Are you planning to visit Africa for your first time? OR Is it your second-time to visit Africa and you are wondering about the best safari destination to visit? Rwanda should be your next safari destination to visit in 2024. Rwanda is a small country in the East African region that is popularly known for the Rwanda genocide, a bad incident that occurred between 07th April and 15th July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War.
During the period of just 100 days, about 800,000 people were killed. These were largely members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group, as well as some moderate Hutu and Twa. These people were killed by armed Hutu militias. Today, when you visit Rwanda with or without tour operator you cannot miss to visit some of the genocide memorial sites and other historical places that showcase the remains of this beautiful country.
Though this incident happened twenty years ago, the country has greatly recovered thanks to the current government of Rwanda. The current regime has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap that was set by colonial masters to classify Rwandan people into tribes. Today the Rwandan people are from one tribe and when you arrive in Kigali you will never hear the mentioning of tribes. Rather all nationals of the country are referred to as Rwandans. “We are all Rwandese” is a campaign that was adopted during the reconciliation meetings after the 1994 genocide. With this great campaign in the country, it has brought back again the strong love of each other in the country. Rwanda has seriously focused on the development of the country and by 2040, the country is expected to be second world country.
Therefore, today Rwanda is known to be among those countries in the world with the smart city “Kigali” and when you land at Kigali International Airport and get driven to your hotel in the city you will appreciate the beauty and cleanliness of Kigali. Keeping the environment clean is the number one practice and today Kigali is the cleanest city in Africa.
Therefore, with that in mind the country has also attracted many international hotel chains in Kigali city as well as Rwandan safari parks. With this practice Rwanda has been rebranded as a new luxury destination in the region.
With the new hotel developments in the city and international conference facilities like Kigali Arena and Radison Blu Conference Center, today the country can host many international business conferences and conventions. The recent big event was the CHOGM 2022 that was held in Kigali city and was attended by the 59 heads of states of Common Wealth Nations as well as other officials.
More so before I forget when you are looking for the suitable airlines to visit Rwanda, there are various airlines’ companies offering very competitive flights to the country and head by the home carrier “Rwandair”. If you are traveling from Europe, there is a direct flight to Kigali from London. Rwandair launched this inaugural flight last year and it offers very affordable and flexible direct flight from UK to Rwanda.
Travelers who have taken advantage of the direct flight have made short gorilla treks within a few days and again fly back to Europe.
Other airlines that fly to Rwanda include the Kenya Airways (KQ), Ethiopian Airlines (ET), KLM (KL), Qatar Airways (QR), Brussels Airlines (SN), Turkish Airlines (TK) among others.
Even though Rwanda is a small country it has got several interesting safari destinations that one would wish to visit. First and fore most, for every person visiting Rwanda, Kigali city acts as the face image of the country. Upon reaching Kigali, you may think you have covered the whole country due to the beauty and the interesting environment of the city. Therefore, among the cities to explore in Rwanda are as below:
Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda, roughly in the center of the country. It sprawls across numerous hills, ridges and valleys, and has a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. The Kigali Genocide Memorial documents the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda, associated with the country’s civil war. The city’s Caplaki Crafts Village has stalls selling traditional handicrafts, including woodcarvings and woven baskets.
While in Kigali you will explore other historical land marks like the Inema Arts Centre, Niyo Art Gallery, Kandt House Museum, the Presidents Palace, the well-designed local markets like Kimironko market and the Nyamirambo women’s center. You can also take a visit or an overnight stay at the Mille Collines Hotel populary known for its history during the genocide that was featured in the “Hotel Rwanda” movie.
With the new image of Rwanda, Kigali city has attracted international hotel chains and hence improved accommodation facilities for tourists in Kigali often used before and after tours in Rwanda. With variety of hotels in Kigali it is now much easier to start and end your trip in Kigali. Some of the short excursions from Kigali include the gorilla tour in the Volcanoes National Park or the game viewing safari in Akagera National Park.
