“What is the true meaning of a great holiday? At African Unique Safaris and Tours we measure our tours by how long your experiences and incredible memories stay with you after you return home and how impactful and inspiring those memories are for rest of your life.
With that in mind we have put together exclusively for Crooked Compass what we consider to be one of the world’s most inspiring and memorable tours, not just for its incredibly unique wildlife experiences but because of this countries story from ruin to being one of the world’s safest countries and most progressive leader in East Africa.
At the forefront of this incredible re-emergence are the women of Rwanda. Rich in color, history, resilience, skill and community building, they are a true success story of rebuilding REMARKABLE RWANDA and have the largest representation in parliament in the world at 65%.
On this tour you will see the rare and magnificent Mountain Gorillas, other primates, safari animals and stunning vistas, and we will get you in touch with the daily lives of Rwandans with immersive authentic experiences taking you in to their daily lives, micro businesses, skills and rich culture both ancient and recent to show you the heart of this inspiring country and their incredible story.”
The Team at African Unique Safaris and Tours
Tour ItineraryBooking RequestAsk Sandra
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL AND CITY TOUR
Upon arrival at Kigali Airport, you be met by your African Unique Safari and Tours representative and your driver guide.
Transfer to your hotel for check in and have a tour briefing. You will then proceed for a city tour which includes the educational, challenging, memorable and ultimately inspiring Kigali Genocide Memorial site. This is a visit you will never forget.
Later drive to Nyamirambo Women’s Centrehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gZuFFMgqCofor some local activities with some truly inspiring Women. Nyamirambo Women’s Centre (NWC), a Rwandan NGO, was launched at the end of 2007 by 18 Rwandese women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together they created a project which aimed to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination. Today, NWC’s mission is to provide education and vocational training to women who do not have the means to pay for such training on their own, so that they can gain better opportunities for employment.
At the end of 2013 NWC launched the product line “Umutima,” which means “heart” in Kinyarwanda. With this project, NWC trains and employs women from the community to create a large variety of women’s accessories, children’s clothing, and home decor products. At the moment there are over 50 women employed by Umutima as seamstresses. Umutima and NWC have grown into a unique, self-sustaining model where the profits earned through Umutima are used to fund NWC initiatives, in addition to providing benefits and a fair wage to the seamstresses.
Walking Tour of Nyamirambo
This tour begins at the Women’s Centre with a traditional snack, a quick Kinyarwanda language lesson, and an introduction to the Centre and its activities. It then weaves through Nyamirambo, one of Kigali’s oldest neighbourhoods. Along the way guides lead participants into a women’s hairdressing salon where the adventurous type can get a free braid; into a family compound to pound cassava leaves; by two mosques and a lookout view over Kigali; and into a tailor shop to feel the fabrics you’ll otherwise see styled on the streets. The tour concludes with a traditional lunch made and served in the home of Aminatha, NWC’s best cook.
Sisal Basket Weaving Workshop
All around Rwanda one can see sisal basketry products. In this workshop, visitors are given a chance to try their own hand at the time-intensive and historically significant practice of basketry. The workshop begins with an overview of the cultural history of sisal, followed by an in-depth explanation of the process of from harvest to final product. Participants then get a needle and – under the guidance of the expert women of the Centre – begin weaving a small token of their choice to take home.
Traditional Cooking Class with Aminatha
From market to meal, every step of the process of cooking is shared by Aminatha and participants in this tour. After buying produce and ingredients at several markets the group walks just around the corner from the Centre to Aminatha’s home. There they get to work at a wooden table in her courtyard, chopping countless vegetables and starting the charcoal stoves. Under the guidance of Aminatha six traditional, delicious, and gratifying dishes are prepared and then shared by all involved.
Dinner and overnight at Heaven Boutique Hotel.
DAY 2 – KIGALI TO AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
After early breakfast, you will embark on a drive to Akagera National Park with your packed lunch. En route about 1 hour from Kigali we visit the Women’s Twongere Umusaruro Project. This group of amazing women have flourished as a COOP supported by a number of key NGO’s who have partnered to help them improve coffee quality, practices, yields and more direct to market trade assisting in cutting out costly and unnecessary middle men. You’ll here and experience:
The story and progress of the partnership and coop.
How the Rwandan government is removing barriers to facilitate seamless trade for coffee buyers
How they engage local coffee growers
Challenges and opportunities that coffee industry is having
Women rise in coffee industry
Strengthening women in coffee supply chain
Cupping and workshops
Understanding coffee segmentation
Let’s talk home roasting. Traditional roasting on open fires.
How to build your own lot cupping sessions
Agriculture practices (filed preparation, how their make a compost, how they prepared seedling, how the take them to nursery, watering process, spraying, managing planning pit, planting, mulching, bending, pruning to harvest.)
