Rwanda is mostly known for mountain gorilla trekking but that does not mean it’s the only thing you can do on a safari in Rwanda. On your safari to Rwanda, you can add on cultural trips to different places to get an opportunity to know about the country’s culture. Rwanda has hospitable people and visiting these cultural places wouldn’t want you to leave. Cultural tours to Rwanda can be combined with activities like gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, chimpanzee trekking, and game viewing.
Rwanda might not have as many cultures as those in Uganda or DR Congo but the few that are in this country are proud to showcase their culture to the world. Rwanda has three ethnic tribes which are the Hutu known for crop farming, Tutsi who are cattle keepers, and the Twa who were known as hunter-gatherers. A cultural visit to Rwanda gives tourists an opportunity to know more about the people, how they live their day t day lives, and much more.
Places to visit on a cultural safari in Rwanda
Kigali genocide memorial: This is the most visited museum in Rwanda built-in memory of more than 300,000 people that were killed during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The place has 3 different areas where you meet graves of young children, the adults and the last one victims of those from other parts of the country. A visit to Kigali genocide memorial will give you an opportunity to know about what really happened in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
Ibyi’wacu cultural village: Tourists on a cultural safari to Rwanda should not miss out on visiting the Ibyi’wacu cultural village that is situated outside volcanoes national park a home to mountain gorillas. Ibyi’wacu cultural village is among the most visited cultural places in Rwanda because it’s where you can meet former poachers. When you visit the cultural village, you will be welcomed by the local people who will take you around the community, you will meet former poachers who will tell you how they used to use bows and arrows to kill animals, herbal men who use local herbs to cure some diseases, and you will get entertained by the traditional local dancers.
Banda cultural village: This is located inside Nyungwe forest national park a home to endangered chimpanzee species in the southwest of the country. Tourists on a chimpanzee trekking or canopy walk safari to Nyungwe forest national park shouldn’t miss out on visiting this community. When you visit Banda cultural village, you will be welcomed by the Intore dancers who will entertain you through dances and drama, and then a local guide will take you around the community. You will be able to meet local medicine men and people making baskets.
Kitabi cultural center: Kitabi cultural center is located inside Nyungwe forest national park a home to endangered chimpanzees in the southwestern part of the country. When you visit Kitabi cultural center, you will be welcomed by the royal guards who use arrows to protect their kingdom. You will see different huts built like those at the king’s palace. You will be entertained by the traditional dancers through dances and drama, be part of activities like weaving, making honey, and much more.
Murambi genocide memorial: This is situated in the remote areas of the southwestern part of the country. A visit to this place will give you an opportunity to know about the 1994 Rwanda genocide where over 50,000 victims were buried in this area. At this area was a school which now turned into a genocide museum with skeletons of some of the people that were killed in the war. During the killings, the Tutsis were lied to go and hide in the technical school that the French troops would protect them. On arrival, they were kept there with no food and water and when the French soldiers disappeared, the Hutu attacked the school and all the Tutsis were killed.
Nyamata Genocide Memorial: This is one of the most visited genocide memorial sites in Rwanda. During the 1994 Rwanda genocide memorial, thousands of people were hiding at this church thinking they would have mercy on them but unfortunately they were all killed using grenades. When you visit this area, you will be given a guide to take you around the area where you will see bullet holes, graves, and bloodstained clothes.
Presidential palace museum: Tourists on a cultural tour to Rwanda can visit the presidential palace museum in Kanombe which used to be the house of Pasteur Bizimungu and Juvenal Habyarimana who were presidents of Rwanda between the 1970s and 1990s. This palace is where the president was killed and this area is said to be the detonate of the Rwanda genocide. The killing of the president led to anti-Tutsi militias where thousands of Tutsis were killed. At this museum, you meet the graves of other 60 passengers that were shot dead.
The King’s palace in Nyanza: The King’s palace in Nyanza is located 88kms away from Kigali in Nyanza province. Rwanda used to have 1 king as a cultural leader before colonialism but when colonialism came, the kingdom was no more since the last king was exiled. Tourists to the King’s palace in Nyanza will get an opportunity to move around the dorm-style palace learning about the cultural history of the previous kings of Rwanda. You will get to see shields, spears, drums, horns of cattle, and other things that were used by the previous kings of Rwanda. You will also see the burial ground for the royal family.
The environment museum: While on a cultural tour in Rwanda, you can visit the environment museum located on the shores of Lake Kivu in western Rwanda. The museum showcases renewable and non-renewable energy and it helps in collecting all kinds of local plants with explanations for use. Those interested in learning how to protect the environment can visit this area.
What is the best time to have cultural tours in Rwanda?
Cultural tours in Rwanda can be done at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The best time for cultural tours is the dry season which occurs from June to September and December to February. During these months, there is little and sometimes no rainfall and this leaves the roads leading to the park passable.
Tourists can still have cultural tours in Rwanda in the rainy season which occurs from March to May and October to November and during these months the accommodation facilities do offer huge discounts. In the rainy months, there is plenty of rainfall which leaves the roads leading to these communities impassable.