Rwanda is located in East Africa and is situated in the African great lakes region. The republic of Rwanda is bordered by mountains to the west and savanna to the east. Rwanda was colonized by the Germans in 1884 followed by a Belgian regime during the First World War. Things went from bleak to really bad during the Rwandan genocide but have now recovered to a large extent. The economy is majorly supported by Subsistence Agriculture and tourism. Unlike other African countries the climate in Rwanda would surprisingly remind you of Germany. Kigali is the capital and largest city in Rwanda and is located in the heart of the country. If you have a misnomer about Africa not being safe for travel, then you must know that Rwanda would prove you wrong. Still not convinced? Here are the top reasons why you should visit Rwanda.
1. Volcanoes National Park
Located in North Eastern Rwanda the Volcanoes National Park is known to be one of the remaining strongholds of the Mountain Gorilla. The park gets its name from the five volcanoes that are located in the park. These volcanoes are covered with bamboo moors and rainforests. The park terrain mostly comprises of marshes, meadows, swamps, lakes, grasslands and rainforests and lower montane forests. The fauna in the Volcanoes National Park mostly comprises of the famous mountain gorillas, Golden Monkey, Buffalo, Spotted Hyena and Bushbuck etc.
The capital and the largest city in Rwanda, Kigali would remind you of a typically European town with clean streets and paved roads. The city was founded in 1907 under the German colonial rule but did not become the capital till the Rwandan independence in 1962. Kigali was also at the center stage of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. Kigali also enjoys a cool subtropical climate which ranges between 27 to 15 degrees throughout the year. The town was built in a hilly location with the average elevation of 1,600 meters above sea level. Mount Kigali is the highest point sitting atop an elevation of 1,850 meters above sea level.
3. Virunga Mountains
The chain of volcanic mountains of Virunga is located towards the northern border of Rwanda and is known for its population of the mountain gorillas and the lush green surroundings of low montane forests. The region houses 8 volcanoes in total most of which are dormant or extinct. The mountains are also one of the major trekking hotspots in the world with some really marvelous trek routes. Mount Visoke is located at 3,711 meters above sea level and has a splendid crater lake at the top.
4. Huye / Butare
The former colonial capital of Rwanda, Butare is located in the southern region of Rwanda. The city is characterized by colonial buildings, clean streets, churches, Museums and a plethora of terrace cafés and restaurants. The city was renamed as Huye but the locals still prefer to use Butare. The major attractions in Butare are The National Museum of Rwanda, Ginkoro Genocidal Museum, Huye Market and the National University of Rwanda.
5. Rwanda Lakes
Due to its location in the Great Lakes region of Africa, Rwanda is a natural paradise surrounded with many pristine and charming lakes and lake beaches. Five volcanic lakes lie on the border of Rwanda and Congo and are full of some great attractions. Kivu is the largest freshwater lake in Rwanda and is located on the Congo border. The lake is encased between green terraced hills and is also home to some of the most beautifully located resort towns in Africa. Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo are also two lesser known lakes with breathtaking beauty. The lakes are bordered by mountains and provide a great place for trekking, hang gliding and water skiing etc. The surrounding forests are also great for a marvelous gorilla safari.
6. Genocide Memorials
Although no one would want to reminisce genocide on their vacation but the Genocide Memorials in Rwanda are one of the top visited attractions. Although the country has made a huge progress since the 1994 genocide but, it is vital that the visitors and the people who live here, know about the horrific incident that shook eastern Africa. The Kigali Memorial center was developed as a museum that houses the detailed but grotesque history of the Rwandan genocide. Located in Gisozi is the burial site of 250,000 of the 1 million genocide victim and is surrounded by several gardens and a wall with the names of the victims (Under Construction). At the south of Kigali in the Nyamata and Ntrama regions are located the churches which were also the sites for the horrendous massacre. A school was also one of the sites to the genocide and also houses a museum which contains preserved bodies of the victims and a detailed history about the outbreak of the genocide etc.
Rwanda is indeed unlike any other African country you might have visited. Despite of its close location to the equator, the climate remains soothing throughout the year do you its highland location. The above attractions are just a handful of the several places located in the Republic of Rwanda.
Rohit Agarwal is a traveler who likes to visit the various historic places in the world. Being an architect by profession his prime interest lays in the historic architecture. He is also the contributor for Transindiatravels.com which is the best place to gather tourist information about the various places in India.