What to do in Rwanda before or after a conference in Kigali
Things to do in Rwanda before or after a conference in Kigali. Rwanda is landlocked, sharing borders with Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Burundi. The beautiful rolling hills are a sight to see, and not forgetting the Mountain gorillas that are the main tourist attraction in the country. After the country faced a lot of challenges and setbacks with the 1994 genocide, the government has done all it could to make sure that the country is secure and improved in the tourism sector. This article will cover the tourist attractions in Rwanda and the different things you can do before or after a conference.
Most Popular Safaris
There are several things that you can do on a safari before or after a conference in Rwanda, and these include the following:
Visit the Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is best known for gorilla trekking, with over 400 gorillas and ten habituated gorilla families. Gorilla trekking is an exercise that tourists highly book, and over the years, there has been an increase in the number of tourists booking for a gorilla safari. It is an activity in high demand, and to be able to trek, one must possess a gorilla permit, which needs to be booked early. Volcanoes National Park has 80 permits per day, which means that if you do not book early, you might be unable to participate in the activity on your desired dates. This is one of the activities you should engage in before or after the conference.
The Gorilla Guardians village, formerly known as the Ibyiwacu Cultural Village, is located just south of the Volcanoes National Park and is the best place to learn more about the Kinyarwanda culture and the gorillas. Edwin Sabuhoro created the village to employ former poachers who needed rehabilitation and work to protect the gorillas. The center is a hub for knowledge, and tourists get to learn more about the Kinyarwanda culture, enjoy the local food prepared, and try on traditional clothes. If you are lucky, you get to attend a Kinyarwanda traditional wedding and get to enjoy the traditional songs and dances.
Volcanoes National Park is home to some of the Virunga ranges, including Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke, famous for its Crater Lake, and Mount Sabinyo. The hike up the mountains is a different experience, and you get to see the different views around the national park, including the wildlife.
The Musanze caves located outside the Volcanoes National Park were opened to the public and tourists in 2013. These are about 2 kilometers long with 32 entrances to the caves. They have also been renovated, and staircases were built with paved pathways to ease access to the caves. The Musanze caves are filled with bats and were used by the Batwa people as hiding places during the war and it was a place for strategizing.
Golden monkey trekking in Rwanda is one of the activities carried out in Volcanoes National Park. Golden monkeys are endangered species that can be trekked in Volcanoes throughout the year, like gorilla trekking. Some rules need to be followed when trekking to protect them from extinction, and they need to be followed throughout the trek. You will also need to purchase a golden monkey trek permit to trek the monkeys. While on the trek, you also get to see other primates including gorillas, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and black and white colobus monkeys among others.
Visit Akagera National Park
Akagera is Uganda’s largest national park, with a wide range of wildlife that can be seen during game drives around the national park. Akagera National Park is good for game drives. Still, other activities that can be carried out in the park include birding, boat cruising along Lake Ihema, and enjoying the cultural trips in the communities around the national park. Some animals found in Akagera include lions, antelopes, buffaloes, hippos, and crocodiles.
Enjoy guided tours in Kigali.
Kigali is Rwanda’s capital city and was named one of the world’s cleanest cities. A guided tour around Kigali allows you to explore the city, meet the locals, and enjoy the Kigali Convention Center, a prominent building in Kigali. The unique lighting of the building during the night is fantastic, and a good place to go for shopping, a photography spree, and enjoying some good level 5-start treatment at the Radisson Blue Hotel.
If you enjoy the nightlife, then the Mamba Club in Kigali is the place to be. This is a recreational Centre where Kigali’s upper and middle class hang out after a long day. They have a well-stocked bar good food, and it is the only place in the city that has a bowling alley. You should note that the nightlife in Kigali city and Rwanda as a country ends before midnight, and loud music that disrupts the peace of others is not allowed.
Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to the oldest montane forests on the African continent and home to over 13 primate species like chimpanzees which are the main tourist attractions in the park, Olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and grey-cheeked mangabeys among others. Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe is done in two sections: the Nyungwe forest and cyamudongo. Chimpanzee habituation is also offered at the park. Unlike chimp trekking, where tourists get to spend an hour with the chimps, you get to spend almost an entire day with the chimpanzees, learning more about their behavior. Tourists have to purchase a chimpanzee trekking permit to be able to participate in the exercise. During the trek, you will also be able to spot the different primate species, butterflies, and over 130 bird species.
Visit the Hotel des Mille Collines
The 5-star hotel is best known to have been the center of making the movie Hotel Rwanda in 3004, which was based on a true story. The hotel manager at the time managed to secure over 1300 people during the genocide, and he managed to do this because diplomats were also using the hotel. A visit to the 5-star hotel is not only a way to visit the famous hotel but also offers some of the best luxurious services to the public, with over 115 luxurious rooms, continental food, and a swimming pool. You will join several famous people to visit the hotel.