With the so many endless lists of the hotels in Kigali a few are mentioned here for your own information to easily identify some of them that you can stay while on your tour in Rwanda. For the luxury and mid-range travelers you can think of the Haven Retreat, Marriott Hotel, Radison Blu Hotel, Serena Hotel, Four Points by Sheraton, Ubumwe Grand Hotel, Onomo Hotel, Mille Collines Hotel, Grand Legacy, Miror Hotel among others respectively.
How is the travel pattern in the Kigali city? While in this city traveling is easy as there is local means of transport by buses and if you want to connect to your hotel easily contact the hotel to send you the small vehicle. If you want to discover by your own just after getting out the airport you will find so many airport taxes to drop you to the hotel at a relatively friendly cost.
Also, if you are in the city for quite longer days, you can rent a vehicle from one of the car rental agencies found in Kigali and they always offer new model jeeps and at very friendly price cost. The vehicles offered are unlimited mileage and you can explore the city and the other nearby places without any limit from the service provider.
From my research I can say this is most loved and most visited city in Rwanda. Reason being it is where the gorilla palace “Volcanoes National Park found in the town called Kinigi. Musanze formerly known as the Ruhengeri province, it is big city and from here you can be busy for any period of time you would wish to stay here.
From this city you will get involved in the other conservation work from the Dian Fossey Museum and the Dian Fossey Campus offering the interesting information about the mountain gorillas. After experiencing the conservation of the mountain gorillas, it is much suitable now to enter into the mist for the gorilla trekking safari experience.
Today the gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park has got 3 selling strategies. For the luxury travelers, Rwanda is the place to go gorilla trekking and with the new developed luxury eco-friendly lodges and camps we are ready to serve you. Among the luxury eco-friendly lodges and camps include the One & Only Gorilla’s Nest Lodge, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Bisate Lodge, Wilderness Sabyinyo Lodge, Virunga Lodge and the Bishops’ House Lodge among others.
Thereafter, even though Rwanda has rebranded as new luxury gorilla safari destination still mid-range travelers do visit the country and doing gorilla safaris in the mist and staying at mid-range lodges like Five Volcanoes Boutique Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Lebambou Gorilla Lodge among others.
Inclusion there are so many other cities to visit and that is Gisenyi, Kibuye and Butare if you happen to having more time in Rwanda.Read More
Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is a body responsible for setting and regulating all tourism activities in Rwanda. The RDB runs tourism activities on behalf of the Government of Rwanda and its contribution to the development of tourism can be discussed below:
Rwanda tourism board (RDB) has facilitated tourism activities like Gorilla trekking, Chimpanzee trekking, canopy walk, Golden monkey trekking, Dian Fossey tomb trips, Mountain climbing and colobus monkeys among others. The body sets marketing plans to ensure that the world is made aware of the available potentials. Today, if you compare Gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda takes more visitors. This indicated that Rwanda development board is playing a big role to market Rwanda’s Tourist attraction hence taking a biggest market share.
RDB sets rules and regulations governing tourist activities in Rwanda. This is done to protect the wild life and their habitat ….this is done for continuity hence catering for the future generation.
RDB has reduced cases of poaching in Rwanda which was rampant during the era of Dian Fossey. The board has managed to achieve this by employing armed rangers to patrol all parks 24/ 7.
RDB drafts tourism budget and send it to the ministry of finance for approval. In return the tourism industry gets money which is used to promote Tourism.
Rwanda Development board ensures that all wild animals and birds are in good health and care. Wildlife Doctors are put in all national parks to treat wild animals and gives healthy advises. Primates like Gorillas and chimpanzees get full time health care.
Rwanda Development Board selects capable people to run tourism activities. Such staff includes rangers, Doctors or health workers and so on.
Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is the eye and ear of the government in tourism sector. The RDB work on behalf of the government and in case of any problem like increasing poaching, outbreak of diseases, increasing deforestation and so on, RDB reports to the government to find solution.
RDB trains security personal to protect wild animals. They include rangers, tourism police and army among others.
Rwanda Development Board gazette places for wildlife reserves and resettle people who try to encroach the wildlife reserves. Wildlife reserves include National parks, Game reserves and so on.
