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Rwanda Cultural Experiences
While it might have been the gorillas that entice you to Rwanda, it’s the people of Rwanda who will keep you coming back. Ancient traditions of honour and hospitality run strong here, and anybody who takes the time to discover Rwandan culture for oneself will find a proud and unique people, happy to welcome you into their lives and introduce you to their traditions.
Music and dance play an indispensable role in everyday life here, and performances range from dashing demonstrations of bravery and prowess to humorous songs, light-hearted dances, and rural artistry with roots in traditional agriculture. Traditional songs are often accompanied by a solitary lulunga—a harp-like instrument with eight strings—while more celebratory dances are backed by a drum orchestra, which typically comprises seven to nine members who collectively produce a hypnotic and exciting explosion set of intertwining rhythms.
The finest displays of Rwanda’s dynamic traditional musical and dance styles are performed by the Intore Dance Troupes. Performed wearing grass wigs and clutching spears this dance is a true spectacle of Rwanda. Live dance performances can be seen at cultural villages, museums and as entertainment at many lodges and hotels across Rwanda. The Iby’ Iwacu cultural village in Musanze, and the National Museum of Rwanda have regular performances and daily dances occur at the RDB office at Kinigi, Volcanoes National Park.
The genocide memorial in Kigali is included on every city tour and is a must-see. Rwanda’s painful past has haunted the country for years; however, their impressive recovery story has turned them into an inspiration. The genocide memorial acts as a humbling reminder to those present and honors those lost. This is a worthwhile visit for travelers who want to gain insight into the history of genocide in Rwanda. It will also help travelers appreciate how far Rwanda has come. The memorial Center is open every day from 8am to 5pm, but the last entrance is at 4pm. It opens at 2pm on Umuganda Saturdays (the last Saturday of every month when Rwandans get together for community clean up). There is no fee to enter; however, guides are available at a small fee. The Center is located in Gisozi.
While the largest memorial is in Kigali, the genocide touched all corners of Rwanda, and as such there are many emotionally charged memorials located throughout the country. Some are as simple as a quiet garden space for contemplation, while others are larger and hold relics, remains, and exhibits on the genocide itself. Beyond the main memorial centre in Kigali, a few of the memorials that belong on any Rwandan itinerary include:
Gorilla permits can be booked at the RDB Tourism and Conservation Reservation Office in person, by telephone (252 57 65 14) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Gorilla permits cost as follows:
Price of a Rwanda Gorilla Permit
– $1500 – Non Residents, East African Residents, East African Citizens, Rwandan Residents, Rwandan Citizens
– 30% Discount (US$ 1,050) on gorilla permits if visiting other Rwanda national parks (Akagera national park, Nyungwe national park) for 3 days and more during the low season of November – May
– 15% discount (US$ 1,275) on conference guests who stay pre & post MICE events to see gorillas
– $15,000 for Private gorilla trekking of an entire group with an exclusive personalized tour guide service
– US$ 30,000 for a minimum of 3 visitors for 3 consecutive days (Behind the scenes)
Gorilla Filming and Photography
USD$ 5000 for 3 consecutive days Mountain Gorilla filming and professional photography
USD$12,000 for filming and photography crew per day (maximum 8 people)
Booking a Rwanda Gorilla Permit through us.
Booking a Rwanda gorilla permit through our travel agency – Booking through Trek Gorilla Safaris is a reliable option of obtaining a Rwanda gorilla permit. We are a registered and liable tour operator in Rwanda and Uganda.
Important Note: Its highly advisable to book your permit earlier than your planned gorilla trekking date as permits tend to get finished early. Volcanoes national park is home to 10 mountain gorilla groups and each group can only have 1 group of 8 people visiting a day for only 1 hour. Today Rwanda is receiving so many visitors coming to tour gorillas. Its best to book early to guarantee your gorilla permits for the day interested to trek gorillas.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) shall refund 50% of the gorilla tracking fee for any visitor showing signs of illness. Any sick visitor shall not be allowed to track the gorillas if declared unfit by the Warden in Charge. The only applies to visitors who have travelled all the way to the park.
Tracking Time Limit
Assembling for briefing from one of the park rangers at the Kinigi park headquarters starts is limited to 7:00 – 7:30 at latest. Gorilla trekking time is limited from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All visitors are expected back at the camp ground by 7:00 p.m.
Visitor’s Passport Information
After full confirmation of the booking, passport details of the trackers will be require at the UWA to enable writing out the gorilla permits. Please ensure the full names, passport number and country of passport issuance are sent.
