Facts About RWANDA

Rwanda has risen to the top as one of the top places to visit in Africa. This makes a visit to Rwanda very interesting for both the seasoned traveller and the first time adventurer. While the first thought about visiting Rwanda is seeing gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, that doe not scratch the surface of what you get in this small nation.

With this article, we are going to look at some interesting things about Rwanda, that makes it more special than you thought. Let us dive right into what makes this land of a thousand hills a travel haven for people from all over the world.

1. MOUNTAIN GORILLAS.

 

You [probably] already knew that Rwanda has gorillas. It is still worth a mention none the less.

Rwanda is one of the 3 countries in the entire world where mountain gorillas live – and can be seen. These endangered mountain gorillas can be seen in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

You can see Rwanda’s gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park – which is strategically located in the Virunga Conservation area just two hours away from the airport in Kigali. The park is home for more than the gorillas, it houses the golden monkeys, bird species, forest elephants among others.

Volcanoes National Park has 10 habituated gorilla groups/ families. The Titus family, the Susa group (Susa A), Karisimbi group (Susa B), Amahoro group, Umubano group, Sabyinyo group, Agashya group, Hirwa group, Bwenge group, Kwitonda group and Ugenda group. Each gorilla family has a very interesting back story to what inspired the respective names. In 2005, in an attempt to boost the industry, they introduced an annual ceremony for naming baby gorillas (Kwita Izina) which have produced such great results.

To spend time with the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, you must get a gorilla tracking permit (pass) at the cost of 1500 USD. The gorilla permit allows you to spend 1 to 2 hours with the gorillas, as you watch them go about their ‘normal gorilla day’.

2. MOUNT KARISIMBI.

Mount Karisimbi is one of the 8 Virunga volcanoes that cover up the Virunga Conservation area. Karisimbi is also considered to be the highest of the 8 Virunga volcanoes.

The name Karisimbi is denoted from the Snow that embodies its peaks which in Kinyarwanda (the local language) is a paraphrase of the ‘white shell’ referred to as ‘amasimbi’. Mount Karisimbi stands at 4507 metres above sea level and is the 6th highest mountain peak in Africa.

Climbing to the top of Mount Karisimbi would take you about 2 days of hiking. It is surrounded by the Mikeno, Bisoke and Nyiragongo mountains.

By combining the names of the two mountains of Karisimbi and BisokeDian Fossey named her gorilla research center Karisoke.

3. UMUGANDA – COMMUNITY SERVICE.

 

Every last Saturday of the month, all the people engage in community service from 8 am to 11 am. This community service is commonly referred to as Umuganda in the local Kinyarwanda language. Umuganda loosely translates to ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’

On such days, every able-bodied person in the community makes his/her contribution towards making the country more beautiful. It is a civic duty that is taken very seriously and people take initiative to clean the streets, trim overgrown bushes, repair public facilities among so many others.

During this time, businesses are closed and there is no traffic on the roads – because people are actively performing their civic role.

Omuganda is a perfect fun and community activity to take part in if it happens to find align with your visit to Rwanda.

4. PLASTIC BAGS AND FLIP FLOPS.

 

In line with keeping Rwanda clean, a few sacrifices have to be made. You are not allowed to walk around (in public) wearing flip flop sandals. Plastic bags are no longer used in supermarkets or even small shops.

This took effect in 2008 – and what started out as an impossible endeavour for an African country has since been a success story. Anyone who violets these rules is viable for a fine worth 50,000 francs ($60).

Any visitors entering the country will find a huge signpost informing them of this strict regulation they have to follow. It is very easy (sometimes free) to get recyclable paper bags so that you can move your stuff into those and leave the plastic polythene bags (at the ports of entry) where they can be properly disposed by the government.

In the current world where climate change seems like an impossible problem to tackle, Rwanda is an inspiring testament for what small consistent steps can lead to.

5. GISOZI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL.

 

This is located in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The museum holds the remains of over 250,000 people that were murdered in the massive killings during the Rwanda genocide of 1994.

The genocide was led by the members of the Hutu tribe that occupied key positions in government and escalated fast when the president at the time Juvenal Habyarimana was assassinated on 6th April 1994. The Gisozi memorial centre was set opened in 1999 and contains a lot of historical artefacts from the genocide. For some who might be worried, this even is in the past and Rwanda has evolved to become a whole new land of opportunities and wonders to see.

6. LANGUAGE.

 

Kinyarwanda is the national language, it is the first (mother) language of most of the population. It is also considered the country’s official language with French and English as well as Swahili.

French language influence is mostly banked on the colonial French governments that claimed governance over Rwanda in the past. English was taken up because of the increased UK and US global influence and return of some people who had fled to Uganda where English is the official language. By 2008, the government had officially introduced English as a medium of communication in schools. As of now, both languages are still being used in the country.

7. WOMEN IN POLITICS.

 

Rwanda is the leading country in the world with the biggest number of women in parliament. Talk about being progressive!

Women cover 63.1% of the parliament, this is a bid to gear towards the greatest issue most countries are still fighting with – gender equality especially at the legislative level and opening doors for them at other levels like education and health.

8. LAKE KIVU.

 

Lake Kivu is the biggest lake in Rwanda and covers about 2700 square kilometres of land. It is part of the Great Rift Valley, covering the Rwanda and Congo borders on the western part of Rwanda.

Lake Kivu is surrounded by mountains and various hills. This makes for great hiking and mountain biking trails. You can even hike the Congo Nile trail, which will take you through the many hills surrounding the lake.

Enjoying the view of the wide blue waters as you move from the surrounding towns gives you a scenic view and picture-perfect backgrounds. It will relax you as well as connect you with the natural beauty around you.

9. SAFETY.

 

Rwanda is listed among the top 10 safest countries on earth by the World Economic Forum. This means that Rwanda is the safest country in the whole of Africa.

While Rwanda is the smallest country in East Africa, it outshines its fellow East African states when it comes to safety and security ratings. It is listed as the 9th safest country in the world by the World Economic Forum and considered even much safer than the United Kingdom.

Rwanda is politically stable, safe and secure so feel free to plan that trip and have a wonderful time in Africa’s cleanest, safest and fastest-growing country.

CONCLUSION.

There you have some few interesting facts about Rwanda. This article, as we already mentioned just scratches the surface and leave our many incredible things that are as mind-blowing as they are unique to Rwanda.

As always, our blog is filled with articles about even more cool things about our destinations (Uganda and Rwanda). In the various articles, we can easily explore the details (and story behinds) of all these interesting things about Rwanda. Browse around our blog and get to learn more about Uganda and Rwanda – and everything about travelling there.

We have several already made Safari itineraries for Rwanda that you can take a look at, and see if they are something you might be interested in. It also helps that you can us to customise your Rwanda trip as you want.

Finally, we appreciate you taking the time and we hope you learned something about Rwanda (and can’t wait for your chance to come there). If you have any questions, just send them our way and we shall be happy to answer them for you. Send us any query via our contact form here on the website.

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