10 things I wish I knew before going to Rwanda

Marina Nefedova16 January 20212962 views15 min. read
10 things I wish I knew before going to Rwanda
Rwanda e-visa but don't know where is Rwanda? It is in Central Africa, baby. Rwanda is a small country in Central Africa located near the Equator, south of Uganda and east of the Congo. It is almost invisible on the map and looks tiny. But this is only on the scale of Africa. In Africa, everything is big: distances, countries, mountains, trees, animals, and people that no one has ever really counted. The first trip to real Africa is always a shock. Egypt, Morocco, or Tunisia, which can only be called Africa geographically, do not count. They are interesting in themselves, but this is not Africa. The real Africa for tourists is Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia, Madagascar. The level of development of the tourism industry is different in all countries, and each of them deserves attention. Still, first of all, on this continent, we are interested in geopolitical security – whether there is a conflict there. Africa is far away, and the real news from there to the "white" world, if it reaches, is in a very distorted state.  The second is physiological safety. This is about tropical diseases. In tourist countries, you can not be afraid of this. Following the simplest safety rules (do not eat from the ground, wash your hands, do not drink open water – that's all), you do not risk any more than in Naples. The story about "all vaccinations need to be done because there is no way without it" is a bit too much. Embassy employees are insured in case of unforeseen situations. If the only thing that keeps you from traveling to the wild is a panic fear of infection, then you are wrong. Africa is huge; it is 3 times larger than Europe. For reference: • The area of Europe is 10.16 million square kilometers • Africa, with all its islands, has an area of 30.33 million square kilometers And compared to India, for example, it is generally clean, like in a pharmacy. "Unknown to science tropical diseases" in Africa are not everywhere. And in places where they are, there are usually no tourists. What else does not hurt to know before the trip? kigali city tower East and Central Africa are zones of smoldering conflicts, and everything is not easy there. You definitely shouldn't start with that region. In Africa, $ is used everywhere, so it is better to keep money in this currency before traveling. There are European banks with ATMs, so it is not necessary to have a lot of cash on hand either. Shops - for whites, everything is expensive there. In general, tourism in Africa is not cheap. For real exotic and local prices, one needs to go to the markets and small shops. If the country as a whole is safe, then the quality will be excellent, the pleasure is huge, and the prices are immaterial. And the local audience is very friendly. The local Rwanda population is a mixture of different tribes. In countries where there is peace and tourism, the population is nice, friendly, very polite. In "British Africa," excellent English is relevant, it is studied in schools, and absolutely everyone speaks it. Are you wondering where are the most magical places in Rwanda? There are many places where you need to go, but let's go back to Rwanda. So, to the question "where is Rwanda?" we can confidently answer: near the Equator and Lake Victoria. Tiny Rwanda is about the same size and number of people as Belgium. For Central Africa, where flying a 600km chopper to visit is not out of the ordinary, this is really not the scale. Rwanda population is about 13 million. It is a poor agricultural country. Statistical organizations believe that the average salary there is $ 235 per month, but in fact, $ 100 is an excellent salary, for such work to keep in their own way and the whole family can live on this money. Finding Rwanda on the map of Africa is very simple: find the Equator, find Lake Victoria. To the left of the lake – Uganda, lower your eyes below - here they are, Rwanda and Burundi. As we have already said, to the east of this country is the Congo. Congo is a country where there are no tourists. And there is no sign that they will appear there. Congo wars, which have been smoldering and burning for several centuries, sometimes spills out of the Congolese jungle and touches neighboring countries. The Congo wars are a conflict of all against all, which makes it more partisan, and there are no serious consequences for its neighbors in general. But it is not necessary to go to these border zones if there are no special cases. They still eat people there and this, sorry, is not a figure of speech. In general, the region is not stable; you need to understand this. Let's find out what do you need to know before you travel to Rwanda.