Please note: You must be over 15 years of age to obtain a gorilla viewing permit.
Beyond the gorillas that made Rwanda famous, wildlife junkies will be thrilled to know that they can trek three more species of primates on their Rwandan holiday: Chimpanzees, Black-and-white colobus monkeys, and the endangered Golden monkey. Chimpanzee groups live high in the canopy of Nyungwe National Park, and catching your first glimpse of one crashing through the forest after hiking into their territory is astonishing. The black-and-white colobus live in Nyungwe as well, and these resplendent, long-haired creatures are every wildlife photographer’s dream.
Finally, like their neighbours the gorillas, the Golden monkey can be found in very few places outside of Volcanoes National Park, and their rich colors, energetic demeanour, and sizeable troupes of up to 30 individuals are truly a sight to behold. The gorillas may be what brought you to Rwanda, but it would be an unforgivable omission to leave without seeing one of the wonderful creatures they share a home with, the chimpanzees.
These cousins to humans can be found and tracked in Nyungwe National Forest. A beautiful guided hike through the forest will lead you to these fascinating creatures where you can watch them play and interact up close.Chimpanzee tracking can be done year-round in Nyungwe Forest, rain or shine, and while it is never guaranteed that you will see them, sightings are very common and guides are skillful in tracking them. The experience differs from gorilla tracking as the chimps are running around, so the sightings are a bit more sporadic and rushed, but worthwhile nonetheless.
Golden Monkey Trekking
These striking primates are a treat for the eyes. With their bright orange fur contrasting the green rainforests of the Virunga Mountains – it’s a photographers dream! Visitors meet with their guides at Volcanoes National Park’s Kinigi Headquarters and the visit is done once per day. Time for trekking is allocated after booking.
Nyanza Genocide Memorial
This site, in the grounds of Kigali’s Ecole Technique Officielle, holds the graves of more than 10,000 Tutsis who were massacred here during the genocide. Today several concrete memorials mark the spot, and it’s been used as a main site for genocide anniversary commemorations.
Ntarama Genocide Memorial
Set in a village south of Kigali where more than 5,000 people were killed in the grounds of a church, the site today has been turned into a memorial garden, and the interior of the church holds the personal belongings and skeletons of hundreds of the victims, including everything from clothing, to toys, to identification. Guided visits are available.
Nyamata Genocide Memorial
Along the main road south of Kigali, this is another church where people sought protection but were ultimately slaughtered. 10,000 people were killed here in 1994, and today their personal effects fill the church. Two crypts underneath the grounds hold tens of thousands of bodies, and guided visits are available.
Murambi Genocide Memorial
Set in a former technical school just north of Nyamagabe in Rwanda’s southwest, the Murambi memorial is perhaps the most significant, and most wrenching of all of Rwanda’s genocide memorials. Up to 50,000 people were murdered here, and the mass graves so large, that the heat of the surrounding decomposition preserved many of the bodies, which now populate the bare dormitories of the school. To better explain the events leading up to the massacre, an interpretive centre was opened here in 2011.
One of the most spectacular ways to see Rwanda is from the air! Indulge in a helicopter ride above the land of a thousand hills to get a bird’s eye view of the endless rolling green hills and pristine water banks. Helicopter is also a rapid way to get from one attraction to another. Heli-safaris and transportation are offered by Akagera Aviation.
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Popular Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Packages
- 3 Day Rwanda Gorilla Tour
- 4 Day Rwanda Gorilla & Chimpanzee Tour
- 4 Day Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Tour
- 4 Day Rwanda Gorilla & Cultural Tour
- 4 Day Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Special
- 4 Day Rwanda Gorilla Trekking & Kivu Tour
- 5 Day Rwanda Gorilla & Golden Monkey Safari
- 5 Day Rwanda Gorilla & Chimps Tour
- 6 Day Rwanda Gorilla & Chimps Tour
- 7 Day Best of Rwanda Tour
- 7 Day Rwanda Highlights Tour
- 7 Day Rwanda Gorilla & Chimpanzee Tour
- 7 Day Incredible Rwanda Tour
- 9 Day Rwanda Gorilla Trek & Wildlife Tour
- 11 Day Rwanda Special Tour
- 13 Day Incredible Rwanda Tour
- 20 Day Rwanda Complete Tour
BEST TIME TO GO
Gorilla Viewing: Gorilla trekking can take place at any time of year with April/May and November being wetter. However, be aware that rain occurs all year round. For general game viewing safaris, the best time to go is during the dry season (between June and September).