Rwanda Development board (RDB) promotes tourism in Rwanda through advertisements, organizing tourism events like kwita Izina (Gorilla Naming events), attending world exhibition events and so on.Read More
Sports betting shops can now be found in every nook and cranny of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. In Remera, for instance, the building that used to house a leading bank has been converted into a sports betting house.
The general trend this alludes to is that any strategic building that has been vacated, or any new development in any strategic location, is now being snapped up by betting shops.
I recently took a friend of mine to watch an English Premier League match near Amahoro Stadium and what surprised him was the significant number of laptops that the gambling shop had invested in. And all the laptops were occupied – with a long list of others waiting to use them for betting.
I asked the owner of the betting shop if a product like betting needs such kind of ostentatious display – since people are going to gamble anyway – and he said they are just managing customer experience in this digital age.
According to a blog article titled “Going All In: The Criticality of Customer Experience in Betting and Gambling” by Karen Smith, “The popularity and proliferation of opportunities to ‘bet-in-play’ has compounded the demand for streamlined and robust customer experience.
“Betting in play is the ability for a user to place a bet, typically on dynamic odds, during a match. As a rule, these customers demand quick navigation, dynamic and engaging content, and fast performance times to successfully process their journey,” says Smith.
In some of the betting shops in Kigali, you will find giant screens where people can watch live matches.
But the walls not only just found TV screens to broadcast matches. Virtual games like horse racing, dogs racing and spinning wheel, among other imaginable virtual betting games, can also be found in these shops. And people are now not just betting on live football games, but also virtual football ones where each game can last only one minute or less.
There are some shops where people can now play casino games, both brick-and-mortar, and the online ones.
And even when it’s past midnight when other people are sleeping, you are still going to find the bettors hooked deeply on the computers, either losing or getting money in the process.
A new era of addictive gambling
Gambling has now become a reality in Rwanda.
However, on the flipside, people gambling themselves to sheer poverty or even death are not fairytales or things we only watch in movies. And the inventor of sports betting unwittingly bred a new era of gambling.
Deo Habimana is a 28-year-old motorcycle-taxi driver in Giporoso. He says he began betting some few years ago and, as time went by, his “hobby” started consuming a more significant chunk of the money he earns in a day.
Habimana readily admits that the money he gets at the end of the day is minimal compared to what he injects in betting – yet he cannot quit.
Habimana also admits he’s aware that he’s spending his hard-earned money on an addictive habit, but insists betting also helps him to relax while also waiting for that time he will hit it big time.
“I’m always inspired to bet after I’ve heard about the good fortunes of those who have hit jackpots. They are just fellow bettors like me, and I hope that my day will also eventually come,” he says.
He adds that when he doesn’t have money to bet, he resorts to the desperate solution of pawning or even selling some of his household goods to sustain the habit.
“Often, I bet even the last coin I have in my pockets, and this can be quite devastating when you don’t have food in the house. However, I always pick up the courage to again visit the betting shops since I believe that I stand a chance to win big,” he admits.
Claire Ijabiro works at Lucky Sports Bet in Remera, a Kigali suburb. She confirms sports betting has now become a big business and that’s why many betting shops are opening up everywhere in Kigali. But she points out that they don’t allow those below 18 years to participate.
She explains that her company’s starting amount for betting usually is Rwf300 and may sometimes go up to millions. And the amount won depends on the odds or standards a particular team is given. Gamblers typically bet on international teams.
“Sports betting is now just like any other business and, in recent years, it has become quite lucrative not only in Rwanda but in the entire region. Lucky bettors may win millions of Rwandan Francs, and it’s handed to them without demur,” she says.
Many gamblers say they have made a substantial amount of money from the practice.
Apart from placing one’s cash on a team which is seen as a favourite to win a game, as the odds attest, Ijabiro admits winning in a sports betting game is all a matter of luck.
She adds that on a typical day, a betting company may make a million francs and even over, mainly when the playing teams are big guns.
“The amount of money we earn a day is determined by the teams out on the fixtures. When it’s the English Premier League, for instance, very many people bet and we also get to earn a lot. We can earn Rwf800,000 or more,” she reveals.
This shows how lucrative this business is, yet not all people view it with a similar lens.
