RWANDA

CENTRAL / EASTERN AFRICA

Land of Thousand Hills

Rwanda is a landlocked mountainous country best known for its mountain gorillas. It is also the most densely populated country in Africa and is heavily cultivated with even the steepest hills tightly terraced from bottom to top. During colonial times, Rwanda was called “Little Switzerland” for its stunning beauty with mountains reaching 15,000 feet into the sky.

The mountain gorillas probably survive today because of the research and conservation efforts of Dian Fossey who immersed herself in the mountains to study these gentle primates. The movie Gorillas in the Mist was filmed on location in Parc National des Volcans which raised international awareness of the plight of the mountain gorilla. A mere 900+/- survive in the wild today, about one-half in Rwanda and the others in Uganda. There are habituated groups ranging in size to a few to over 25. Eight people are allowed to visit each family group per day and that is for one hour per visit.
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The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people. Over about 100 days from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6 through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, estimates of even upto 1,000,000 or as much as 20% of the country’s total population have been calculated. It was the culmination of longstanding ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, and the majority Hutu peoples, who had come to power in the rebellion of 1959–1962 and overthrown the Tutsi monarchy.  Today, a genocide museum in Kigali, is a common visiting point, for guests taking the 2-3 hour journey from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans)  in northwestern Rwanda, 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.

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What to visit and explore in Rwanda

The following features are found in this bountiful region:

Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre was opened on the 10th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, in April 2004. The Centre is built on a site where 250,000 people are buried. The Centre is a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide and serves as a place where people can grieve those that they have lost. The Memorial Centre was built by a joint partnership between Kigali City Council and the UK based Aegis Trust. The Aegis Trust is an organisation that actively helps in the prevention of Genocide worldwide. The Centre is maintained by good will donations [...]

Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in Southeast Rwanda and is the largest block area of montane forest in East Africa. Nyungwe Forest covers approximately 1000km squared and is comprised of a complex mosaic of dense vegetation types from tall trees to open, flower filled marshes. Nyungwe Forest has a uniquely rich flora diversity with over 200 tree species and a wonderful display of flowering plants, including the magnificent giant lobelia and a host of colourful orchids. Nyungwe Forest’s fauna diversity is amazing and is one of the most endemic species-rich areas in all of Africa. 86 mammal species reside [...]

Iby’ Iwachu Cultural Village

Iby’ Iwachu Cultural Village is located near Parc National des Volcans in Kinigi. Its has been developed to display local and traditional lifestyles, activities and artefacts. Local communities benefit and earn directly from this community based tourism initiative to improve their socio-economic ways of living and as an incentive for conservation of the gorillas and their habitat. Given the cultural value attached to it, the Iby’ Iwachu Cultural Village is a platform to showcase the Rwandan ways of living, traditional lifestyles and dances to tourists and community members in a way that encourages them all to be a part of [...]

Volcanoes National Park (Parc National de Volcans)

“In the heart of Central Africa, so high that you shiver more then you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are the great old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet and heavily covered in rich, green rainforest – the Virungas”. The Volcanoes National Park protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen, bamboo forests, open grassland, swamp and heath. Volcanoes National Park (Parc National de Volcans) is situated in north-western Rwanda. It borders Virunga National Park in the Demographic Republic of Congo And Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. […]

Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu, as one of the Great Lakes of Africa, and indeed the highest on the continent, Lake Kivu is one of Rwanda’s greatest natural treasures and offers visitors an extraordinary experience. Lake Kivu lies on Rwanda’s eastern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and is part of the Great Rift Valley. It covers a surface area of over 2,700km2 and stands 1,460m above sea level. It also ranks as the fifteenth-deepest lake in the world and contains the world’s tenth-largest inland island, Idjwi. Lake Kivu has gained notoriety as one of Africa’s ‘killer lakes’ thanks to its location [...]

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Information about Rwanda

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  • Capital: Kigali
  • Official languages: Kinyarwanda, English, French
  • Currency: Rwandan franc (RWF)
  • Time zone: Central Africa Time (UTC+2)
  • Drives on the: right
  • Calling code: +250
  • Motto: “Ubumwe, Umurimo, Gukunda Igihugu” – “Unity, Work, Patriotism”
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