RWANDA

ACTIVITIES

The activities listed here are some of the best Rwanda has to offer. Ujuzi African Travel is committed to customizing a travel package that meets your travel interests and fulfills your vacation dreams. If a particular activity isn't listed here that you'd like to do, let us know and we'll incorporate it into your itinerary.


Cultural Activities

Iby' Iwachu Cultural Village

Iby' Iwachu Cultural Village is located near Volcanoes National Park in Kinigi. 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 it while generating income for poor local people.

The money generated is used to support their household income-based activities, encourage sustainability, reduce unemployment, and empower local people politically, economically, and socially to alleviate poverty (which is the underlying cause of poaching) while developing these entities as linkages towards conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas.

Iby' Iwachu Cultural Village gives you the rare chance to meet and interact with local people, in their environment with a taste of Rwandese culture and traditions. This has been developed by the community for the community.

Activities include:

  • Visit a replica of the King's place guided by local historical and cultural guides.
  • Visit traditional healers to learn about the different medicinal trees, shrubs, and grasses and their uses and the way they are administrated to the patient.
  • Visit local schools.
  • Explore a local banana brewery and see how the local beer is made and have a taste.
  • Gather around the igitaramo, a camp fire, to listen to stories and riddles and also dance to the drum beats. Intore and Ekinimba dancers can perform eight different dances - Ibyivugo, Umuduri, Ikembe, Iningiri, Inanga, Ingoma, Amakndera, Agakenke.
  • Join food gatherers in the harvesting and preparation of food like ubugari, umutsima, ibirayi, and igikoma. Guests can also participate in millet grinding with stones and see whether they have enough balance to carry potatoes and water on their heads.
  • Visit homes and farms and experience the rural Rwandan ways of living in a 3-hour walk through Nyabigoma village.

Imbabazi Orphanage

Imbabazi Orphanage is located in Gisenyi, originally started in December 1994 by Rosamond Carr from New York, NY. Rosamond Carr brought a flower plantation in the Mugongo area in 1955, and for the next 50 years she witnessed the end of colonialism, celebrated Rwanda's independence, and became one of Dian Fossey's closest friends. Rosamond was forced to leave by the American Embassy in April 1994 due to the outbreak of the genocide. She returned in August 1994, aged 82, to find her home and plantation ruined. She then decided to open her doors to genocide orphans and developed Imbabazi Orphanage. Due to security reasons the Orphanage has had to move locations 4 times, but is now settled in Gisenyi. The flower plantation is still running and provides fresh produce for the orphanage.

Since the Orphanage opened its doors in December 1994 it has housed and cared for more then 400 children. Many have been reunited with family members by relief agencies still working throughout Rwanda. Others have grown up and moved on to lead successful and meaningful lives. The Imbabzi is currently home to 110 children.

Kigali Genocide Memorial Center

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. It 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 organization that actively helps in the prevention of Genocide worldwide. The Centre is maintained by goodwill donations from all over the world. In July 2010, the Centre instituted a $10 contribution required by each visitor to assist in the maintenance of the Centre. This $10 also gives the guest access to an educational audio device that explains each section of the Centre and the stories involved.

One of the principle reasons for the Centers existence is to provide an educational facility. Rwandans believe that it is extremely important for the younger generations of Rwandans, those who did not live through the genocide but whose lives are affected by it, to be able to have access to a place where they can learn about the reasons and effects of the genocide. The Centre includes 3 permanent exhibitions, the largest of which documents the genocide in 1994. There is also a children's memorial, and an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world. The Education Centre, Memorial Gardens, and National Documentation Centre of the Genocide all contribute to a meaningful tribute to those who perished, and form a powerful educational tool for the next generation. The exhibition at the Kigali Memorial Centre introduces several genocides and genocidal-type situations. It does not give examples of all genocidal massacres because of limited space. It can only illustrate a few examples, representing a tragic cross-section of a century of genocide.

Tomb of Dian Fossey

A visit to the tomb of Dian Fossey and the nearby gorilla cemetery is a memorable experience. There is a 2 - 3 hour climb through the forest to get to the site and then the plunge down takes between 1 - 2 hours depending on how many times you stop to admire the marvelous scenery and observe the abundant wildlife of the park.


