Rwanda Safaris Through the Lens of a Native
When you talk about safaris in Rwanda, often primate and wildlife viewing are the first areas of interest. But the amazing part about it is that, Rwanda boasts of its rich cultural heritage which also remains not fully tapped. It is one destination that attracts visitors who come to appreciate its natural endowment beyond wildlife.
The best way to experience the authentic Rwanda cultures is by undertaking a cultural or community visit to any of the nearby communities. This can be done before or after your wildlife or primate trekking adventures in the National Parks. The beauty about Rwanda safaris is that travelers can be in position to incorporate wildlife/primate tours with community visitors. Visiting local communities plays a remarkable part in promoting community-based tourism which is aimed at boosting wildlife conservation in the area.
The Rwanda community tourism often involves locals adjacent to the parks to appreciate tourism and wildlife conservation. The locals showcase their unique cultural products to the visitors. Direct visit to communities adjacent to the parks is incredible because it is one way to directly support local communities rather than going through government channels which often may not reach them.
The community visits offer deep insight into community’s unique cultures, traditions and visits are made purposely to promote the tourism sector. Other than hands-on experiences, most community-tourism based projects now include accommodation facilities. They often cater for the budget or basic traveler needs and setting up such facilities is a great opportunity for the local communities to boost their tourism industry.
Areas of interest for community experiences in Rwanda
Village walks offer unforgettable on-foot walk experience with lead of local guide taking you through communities. The areas of interest during village walks include visiting the extensive tea or coffee farms where you get to explore the entire process of coffee or tea farming- from planting to processing stage or when the coffee or tea is ready for consumption. The guided village walks usually take about 3 hours and this may vary depending on the list of the activities and sites to be visited.
Homestays provide a great chance for tourists to immerse themselves into the Rwandan culture and communities of their interest. You need some days to stay with a family in their community and while there, you can engage in different daily chores, learn how to prepare traditional food and more.
Ubumwe community tour
If you are looking for authentic Rwanda cultural experience, then don’t miss visiting Ubumwe community. This community center is comprised of persons with disabilities –adults and children. It is where children are provided a chance to study, learn skills, work and empowering them to be independent. About 130 children and adults with primary education, counseling, vocational training & workshop employment have benefited from the initiative. If you are looking for the best place to go for education tour then consider Ubumwe community a must-visit.
The gorilla guardian village
The gorilla guardian village previously the Iby’Iwacu village is a perfect area for tourists to visit after gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. The local residents will entertain you with their unique dances and music performance with a chance to learn in depth about their distinct traditions & cultures.
Nyange community walk
This was created primarily to showcase the different aspects of Rwandan village/rural life. Visitors get to learn more about how locals carry out their daily activities, the cultures and traditions as well as lifestyles. You can also have hands-on experiences, especially on mat weaving; learn how the banana beer is made locally by locals and more.
Kagano living village
Kagano living village tours introduce you into Kagano village to experience Rwanda’s authentic rural way doing things. The 2-3 hours guided walk allows you meet, interact with local residents and explore more about how they socialize, what they grow as communities, and a lot more. This village lies nearby Rutsiro city, and ideal for visitors on Rwanda safaris in Gishwati-Mukura National Park.
Humure refugee village trip
For visitors on Rwanda safari to Akagera NP, the must-visit location for authentic community experiences is the Humure Refugee Village. It is 40 minutes’ drive off from Akagera N/Park and you will have a lot to experience from how locals prepare their meals and dancing skills.Read More
Common Rwanda Safari Scams You Should Not Fall for this Year
Would you like to know some of the common scams that travelers fall in? Here are some of the common ones you should not fall for while on your Rwanda safari this year: Like other business sectors or fields, the tourism and travel sector has had cases related to scam leaving a negative picture in the sector. Although these cases are minor, but there is need to exercise caution because some elements could be targeting innocent visitors. When booking or while on Rwanda safaris, typical scams can be encountered while in Kigali, Kibuye, etc. Here are some of the common Rwanda safari scams you should not fall for in 2023.
