Rwanda Tourism’s Success Story
Rwanda is a small country located in East Africa and popular known as the land of a thousand hills. The country has cool climatic conditions and beautiful landscapes covered by green vegetation and above all very hospitable people. This attractive country sadly experienced a tragedy in 1994 (the Rwandese genocide) where many innocent people lost their lives, property destroyed, wildlife ecosystems destroyed and a very negative image of the country as a tourism destination. Many people around the world had heard about the deadly genocide and all those who were interested in visiting the country for tourism resorted to going to other tourism destinations.
Tourism activity greatly declined in Rwanda especially after 1994 however the government has been fighting hard to restore the country’s image and make it the a leading tourism destination which it has successfully done. The Rwandan government and the people first accepted the impacts the 1994 genocide brought about and capitalized on them making Rwanda a dark tourism destination.
The killing spots were turned into genocide memorial sites and today are among the leading attractions mainly for dark tourism. At the genocide memorials, there are displays of some of the dead people who were exhumed from some mass graves, skeletons, some personal belongings of the people and blood stained cloth pilings. Examples of the genocide memorials include the Murambi genocide memorial, Gisozi genocide memorial and many others.
All of the genocide memorial sites are always open every working day from 08:00am to 05:00pm except for public holidays and the Omuganda (general cleaning day every last Saturday of the month). Entrance is free but a donation is expected at the end of the tour. Taking photographs is however strictly not allowed except if one has a special pass.
Mountain gorillas in volcanoes national park are also among the prime tourist attractions in Rwanda. Mountain gorillas are very endangered species remaining in only 3 counties on the planet (Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo). Volcanoes national park has 10 habituated gorilla groups that can be tracked by tourists at any time of the year. Mountain gorilla tracking in Rwanda offers remarkable tourism experiences of a lifetime that one can never forget.
Every year, a number of tourists from all over the world flock Rwanda to be part of the mountain gorilla tracking experience and therefore all those planning to should always make their bookings early enough in order not to miss out.
Lake Kivu is another leading tourism destination and best place for those on honeymoons. Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake located in the western part and has standard resorts and hotels. Being around lake Kivu or to any of the islands in the lake offers beautiful scenic views of Rwanda and most interestingly, lake Kivu is a hippo and crocodile free lake therefore one can freely swim in the waters without any fear. While around lake Kivu, one can go for boat trips, nature walks, and water sports like kayaking and sport fishing.
The Rwandan government has also worked hard to revive the once destroyed ecosystems for example Akagera national park. The lions that were once extinct have been reintroduced and the national park properly well demarcated to avoid human encroachment on the national parks land and wildlife. Gishwati forest reserve has also been restored to reasonable sizes and given a status of a national park. Its located in the western part of Rwanda below and few kilometers from volcanoes national park and it has a number of wildlife attractions that include birds, primates like monkeys, butterflies as well as various tree species.
Rwanda has been able to do that in the last decades and has greatly and positively transformed its tourism industry just like some other countries that were affected by civil wars for example Vietnam did. There are more enjoyable tourist attractions one can visit while in Rwanda all facilitated by the fast growing hotel and hospitality industry. A visit to Rwanda is very worth it and one can never regret going there mainly because of the cool climate, the people and the exclusive experiences the country offers.