When planning a trip to Rwanda, what are the first things that come to mind? Poverty, civil war, a dangerous place, why even fly to travel in Rwanda and of course, straight think about an encounter with the gorillas. This is more or less what we know in Israel about Rwanda. But after a trip to Rwanda without a doubt, this is your impression: a country with lots of natural green, warm and hospitable residents, a very clean and very safe country, hotels and lodges at high levels, authentic and very pleasant place, perfect weather all year round, rich culture and all It is without a single meager moment during the trip.
Without a doubt, a trip to Rwanda is another trip. A trip to a very safe country, a very clean country with a lot of guaranteed experiences during the route. A trip to Rwanda can be from four days to 10-14 days depending on the time you want to spend. Of course, the highlight of the trip is an encounter with the gorillas, in nature in their natural environment, with the tour being in small groups of up to 8 people early in the morning for a guaranteed encounter with a gorilla family. But Rwanda is not just gorillas. Rwanda is a green nature reserve, Rwanda is a land of a thousand hills, a trip to Rwanda is a trip in the rainforests, a journey to a special culture, an encounter with the golden monkeys, and also an acquaintance with the painful past of the people.
To illustrate what you will experience on a trip to Rwanda, imagine the following situation: You are kayaking in the heart of a quiet lake, around mountains, in front of small green islands, and next to you and on the horizon wooden fishing boats. You row according to your pace and you are people you love. Here is a perfect time out in the busy and noisy world, where you always have to do something else, to get somewhere urgently … Where is this good? So we are in Lake Kivu on the western border of Rwanda and its territory is divided between it and the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Africa and one of the deepest in the world. But it’s not just that. This is one of the most beautiful places that can be described and the way to be impressed by its beauty is by kayaking. Afraid to run into crocodiles? So it is that here there is neither a crocodile nor a hippopotamus and you can paddle safely. Various tour companies take kayak trips of varying lengths from two hours to a three-day walk with accommodation on the islands and the magical beaches. The highlight of the trip is undoubtedly rowing on the lake in the evening when the setting sun colors the sky and the lake a bright orange. This is the time when the fishermen go out for night fishing with their typical sea song. Undoubtedly a moment of unparalleled beauty.
Another recommended destination for a trip to Rwanda is the Nyongwa Forest. For those who come from a low-precipitation country like Israel, this is a stunning place. Countless trees densely cover the slopes of the forests, gliding to the sides of the narrow road that crosses the reserve. Enough if you stand for a moment quietly on the side of the road to be impressed by the endless tangle of trees, shrubs, and ferns and listen to the intriguing sounds of the jungle. And if these are the sights and sounds you hear from the road, imagine what a wonderful world you will discover in the depths of the forest!
Nyungwe is a mountainous rainforest, one of the oldest rainforests in Africa. It stretches in southwestern Rwanda, on the border with Burundi, and has over a thousand species of plants and over 70 species of mammals, including 13 different species of monkeys. At the edge of the forest, there are tea fields that stretch to the horizon and paint the landscape in another shade of green.
In the forest 15 different hiking trails, the most famous of which is the trek following the chimpanzees. Most of the trek does not go through a tidy path, and it requires a steep descent to the bottom of the forest to follow one of the chimpanzee families that live here (and as you know, after every steep descent, there is a steep ascent …). But the sight of the chimpanzees sitting among the branches of the trees, picking small fruits, chasing away the nimble blue monkeys trying to snatch a fruit or two – the excitement this spectacle evokes forgets all the ups and downs along the way.
But this is not the only trek in the Ningwa Forest. If recommended, go on a canopy trek leading to the highest suspension bridge in Africa. A walk on the bridge allows you to see the forest from a bird’s point of view – the treetops below, the high peaks opposite, and on the horizon twinkle from the blue waters of Lake Kiwi. And if we have already mentioned birds, Ningwa is a real paradise for birds, with no less than 322 different species of birds.
But not only did we talk about nature but we mentioned the exemplary cleanliness and order prevailing in Rwanda. As soon as you leave the international airport towards the center of the capital Kigali, you can see how clean and green everything is – the roads, sidewalks, courtyards of the houses on the hills, everything is incredibly clean and tidy.
Rwanda is considered the cleanest country in East Africa, and this is evident everywhere you travel. Roadside, historic sites, nature reserves, local markets – nowhere will you see empty covers, plastic bags or discarded drinking bottles.
This exemplary cleanliness indicates a sincere concern for the environment, but it contains something else that characterizes the country’s unique worldview. This special thing is called Umuganda, a word that means in the local language, Kinyarwanda – “joint gathering to achieve a goal”.
Once a month, on the last Saturday of each month, all residents over the age of 18, including leaders and heads of state, engage in joint cleaning work. The activity begins at eight in the morning and lasts for several hours, during which everyone cleans the roads, public areas, village centers, and more.
Beyond preserving the beauty of Rwanda and protecting the environment, Umoganda has another goal. Clean Day was founded in 1998, a few years after the genocide, as a way to unite society and unite it for a common goal. Every Rwandan citizen between the ages of 18 and 65 is required to attend the cleaning day, and anyone not in this age range is also welcome to attend. Children, the elderly, foreigners living and working in Rwanda, and even travelers, can all join the day of cleaning, and everyone is welcome.