Rwanda highlights tour

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Rwanda highlights tour

Environment

We ensure that we advise all of our clients who are travelling to Rwanda that plastic bags are banned and we recommend that they take a strong bag with the, to carry any shopping that they may purchase. On arrival at Kigali airport there is a sign that says “the use of non-biodegradable polythene bags is prohibited” and any plastic bags you may have in your luggage will be confiscated.

On this itinerary you’ll track endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans. Well managed tourism practices have helped to save the last of the mountain gorillas from extinction, and your trekking permits and national park fees contribute to the ongoing conservation efforts in Parc National des Volcans.

Before you depart for Rwanda you will receive a detailed travel pack in which we outline the rules and regulations for gorilla trekking. These regulations will be repeated to you by your guide before you embark on your trek and it is essential that you adhere to them. You will not be allowed to track them if you’re suffering from any illness including a cold or flu which can be transmitted to the gorillas. You will be instructed to talk in a low voice whilst you’re with the gorillas and you’re requested to keep a seven metre distance from them. You must not touch the gorillas under any circumstances - although they are used to seeing people on a daily basis, they are wild animals and they can sometimes react unexpectedly so it is essential that you listen to your guide’s and trackers’ instructions. You will also be advised to disable the flash on your camera before you get to your group of gorillas as flash photography is not permitted.

On this itinerary you will also trek deep into the Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda’s mountainous southwest to track the troops of chimpanzees that live there. As with the gorilla tracking, similar rules and regulations have been set out by the Rwanda Wildlife Authority to govern this activity in order to protect the chimpanzees and their environment.

Community

We believe that all visitors to Rwanda should take the time to learn about and understand the country’s history. This holiday starts and ends in Kigali and we recommend that you visit the Genocide Memorial and Education Centre. The centre, which opened in April 2004, is built on a site where 250,000 people are buried and it serves as a memorial to those who were killed during the 1994 genocide. We also recommend visiting the Nyamata and Ntarama Genocide Memorials, which are an hour outside of Kigali, these were both churches where thousands of Rwandans were massacred. Visiting the Genocide Memorial and Education Centre in Kigali and the nearby Nyamata and Ntarama Genocide Memorials are sobering experiences that you will never forget.

During your time in Rwanda you should try to interact and engage with the Rwandan people as this will offer a much more meaningful and enriching travel experience. We encourage you to make an effort to get to know your local guides and drivers. But please bear in mind when talking to local people you should be respectful of Rwanda’s recent history - it's best to avoid discussing politics or genocide. You should avoid asking about someone’s ethnicity or referring to someone as Hutu or Tutsi. Rwanda is a country whose deep wounds are healing and the government is working hard to ensure that Rwandans heal together, in order to avoid another conflict in the future. To do so they have emphasized the idea that ethnicity no longer exists, that everyone is simply Rwandan.

We encourage you to support the local economy by buying authentic handmade products such as baskets, cotton fabrics, wood carvings, pottery and jewellery at markets, villages and small-scale souvenir shops rather than hotel tourist shops or on organised shopping trips. When you buy products at markets, villages and small-scale souvenir shops you are helping to support a fragile economy and supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive. One of the best places to buy souvenirs is the Caplaki craft co-operative in Kigali, where you’ll find local craftsmen in colourful wooden huts selling a wide selection of handicrafts, including wood carvings, traditional masks, baskets, jewellery, paintings, batik fabrics, bags, scarves and beading. We also recommend heading to the busy, bustling Kimironko Market (the largest market in Kigali). Here you can buy handmade gifts and souvenirs, plus a section of the market also hosts vendors selling fruit, vegetables, meat, and spices.

You may wish to buy an ‘agaseke basket’ to take home with you. These handcrafted baskets have been a part of Rwandan culture for centuries. They are woven from natural raw materials and Rwandan women are taught how to weave the baskets from their mothers and grandmothers, carrying on a tradition that has been passed down from one generation to another. The baskets are symbolic gifts in Rwandan marriages and they are presented as wedding gifts to a bride and groom. US retail outlet Macy’s, one of the world’s largest department store chains, has featured these traditional baskets on its shelves and the agaseke is one of Rwanda’s most iconic cultural exports.

We encourage you to be adventurous and eat in local restaurants and cafés. Not only does this help to support the local economy, but it will also give you a more authentic holiday experience. Try Rwandan specialities such as ‘umutsima’ (a dish of cassava and corn), ‘isombe’ (cassava leaves with Eggplant and spinach) and ‘mizuzu’ (fried plantains). We also recommend that you buy delicious snacks, such as roasted corn, barbecued meat or bananas, mangos, pineapple, and papaya from roadside vendors.

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