Rwanda is a land of great diversity and beauty. Popularly known as ‘the land of a thousand hills’, Rwanda has six volcanoes, twenty-three lakes and numerous rivers, some forming the source of the great River Nile.
The landscapes in this green country are truly breathtaking. Many a visitor to Rwanda has remarked that the physical beauty of the country is without equal on the African continent. Spectacular volcanoes and dense tropical forests dominate the north of the country, while gentle hills and valleys, calm lakes and turbulent rivers in both savannah and dense tropical vegetation dominate the rest of the country.
Rwanda boasts a wide variety of wildlife. The Parc National des Volcans, in northern Rwanda is home to the world’s largest number of endangered mountain gorillas. Numbering in the hundreds, the gorillas live in a protected area, free from poachers. The gorillas can be viewed in their natural mountain habitats at a fairly close range.
Best known for its wealth of primates, Rwanda also has one of Africa’s richest bird life. A staggering 670 different bird species have been recorded in Rwanda. For botanists, the gorgeous wildflowers of the forests and mountains are capped by more than 100 orchid species in Nyungwe alone.
The Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda is teeming with wildlife both large and small. They range from Lions, Giraffe, Elephant and Hippopotamus to Hyena, Impala and Gazelle. There is a rich variety of bird life at Akagera as well.
Rwanda also has water bodies which are ideal for water sports and fishing, particularly Lake Kivu in the west of the country and Lake Muhazi in the east. Lake Kivu also offers beautiful beaches, jutting peninsulas and an archipelago of beautiful islands.
Rwanda, in a nutshell, is a nature lover’s paradise. It is also one of the friendliest of countries. A warm welcome is complemented by comfortable facilities, fine food and a rich cultural heritage.
When visiting the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’, one should not miss out on the magnificent opportunity to visit Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans (PNV) consisting of 125 Km2 of mountain forest and home to the six Virunga Volcanoes and the world famous mountain gorillas.
Kwita Izina – 10 years of Gorilla Conservation in Rwanda
Rwanda will celebrate the birth of 18 baby gorillas at the 10th anniversary of Kwita Izina, the annual gorilla naming ceremony. The event will take place in Kinigi, Musanze on 1 July 2014. This was announced by Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, the Head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). This year’s theme is ‘A Decade: Conserving-Empowering-Growing’.
“On this occasion, we will not only celebrate the birth of one of the world’s most endangered species but also the efforts of individuals, organisations and nations involved in the preservation of these rare animals,” Ambassador Karitanyi said.
She added that “Rwanda’s community led conservation efforts have led to a 26.3% growth in the population of gorillas since 2003 and Kwita Izina has been key to this success. This is also thanks to the Government of Rwanda which has ensured tourism flourishes in a secure and enabling environment.”
Early this year, Kwita Izina won second prize in the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. The Rwanda Development Board recognises enhanced national conservation practices and community ownership of projects around the Volcanoes National Park that have seen beneficiaries empowered and their lives improved.
Rwanda’s tourism sector has also been growing remarkably. In 2013, Rwanda hosted 1,137,000 visitors who generated $294m, up from $62m in 2000. This increase is attributed to Rwanda’s attractiveness as a travel destination, new airline routes, especially in West Africa, spearheaded by our national carrier RwandAir, an increase in unique experiences for tourists and the county’s stability and welcoming visa policies.
Kwita Izina will be marked by a series of activities starting with the launch of Basumba Primary School in Bigogwe, Nyabihu District on 26 June 2014. The school of six classrooms has been built with funds from the Shared Revenue Scheme which gives 5% of tourism profits from National Parks back to the communities surrounding the gorilla habitat. This launch will be followed by a mix of conservation, business, cultural and entertainment activities.
Kwita Izina is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming babies soon after they are born. In the nine years since the event was established, 161 mountain gorillas have been named in a celebration of nature and the communities who protect the magnificent animals.
Kwita Izina Activities:
26 June: Official launch of Basumba Primary School in Bigogwe, Nyabihu District. The school of six classrooms has been built with funding from the Shared Revenue Scheme. It will enable over 380 children to easily access education facilities.
28 June: Global Umuganda. Participants will have an opportunity to participate in the Global Umuganda. The community work reflects on the culture and commitment of Rwandans to clean and conserve the environment.
28 June: B2B meetings, Serena Hotel, Kigali: This platform will provide an opportunity for local tourism operators to showcase Rwanda tourism experiences to domestic, regional and international markets.
29-30 June: Gorilla Conservation and Community Exhibition at Musanze Stadium. The aim of the exhibition is to showcase what has been achieved in conservation and community empowerment through the 5% revenue sharing scheme.
30 June: Igitaramo (Community Party) in Kinigi is a night of cultural immersion with performances from local dance troupes and musicians.
1 July: Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony at Volcanoes National Park
Rwanda has three National Parks: Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park and Volcano National Park.
Rwanda has many unique tourist attractions including the mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, eco-tourism, heritage & leisure experiences.
Rwanda is becoming increasingly attractive for Conference Tourism (MICE); recently hosting the African Development Bank meetings and will host the World Export Development Forum in September, among other events.
In 2010, Rwanda hosted 666,000 visitors who generated US$ 200M - a 14% increase from 2009. In 2013, Rwanda hosted 1,137,000 visitors who generated $294m, up from $62m in 2000.
Tourism receipts are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 25% until 2017 (EDPRS 2 targets).
Rwanda has over 380 accommodation establishments and approx. 6,500 accommodation rooms. Upper range occupancy rate is 70%, with foreigners accounting for 97% of beds availed.
The rapid growth of RwandAir in addition to other airlines serving Kigali such as KLM, Turkish Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines allow for easy access to the country from all over the world.