BRIEF OVERVIEW ABOUT RWANDA
Rwanda, The Land of a Thousand Hills, is a country that is debunking myths about travel in Africa and making a big come back as a great destination for exclusive and intimate travel. I visited Rwanda on the completely wrong assumption that it would be similar to Uganda yet my facts about Rwanda could not have been more wrong.
Most people will only know two things about Rwanda: it has gorillas and there was a tragic genocide. There is so much more to the country. So much that you should not go uninformed, let me share some fun and interesting facts about this tiny landlocked country in East Africa.
Location of Rwanda
Rwanda is a land locked country in east- central Africa covering an area of 26,338 sq. km (10,170 sq mi). In comparison, Rwanda is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland in USA. Rwanda borders Uganda in the north, Tanzania in the east, Burundi in the south and Democratic Republic of the Congo (the former Zaire) in the west & North West.
FUN & INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT RWANDA
The Virungas Massif, of which Volcanoes National Park is part of, has the highest population of mountain gorillas standing at 604 in 2016 after the latest census was released in 2018. This is 60% of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. Of those, 12 families with around 150 gorillas are habituated to humans in Rwanda, that is, they can be visited by 96 tourists every day.
Rwanda Wildlife (Giraffe)
Although most visitors will come to Rwanda exclusively to trek with mountain gorillas and this was historically the best and only tourist attraction in Rwanda this has changed a lot since the reintroduction of the Big Five in Akagera and the conservation efforts to protect the chimpanzees.
Kigali Genocide Memorial
A visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial is key to understanding what you may have read online or in the news, if you are old enough. Nothing can put a face and a heart to the words you may read more clearly than seeing the pictures and the images of those who were affected.
RWANDA PEOPLE, CULTURE & LANGUAGE
The official languages of Rwanda are Kinyarwanda, French, and English. However, the main language spoken widely in Rwanda is Kinyarwanda, a member of the Bantu language family – regardless of the part of country you are in the Rwandans will communicate in Kinyarwanda. The population of Rwanda was comprised mainly of three main people groups; agriculturalist, pastoral people and hunter gatherers who lived in the forests also known as the Batwa. Currently most of Rwandans live in the rural areas and are engaged in some kind of agricultural activities.
Safety & Security in Rwanda
There is a remarkably low level of crime in Rwanda generally. You are however encouraged to be cautious just like in any other destination. Therefore, personal security and safety of personal belongings is key. Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda served by Kigali International Airport (sometimes called – Kanombe international airport) where most tourists arrive. Kigali is also known as the cleanest city Africa with little or no traffic jams like most other African cities.
National Parks in Rwanda
Rwanda boasts of its three national parks of; Akagera national park, Volcanoes national park, Nyungwe Forest National Park. Recently there has been an addition of a fourth park known as Gishwati – Mukura. These parks are home to many wildlife species. There is a variety of birds in the national parks and agricultural lands with Nyungwe forest and volcanoes national park being home to Albertine Rift endemics.
KIGALI AND THE NEIGHBOURING CITIES
Distance from Kigali to Nyungwe forest National Park is around 225 Km and takes around 6 hours. This is because of the winding road where you will drive mostly 50 km/h. The road also has lots of trucks continuing to DR Congo and Burundi.
Distance from Kigali to Volcanoes national park is 80 Km and takes about 2 hours. The reason is that the road is winding with so many corners. You will most likely drive at 40 km/h most of the way. The heavy trucks carrying merchandise also contribute to the slow movement.
Distance from Kigali to Akagera National Park is about 120 Km and takes about 2 hours 30 minutes. Akagera national park is located in Eastern Rwanda on the border with Tanzania. The terrain is generally more flat compared to other parts of the country.
Distance from Kigali to Butare (Huye) is 142 Km and takes about 3 hours. Butare (Huye) is on the way to Nyungwe forest. It is a major stopover because it houses the Ethnographic museum and the national University of Rwanda.
Distance from Butare to Cyangugu is 155 (southern Lake Kivu shore) takes about 3 hours. Cyangugu located on the southern shore of Lake Kivu sometimes provides accommodations for people exploring Nyungwe forest for chimpanzee trekking, canopy walk and Colobus trekking.
Distance from Ruhengeri (Musanze) to Gisenyi (northern Lake Kivu shore) is 62 Km and takes about 1 hour. This is a more straight with few corners. It generally does not have too much traffic.
Distance from Kigali to Kibuye (mid Lake Kivu shore) is 130 Km and takes about 3 hours. Kibuye is an excellent weekend gateway from Kigali. The drive is mainly pleasant with manageable traffic and hills.
Kagera Safaris will arrange your African vacation to Rwanda according to your interests; gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Bird watching, Culture and community experiences, Mammals, Nature & Photography, Mountain Hiking or Forest Hikes.