested agencies

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Water sporters can greatly benefit from the informative weather site which provides safety as a high priority. Also good timing with respect to the changing wind can also be vital. In order to help you plan a good schedule in the face of the wind’s variable nature, there is need for a reliable forecast that also takes into account the uncertainty of the massive prediction. This is also because no one wants to be surprised by a heavy thunderstorm or an active weather front.

Rwanda is one of the few places in East Africa were water sports is encouraged and practiced, the best places to do water sports  are Lake Muhazi, Lake Kivu, as well as lake Ihema. Lake Kivu is a perfect place for practicing water sports like fishing, canoeing, kayaking as well as boat rides. This lake has sea side atmosphere as well as temperate climate which is so conducive to the visitors.

water adventure rwanda kivuMany waterside hotels have got their water sports equipment’s for renting, reservations as well as booking can be made directly through the front desk.  Lake Kivu can also be enjoyed throughout the year and the other hotels in Karongi offer water sport activities as well as equipment’s through community business. Lake Kivu Serena also offers guided kayak tours when demanded.

Jambo beach is also located 60 kilometres east of Kigali in Lake Muhazi. Just along the banks of the water are long boats which are driven by local guides who grew up on the shores and also teach the travellers about the many ways and history of the area. Lake Ihema also has also got boat safaris as well as fishing.

Lake Kivu alone is the largest of the many fresh water bodies found in the valleys of Rwanda, it’s a mighty get way for many Rwanda’s residents, you can take a leisure ride along the western shoreline of this beautiful country on the Munezero tourist boat from Gisenyi to Kibye and also to Cyangugu town. There are also the lakes of Burera as well as Ruhonda which are so close to gorilla tracking centre of Ruhengeri, these have deep blue waters which are ringed with steep hills and tall waterfalls and virunga Volcanoes providing vibrant and spectacular back drop.

Lake Muhazi is just 1 hour and half drive from Kigali city and is one of the country’s scenic treasures. It’s found in the eastern province of Rwanda and is ideal for a day trip away from the capital city, here you can enjoy fresh fish as you watch the sun set over the small boats along the shores of the lake. Akagera national park alone has over 10 lakes, some of these are watering havens for the cattle and others are for bird watching.

Rwanda’s lakes also offer visitors a glimpse into the ancient African life styles like fishermen plying the water with the dugout canoes which is unchanged in design for many centuries, here the ladies smoke traditional wooden pipes and troubadours.  The bird life here is so amazing and some of the bird species include; pelicans, crowned cranes, jewel like malachite king fisher’s hawk. Etc.

 

There are three resort towns which are so impressive and these include; Gisenyi, Rusizi and Karongi, these stand on the littoral, and are connected by a wild roller coaster road which passes through lush plantain fields and the patches of misty rainforest which offer sweeping views over the blue waters. Rwanda Development Board also provides boat service on the lake which connects the three towns.

Gisenyi town is one of the most developed of all the three resorts and is just an hour drive from Volcanoes national park, its set on a sandy beach lined with swaying palms and modern hotels which provide an atmosphere of the tropical languor. Karongi has stunning beaches and guest houses which overlook pine covered hills which are seemingly transplanted from the Alps. Rusizi which is also close to Nyungwe national park is also characterized by a stirring setting of the inlets winding into a narrow valley. Rwanda’s mountains also provide a stunning view or the weekend gate ways.
Water sports in Rwanda and lake activities including; kayaking, fishing, boat rides, canoeing on all the lake above are great activities to the tourists, there are also leisurely bike rides which are carried out alongside the Nyarutarana Lake in Kigali city also provide good and sunny afternoon.

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Nyungwe is an intact elevation forest ranging from 1600 to 2000m and these are rare in Africa. Nyungwe forest is an important forest for many species. It covers an area of 1000km2 and is the largest protected mountain rain forest with in Africa. This forest is the source of many great rivers and the rain that falls on the east side feeds the Nile and on the west side runs to Congo. This Congo Nile divides the mountain range which runs north to south through Rwanda.

nyungwe canopy walkNyungwe national park management opened a canopy walk and it’s the only of its kind in East Africa, it also a wonderful vantage point which helps at viewing the beautiful biodiversity of this rare rain forest. The canopy walk was opened in Rwanda at a time when the country is being recognized as a top global travel destination by lonely planet in 2009.

Nyungwe national park was declared a highest level protected area in 2005 and as the largest rain forest in Rwanda with over 13 primate species including the Angola colobus monkeys which are found in troops of about 300 to 400 animals. This national park also hosts a large population of chimpanzees and two other species of monkeys and these include the Golden monkeys as well as owl faced monkeys.

Bird life international also stated Nyungwe forest as the most important birding site in Rwanda with  280 bird species were 25 of these are endemic . This national park extends to an altitude of 1600 -2950m above the sea level and is home to butterflies, myriad orchids, moths, and many other insects. The park is also considered as Rwanda’s primary water catchment area sheltering almost two thirds of its waters.

