Explore rwanda

THE LAND OF THOUSAND HILLS



Why visit Rwanda

HISTORIC SITE-GENOCIDE

And they were dark indeed. The Rwandan Genocide of April-July 1994 was one of humanity’s most desperate episodes in the history of Africa – a horrifying period of blood shading of up to one million members of Rwanda’s Tutsi population were massacred by the majority Hutu government. This was one of the consequences of the Rwandan Civil War (1990-1993) – and, in turn, caused the displacement of two million more (largely Hutu) people. Bleak and depressing stuff – and if you find yourself in the capital Kigali of Rwanda, you should surely acknowledge it. The city’s Genocide Memorial Centre cradles the remains of some 250,000 victims of this ethnic cleansing, and makes as difficult and as disgusted a statement on man’s inhumanity to man as any similar landmark amid the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia or the concentration camps left behind by Nazi Germany. That said, while what occurred in Rwanda 25 years ago will always cast a shadow, it is not a dominating factor of life in a country that has certainly found its feet in the subsequent two decades. Since the turn of the millennium, average life expectancy has risen from 47 to 60 years.

While the largest memorial is in Kigali, the genocide touched all corners of Rwanda, and as such there are many emotionally charged memorials located throughout the country. Some are as simple as a quiet garden space for contemplation, while others are larger and hold relics, remains, and exhibits on the genocide itself.

Beyond the main memorial centre in Kigali, a few of the memorials include:

Camp Kigali Belgian Monument

A small museum lies at the site of the massacre of ten Belgian UN Blue Beret. At the onset of Genocide under the command of General Dallaire, they were deployed to guard the house of Prime Minister Agatha Uwilingimana. When the genocide began, Presidential Guard soldiers invaded the home, disarmed the Belgians and transported them to Camp Kigali where they killed them. The ten stone pillars memorialize the ten soldiers killed.

  1. Nyanza Genocide Memorial
  2. Ntarama Genocide Memorial
  3. Nyamata Genocide Memorial
  4. Murambi Genocide Memorial

A PLACE OF MOUNTAIN GORILLAS

In popular perception, the key reason to visit Rwanda is its mountain gorilla population. And rightly so. These glorious creatures haunt Volcanoes National Park, in the far north-west of the country (where it rubs up against Virunga National Park in the DRC and Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi impenetrable National Park in Uganda to create one colossal cross-border expanse of wildlife and wonder). Access is, of course, carefully controlled.

In the rich rainforest landscape live some of the most endangered, but incredible animals on this planet. They just also happen to be one of our closest relatives! And trekking to see the gorillas– while really expensive – is one of those lifetime opportunities you can’t afford not to do when in this part of the world and it’s definitely one of the most famous things to do in Rwanda.

Here, the mountain gorilla populations are largely based in the Volcanoes National Park, which also provides some stunning scenery and great hiking as you make a visit to these large primates.