Gorilla Trekking

Gorillas are our closest living relatives among the World's great apes. According to studies of fossils, genes, physiology, and behavior our shared lineage divided only very recently. Gorillas are complex, highly intelligent apes besieged by threats on all sides, including poachers, diseases, and a dwindling habitat that is in constant danger of being further eroded or depleted. Charismatic animals such as gorillas serve as "flagship" species.

The mountain gorilla not only attracts public support in its own right, but also helps to focus attention on its afro-montane habitat, upon which many other species depend for survival. Only about 706 mountain gorillas survive today, all of them in the wild. In the ensuing century, a combination of hunting and habitat destruction has driven this very rare primate to the verge of extinction.

Tracking gorillas is a unique experience - it leads you into a strange land to meet unusual creatures on their own terms. This can be humbling and thrilling at the same time. It must be stressed that, while you have a very good chance of seeing gorillas, success is NOT guaranteed! They are wild creatures with no fixed routines. The guides and trackers have helped to habituate the gorilla groups and know them intimately. They will take you to the areas where they left the gorillas the day before. Before leaving, they will be able to suggest how long the hike might take. While walking, please ask your guides to slow down if they are going too fast and if you need a rest. Feel free to stop and look at the birds or flowers, etc. The guide will ensure that they do not leave you behind. Watch out for safari ants on the trail - they bite and hang on, and if you step in them and get covered, the only solution is to strip. The actual trail you will follow will depend on where the trackers left the group and what signs they find to indicate where the group has gone. They will be looking for crushed vegetation, broken plants that the gorillas might have been eating and also fresh dung and footmarks.

In Rwanda there are 7 gorilla families that are habituated and available for tourist trekking in Volcanoes National Park:

Susa Group

Family size: 28+ members, including 3 silverbacks
This group sometimes migrates to higher altitudes, making them harder to track. The group is well known for having twins: Byishimo and Impano. This was also the group originally studied by Dian Fossey.

The drive from the starting point at Kinigi takes approximately one hour and clients should be prepared for a severe hike. This group split in 2008, the name of the group which split from Susa is called Karisimbi, with 15 members including 3 silverbacks

Sabyinyo Group

Family size: 12 members, including 1 silverback who is the largest of all the silverbacks in the volcanoes.

This group resides in the gentle slopes between Mount Sabyinyo and Gahinga and thus are easily accessible. The gorillas might take anything from ten minutes to an hour to reach, but generally, the slopes aren't too daunting (though they can be slippery after rain).

Amahoro ("Peace") Group

Family size: 18 members, including 3 silverbacks
Trackers are faced with quite a steep climb to reach this group, however the group is gentle and tranquil. They are generally found on the slopes of Mt. Visoke, a trail that is intermediate in difficulty.

Group 13, name changed to Agashya (meaning special)

Family size: 25 members, including 1 silverback
This was the first habituated group and has grown from an initial 13 members! It can be found in the same area as the Sabyinyo group, although it sometimes moves deeper into the mountain.

Umubano ("Live Together") Group

Family size: 12 members, including 1 silverback
This group was formed by members of the Amahoro family after one of the males (Charles) broke off in order to lead his own group. Their territory overlaps with that of the Amahoro Group.

Kwitonda Group

Family size: 21 members, including 3 silverbacks
This family is named after the dominant silverback of the group and means "humble one." The group inhabits the lower slopes of Mt. Muhabura and is also one of the more difficult families to track.

Hirwa Group

Family size: 16 members, including one silverback
This is still a relatively new group which was formed from 2 different families, Group 13 and Sabyinyo. Usually to be found in the foothills of Mt Sabyinyo on the Gahinga side. This group has a pair of twins born at the beginning of 2011.

A special event that happens in the park annually is Kwita Izina, the baby gorilla naming ceremony. This celebrated event takes place every year in June.


Primate Tracking

Volcanoes National Park - Golden Monkey

Guided walks to observe a fully habituated group of rare Golden Monkeys. This is a completely different experience from gorilla tracking, as the monkeys are smaller, nimbler and may be harder to locate and follow. However, this is still an opportunity for a superb quality sighting of a rare and brightly colored monkey. Although there may be another group somewhere in the Nyungwe Forest, this is believed to be the only viable population.