Jean Pierre Niyonsenga, who works for a betting company he doesn’t want to be mentioned here, says betting is a gambling business capitalizing on addiction and curiosity.
“People spend a lot of their cash on games they’re not even certain of winning. You find that one bets in many games but gets nothing out of them or wins in only a few of them, meaning the rest of their money went to waste, which isn’t wise,” Niyonsenga says.
John Baptiste Kayiranga, a college student, says sports betting isn’t that harmful till you’re addicted to it.
“I do bet sometimes, but it’s something I do only for the fun of it. I am not against the game, especially if the person doesn’t do it excessively,” he says.
But Nancy Iradukunda, a mother of three, says she is against gambling in any form. She wonders why a rational human being would risk their cash on something they’re not sure of gaining from or even having any influence over.Read More
Paul Kamanzi, 41, has lived in Kigali since early 1995. Having been born in Uganda where his parents fled to escape political persecution during pre-liberation Rwanda, he was among the early returnees who took advantage of the country’s liberation in July 1994 from the genocidal regime to return and their home country to rebuild their lives.
“I have seen incredible infrastructural development ever since I came back. The face of Kigali has completely changed, and I’m happy to be a part of a generation that saw the beginning of this incredible pace of development,” he says.
Kamanzi goes on: “When I first came to Kigali, it was incomprehensible a dream to think about real estate in Kigali. Now several estates today are established in Gaculiro, Kicukiro and private projects in Kagarama, Kibagabaga and Kagugu, among others. And the momentum is continuing.”
Today, Kigali is a different place compared to 20 years ago. The street lights, paved roads, sidewalks and fancy coffee shops and the continually growing skyline are a main feature of the city. Kamanzi alludes to several iconic buildings in Kigali that have completely changed the city’s architecture and skyline.
Part of Kigali’s architectural development can be attributed to the growth of the private sector over the past decade, creating demand for more office space, particularly in the central business district.
The demand has peaked, thus resulting in shortages. For instance, the new Makuza Plaza is now expected to address part of the challenge the city has been facing, which saw office space rent cost an average of $18 per square metre per month.
To understand the present dynamics of Rwanda’s real estate, one should understand factors affecting supply and demand in the sector. Many developers, according to City of Kigali, are building structures in relation to market demand and affordability.
The increased supply of office space is inevitably going to lead to lower monthly rental charges and hopefully, people will stop turning residential premises into offices. Some of the buildings that have recently been built to mitigate shortage of office rent include CHIC, Kigali City Tower, Kigali Heights in Kacyiru, Soras Towers and M.Peace Plaza.
Kigali’s architectural development can also be seen in the context of the government’s ambitious economic development plans. For instance, the need to make Kigali a regional meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism hub has seen the construction of iconic conference facilities like the Kigali Convention Centre, completed in 2016.
Before that, the area around where the Convention Centre boasted average buildings, including the old Post Office and the once famous KBC, which had to be flattened to pave way for ultra-modern structures.
Talking of MICE, the hospitality industry has indeed helped change Kigali’s image, with hotels like Lemigo Hotel and Radisson Blu making Kigali a modern metropolitan that is now being described as Africa’s Singapore due to its rapid development, particularly in regard to its changing architecture.
The incredible story behind the changing face of Kigali would not be complete without paying homage to how Rwandans themselves who have worked hard to transform their city.
“We chose to think big, that is why we liberated the country,” President Kagame said on April 7, 2014, during the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Tabaro says that Kigali itself generally is like the sun that disappeared into the darkness of the night, only to rise up the following morning with more splendour.
Iconic Kwa Rubangura and the Nyarutarama jungle
By 1995, the tallest building in the city was commonly known as Kwa Rubangura, in reference to the owner, Vedaste Rubangura.
Rubangura was one of the wealthiest Rwandans at the time. His building had five floors but only three were occupied. It had just two toilets that served almost the entire facility.
“Rubangura’s building was iconic by then. It was the major reference point of everything in the city but, although it still exists and has been renovated, it is now just a dwarf among giants,” Kamanzi says.
