BACKPACKING RWANDA 2020

kigali city view from my hotel

Since 2014 when i started my hobbie of traveling around the world as a backpacker and then later as fulltime digital nomad/photographer, Rwanda has always come up in my each yearly list of countries to visit but for soe reason it ended up always being sideline.

But though this occasionally happened, my love for visiting this country that truly owned not only one but many unexplainable reasons n why i fall in love or fascinated about it never stop untill last week when it finally happened and i had to travel there .

mash poa bus heading to Rwanda

The Republic of Rwanda is the country that springs from the grand lakes. Indeed, a breath of fresh air from all things foul and unsightly in the whole of Africa.  Rwanda is one country that understood potential out of conflict, the one that desired greatness after disorder, the one of the successful ones. The land of the proud citizens, this is what Africa should be if not for the evidently weak governance of their leaders, some believe. This is where Africa wants to be. And, not just because Gorillas of the Mist was filmed here in 1988 and enamoured Sigourney Weaver, who turned up in a BBC documentary about unrelenting poaching two decades hence, because like every country, they too have issues.

Rwanda is a splendid nation, but before it was known as a success story with picturesque architecture and manicured lawns, the country was known for gorillas, thus movie that’s timely and sensible. It is abundant in wildlife, distinctively the rare mountain gorillas, which became the allure of the country’s tourism sector. Not to downplay other things charming about Rwanda, but the country did feed on that promotion. Surely, there’s a whole lot more to Rwanda than its silver backs. The “land of a thousand hills” is rich in stunning flora and fauna, and what do you know, litter-free cities too like the capital, Kigali, the first city in Africa awarded the Habitat Scroll of Honour for its “cleanliness, security and urban conservation model”.

my drone photage of kigali at night

GEOGRAPHY

Backpacking in Rwanda

Rwanda (2 00 S, 30 00 E) is a landlocked 26,338 km2-landmass in what is seemingly at the heart of Africa. The terrain is mostly savannah grasslands and sloping hills. The landscape is mountainous with altitude increasing from east to west. The lot of the country is above 950m, the lowest point that is Rusizi River, and the highest, the Volcan Karisimbi, 4,519 m above sea level.

CLIMATE

While the country lies close to the equator, temperate climate (tropical highland) calms the heat with low temperatures as a result of its high altitude.  There are two rainy seasons from February-April and November-January, two dry seasons from June-September and September to December, and possibly snow and frost. Temperatures are cooler in the west than the lower lying east.

PEOPLE

There are an estimated 11,055,976 Rwandans in the country belonging to one of any of the three indigenous groups in Rwanda: the Hutus (Bantus), the Tutsi (Hamitic), and the Twa (Pygmies).  The Hutus form the majority with almost 85% of the population. The population seems little, but take the land area, Rwanda is the highest in population density in the SSA even after the genocide in 1994. Only 150,000 of the population live with HIV, which is just a little over 1% of the entire population. However, extra precautions are taken against yellow fever.

LANGUAGE

KINYARWANDA is a Bantu vernacular, and one of the official languages of Rwanda, along with FRENCH and ENGLISH, the most recent addition. KISWAHILI is spoken in market towns and other commercial centres, while French is the language of the elite and education. English was only recently hailed official for its purpose in ensuring Rwanda’s integration to the East African economic community.

RELIGION

Most of the Rwandans are Christians with 93.5% adherents that could be Protestants, Adventists, or Roman Catholics. Muslims comprise around 5% of the population whereas only 0.1% remained in indigenous African worship.

ATTRACTIONS

If here to visit the primary primate attraction that are the mountain gorillas, then you are in the right African country. But, indeed, there are far more reasons to come and appreciate such a country of indefinable beauty. Without a trace of its violent past, here in Rwanda are spectacular brick architecture, scenic natural surroundings, cool weather conditions that are rare in Africa, bewildering wildlife, and flavourful culture and food. For culture vultures, there are interesting museums like the National Museum in the fine cultural city of Butare and, slightly north, the Gitarama Art Museum. Hailed the “land of the great lakes” because of its copious lakes and water forms, aquatic fun is possible in a landlocked nation after all. In the absence of white sands and shores, Kibungu, east of Rwanda, is a region of lakes and falls like the Lake Mungesera and Rusumo Falls, respectively. Other lake-side resorts are Kibuye and Cyangugu. The thermal waters of Nyakabuye are also amazing to experience in the cool highland temperatures.

But the wildlife is truly unlike any other; hence, safari is a favoured activity in Africa as it is in Rwanda particularly. The wildlife VIP’s are here, add the zebras, apes, crikeys and lots more animals from the animal kingdom. As one of the last sanctuaries of the mountain gorilla, the most intimate wildlife tours is at the Parc National des Volcans, in Virunga, north of Rwanda, covered with thick lush green forest- unique too, with its expeditions coiled “volcano safaris”. Watching the gorillas in their natural habitat, which means no cages, no barriers, just 20 feet away is a perfectly personal and spiritual experience, unparalleled and unforgettable in any way. Now, that’s a close encounter. Aside from the primates, the region also offers opportunities for water sports, aerial trips over the craters, and tons of other activities. And with the Lake Kivu, a colossal inland sea, things just can’t get any better.

FOOD

Or can it…Rwandan cuisine. The country’s gastronomy is fundamentally carbohydrates-based with staples such as rice, bananas, potatoes, corns, beans, and cassava, their main agricultural produces which 90% of the people rely on. These they consume from breakfast to dinner. Very basic is the ugali or maize meal that is eaten in most parts of Africa. Rwandans consume little vegetables, meat, and fish with some sauce, as meat is pretty special here. The food is neither spicy nor hot, and you’d definitely go on a wild search for food to really enjoy and not just to sate hunger, as mundane and simple Rwandan food mostly is.

Lucky they have brochettes or kebabs that are so aromatic and flavourful, except that they are goat and tastes a bit gamey, if you’re used to pork, chicken, or beef. The grilled stuff totally redeems Rwanda where they have absolutely remarkable grilled fish and meats. Its cuisine also benefits from European influences, and European food fare is simply fantastic like the sandwiches, burgers, pasta, and pizza.

As all world destinations i have got a chance to travel too, Rwanda also has many unique things to do or get around with once paid a visit., warning travel with a positive mind not a stereo type mind and be safe. looking forwa>rd for the feedbacks

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