Nyungwe Forest National Park - Chimpanzees

The majority of the chimp population in Rwanda is confined to Nyungwe Forest National Park. Trekking to see our closet relatives is an amazing experience, though these groups of chimps are wide ranging and there is a 30- 40% chance of sighting these primates.

Nyungwe Forest National Park - Black and White Colobus Monkeys

Large troops of black and white colobus monkeys reside in Nyungwe Forest. These primates often travel in groups of over 300 individuals. It is possible to purchase a permit to trek these animals. Walking through a montane rainforest and being surrounded on all levels by these active and cheeky monkeys is an experience not to be missed.


Walking/Hiking

Volcanoes National Park

  • Karisimbi Volcanoes: This 2-day climb with an overnight camping at an altitude of 2 miles is located in Volcanoes National Park. This difficult trek is recommended only for dedicated hikers, but it offers the greatest diversity in vegetation: bamboo forest, hagenia woodland, alpine, and Afro-alpine zones, which are identified by their outsized and broad-leafed plants. You will see giant lobelia, senecios, heather, and moss, along with more than 100 other species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift.
  • Bisoke Volcanoes: A slightly less strenuous climb then the Karisimbi trek, hiking the Bisoke volcanoes in Volcanoes National Park does involve some fitness. The upward climb is approximately 2 hours, but the view from the top is breathtaking. Be amazed by the different vegetation zones visible while going up - rainforest, bamboo, and Hagenia-Hypericum. But the views of the other virunga volcanoes and the beautiful crater lakes situated at the summit of the Volcano definitely make it the climb worthwhile.
  • Lakes and Caves Tour: A guided tour of the lakes and caves of Volcanoes National Park is an extremely pleasurable activity and is especially rewarding for bird watchers, with 178 recorded bird species, with at least 13 species and 16 subspecies endemic to the Virunga and Ruwenzori Mountains. Lakes Burera, Ruhondo, Karago, Kibuye, and Gisenyi and the caves in the park, which house large bat colonies, are beautiful and amazing relics of the lava that shaped this area.
  • Tomb of Dian Fossey: A visit to the tomb of Dian Fossey and the nearby gorilla cemetery is a memorable experience. There is a 2 - 3 hour climb through the forest to get to the site and then the plunge down takes between 1 - 2 hours depending on how many times you stop to admire the marvelous scenery and observe the abundant wildlife of the park.

Nyungwe Forest National Park

  • Canopy Walkway: A suspended walkway has recently been built in the lush canopy of Nyungwe Forest National Park. This activity lasts 1 - 2 hours depending on how often you stop en route. You walk to one end of the walkway and return the same way. It is important to note that the walkway does sway and if you have a fear of heights, you might not find this activity enjoyable.
  • Forest Walks: An extensive network of well-maintained walking trails leads you through the Nyungwe Forest to various waterfalls and viewing points. There are a variety of trails:
    • Colored trails - these are left over from the late 1980s when an early attempt to develop tourism in Nyungwe was made. There are 7 trails through the forest, each marked by a particular color. The trails range in length from the half-mile Gray Trail to the 6-mile Red Trail. All the trails are well maintained and offer the chance to see a diverse number of primate and bird species.
    • Waterfall Trail - this trail takes between 3 - 6 hours depending on how often you stop en route. It is a very pleasant walk through the tree and fern-covered ravines, across several bubbling streams until you reach a pretty waterfall. Monkeys are often seen along the way and the steep slopes allow for good views into the canopy, making this trail a favorite among the birders as it is very rewarding for true forest interior birds, with a good chance of spotting Albertine rift endemics, such as the Rwenzori turaco.
    • Kamiranzoru trail - this trail is just over 2 miles and takes about 3 hours. This trail is different from the other forest walks because it takes you through the low-laying marshy areas, which are rich in orchids and localized swamp associated bird species.
    • Bigugu trail - this is the most challenging trail and you need to be relatively fit as it leads you up the Bigugu peak. The Bigugu peak is approximately 1.5 miles high, the highest point in Nyungwe Forest, offering fantastic views of the landscape.