1. Security

rwanda flag on military Rwanda today is a peaceful country. But a little less than 30 years ago, there was a real hell. Lost in the jungle in the center of the continent, this tiny country made the whole world shudder. You can watch "Hotel Rwanda" (Film) to find out about how the political situation was heated up and what all this resulted in. The genocide in Rwanda is a truly terrible event, even for that region. The essence of the conflict is as follows: in Rwanda (as well as in neighboring Uganda), there are 2 tribes. The Tutsi are the ruling class. History lovers can remember the Tutsi empire here, the first mention of which can be attributed to Ancient Egypt's period (high people living at the source of the Nile). In this region, there are still royal families and local aristocracy, the history of families goes back centuries, everything is real. So, the Tutsis. A tribe of hunters and warriors. Some of them have changed into English costumes and graduated from Oxford (or other appropriate educational institutions), but the essence of this has not changed. Tutsis are beautiful. They are very beautiful. Huge almond-shaped eyes, delicate features – a stunning combination of European features and coffee skin. To this, you can add a tall stature, a stunning physique, and natural grace, characteristic of the representatives of this continent. The only problem they do not grow hair, only a short, dense, curly coat-is solved by local fashionistas in an elementary way: all women wear false hair or wigs. Departments of wigs and all kinds of hair linings are in all supermarkets, and in the market, wigs occupy entire shopping rows. Hutu – workers of the collective farm horses. They are farmers and historically have always been subordinate to the Tutsi. Everything was normal. Until the XV century, when Europeans came and began to fight for the territory. Until 1962, the country was under Belgium's influence as a colony and lived under the usual colonial laws: the local elite, together with protectors and representatives of large corporations, ruled. As a result of the concerned special services' work, Belgian control was weakened, and the Belgians were "moved." Everyone had fun there: the British, the French, the Germans, the Israelis, and the Americans. In general, a big part of Africa has so-called "zones of influence" - territories that are controlled by a particular corporation or country (for example, Uganda is governed by the United Kingdom). I do not want to go into geopolitical details, but gradually, with the "white brothers" ' funding and support, the Hutus in Rwanda squeezed out all administrative power. Then something happened that happens from time to time in wild countries: the situation went beyond the smoldering conflict. kibuye The local media worked tirelessly: if you are a real Hutu, then kill the Tutsi. The Hutu's main weapons were machetes. Through administrative methods, ordinary citizens were also involved in organizing the campaign of mass murder, and they killed many Tutsis on the street or at home. Some numbers: 1994, April 11-Killing of 2,000 Tutsis at the Don Bosco Technical School (Kigali, capital of Rwanda), after Belgian peacekeepers' evacuation. 1994, April 21-The International Red Cross reports possible executions of hundreds of thousands of civilians. 1994, April 22 — the massacre of 5,000 Tutsis in the monastery at Sovu. As a result of the fact that almost the country's ENTIRE population was involved in the campaign to exterminate the Tutsis, according to various estimates, the genocide in Rwanda claimed between 500,000 and 1,200,000 lives. Locals agree on the figure of 900,000, and most likely, it is the closest to reality. 1994, July 4-units of the Rwandan Patriotic Front entered the capital of Rwanda. 2 million Hutus, fearing retribution for the genocide in Rwanda, fled the country, mostly to the nearest countries. "Hotel Rwanda" is just about this period. A small summary: as we have already mentioned, Rwanda today is a peaceful country. Because everyone who could have broken it is either killed or fled. But in shops, clubs, and other public places, bags and backpacks are still searched, and signs are hung: on a white circle, a pistol or a submachine gun, crossed out with a red line. It means that if you have a gun barrel in your purse, it is better to take them to the storage room or leave them in the car.

2. Languages

language book Unlike neighboring Uganda, where almost the entire population speaks excellent English, in Rwanda, polyglots are rare. There are 4 official Rwanda languages in this state: Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Swahili. 90% of the local Rwanda population speaks Kinyarwanda. No more than 15% of the Rwanda population speak French (influenced by Belgium), and no more than 5% speak English (influenced by Great Britain).

3. Transport

rwanda transport In the country, there are only road and air transport. Places that cannot be reached by car are accessible by helicopter and small transport planes. Travel to Rwanda is not cheap, and it is better to fly with the French airlines, as they dominate air transport in this region. The best thing you can do for a comfortable trip is to take a driver-translator-guide. There are no traffic rules, but there are also not so many roads. Professional local drivers will know where you can go and where you should not and will be helpful where and what you can buy. This will really make your journey much easier. The price of the service is about $100.

4. Tourist places

virunga volcano Volcanoes National Park is one of the best places to visit in Rwanda. This is a fantastic place of beauty, a real lost world. It is located high in the mountains, surrounded by 6 extinct volcanoes. The fog creates a fantastic and unreal Rwanda landscape. The most valuable inhabitants of the rainforest are the rarest mountain gorillas. Each primate has a passport and its own name. The next one of the best places to visit in Rwanda is Nyungwe National Park. It has nature, which was not touched by the hand of man. Even the locals haven't been there. Some trees here are hundreds of thousands of years old (the Ice age bypassed this place). There are endemic animals in the park - they live only here; they are not found anywhere else in the world. Lake Kivu - the largest lake in Rwanda, is considered the most beautiful lake in Africa. Mineral water is saturated with so many trace elements that no one lives in it. But this water heals wounds, cures some liver diseases and skin diseases. You can swim there: you will not catch an infection. For lovers of unique experiences, this will be an unforgettable journey. The Rwenzori Mountains are another "lost world." The Rwenzori Mountains are not of volcanic origin, and endemic specimens of flora and fauna have been preserved here. Some historians believe that they are the most notorious "Moon Mountains," which were mentioned by geographers of antiquity and were considered as sources of the Nile. By the way, the sources of the Nile, which are located in Uganda, are very close. The Gishwati Forest is interesting for its abundance of bamboo and coniferous trees. It is home to many chimpanzees and large animals (elephants, rhinos, buffaloes). Another feature of the forest is the incredible number of exotic songbirds, as well as reptiles and chameleons. Since 2000, different varieties of tea have been grown here. In general, Rwanda is one of the places where many natural wonders are concentrated in a small area that is almost untouched by the human hand. Those who want to feel like a pioneer will be delighted.