Enjoy the canopy walk in Nyungwe.
The Nyungwe canopy walk is the longest in East Africa, rising to about 50 meters above the forests. The walkway was opened in 2010 and has since received many tourists attempting the walk. It is divided into three parts, and each of these comes with exciting challenges. Note that children are not allowed to participate in the canopy walk unless an adult accompanies them. However, It is not an exercise for tourists with a phobia of heights and can be best carried out during the dry season. The canopy walk not only gives you a challenge but also explores the park from a different point of view.
Visit the genocide Centres.
Kigali Genocide Memorial Center: The Kigali genocide memorial center is a place to learn about the brutal past of the country and remember all the innocent people who lost their lives during the genocide. It is a final resting place for over 300 000 people who were killed during the war. The center is run by a non-government organization, AEGIS, and is divided into sections, some showing photographs of the survivors and personal items of the victims, including their skulls. When you go outside, there is a mass grave and names of some of the victims, although, to this day, words are still being added to the list.
Nyamata church: The Nyamata church is one of the many genocide Centres in Rwanda, where over 25, 000 Tutsis were killed after seeking refuge from the Interahamwe. The locals had sought refuge in a church, but the Hutu militia attacked and opened the doors using grenades and killed everyone who was found in the church. The church is still as it was with the national IDs of locals who lost their lives in the church, the altar cloth is still stained with blood, and you can see some human bones as well. There is also a mass grave where hundreds of people were buried.
Other genocide centers that can be visited include:
- The Murambi Genocide Memorial.
- Nyanza genocide memorial.
- Ntarama genocide memorial.
- Bisesero genocide memorial.
- Nyarubuye genocide memorial, among others.
Go for a food safari around the country.
Rwanda has several local cuisines that you should try out before a conference. Try the grilled meat, akabanga, Isombe, and Somboza on your food safari. The local cuisines will be prepared at almost all the restaurants in the country. You can also try out the locally prepared brew known as the Urwagwa, which several locals enjoy after work.
Visit the milk bars as one of your food safaris and get to taste the fresh milk from the long-horned cattle of Rwanda. Milk bars are found in almost every part of the country, and locals are known to take milk nearly every day. If you are around Kigali, the Kigali milk bar is the best place to taste the milk.
Enjoy the Congo Nile Trail
If cycling is your best aspect, you will enjoy the Congo Nile trail. The trail is 140 miles long, passing along the shores of Lake Kivu, through Nyungwe National Park and tea plantations, and towards the end of the course, you have clear views of the border of Congo. The trail also passes through several villages where you can refresh with food and drinks. Some things you need to pack for the cycling experience on Congo Nile Trail include a tent, snacks, bottled drinking water, a warm sweater, helmet, bedding, a mask to protect yourself from the dust, and goggles, among others. Bikes can be hired at the start of the cycling trial at a small fee, but make sure that you check them to find out if they are in good condition.
Take a trip to the tea plantations.
Tea is the 2nd most exported cash crop after coffee in Rwanda and has some of the largest tea plantations, some of which are privately owned. Tea visits can easily be arranged to the different tea plantations, including Pfunda tea plantation, Gisovu tea plantation, and Gisakura tea plantation, and when you get there, you can learn about the planting, weeding, harvesting, and processing of the tea before it is put on the market.
Go shopping at the Kamironko market.
The Kamironko market is one of the best places to visit if you want to shop in Rwanda before or after the conference. The market is a hub for almost everything like different types of food and vegetables at a reasonable price, and fruits, there is also an extension where second-hand clothes, handbags, shoes, and suits are sold and it is a good place to purchase all types of Kitenge fabric. Kamironko market is the perfect place to purchase all the souvenirs you need before or after the conference, but make sure you bargain a bit because prices are hiked when the locals see a foreigner.
Join the Umuganda ceremony.
The Umuganda ceremony is carried out every last Saturday of the month, and it is where every citizen is expected to clean the city and their local communities. The ceremony is like a public holiday with offices closed and no cars allowed, flagged off by the president, Umuganda is meant to help the citizens stop unnecessary littering of the community and keep it clean. The activity is compulsory for all citizens but not tourists, however, you can still volunteer to join in and get to know more about the local people.
The best time to go for a trip to Rwanda is during the dry season, June to September, and December to February. Many tourist activities are best carried out during this month, but note that it is peak season, and everything needs to be done in time to get the best safari deals.