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Rwanda a Tourism Destination

Rwanda is located in central Africa and has much history and natural beauty. There are many interesting tourism attractions and sites to see, with many guided gorilla tours and wildlife safaris to choose from. Each safari group is led by an experienced guide that specializes in teaching others about the landscape, culture of Rwanda and wildlife of Rwanda. There are expeditions to places like volcanoes, waterfalls and rainforests which are home to many different African Mammals. Rwanda is home to a huge diverse population of animals including the mountain gorillas and the largest natural park for Hippos. Although Rwanda is still a developing country it has quite well developed safari lodges and hotels and its new international interest in tourism is giving it a comeback

Rwanda’s Geography   

Rwanda is a relatively small country, covering 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 sq m). It is comparable in size to Haiti and the U.S. State of Maryland, and a little larger than Wales The country is located in East Africa, and neighbors the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; Uganda to the north; Tanzania to the east; and Burundi to the south. It lies a few degrees south of the Equator and is landlocked with the capital Kigali.

The watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins runs from north to south through Rwanda, with around 80% of the country’s area draining into the Nile and 20% into the Congo, via the Ruzizi River and Lake Tanganyika. The country’s longest river is the Nyabarongo, which rises in the south-west, flows north, east and south-east before merging with the Ruvubu to form the Kagera; the Kagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo-Kagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the overall source of the Nile. Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu. This lake occupies the floor of the Rift Valley along most of the length of Rwanda’s western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft) is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Park.

Virunga Mountains

Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda, with the Albertine branch of the Great Rift Valley running from North to South along the country’s western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virunga Mountains volcano chain in the north-west; this includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda’s highest point at 4,507 metres (14,787 ft). This western section of the country, which lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests eco region, has an average elevation of 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) to 2,500 metres (8,202 ft). The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna, plains and swamps.

Rwanda’s Climate

Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than is typical for equatorial countries due to the high altitude. Rubona, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 14 °C (57 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country, with the mountainous west being generally cooler than the lower lying east. There are two rainy seasons in the year; the first runs from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less reliable one from December to February. Rainfall also varies geographically, with twice as much average annual precipitation in the west as in the east.

Rwanda’s Economy

Rwanda’s economy suffered heavily during the 1994 genocide, with widespread loss of life, failure to maintain the infrastructure, looting and neglect of important cash crops, causing a large drop in GDP and destroying the country’s ability to attract private and external investment. The country has since strengthened, with per-capita GDP (PPP) estimated at $951 in 2008

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources, and the economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture by local farmers using simple tools. An estimated 90% of the working population farms, and agriculture comprised an estimated 39.4% of GDP in 2006.Since the mid 1980s, farm sizes and food production have been decreasing, due in part to the resettlement of displaced people. Thus despite Rwanda’s fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, requiring food imports

The industrial sector is small and uncompetitive. Products manufactured include cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes. Despite being a landlocked country of few natural resources, Rwanda’s mining industry is an important contributor, generating US$93 million in 2008.Minerals mined include cassiterite, wolframite, gold and coltan, which is used in the manufacture of electronic and communication devices such as mobile phones

Tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors and is now the country’s leading foreign exchange earner; generating US$214 million in 2008, up by 54% on the previous year. Despite the genocide, the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination, and one million people are estimated to have visited the country in 2008, up from 826,374 in 2007. The country’s most popular tourist activity is the tracking of mountain gorillas, which takes place in the Volcanoes National Park. Other attractions include Nyungwe Forest, home to chimpanzees and famous for Chimpanzee trekking experience s and canopy walk, Ruwenzori colobus and other primates, the resorts of Lake Kivu, and Akagera, a small savanna wildlife reserve in the east of Rwanda

Rwanda Politics

Rwanda is a presidential republic, based upon a multi-party system. The current constitution was adopted following a national referendum in 2003, replacing a transitional set of documents known as the Fundamental Law and providing a coalition government, which had been in place since the RPF military victory in 1994. The President of Rwanda is the head of state and has broad, unilateral powers to create policy, administer government agencies, exercise the prerogative of mercy, command the armed forces, negotiate and ratify treaties, sign presidential orders and declare war or a state of emergency. The president is selected by popular vote every seven years. The incumbent is Paul Kagame, who took office under the transitional government arrangements in 2000 and won elections in 2003 and 2010

Rwanda’s Rich Culture

Unlike many countries in Africa, Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times with only one ethnic group, the Banyarwanda, and a shared language and cultural heritage. Eleven regular national holidays are observed throughout the year, with others occasionally inserted by the government. Additionally, the week following Genocide Memorial Day on 7 April is designated an official week of mourning. The last Saturday of each month is umuganda, a national day of community service, during which most normal services close down.

Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling. The most famous traditional dance is Intore, a highly choreographed routine consisting of three components – the ballet, performed by women; the dance of heroes, performed by men, and the drums. Traditionally, music is transmitted orally with styles varying between the social groups. Drums are of great importance, the royal drummers having enjoyed high status within the court of the King (Mwami). Drummers usually play together in groups of seven or nine

Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, although most originated as functional items rather than purely for decoration. Woven baskets and bowls are especially common.  The south east of Rwanda is noted for imigongo, a unique cow dung art, whose history dates back to when the region was part of the independent Gisaka kingdom. The dung is mixed with natural soils of various colours and painted into patterned ridges, forming geometric shapes. Other crafts include pottery and wood carving.

Rwanda’s Franc

The franc became the currency of Rwanda in 1916, when Belgium occupied the previously German colony. There are plans to introduce a common currency, a new East African shilling, for the five member states of the East African Community by the end of 2008.

In 1964, notes of the Rwanda and Burundi Bank of Emission were overstamped for use in Rwanda alone. Denominations were 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 francs. These were followed by regular issues for the same amounts. 20- and 50-franc notes were replaced by coins in 1977, with 5,000-franc notes introduced in 1978. The nation’s first-ever 2,000-franc note was introduced in mid-December 2007 and were legalized as legal tender in the region.