Land of Thousand Hills!
Rwanda is a small landlocked country, it borders on Uganda in the north, on Tanzania in the east, on Burundi in the south and on Congo in the west. Kigali is the capital of Rwanda. The country is dominated by a central plateau made up of steep mountains and deep valleys and has therefore received his subtitle "Land of thousand hills". The average elevation of the plateau is about 1.700 m. The most important topics are:
- On the western side of the plateau you will find Rwanda's principal geographic feature; the famous Virunga chain of volcanoes which extends towards Congo and the Ugandan border and which is part of the Albertine Rift. It's in the Virunga that one can find Rwanda's most important tourist attraction: the mountain gorillas!
- Rwanda has without doubt more to offer than the mountain gorillas. Nyungwe National Park, is a Albertine Rift montane rain forest and has recently received the status of National Park. The rain forest has a unique habitat and it's only there that we have seen troops of more than 300 colobus monkeys moving around in trees! It has 25 % of the African primates. Nyungwe is simply a primate nirvana!
- Rwanda has a rich history and culture. It was long time regarded as a mysterious kingdom with a legendary military force which was carefully bypassed by Arab traders and the great Nile Explorers. Rwanda together with Burundi and Tanzania was part of the German East African colony. After the First World War, it became a Belgian protectorate. It's at the National Museum of Butare, on your way to Nyungwe NP that you can find fascinating displays on the history and culture of one of the great pre-colonial kingdoms of East-Africa.
- The 3 towns eastwards; Cyangungu, Kibuye and Gisenyi offer spectacular views on Lake Kivu. Anyone who has seen this part of the country will agree that "Land of thousand hills" is simply an understatement. From Gisenyi, you can cross the border to Congo and visit the city of Goma, devastated by the Nyiaragongo volcano, one of the active Virunga volcanoes on the Congo side which erupted the 17th of January 2002.
Rwanda is unfortunately remembered as the Land of the genocide which dominated world headlines in 1994. Nobody can deny this. The general public still remembers these atrocities and only time will heal.
Rwanda is not the first country on the African continent having its part of civil strife. The Adventure Traveler coming to Africa knows this and will disregard the country's image if he can travel safely. Rwanda is surely regaining its reputation as first gorilla destination.