The most famous scam you are likely to encounter is the picture scam. This is when a local asks for you to take their pictures, the camera is handed to you. Once you return the camera, they intentionally drop it and throw blame on you to have broken it then demand for payment. Never accept to take anyone’s picture to be on a safer side.
Overcharging by taxis
Often visitors want to connect to their destinations faster before it is late and opt for taxis, especially in situations where there is no uber or other alternatives. Once you have boarded a taxi, please feel free to ask them to turn on the meter and as well, ensure that you keep mapping your journey before you take a taxi. This can give you prior idea of how long your journey is likely to take.
Friendly ATM helpers
Often, there are cases where a person approaches you at the ATM cash machine disguising to offer help, please avoid such elements as much as possible. They do so with intentions to scan your debit/credit card with their card skimmer in their pocket and keep watching you enter the pin number and by the time you are done, they could have drained your account. Alternatively, they can approach you especially when your card has issues and they will seem to assist you solve the issue. While at the ATM, ensure that your card number is well covered. Or better still, you can have credit card or enough cash to exchange to local currency to avoid frequenting to the ATM.
Friendly bar friends
For those of you who may have plans to hook up in Kigali or Kibuye or any big town in Rwanda, you should also be aware of this scam. You can be approached by 2 friendly girls/guys who will start conversing and make you believe as if you have mutual interest. They will suggest to you to go for a drink and invite you to the bar, then after you will end up paying for about 5 to 10 times or more for small shots. If you want to be on a safer side, you should be the one to suggest the bar or ask the bar attendant for menu & you can be in position to see the rates yourself.
Guessing game scam
This kind of scam is also common in big cities in Rwanda and the rest of the world where you may find a man with 3 boxes and with a group of people surrounding him. They will be guessing in which box the ball is found and one of them can guess it right then money is handed to him as a prize. They do it multiple times so that more of their members join with similar reaction. More and more people can gather and as a result, they can be pick pocketing.
Bird poop scam
Often there is a group that intentionally throws a bit of white paste on someone’s shoulders as a way to divert your attention and you think perhaps it was bird poop. From nowhere, a friendly person can come to provide assistance of cleaning you up and as they seem to help you, their hands will be already inside your pocket. Only accept such help if it is an emergency.Read More
South Africa Tourism To Advertise With Tottenham Hotspur
In 2018, Rwanda become the first country in the whole world to advertise through a tagline on a sleeve of a sports clubs in the United Kingdom. The Rwanda marketing efforts have received a number of mixed reactions but it seems it was a well thought through move.
Once Rwanda adopted this marketing strategy, they more than doubled the cost of gorilla trekking permits. They also opened a number of luxury lodges which is an integral part of the Rwanda luxury gorilla safaris.
While many people mainly focus on the statistics of the arrivals, they never realize that Rwanda revised most of the prices for their safari packages. Even though the arrivals have not yet doubled, the earning have more than doubled.
South Africa is attempting a similar move. They want to have the “visit South Africa” tagline on the sleeve of Tottenham Hotspur jersey. This will cost them 42.5 million pounds in a period of years. For the case of Rwanda, the deal is costing them 10 million pounds every year.
The South African deal has sparked rage among a number of South African claiming it is not a fair deal in the midst of load shedding, poor service delivery, high inflation, unemployment and rising cost of living in South Africa.
It should be noted that before the covid-19 pandemic, South Africa used to receive an average of 10 million tourists every year. For the last two years, South Africa has received less than 3 million tourists per year.
According to the acting CEO of South Africa tourism Themba Khumalo, the Tottenham deal will bring them sure returns. He said the deal has nothing to do with football but having access to the audiences of Football. The 1 billion Rand deal is expected to bring returns of 6 billion rand in a period of 3 years.
South Africa mainly offers beaches, desert & Savannah wildlife safaris, and hiking/mountaineering safaris. It still no clear whether the Rwanda sleeve marketing deal is a reliable booster of tourism but South Africa tourism team believes it will more than triple their tourism returns.Read More