5. Climate

rwanda sunset Perhaps the climate is one of the most amazing features of this small country, which is also called the country of eternal spring. The abundance of water and the natural terrain (high-altitude areas) make the air exceptionally clear and clean. This is a country where everything always grows and blooms. Harvests are removed 4 times a year, and the entire local Rwanda population is completely passionate about agriculture and growing flowers. No, this is not agriculture out of necessity and out of poverty, although people do not live there richly. The locals really enjoy doing it! Agro-centers that sell (including on credit, for a share in the harvest) varietal seeds and seedlings are doing very well. Rwanda weather does not change all year round, and it looks something like this: a fresh, cool, sunny morning in the afternoon-a thunderstorm or rain and a quiet, fragrant evening. As everywhere at the Equator, night falls instantly, and mystical, close and bright stars light up in the velvety sky. Guys, you can read in the light of the Moon! Amazing place!

6. Food

rwanda food Eating in public places in this country is very indecent. For Europeans, there are their own restaurants and cafes, but locals eat at home, behind the closing doors. There are also "open canteens." It looks like this: they cook all sorts of food in large cauldrons, sit around on the ground, eat and chat. The smell in such places is wonderful, but to try it is a challenge, probably not worth the risk. There are (few) restaurants where locals go. They can be found on google maps if you are in those parts. Everywhere in the country, in any cafe or restaurant, amazing Rwanda coffee is brewed to taste. These are local varieties, one of the export products. But the main "special" product is bananas. Bananas are eaten, cooked, exported, and even brewed into beer and wine (and local moonshine). Beer has a rather specific taste, but you can try it; it's interesting. Local Rwanda cuisine combines fish and meat in its dishes! Dry fish is fried in oil, and then chicken, onions, potatoes, and chili are added. The taste is not for everyone, but you can try it for an exotic experience. Another local specialty is Ugali. This is Rwandan hominy, a steeply cooked corn porridge that is eaten with your hands.

7. Religion

virgin mary and jesus christ Officially, Rwanda population is divided: 43.7% Catholic, 37.7% Protestant, 2.0% Muslim, and etc. In fact, almost all of them are animalists, pagans, and mystics. The cow is a sacred animal in Rwanda. The local nobility has herds of tens of thousands of heads, and wealth in Rwanda is measured not by $$$ in a bank account but by real livestock and land ownership.

8. Medicine, culture, and education

doctor holds a medical mask Rwanda today is still a wild country, alas. Officially, it is believed that 80% of people in the country can read and write, but in practice, more than half of the population is illiterate. Only 1 out of 10 people speak foreign languages other than Rwanda language to the minimum extent, and you can not do without a guide-translator there. Most people live in small settlements and villages, and they are, in the truest sense of the word, peasants. Due to the dispersion and poverty of the population, medicine in Rwanda is practically not available, and it is the country with the highest birth rate on the one hand and child mortality on the other. Rwanda has 1 state-owned TV channel and 1 state-owned radio station.

9. Ecology

ecology of rwanda It is a poor, agricultural country with a beautiful climate. Chemical fertilizers are not used there – the local Rwanda population does not have money for this. Therefore, all the products that are available in the country are organic food of the highest quality. At the same time, the government is taking a number of initiatives aimed at preserving the unique nature. In particular, disposable plastic bags are prohibited there. The ban has been in effect since 2015, and even the film is cut off from the suitcases of tourists at the airport. Thanks to these initiatives, the capital of Rwanda, Kigali, is the cleanest city in Africa. In the morning, at the Presidential Palace, you can see an amazing picture: the first person sweeps the street and then goes around the neighborhood to check the surrounding areas' cleanliness.

10. Umuganda and other things

rwanda child Every last Saturday of the month, the whole country goes on a clean-up day. All residents of the country over the age of 18, including the president and his family, leave their businesses and go out to clean and repair roads and streets! Besides transforming the country, such action helps increase the population's cohesion after the terrible events of the 90s. Oddly enough, Rwanda is not a sexist state today (unlike the countries around it) – more than 50% of its parliament is female. Here is such an amazing place. In conclusion, it can be noted that it is not very advisable to plan an exclusive trip to Rwanda; it is quite far to fly there. It is much more logical to make a tour of Uganda-Rwanda-Burundi. All these countries are close by, quite a decent highway connects them, and a journey could be taken by car. It will be an unforgettable adventure!

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