Nyungwe forest has got a network of hiking and walking trails. The forest has also got camping sites and cultural developmental tourism which is near the edge of the park. There are also new trails as well as camping sites that are planned and are being constructed as part of the development projects.

Nyungwe Canopy walk is approximately a 2km walk to and fro and the actual canopy walk is about 170 meters. Tourists have to walk to the starting point and then after the canopy walk, you will have to walk back again. This walk also starts with a briefing by the guide at Nyungwe National Park headquarters and then after proceed to the forest. There is also a lot to view on this walk including the primate species, birds and many tree species.

At reaching the real starting point, you will then start the hike on a trail hanging and connecting one hill to another hill. It’s also known that there are many primate species, tree species as well as birds that one can view on the canopy walk. Walking on these ropes and aluminum bars way high up is so challenging and scaring and when some visitors complete the walk, they celebrate. Along the walk, you are advised not to look down since this might scare you. What clients need to do is to concentrate, look forward and remain focused to complete the walk. This activity is such an experience that is so unique and is next to gorillas trekking.

The other activities that can be carried out in Nyungwe forest include; bird watching, chimpanzee trekking, and many more. The national park can be accessed by road and one has to drive approximately 4-5 hours or fly from Kigali and land in Kamembe Airport which takes only 35 minutes. Rwanda Air also operates scheduled flights and you might chose to fly. From Kamembe Airport, the drive time is 40 minutes to Nyungwe Forest Lodge or Nyungwe Hill top lodge which are the main accommodation facilities in the park. Early in the morning, visitors are required to drive 30 minutes to the headquarters to start any activity carried out from the park.

 

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This is a trail along Lake Kivu which extends from Rubavu and continue through Rutsiro via the famous district of Nyamasheke and Karongi and ends in Rusizi district. It’s 227km with beautiful land scapes, including clean water as well as rolling hills. This entire trek can be completed in 10 days and it can also be done in sections if the tourists don’t have time to complete the whole trail. These trails also give stunning views of the lake coastline and it offers the travellers an exciting way to discover Rwanda.

congo nile trailThe trail can also be completed in 5 days as you enjoy rich views and cultural experiences along the way. This is an experience worth selling to those who normally crave an off the beaten path adventure. It was officially opened in 2009 as a way of diversifying Rwanda’s tourism activities which consists of networks of roads running from Gisenyi to Cyangungu which is found in the southern side of Lake Kivu. There are many attractions found in these two areas which range from forests, valleys, hills, villages as well as local towns. The trail offers tourists an experience of the villages of Rwanda and the sounds of nature especially from the many bird species that can be sighted along the site.

This trail can also be explored using various means which include cycling, walking as well as motor cycling. All these means have got advantages as well as disadvantages and they depend on individual preferences and opinions.  Walking can be hard especially moving up the hills and cycling may be much better since you easily move to any place of interest in the trail from the wide paths to the narrow paths. With motor bikes, it gives you less time to explore the trail as well as its attractions.

For all the tourists who are interested in hiking, Rwanda is safe and secure and these will require less supplies to take them through the whole journey. You will need a guiding map, porters to carry for your luggage, English speaking guide, as well as enough information about the trail from Rwanda Development Board.

 

 

The trail options include many different paths and duration options which can be used in the Congo Nile Trail. The first option is also from Gisenyi as you head south and it ends in Kamembe. This trail can also be completed in 5 days on a well maintained bike. The other options include using Gisenyi to Kibuye path which can be completed in two days or a day. This best works for the travellers who don’t have too much time.

Packaging for the trail includes; packing drinking water and snacks in the back packer since it might take 5 to 10 kilometres to reach the villages were you can be able to buy water and snacks. This can happen when you happen to trek remote areas with hills and forests.

With Accommodation facilities, the trail has over 8 serviced campsites that were set up by Rwanda development Board and these don’t require booking in advance. The area has also got many guest houses especially in major towns and campsites in the local villages which are mainly linked to orphanages and schools. Tourists are advisable to have their own tents as well as sleeping bags, and these can be hired through Rwanda Development Board and many other operators who have gears to hire.

The major guest house along the trail include; Kinunu guest house, Home saint Jean guest house, Bethaine guest house, peace guest house, as well as Kibogora guest house. All these are not so expensive and range from 5000 – 30,000 Rwandan Francs, these include accommodation, bicycle rentals as well as meals.

With biking the trail as an option, you are required to get the right bike which will match with your desires and needs. The bikes are available for hiring in Gisenyi and these might be some how expensive especially the giant mountain bikes. In case you don’t hire, you can carry your own bike with spare parts and carry out the trail drive. The main equipment’s which are needed a successful trail trek include; sleeping sack, spare parts for the bike or motor bikes, clothes, sun glasses, toiletries, dust mask, water, scarf or sweater, snacks, drinking water and many more.

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