Coffee washing station (measuring, washing, grading, pulping, washing, drying, white to green)
Cupping and testing
Then transfer to Akagera National Park, Rwanda’s only Savannah Game Viewing Park. We should have time for a short game drive. Look out for Giraffes, Zebras, Water Buffalo, Waterbuck, Baboons and much more. Dominated scenically by the labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River, the most remote source of the Nile, this is archetypal Africa’s savannah landscape of tangled acacia woodland interspersed with open grassland. Akagera is, above all, famed for its hosting of big game.
Overnight is luxury glamping at Ruzizi Tented Lodges. This is a truly unique experience as often the Hippopotamuses come right up to your tented lodge. It’s ok as your tent is on a platform and the Hippos cannot jump. The marketing manager is Australian and if she’s home would love to say G’day.
Dinner and Overnight at RUZIZI TENTED LODGE.
DAY 3 –AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK TO KIGALI
Early in the morning after breakfast, you will check out from the lodge and go for a morning boat cruise, which allows you to view a variety of bird’s species, crocodile, and hippos. Later proceed to Northern circuit game drive to search for animals that you may have missed out in the previous game drive, lunch in route. It w is not a guarantee that all the animals can be seen in the evening game drive there are some that are early risers and can only be seen in the morning. In the evening transfer back to Kigali. Refresh from the hotel, dinner and overnight stay at Heaven Boutique Hotel.
DAY 4 – KIGALI TO MUHANGA WITH AZIZI LIFE
After breakfast it’s time to enjoy your authentic Rwandan Village experiences of your choice courtesy of Azizi Life. Azizi Life partners with rural Rwandans to bring fair trade beauty to your life and theirs. Don’t worry about holding the fit, skilful and impressive locals back, they will pace the experience to suit you. It’s a lot of fun.
A Day in the Life of an Artisan
Become part of a weaving cooperative for the day.
The Artisan Day is the very first Experience created by the artisans, and is the heart of Azizi Life Experiences.
Join your artisan hostesses in their village for a morning of family chores, a simple, home-cooked lunch, and an afternoon of learning how to craft. With your translator alongside, you will love sharing life, work, conversation and laughter with the artisans and their families.
Imigongo (cow dung art) Experience
Years ago in the time of the Rwandan Kings, there once was a prince who decided to decorate his house by carving geometric shapes directly into the wall of his hut. In time this technique was developed into a popular form of Traditional Rwandan art call “Imigongo.” During your experience you will learn the history, the method and then make your own art to take away with you.
You may have seen the high rise buildings in Kigali, but this Azizi Life Experience is your chance to learn something about the traditional building techniques, some of them used since the times of the King.
In the morning you will collect water and soil, which you will then be taught how to make into mud bricks. After making your own bricks, you will dig the foundations and learn how to lay the bricks in a way to ensure the building will be strong. By this point, you will have built up a bit of an appetite and so everyone will stop work and share a simple home-cooked lunch with your host family.
Banana Juice Making
Traditionally shared during weddings and other celebrations, banana juice (and beer!) has long been a central part of Rwandan parties. Although nowadays banana juice can be easily bought from the local store, the traditional technique for making your own brew is a much greater labour of love.
In the morning of your Azizi Life Experience, you will work with your rural host to collect the green bananas and the leaves needed to begin the process. Next you’ll dig a hole and bury the bananas to ripen over time.
Traditional Cooking Day
Select from a simple variety of seasonal dishes for your custom traditional cooking Experience with a rural mama! Your day begins not in the kitchen but in the fields as you learn seasonal planting or harvesting of fresh ingredients for your meal.
Once the ingredients and water have been collected, food preparation begins with washing, peeling, pounding, and grinding the ingredients using traditional methods and tools.
Azizi Life Pathways
Thanks to Rwanda’s lush green hills, beautiful valleys and welcoming people, it may be one of the easiest and most exciting places in East Africa to explore by foot.
All around the rural communities, there is already a vast network of paths ready and waiting for you to explore.
Crafting Workshop Experiences
Short on time or looking for a more focused crafting experience? (or working with a tight budget?) Looking for a short, fun holiday or weekend activity for the whole family?
We have created our Craft Workshop Experiences just for you!
Candle Dipping and Hive Making
Learn from local beekeepers how to weave a traditional beehive, prepare beeswax and dip your own pair of candles. The candles are yours to take home with you. Experience rural life and share a meal with your host family.
In the afternoon before dinner your Azizi Life Musical Experience begins with a mini-performance from a small troupe of traditional performers and story tellers in the evening.