And the area in Nyarutarama, now home to the famous MTN Centre, was one vast jungle roamed by wild animals. There were no ultra-modern upmarkets in Nyarutarama or residential premises where Kigali’s who-is-who now reside.
Away from Nyarutarama, I meet with Peterson Tabaro, the head of Cyimana Sector in Kacyiru. From a shop where he’s perched on a chair, looking through the window towards the now picturesque Gacuriro neighbourhood, he tells me that even immediately after the genocide Gacuriro was just a series of farms, and later people started to build informal houses that mostly catered to the poor.
“Now even if you see those red-roofed houses that give way to the white houses of Vision City, which area itself has gone through a period of rapid development, seeing that people initially went there to cultivate the land. But over the last few years, we’ve seen how fast new, imposing buildings have sprung up. Now it’s an estate inhabited by the middle class,” he says.
Celestine Muranira has lived in Majerwa since 1996. From when he first came to this area, it was all about informal houses but over the years, such imposing buildings like the Ministry of Health headquarters together with a host of other modern buildings have completely changed the skyline of the place.
However, when you really need to see how the architectural complexion of Kigali has changed, you should visit Kacyiru. Right from where Kigali Heights is located, itself a new building that was only commissioned last year, there are new architectural wonders that are replacing the old buildings and the area itself is becoming a city within a city.
And it is not only in Kigali City where we are seeing changing architecture. In 2010, the government announced that it had set aside Rwf1.5 billion for districts to construct modern houses for the needy to eliminate grass-thatched houses in the country, locally known as Nyakatsi. Travelling to rural areas, you are not likely to see any grass-thatched houses that were sanctuary for the rural poor 20 years ago.Read More
Kathryn Gemmell is a former student of International Studies at Edinburg University in Scotland. When she first came to Rwanda eight weeks ago to do research for her master’s degree dissertation, the first thing that impressed her was the way rural women in Nyakinama village, Musanze district, supported each other to make sense of their lives.
“I did International Studies at Edinburg University and when the time came to write my dissertation, I chose Rwanda since I had heard so much about the country and how the government takes care of women.
Gemmell says when she interviewed 72 different Rwandan women for her research, she realised is that most of them were proud of themselves despite the daily challenges they faced.
“The women work very hard to surmount their problems. Unlike my country Scotland where people are ashamed of being poor or appearing to be poor, these people are proud of themselves and are they are always looking for resourceful ways to solve their problems. It’s a big lesson to the world,” she says.
As a volunteer at Red Rocks Cultural Centre, Gemmell says working with local co-operatives has offered her an opportunity to not only give back to the community that has hosted her, but also to make new friends and gain confidence in working with something that is meaningful to others.
She says that from volunteering, she has been able to gain enough experience in her field of study, explore other areas of interest, and develop significant skills in leadership, problem-solving, communication and cultural awareness, among other things.
Gemmell notes that for the eight weeks she has been volunteering at Red Rocks Cultural Centre, what she has come to admire is how local women, through their co-operatives, are always there to support each other and how they have confidence in themselves to overcome the daily challenges they face.
Gemmell says she first came to Rwanda at the end of April this year and returned eight weeks ago because she naturally fell in love with the country.
She adds that she also likes Rwanda because it’s clean and green, adding that the efforts the government is making to conserve the environment is something that should be admired and replicated worldwide.
During her stay in the country, Gemmell has not been able to visit many attractions because of her busy schedule save for Mgahinga National Park in Uganda where she went to trek the critically endangered mountain gorillas. She has also visited Gisenyi, particularly Lake Kivu, and also the Akagera National Park to see the wildlife, particularly the big Five.
And before she goes back to Scotland, “I want to visit Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to see how the (dark) past of Rwanda is documented before I go back to Scotland. I have heard and read so much about the genocide against the Tutsi and it can be a disservice to myself if I go back without seeing this part of the country’s history preserved in Gisozi,” she says.
Gemmell came to know about Rwanda through Greg Bakunzi, the founder of Red Rocks Cultural Centre, who has previously worked with Edinburg University to promote their tourism, conservation and community development programmes.
