Land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is a landlocked country in Africa well known for its gruesome genocide that saw almost 1 million people killed in a 100 days in 1994. However beneath the sadness and tumultuous history that has shaped this country, Rwanda is known for its rich and fertile beautiful green scenery, mountains, forests, lakes, markets of busy traders and friendly, welcoming people . 26,338 square kilometers and a stone throw away from the Equator with average temperatures ranging in the 20 degrees, Rwanda has a long rainy season that runs from March to May. With the long dry season running in the middle of the year, June to mid-September is generally the best time to visit this East African country. Considered to be the cleanest city in Africa, you will most likely find the pulsating beat of Rwanda in the sprawling enclave of Kigali that runs across numerous hills, ridges and valleys.
There is more to Rwanda than meets the eye and here are 5 reasons why you should add this beautiful country to your bucket list of places to visit in Africa.
- Visit the gorillas in the wild. Rwanda is one of only 3 countries in Africa where you can see mountain gorillas. There are a few experiences in the world more memorable and magical than an encounter with a mountain gorilla. Rwanda is blessed to be among the few countries that happen to be a home to the few remaining mountain gorillas in the world and it is thought that they are only around 1000 mountain gorillas world wide today and all found in small areas of East Africa straddling the border of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
- The actual ‘Hotel de Mille Collines’ on which the movie, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ was showcased was built in 1973 and is the first grand hotel of the country and has received worldwide attention since the Hollywood movie came out in 2004. Hôtel des Mille Collines is surely the most famous hotel in Rwanda. Enjoy the location in the central business district and the breathtaking views over the hills of Kigali and indulge yourself in culinary experiences offered from casual to fine dining, with international cuisine to local signature dishes served.
- If ever you wanted to find the pulsating beat of Rwanda, then the market is where everything happens. Alongside every chaotic arrangement of vegetables and tropical fruit that you could dream of having, peruse the many art stalls and take in the culture as you walk by, greeted at each turn by the friendly locals always willing to part a greeting.
- A trip is never complete without a taste of the local cuisine, for where else can you get a true sense of the place you are visiting. Generally, Rwanda’s food is not particularly hot or spicy and can be considered mild for many tastes. Looking to fire up your travel, try the local curry powder or the African berbere spice mixture which is used in some meat and seafood dishes. Popular local dishes include goat kebabs (brochettes) and grilled/fried tilapia fish. Fruits such as bananas, mangoes and pineapples often provide a refreshing dessert to cool off those taste buds.
- Kigali’s Genocide Memorial, which documents the genocide through photos, text and videos is a must visit and a sombre moment for anyone who has read the atrocities that plagued this country or watched the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’. The Kigali Genocide Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It honours the memory of more than one million Rwandans killed in 1994 through education and peace-building. With 250 000 mass graves at the memorial and more remains of bodies, continued to be found all over the country, to understand that peace is possible in the current world that we are living in, you need to visit this memorable place.