Whether you have natural rhythm or not, with our expert instructors everyone can enjoy learning traditional drumming and dancing.
Next, it’s your turn to put on a traditional costume and give it a try. You’ll have fun as the dancers teach you some basic dance steps and share a bit of the history of Rwandan dance.
Dinner and overnight in Home stays.
DAY 5 – CULTURAL CORRIDOR AND TRANSFER TO NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK
After a wonderful breakfast with families you will give farewells and then transfer to Nyungwe Forest National Park. En route you will visit Butare town with the famous King’s Palace in Nyanza, and National Museum of Rwanda which will definitely provide you with a deeper insight into Rwandan history, culture.
Then we embark on a very interesting Coffee Tour at Huye Mountain Coffee. Here you will be taken on an excellent seed to cup 3 hour tour covering:
Different Soil and Region Conditions
Different Verities and Seasons
Enemies of Coffee
Under Trees Traditional Coffee Making Experience
Rocks of Nyirankoko – Old rock dwellings near the plantation
History of Huye at the top of Chain Hill
And of course the final product.
At 4pm we will leave as coffee experts and proceed through Nyungwe National Park and on to the Cyangugu District and Lake Kivu.
Nyungwe forest is probably the most preserved forest in Africa. Some say it is the most important site for biodiversity in Rwanda. It is home to over 1000 species of creation after all.
Upon arrival, you will check in to Emeraude Lake Kivu on the shores overlooking the lake and enjoy an excellent Dinner and Coffee with the mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the other side.
A great place for dinner and to unwind before your early Traditional Fisherman’s Experience in the morning.
DAY 6 – TRADITIONAL FISHERMAN’S EXPERIENCE, WATERFALL WALK AND LUNCH AND CANOPY WALK IN NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK
At the crack of dawn we take a 2 minute walk from the lodge down to the local traditional fisherman. Every morning the fisherman launch their traditional boats and throw their nets for their day’s trade. They heard the fish like cattle and sing during the morning. It’s a wonderful natural and peaceful way to start the day.
After breakfast you will drive to the starting point of nature walk in Nyungwe Forest where you will take a hike up to waterfalls. It’s about a 2 hour hike through beautiful rainforest where you get to meet different species of primate’s insects and birds. Lunch is at the waterfall itself before returning to Uwinka Reception Centre.
Then it’s off for an eye level canopy walk of Nyungwe Forest. Ascend to the start of the canopy walk where you will take in a whole new and breathtaking perspective of the ancient forest canopy and it birdlife.
Return to the lodge for refreshment and the rest will be relaxing. Dinner and overnight at Emeraude Lake Kivu Resort.
DAY 7 – CHIMPANZEE TREK AND TRANSFER TO KIBUYE
This morning we leave with a coffee and packed lunch at 6am in order to arrive at the Cyangugu Park Headquarters for the Chimpanzee Trek briefing. Take some bottles of water with you front the 4WD as the trek can go for 2-6 hours.
In the forest, you will not only see our closest animal relative the chimpanzees in their natural habitat but keep your eye open for a variety of animals and birds like the Rwenzori Turraco, black and white casqued horn bill, colobus monkeys – sometimes as many as 400 in a group. Later transfer to Kibuye, Lake Kivu.
Check in, Dinner and overnight stay at Kivu Safari Lodge.
This evening we have arranged for you a lake cruise on a ferry and sundowner drinks.
DAY 8 – KIBUYE TO VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast, we will drive to Gisenyi for a Batwa pottery experience. The Batwa in Rwanda are a strongly under represented people in Rwanda and life is not so easy. Once forest dwellers and hunters, these short stature and good natured people are highly sought after through their handmade pottery artisanship. Here you will witness their skills, hard work and final product.
Later you will have lunch and then transfer to Musanze at the base of the magnificent Volcanoes National Park for an Ibyiwacu Culture Village experience. This is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the traditional and historical culture and practices of the Rwandese.
The experience includes an overnight in a traditional Rwanda Hut. Dinner and overnight at Ibyiwacu Village.
DAY 9 – GOLDEN MONKEY TREK AND GORILLA DOCTORS IN VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
This morning, after a quick breakfast, you will participate in another adventure tracking the “Little Primates” of the Virunga, the Golden Monkey (CercopithecusKandti).The Golden Monkeys are now listed by the IUCN as endangered because of their small numbers. You will be part of a select group. The trek always takes few hours in the morning return to the lodge for lunch.
In the afternoon you get an incredible educational behind the scenes experience at the Gorilla Doctors. This organization works closely with the Karisoke Dian Fossey Mountain Gorilla Fund to administer and treatment to injured or sick Mountain Gorillas. Their knowledge of their anatomy, genetics, language and habits is at expert level and will give you amazing insights in to our ancient ancestors.
