5 meaningful community experiences in Rwanda : Known for her upmarket tourism, especially gorilla trekking, Rwanda attracts a number of influential tourists each year. The country boasts of this because by being upmarket, she is able to improve the standards of living of the citizens and preserve the general environment- something Rwanda has greatly achieved.
However, the country has big potential for community tourism and experiences which are great for people on a tight budget but would really love to visit Rwanda. Community tourism has been growing since the end of the 1994 genocide making Rwanda one of the most visited destinations on the continent. The small, yet spectacular country of East Africa boasts of giving her community visitors one in a lifetime experience just as with the gorillas. Here are 5 of the best community experiences in Rwanda.
Iby’iwacu traditional village
This is the hub of all Rwandan culture. Visitors usually feel their Rwandan tour is incomplete without a visit to this magnificent traditional village and therefore find to pass by.
Here, they learn all about the traditions, practices and culture of the Rwandan people spiced up with native music, dance and drama performances. You also get interact with former poachers who now are involved in conservation of the Volcanoes National Park.
As its name suggests, this village is where all; victims, survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide are neighbors. During your visit here, you will learn about all the nitty gritty of the genocide from the massacres to the suffering and how the village citizens are now coping with life today.
You will also learn from the people all about their food, weaving, their health and agriculture. Make this visit for an emotional rollercoaster and an unforgettable experience in Rwanda.
The genocide memorial
Before or after a reconciliation village tour, you can visit the genocide memorial centre right in the capital, Kigali. This visit will teach you about the painful genocidal past of Rwanda and how well the country is coping. You will hear and see stories from some survivors and through mediums like videos. Entrance is totally free of charge but you will feel you need to pay for the stories told after you trip.
You have probably heard or read that Rwanda is by far the cleanest country in Africa. Well, this is very intentional and not an accident. People in Rwanda come together every last Saturday of the month to thoroughly clean their communities without a pay! Businesses and shops are closed, buses stop their trade for the morning as the cleaning takes place. Other activities done during the Umuganda Saturdays are but not limited to tree planting, house building for the lower class in society and interaction as well.
While in Rwanda, you can definitely participate in the Umuganda as it is not limited to the nationals!
You probably know or might have guessed that any village walk is memorable and Rwanda is no exception. During your Rwandan tour, you can take time to walk through your neighbouring village for a real African experience. In fact, this is the cheapest way to spice up your trip thus 5 meaningful community experiences in Rwanda.
You will interact with the village locals as you go through the village and make various stops. Make sure to get the tea or coffee experience if there is a plantation in the village, view spectacular sites and get a real African experience through local performances.
Heritage cultural trip
If you happen to visit Akagera National Park, this is a way to bring flavour to your trip. During this trip, you will visit cattle farms in the communities and you will involve your hands in activities like milking. How cool is that?
Interact with the locals on this trip to learn more about the high significance of cows in Rwanda, which are a sign of wealth and success as well as more about the country’s culture in general.
Art and craft centres
Have you seen an art centre built from cow dung? If you have said no, Imigongo Art and Craft centre is the place for you. If yes, it is still a bucket list destination. Stories say that this centre was set up by Prince Kakira in the 18th century who was the first to use cow dung mixed with ash and clay to decorate his house on the inside. The use of cow dung to form art, also known as Imigongo, in Rwanda has since been a thing through paintings, wall art and wooden pieces which are quite popular with tourists.
You can also visit other local art and crafts shops to buy crafts and support the community. While there, you will learn how to make things like necklaces and earrings from local materials like straws.