How much do you know about Rwanda other than the violent genocide that happened in 1994.
I was stunned by pleasant surprises when I arrived in Rwanda.
1. Eco Friendly – Did you know that Rwanda is one the first African countries to enforce plastic ban? It’s not just a title, this is enforced diligently.
When I arrived in Kigali Airport, I had 2 donation bags that was safe wrapped. I was called to open the bag assuming that it was a security check. Then the lady shook her head and said ‘No I don’t need to check, I just need to dispose the plastic wrap”. I was surprised and lightly asked “But why?” She gave me an answer that I did not expect to hear “Plastic is not allowed to enter our country. We are Eco friendly”
Surely I was happy to hear that but I had doubts. Is this only implemented in the airport but individuals and rural areas still use plastic bags? NOPE! Country wide. Not a single plastic bag. This is evident once I was on the road and driving around the city, villages, and visiting some shops. Paper bags only and not a single trash being littered on the streets.
Is Rwanda the Singapore of Africa? I believe so!
2. Education System – I was driven around the city of Kigali towards Nyungwe Forest. The streets were empty. I asked my guide “Why are the streets so empty? Where are the children?” I thought this is another country with low demographic of children like Armenia where I only saw a handful of children.
By noon, the streets were swarmed with children in bright blue, beige and yellow school uniforms walking together and having a laugh. It was a sight to hold on.
3. Banana Everything – Expect a lot of banana meals while in Rwanda. They surely love their bananas that they also have banana beer!
4. Eucalyptus Tree & Tea Plantations Everywhere – Rwanda is surrounded with these fast and easy growing tall trees. Believe it or not, Eucalyptus is not native to Rwanda. In fact, it was brought from Australia. The trees serve many purposes which helps the agriculture and economy of the country.
5. Volcanoes National Park – This is the main reason for tourists to visit Rwanda where the park arranges a trek for mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkey and many other activities.
I did two of the activities; Golden Monkey Trek and Mount Bisoke Climb.
The park is extremely organized with many well experienced guides, rangers and wonderful porters.
6. Nyungwe Forest – Nyungwe is a vast rain forest and also one of the oldest in Africa. The narrow canopy walk 60 meter above the forest floor is not to be missed! Don’t forget to stop, look around and look below you. 😀
7. Iby’iwacu Cultural Village – It’s a great place to learn about the history, culture and traditional life.
The cultural village was designed to eradicate poachers and change them into conservationist. Barora Leonidas who poached for 40 years showed and talked about how he used to poach to earn money and survive; following the footsteps of his father, grandfather and generations before.
Thank to Edwin Sabuhoro initiative to eradicate poachers by addressing the prime problem; money. Hence the cultural village was born where ex poachers show visitors traditional medicine, dance, royal palace, arts & crafts and other entertaining yet authentic show.