SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
19th August 2004.
Land of a thousand hills

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.

BREATHTAKING: Giraffes in Akagera National Park.

The landscape in this green country is truly breathtaking. 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 also has water bodies that 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.

All said, Rwanda 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), 125 square kilometres of mountain forest and home to the six Virunga Volcanoes and the world famous mountain gorillas.

Protected within the PNV, the lushly forested slopes of the mountains form an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is arguably the most poignant and memorable wildlife experience in the world: gorilla tracking.

The exhilarating climb to the gorilla’s natural habitat of shady bamboo forest offers fantastic views in all directions, before the trackers are immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colourful birds and the chattering of rare golden monkey.

Nothing can prepare one for the impact of encountering a fully-grown silverback gorilla, up to three times the size of an average man, yet remarkably peaceable and tolerant of human visitors.

Parc National des Volcans is managed and protected by the Rwandan Office for Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN). Access begins in the lively town of Ruhengeri, situated at the base of the entrance of the park. Ruhengeri has long been the base point for gorilla visits and entertains a stunning backdrop of Karisimbi, Visoke, Mikeno, Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura volcanoes.

Ruhengeri is a 90-minute drive from Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. One can get to Ruhengeri from Kigali either by private vehicle or by public taxi minibus. If you intend to make a gorilla visit, you will need to organise your own transport from Ruhengeri town to the park boundaries, where you will continue your trip on foot. Vehicles can be hired for this purpose in Ruhengeri town. Ruhengeri is also only a 45-minute drive away from Gisenyi and the stunning Lake Kivu.

The Kinigi Guest House on the foot of Mount Sabyinyo was recently fully refurbished, and is now open. It offers very comfortable accommodation in cottages for two, four or eight people. It also offers a good restaurant and bar.

Hotel Muhabura in Ruhengeri town also offers comfortable accommodation in reasonably priced single and double rooms. A gorilla visit can entail anything from a 1 to 4-hour trek through the forest, led by experienced trackers who have spent their entire lives living in or close to the forest. Your trek through the forest will be enchanting as you weave through overhanging vines, moss covered Hagenia trees and giant Lobelias that thrive in the tropical climate of the forest.

You will spot golden monkeys swinging from the bamboo, or see wild buffalo, bush duiker and a wide variety of bird life. The Virunga ecosystem is composed of 4 major vegetation zones: bamboo (base altitude), Hagenia and Hypericum forest (2600-3300m), Sub-alpine (3300-4000m), and Afro-alpine (4000m+).

Then of course, nothing could be more of a privilege than to spend an hour watching the gorillas as they go about their daily routine, feeding, playing and resting, as you question your primeval existence and relive the wonder that kept Dian Fossey living in the forest for almost 18 years.

TRAVEL TIPS

Getting to Rwanda: One can fly to Rwanda with SN Brussels, Rwanda Express, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania and Air Burundi. All international flights land at Kanombe Airport, 10kms away from central Kigali.

Rwanda visas

Passports and visas: A valid passport is mandatory. Visas not required for nationals of the U.S.A, Germany, Canada, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and the DRC.

Money: The unit of currency is the Rwandan franc. The US dollar is the hard currency preference. All major credit cards can be used at hotels and good restaurants in Kigali.

Language: In addition to the indigenous language, Kinyarwanda, French and English are the official languages. French is widely spoken throughout the country, while many people speak English in Kigali and the main tourist areas. Swahili is also widely spoken around the country.

Useful contacts:
ORTPN:
+250-76514 in Kigali
+250-546645 in Ruhengeri


Rwanda’s DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS

Country: BELGIUM
City: BRUSSELS
Address: 1, Avenue de Fleurs, 1150 BRUXELLES
Phone: 032 02 763 07038
Fax: 032 02 763 07053

Country: BURUNDI
City: BUJUMBURA
Address: 24, Avenue de la Republique Democratique du Congo
Phone: 00257 22 6865
Fax: 00257 22 3255
Email: arbuja@cni.cbinf.com

Country: CANADA
City: OTTAWA
Address: 121 Sherwood Drive, OTTAWA, Ontario Kiy 3ÚI
Phone: 001 613 722 7921
Fax: 001 613 722 4052

Country: CHINA
City: BEIJING
Address: Hsieu Shaouei Bei Yie, BEIJING
Phone: 0086 10 65321820
Fax: 0086 10 65322006
Email: ambarwda@public3.bta.net.cn

Country: ETHIOPIA
City: ADDIS ABABA
Address: Africa Avenue H 17k20N°.001, BP 5618, ADDIS ABABA
Phone: 00251 161 0300/ 61 0357/ 61 0387
Fax: 00251 161 0411

Country: GERMANY
City: BONN
Address: Beethovenalle-72, 53173 BONN
Phone: 0049 228 367038
Fax: 0049 228 351922
Email: ambrwabonn@aol.com

Country: INDIA
City: NEW DELHI
Address: B. 112 Neet Bash, New Delhi-110016
Phone: 972 369 13419/ 972 369 112319, Fax: 972 365 68085

Country: KENYA
City: NAIROBI
Address: P.0 BOX 30.619 Kilimani, Kayahwe Road
Phone: 0025 425 75977
Fax: 002 542 575976

Country: SOUTH AFRICA
City: PRETORIA
Address: 35 Marais Street, Brooklyn, PRETORIA
Phone: 027 12 46 0709
Fax: 027 12 46 0708
Email: rwasap@rwanda.co.za

Country: TANZANIA
City: DAR ES SALAAM
Address: 32, Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, P. O. Box 2918, DAR-ES-SALAAM
Phone: 255 511 15889
Fax: 255 511 15888

Country: UGANDA
City: KAMPALA
Address: Nakaima Road n°2, P.O. BOX 2468 KAMPALA
Phone: 256 413 43662
Fax: 256 412 44405
Email: rwanda@swiftuganda.com

Country: UNITED KINGDOM
City: LONDON
Address: 58-59 Trafalgar Square, LONDON WC2N5DX
Phone: 0044 171 930 2570
Fax: 0044 207 930 2572
Mobile: 0044 410 79 8036
Email: ambarwanda@compuserve.com

Country: UNITED STATES
City: WASHINGTON, D.C.
Address: 1724 New Hampshire Avenue N.W., WASHINGTON D.C. 20009
Phone: 001 202 232 2882
Fax: 001 202 232 4544

UNITED NATIONS
City: NEW YORK
Address: 124 East, 39th Street, Third Floor, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10016
Phone: 001 212 679 9010
Fax: 001 212 679 9133

UNITED NATIONS
City: GENEVA
Address: Rue de la Serviette 93 CH-1202, GENEVE
Phone: 0041 22 91 91000


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