“I don’t regret my decision to come to the country seeing that it has offered me enough experience to make positive changes in other peoples’ lives,” says Gemmell.Read More
As the world celebrates this year’s annual World Wildlife Day tomorrow, 50 members of different cooperatives in Nyakinama village, Musanze district, northern Rwanda, have embarked on a tree-planting mission to help in wildlife and nature conservation around the Volcanoes National Park.
The project, dubbed Igihoho and running under Red Rocks Initiatives for Sustainable Development, was officially launched today and will see the groups, mostly composed of vulnerable women and low-income families, plant thousands of trees to help protect endangered wildlife species around the country’s national parks.
According to Poline Mahawenimana, a member of Abarura Mucho Cooperative, one of the cooperatives taking part in the initiative, they have embarked on wildlife and environmental protection not only as part of Red Rocks’ programmes for sustainable development, but also to ensure the animals and plants are protected for posterity.
“Our initiative is defined by a philosophy that when we plant trees and restore the habitat, the animals are going to return. And that’s what we need in this community; to continue living harmoniously with nature,” says Poline, a mother of three.
The Igihoho Project uses banana barks that are stripped to make bags where seedlings are planted and later, the trees are going to be planted to coincide with the Tree Planting Day scheduled later this year.
Greg Bakunzi, the founder of Red Rocks Cultural Center, where the ceremony was held, told Chwezi Traveller that this was just the first part of an elaborate programme they’re initiating geared towards nature and wildlife conservation.
“The saying ‘we don’t plan to fail but we often fail to plan’ also applies to tree planting. Crucial to successful wildlife conservation is a well-developed plan to guide your action and decision making. Our long-term mission is not only to increase protective cover but also to grow shrubs and trees for other reasons as to protect wildlife, and our best plantings have set-off with a detailed plan,” said Bakunzi.
Bakunzi added that the use of banana barks stripped to make bags for planting the trees also will go a long way to help in the Rwanda government’s ban on the use of plastic bags, observing that many tree planters still use the plastic bags that are hazardous to the environment.
He further says that involving the local community in wildlife protection and nature conservation is part of their mission to see locals actively taking part in conservation and sustainable development, saying the vulnerable families that form the majority in rural households, are going to benefit from various incentives like cash for making the bags and planting the trees.
According to Rwanda Economy (2017) Survey, Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture and some mineral and agro-processing. Tourism, minerals, coffee and tea are Rwanda’s main sources of foreign exchange…while 40% of people, mostly in rural areas, live below the poverty line.
“We involve the vulnerable rural households around the national parks to help in conservation and also raise their livelihoods since tourism activities prevalent around here can greatly benefit them and our environment too,” says Bakunzi.
Joseph Bashayija, one of the cooperative members present during the launch of the Igihoho tree planting project, said the programme is going to involve local leaders and by extension the government and conservation players for proper placement of the trees and support.
“Our main objective is restoration of wildlife habitat through planting of trees since there are many species of animals like birds that depend on trees for their survival. Unfortunately, deforestation has led to endangering the survival of these animals, but we are out to right the wrong,” says Bashayija.
Rodriguez Iragena, a local television content producer, said Red Rock’s Igohoho tree planting programme is important in raising awareness about conservation in general, echoing the words of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that “protecting wildlife is a matter of protecting our planet’s natural beauty. We see it as a stewardhip responsibility for us and this generation and the future generations to come. But it is also a national security issue, a public health issue, and an economic security issue.”
He adds that the initiative is going to complement the government of Rwanda’s commitment to environmental and wildlife conservation, since these are among core issues the government is concerned with to promote sustainable development.Read More
Rwanda’s tourism is growing fast thanks to the creative stakeholders in its tourism industry. Renowned mostly for mountain gorillas, Rwanda is not only the best destination for gorilla safaris but also for an amazing cultural encounter with the local African people. If you would like to interact with the locals, learn about the culture of the African people, Rwanda is fast becoming a favorite destination to travelers. After successfully promoting the Kwita Izina, a gorilla naming ceremony held in July, the country is yet to launch another festival on the 26th, December, 2014.
