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Rwanda Overview

Rwanda Overview

About Rwanda

Rwanda, a small landlocked country in east-central Africa, is trying to recover from the ethnic strife that culminated in government-sponsored genocide in the mid-1990s. Rwanda is a country in Central and East Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.

Rwanda over view

Rwanda culture

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Rwandan Culture

The culture of Rwanda is a very diversified and it has a unified state since pre-colonial times unlike many countries in Africa. It not only includes the population of Rwanda but also Kinyarwanda speaking people in the neighboring states particularly Uganda and Congo. There are 3 main ethnic groups in the Rwandan culture namely Hutu, Tusi and the Twa and these are based on perceptions of historical originals and not cultural differences. All the three speak the same language, live interspersed throughout the same territory and also practice the same religions. Rwandans living in Uganda and Congo include refugees as well as Kinyarwanda speakers who lived outside Rwanda for generations and all these usually maintain a strong identification with the Rwandan national state.

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The Language Used In Rwanda

Kinyarwanda is the language spoken by most Rwandans as their mother tongue but almost every Rwandan speaks a little of one wider language mainly French, English and Swahili. When dealing with their main trading partners in East Africa, Rwandans make use of English and Swahili. Well educated individuals however often speak fluent French and many migrants who returned home after the genocide from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania or the USA tend to speak English more. Rwandans are very pleased when visitors try to speak their mother tongue (Kinyarwanda). Speaking a few words like ‘amakuru’ (how are you) or ‘Muraho’ (good day) gets them excited.

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Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda 

Gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park and around Rwanda that is termed as one of the unforgettable experience not to miss when given a chance, Although you will have been well assured that the gorillas are habituated, chances are you have never seen one, habituated or otherwise, the experience is exciting and your trekking is quite enjoyable through the forest. Your anxiety will probably go away when you finally come face to face with the gorillas and playful young ones that might occasionally astray closer than expected then realize you have nothing to fear.

Where To Trek Gorillas

Before booking a gorilla trekking safari, you should first know where these gentle giants. Mountain gorillas are only found in two regions which are Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park and the Virunga conservation area. The Virunga massif comprises of Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in Congo and Magahinga gorilla national park in Uganda. Its only in these four national parks that a traveler can see mountain gorillas. Interestingly, each gorilla national park destination is an exception from the other in terms of location, access, and the number of habituated gorilla families. Bwindi has the highest number of mountain gorillas with 17 gorilla families habituated for trekking, Volcanoes has 10 gorilla families, Mgahinga has one gorilla family while Virunga national park has 8 gorilla families habituated for trekking. Travelers with ample time are advised to trek gorillas in all destination to make accurate comparisons.

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Birding In Rwanda

Birdwatching in Rwanda is somewhat overlooked in favour of gorilla-trekking trips. However, birdlife in Rwanda is excellent, giving visitors the chance to see some of the Albertine Rift endemic bird species. There are over 600 species in Rwanda, which is amazing for such a small country and makes for great birding.

Perhaps the key area for bird watching in Rwanda is the vast Afromontane forest of Nyungwe National Park, which is recognised as an IBA (‘Important Bird Area’) by Birdlife International. Look here for some of Rwanda’s Albertine Rift endemics, including the Albertine owlet, collared apalis, red-collared mountain-babbler and Grauer’s and Neumann’s warblers.

As an aside, the papyrus swamps in Akagera National Park are one of few places in Africa where shoebill storks are found along side other bird species.

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Means of Transport In Rwanda

In Rwanda, transport is operated in three modes, namely (1) land Transport, (2) Air transport, and (3) maritime transport. The land transport which is currently practiced through roads is the main used one in the country. Air transport industry is also growing fast, and the government is aimed at making Kigali, and aviation hub. The country is also expected to have a railway in few years to come to reduce transport costs in the region by improving railway transport infrastructure, to facilitate exports and imports. Here are some of the means of transport.

Motor cycle taxis

These are commonly referred to as Taxi Motos. Moto taxi drivers ware green jackets, helmets with ID numbers and are always with an extra helmet for the customer and these belong to a Union known as ASSETAMORWA and there is a standard style for sitting the motor cycle for both men and women.

Express Costas

These provide transport in key urban areas of Rwanda and also link Kigali City with major regional centers.

Bicycles

Bicycles are a common means of transport around the country but are not allowed to enter towns. They stop in designated areas before they enter town.

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Security In Rwanda

Rwanda is one of the safest and most secure countries in Africa, especially for visitors to Rwanda and even more so if certain Safety and Security guidelines and tips are followed during your visit to the Land of a Thousand Hills.  Kigaku one of the safest capitals in Africa and over 99%  of visitors come and leave Rwanda without an incident.

Rarely do you read anything in the local newspapers about a visitor to Rwanda having safety and security problems during their stay in Rwanda.  Things such as petty theft, credit card fraud, overcharging all can be avoided by common sense steps and read some of the Safety and Security Advice and Tips found on our site.

Kigali, Rwanda, when it comes to Central and East Africa is probably the one capital in the region where a Tourist will feel safe, You are in Africa and yet there is a sense of order and modernity found here.  Some call it the Singapore of Africa.  Even its nightlife is mild, the sidewalks roll up at night, recently one letter writer proposed to close Bars by 9 pm.