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Rwanda’s terrain, with its volcanoes, rolling hills and lush green valleys, is enough reason to visit the country. Like Kigezi in southwest Uganda, Rwanda’s terraced hillsides offer the eye and the camera limitless opportunities to this country’s capture unique beauty. However, Rwanda has a lot more to offer than its hills, including:

Akagera National Park, a low altitude grassland spread over 1122 square kilometres, with acacia trees and other bush,  is at the northeast border with Tanzania. The area resembles Nkore (Ankole) Named after the Akagera river that is a major tributary of Lake Ihema and ultimately Lake Nnalubaale (Victoria) to the north, the Park has several other lakes, including Lake Rwanyakizinga, Lake Mihindi, Lake Hago and Lake Kivumba.

Akagera National park in RwandaAkagera National Park has many papyrus swamps  that offer sustenance to the large number of animal species.  The Park, which was opened in 1934, is home to over 500 bird species, and over 8,000 large mammals including zebras, giraffes, antelopes, hyenas, jackals, monkeys, baboons, buffalos and elephants. After a nearly 20-year absence, 7 South African lions were reintroduced into the Park in July 2015.

Black Rhino In Plains

Akagera National Park has many papyrus swamps  that offer sustenance to the large number of animal species.  The Park, which was opened in 1934, is home to over 500 bird species, and over 8,000 large mammals including zebras, giraffes, antelopes, hyenas, jackals, monkeys, baboons, buffalos and elephants. After a nearly 20-year absence, 7 South African lions were reintroduced into the Park in July 2015.

It was announced on March 1, 2016 that, with the financial support of the Government of the Netherlands, the black rhinoceros would also be reintroduced into the Park

Antilope in Akagera National park in RwandaThe Park is 117 km. from Kigali, making a day trip a very attractive option for those who do not have the time to spend a night at the Akagera Game Lodge that is within the Park.

Driving through the Park during the rainy season is a very treacherous undertaking. The long rainy season is March to May. The short rainy season is October to November. The dry seasons are  June to September and December to February.

Nyungwe Forest National Park, established in 2004, is in the southwest part of the country, bordering Burundi to the south and Congo too the west. It is one of Africa’s oldest rainforests and the continent’s largest protected mountain forest. It was first gazetted as a protected forest in 1903.  Spread over 1,019 square kilometres, Nyungwe has more than 200 tree species, numerous orchids, over 85 mammal species, 275 bird species, 32 amphibian species and 38 reptile species. It has a large number of primates. The Park features the Nyungwe Forest canopy walk, 60 meters above the forest floor.

Rwanda’s recent history is written with the blood of nearly one million  people who were massacred in the 1994 genocide.  250,000  of the victims are interred in the gardens of the Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali, a place where they are remembered and honoured; where their lives and deaths offer lessons to the living. There are many archival documents, weapons in glass cases, wall displays, a room with glass-encased human skulls and other bones, numerous photographs of the dead, including children, with snippets of their stories and how they died, all narrated with heart-rending audio-visual shows throughout the museum.

This is not an easy visit. However, it is a very necessary visit – to pay respects, to learn, to try to understand the incomprehensible. Very highly recommended.

 

Genocide Museum     Unity - Kigali Genocide Memorial - Main building

 

When you complete the indoor visit, you will have an opportunity to walk past the mass graves, and then into the memorial gardens for a moment of reflection.

 

Mass Graves

genocide memorial Genocide Memorial Kigali - Mass Grave

The remains of 250,000 people are interred here. In the garden is a black marble wall with the victim’s names.

 

Genocide Memorial Garden Kigali _

Before leaving the museum, visit the shop and buy souvenirs.  Entrance into the Kigali Genocide Memorial is free. However, you should consider donating money to the Centre as a contribution to its operating costs.

Volcanoes National Park , spread over 160 square kilometres in Northern Rwanda, offers spectacular views of the volcanoes that are part of the Birunga chain at the edge of the western rift valley. Bordering Uganda and Congo, this park is the oldest in Africa, with a fascinating story that is partly linked to the names of Dr. Dian Fossey and to the Rwandan war of 1990-94.

The Park is home to mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, bushbuck, buffaloes, elephants, spotted hyenas, black-fronted duiker and 178 bird species. It is only 2 hours north of Kigali, making a day trip very easy.  Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where To Stay

Hotels:
Excellent hotels in Kigali and the major towns.

Serena Kigali Hotel-2

Currency

Currency information:
Rwanda Franc (RWF) = 100 centimes. Notes are in denominations of RWF 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. Coins are in denominations of RWF100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. It is best to travel with US dollars, as some banks won’t accept sterling. At forex bureaus currency should be in 100 or 50 USD denominations – 2003 or newer bills with no marks or blemishes.

Credit cards:
Accepted at only a few hotels in Kigali. MasterCard and Visa are the preferred cards.

ATM:
International Visa cards are accepted at Eco bank head office in Kigali and at Kigali airport. They can also be used at Access Bank head office in Kigali.

Travellers’ cheque:
These are often harder to cash and require extra fees in banks though very few banks still accept them in Rwanda.

Banking hours:
Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1400-1700, Sat 0800-1200.

 

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