The Nyanza District, home to some of the country’s most impressive historical and cultural sites from the past kingdom, has partnered with the National Institute for Museums and others to launch a culture festival held for the first time this year on Boxing Day, 26th of December. The Rwesero Art Museum has been selected as the venue for the inaugural event which will become part of Rwanda’s annual calendar of festivals.
There are several things that are to be showcased to travelers from traditional songs, poetry, art and crafts, etc. At the centre, tourists will learn about the traditional food preparations, live stock grazing, milking and other daily activities engaged in by the Rwandan people which will form the core of the various activities for the day, aimed to bring closer the country’s rich history to not only tourists but also the present day generation. The festival targets not only foreign tourists but also Rwandans as well as visitors from Eastern Africa. Tourists traversing the country can use this opportunity to stop by and enjoy some of the performances.
Rwanda’s tourism industry and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has in recent years diversified their offerings, from what once was an almost exclusive gorilla tracking destination to include the country’s two other national parks, Akagera and Nyungwe Forest, the 224 kilometre long Congo Nile Trail from Kamembe to Gisenyi, which runs along some of the country’s most scenic sites along Lake Kivu, bird watching areas, the National Museums and of course the annual naming of gorilla babies, Kwita Izina.Read More
The United Nations designated the year 2017 as the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development. And as the year closes, it’s imperative to take stock of the main highlights of the country’s tourism industry and also look at what 2018 has in store.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in May 2017 projected that Rwanda tourism would fetch about $444 million (about Rwf370 billion) in 2017, up from $404 million in 2016. The country’s tourism industry regulator said the increase in revenue would be a result of continued tourism promotion efforts as well as the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events and Exhibitions (MICE) strategy.
Rwanda tourism projections
Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive of RDB, said that from the total projections, MICE was expected to contribute $64 million, up from the $47 million it generated in 2016.
This was echoed by a World Bank report that said the increase in meetings, conventions and events following the establishment of the Convention Bureau led to revenues exceeding $37 million in 2015 and US$47 million 2016. In 2017, according to the report, revenue from all business tourism in the country (was) projected to reach $64 million.
Even though, as of going to press, the figures of how Rwanda’s tourism industry fared in 2017 among other pertinent questions remained unanswered despite email enquiries to RDB, tourism industry players are upbeat that Rwanda’s tourism remained boisterous in 2017, and hope if the momentum is maintained, tourism in Rwanda has a brighter future.
Rwanda tourism players chip in
Greg Bakunzi, the managing director of Amahoro Tours, says now that Rwanda has the so-called Big Five, there have been tourists this year that came specifically to see these animals.
“We now have a wide variety of wildlife apart from the gorillas, and even though the gorilla trekking fee was increased last year, visitors now have a diversity of attractions, and this is one reason why Rwanda maintained its visitor arrivals in 2017,” says Bakunzi.
Bart Gasana, the chairperson of the Tourism Chamber at the Private Sector Federation, observed in May 2017 that the industry projections were largely facilitated by the new gorilla trekking fees, RwandAir expansion and the MICE initiatives. As of 2017, the national carrier, RwandAir, established and now boasts a fleet of 12 aircraft serving 24 destinations globally, and this expansion is also seen as one of the reasons tourism in Rwanda continued with its growth according to projections.
Rwanda tourism now targets locals
RDB also intensified its campaign to promote domestic tourism when it launched the second edition of Tembera U Rwanda, a campaign geared towards encouraging domestic tourism in Rwanda to achieve sustainable development in the country’s tourism sector.
The adventurous but quite educational trips were held in two phases, from 25th to 26th November and 9th to 10 December. During this year’s campaign, a group of 98, the lucky winners of the Tombola Draw Experience that took place during the Liberation holiday, departed from Kigali to Musanze through Remarkable Rwanda’s nature, cultural and wildlife trails.
The tour itinerary on the departure date involved a stopover at Nyirangarama, lunch at La Palme Hotel, a thrilling walk through the mysterious Musanze caves extending for about 1.25 miles, caused by centuries of geological activity.
Day two was more exploratory as tourists trekked the endangered mountain gorillas. And after this hike, tourists enjoyed refreshments and lunch before departing to Buhanga eco-park to explore Rwandan culture and also learn about the country’s conservation journey.