After the Gorilla Doctors return to the lodge for the traditional dancing group before dinner and overnight at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. The views, gardens and birdlife at Musanze’s most popular lodge are truly spectacular and most of the fruit, vegetables and herbs in your meals come straight from the chef’s garden and local farms.
DAY 10 – MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREK AND FAITH FOUNDATION
Today you have a unique and privileged experience to trek and meet at close quarters the rare Mountain Gorilla. There are only around 880 of these magnificent creatures left in the world with around 1/3 of those in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.
This is considered one of the great natural animal encounters on the planet.
Early in the morning after breakfast you will be taken to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters where you will be educated on the trek, Gorilla behavior and assigned in to groups of suitable fitness.
Then set off for your Mountain Gorilla tracking. This experience of gorilla tracking is a once in a life time adventure.
The rangers will lead you deep into the forest in search for the Gorillas. You will move up and down the rugged terrain until you finally meet these harmonious creatures that will entertain you with performances for about 1 hour once your find them.
The activity in Rwanda can take 3-5 hours since the gorillas move up and down. This is an awesome and exciting moment. En route there are is a possibility of meeting other primates such as monkeys and various types of species of birds.
In the afternoon after lunch if the weather is clear you will drive 25 minutes away from the lodge and go to visit the Faith Foundation. Faith Uwantege left her job in the hotels of Musanze at the age of 23 to start Faith Foundation. Her inspiration bears its roots from the streets of Kinigi where Faith constantly saw vulnerable children at risk everywhere she walked and with no hope for tomorrow. She then made a decision to use her own savings to see her dream come true.
“We believe that poverty in childhood is a root cause of poverty in adulthood” says the Founder. Faith Foundation is breaking this poverty cycle, by helping the absolute poorest of the poor; we can make the greatest impact on society. The Foundation has pioneered an initiative that has seen children being sponsored to pursue education, empowering themselves and creating their own future, and increasing capacities of widows to actively generate income to support themselves and their children and actively participate in community development.
Faith is such an inspiration and great leader in her community and an example of how one person can mobilize a movement and make a difference to empower disadvantage children.
Any donations of stationary you can bring in your luggage will be greatly appreciated.
Dinner and overnight stay at The Retreat Heaven Boutique Hotel.
DAY 11 – KIGALI TO AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK
You have a full last day of activities planned as your flight transfers out in the evening.
After breakfast we take you full circle back to Bugesera and take your emotions on another roller coaster en route to the Ntarama Church Memorial. This is a confronting and deeply moving memorial on the site of a terrible and inhumane massacre during the Genocide. You will not be able to understand how people can do this to each other and only resume your faith in humanity when you witness the respect, honor and selfless act of the reconciliation process. It is a Lest We Forget moment that’s important not to avoid or hide away from so that it never happens again. And that is the hope of all Rwandans.
Then we play with your emotions one last time and take you to an uplifting organization in town called NOUSPR.
NOUSPR’s dream is a world in which all people with psychosocial disabilities are treated with the respect and dignity that enables them to enjoy their human rights in all aspects of their lives.
is to advocate for and with people with psychosocial disability and to provide a platform for a unified and empowered voice that is able to achieve the provision of necessary services and opportunities and to have their interests and human rights fully promoted and protected.
NOUSPR’ S GOALS
Since NOUSPR’s formation, we have registered over 1200 members and reached over 15000 beneficiaries including mentally ill people, their careers and family members in the ten Districts of Rwanda (Nyagatare, Bugesera, Kicukiro, Gasabo, Rulindo, Musanze, Rubavu, Ruhango, Nyaruguru and Nyarugenge) that we work in. NOUSPR now aims to scale up and reach out to at least 100,000 mentally ill people and their families over the next five years. In order to achieve this, we will deliver the following strategic goals to achieve our purpose:
Goal 1. Improve mental health care in Rwanda
Goal 2. Improve livelihood of People with mental disability and people with psychosocial disabilities
Goal 3. Do capacity building of people with mental disability and their families to ensure effective contribution to their welfare
Goal 4. Eliminate stigma and negative community attitudes on mental illness reduced
Goal 5. Influence the formulation of policies, laws and legislation in favour of people with psychosocial disability
Goal 6: Improve our national and international network
One of NOUSPR’s ways they empower their member’s is through their cultural tours. Today we will:
Walking to a nearby well and collect water for daily use
Assist with digging the fruit and vegetable garden
Get hands on and learn how to milk a cow
Mill grain and make flour the Rwandan way
Learn how to weave baskets and create jeweler
It will be a fitting farewell as we leave some of Rwanda’s most vulnerable with hope, engagement and smiles.
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