Buhanga Eco Park
Buhanga Eco Park is a small forest near Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and is greatly known as a scared ritual place for Rwanda Yore royals who were assigned kingships or places of royal importance in the olden days. This forest consists of tall tree species that harbor quite a number of bird species and butterfly species. Its location within the Virunga massif range gives it a refreshing atmosphere and breath-taking scenery that leaves you completely smitten.
This forest has varying appearances depending on the season, weather conditions and time of the day and each appearance gives you a different kind of beauty. However, the most scenic or beautiful views of the forest are seen during the morning hours; this is the time the forest is super green and the ambiance is fresh plus the birds in the forest are flying around in their nests and making sweet noises.
The afternoons also give beautiful sceneries especially with the sun rays beaming through the forest trees; the afternoons are also the best times for hiking the trails of this small but diverse forest.
This forest is also famous for the three in one tree that has three different tree species intertwined in one tree; these species are locally known as Inigabiro, Umusando, and Igihondondo.
There is another tree in the forest called Umuvumu translated curse; this tree is said to have killed about 30 or so men, that tried to cut it down in the olden days hence reference of the curse.
This forest is divided into a couple of sections and each section is unique in its own right and tells a specific story about the Rwanda Yore Royals and Kings, their imitations and different traditions.
The forest also has a small ditch encircled with thorny flowers and lava stones in one of the its sections and its believed this is where the King’s assistants picked herbs for the Kings to add into ritual water a ritual bath as they were initiated into kingship; this was done as a way of cleansing the enthroned king from anything evil or anything that would hinder the success of their kingship.
The forest also has a cave commonly referred to as the dark cave and it’s in this cave that the kings had their cleansing bath after which they would be smeared with oil and then moved to the next point of the initiation ceremony. The king was normally wheeled to the cave from the palace and this would be the first step before proceeding further into the forest for more ceremonies. The cave is very noticeable and is surrounded by boulders.
After the cave ceremonies, the kings would be taken further into the forest where they would be crowned kings and given instruments of power as they ascended to the throne. The kingdom’s leaders and advisors would then also perform rituals of blessings for the enthroned king. The place where this crowning ceremony would take place was called the conference podium and it’s seen in the forest with lava rocks with stairs.
This park is open all through the year for nature walks, hiking sprees and bird watching experiences that start at 8am in the morning and end at 6pm. Each activity attracts a different fee though to access the park alone is 40 USD; all fees are paid at the park offices.
The nature walks are guided walks that take through the different points that were very important during the of the Kings’ initiation ceremonies, you will literally feel like your attending one of the initiation ceremonies.
The hiking trails are quite off the monumental initiation points and they give you a run for your physical fitness, these trails though can be hiked by first-time hikers they are quite rough and steep, if you are not up for the challenge, you shouldn’t take the hike. On the hike, you will appreciate the beauty of this small forest and see several butterflies and birds along the trails.
Bird watching is also a guided tour in the park that takes you on some specific trails that are bird havens; you get to see over 200 birds, nesting, playing and making joyful noises.
Normally travellers will visit this park after their gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park.