According to RDB, this was the first promotional trip by RDB since the revision of the gorilla trekking permits but the call to action began during the liberation day holiday on 4th of July where everyone born on this date was given the opportunity to participate in a raffle competition.
In addition, Rwandans also had the chance to nominate friends and family born on this date through social media platforms.Read More
eeny Oberg, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR), will speak at the Barclays 2017 Gaming, Lodging, Leisure, Restaurant and Food Retail Conference, to be held on Wednesday, December 6. Ms. Oberg’s remarks will be at approximately 3:05 p.m., Eastern Time, and will be webcast live.
To access the webcast, please go to http://www.marriott.com/investor, and then click on the link to the “Barclays Gaming and Lodging Conference” under “Recent and Upcoming Events.”
The webcast will be available until March 5, 2018 at the same site.Read More
You may ask yourself what a refined and polished tourist from New York who has jumped off the plane at the Kigali International Airport and traveled to Musanze has in common with a rustic and weather-beaten Nyakinama village when you see them walking and chatting together along a small strip of road behind the imposing buildings of Musanze Village Polytechnic, seven kilometres west of Musanze town, northern Rwanda. The answer is Red Rocks Cultural Centre.
Both have a common interest that can be summed up into learning from each other’s culture. Since its establishment in 2011, Red Rocks Cultural Centre has established different programmes that help in promoting tourism, conservation and community development, and in this regard it has also helped in promoting activities that help to bring people of different backgrounds around the world to share their unique cultural experiences.
Jeanne Sauer, a tourist from Germany, says when she came to Rwanda her main purpose was not to see the famous mountain gorillas in their natural habitat around the Virunga massif, but to also experience what Rwandan people have to offer in terms of their culture.
“I had read about Rwanda and this is the country I had put on by bucket-list to visit one day. A quick Google search introduced me to Red Rocks and the amazing activities they provide there. I said this is a country I have to visit and here I am at Red Rocks, relishing my dreams,” she says.
The dream Sauer must be talking about is the various cultural activities that she found being carried out at Red Rocks. She says when she asked the staff about how she could spend her time enjoying the real cultural heritage of Rwanda, she was told that there are many activities that the local women here are engaged in, including making of authentic traditional Rwandan handicrafts, and of course demonstrating how to make the traditional beer.
“I wanted to have a first-hand experience of making the traditional beer. This is when they called a group of women who came with raw materials, precisely ripe bananas and the millet to help in making the final product,” she says.
Preserved and unchanged by a few die-hard loyalists, the brewing of Urwagwa – a local brew made out of crushed bananas – remains faithful to an ancient formula handed down over generations in Rwanda.
“The women, through their interpreter, led me through the whole process, and what I discovered is that it was not an industrial scale process as we know it but just putting your energy and effort into it,” says Sauer.
Like most traditional skills, the recipe and process for brewing Urwagwa is mostly handed down from father to son.
Jeanne Uwangabiye, a 52-year-old woman from Nyakinama village, says she picked the tips from his grandfather who would not substitute Urwagwa with any other beverages. She finds it appropriate to lead tourists through the process, which begins with obtaining ripe bananas and pressing them with grass to yield slightly clear juice.
The contents of the tank are then stirred and the leaves squeezed to remove residual juice which can effectively be obtained through using a small amount of water.
After that sprouted, lightly roasted or ground millet is poured on top of the juice which thereafter is covered in banana leaves and kept in a warm area for three days and this is why some times the mixture is buried in the ground to allow fermentation.
The process of fermentation happens because there are enzymes present in the sorghum which facilitate the breaking down of banana starch that is eventually acted upon by the yeasts and bacteria. Those who prefer enjoying the drink while it is as clean as possible may have to filter it prior to consumption.
“What I liked most about this experience is drinking what I had brewed with my own hands. It made me realize how life can be simple,” says Sauer.
Another tourist from the US, Fredric Fitzgerald, says he learned about the skills of making the traditional beer in a home in Nyakinama village when he went for a homestay.
“It was exciting to see how the people around there are able to use simple ingredients to make such stuff. And the taste was not all that bad!” he quips.Read More