Having travel through almost every country in Africa, on what was my 6-7th time on the continent, I finally visited Rwanda. I had been “saving” this country and was hoping to travel there with my family. What I found while visiting Rwanda was a gem of a country … and represented what a functional country could look like if it were lead and run well. Most African nations have immense wealth and resources which its corrupt leaders’ pocket or squander. Rwanda has no oil, gas, or minerals to export. Much of its topography is mountains, thereby minimizing its arable land. However, this country is the blueprint for the rest of Africa. That isn’t to say that Africa’s despots will soon abdicate and give up their profiteering, but Rwanda is the model that populations should expect.
That Rwanda has moved past the genocide that occurred in 1994 is simply remarkable. Brewing for decades, the Hutus and Tutsis which are Rwanda’s main tribes, their conflict finally exploded into an all-out mass killing. As the world looked on and did nothing in just three months 1 million Rwandans were slaughtered.
Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is clean and polished with a distinct African flair. It is not Cape Town, dripping in luxury. However, it has some very nice hotels, the best being the Marriott. You’ll notice as you drive or walk through the city or outskirts there is zero trash on the streets. Rwandans take great pride and cleanliness in direct contrast to 99% of Africa.
Tourism is Rwanda‘s main revenue driver, with people mainly coming to visit its famous mountain gorillas. Located in Volcanoes National Park, almost a 2-hour drive from Kigali. The majestic creatures are some of the nation’s largest and most impressive mammals. Tourists need a permit to visit the park, to spend one hour with the gorillas it costs $1,500 per person! If you’re willing to spare no expense the best way is to stay at the Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge before or after your trek. Visitors gather at the nearby park interest for a briefing, are split into groups of 6 to 8, and are assigned gorilla families. On February 20, 2019, we tracked the Muhoze family led by one silverback. Several years ago, this male silverback (Muhoze) was in a family with two other males and was beaten relentlessly by them when he cheated with the females. After being exiled and alone, he attracted some females away from another family and started his own. There are now eight females, with three children. These gorillas are breathtaking, especially given they walk right next to you. I spent a few minutes filming one of the babies.
Seeing these magnificent creatures in their habitat is truly a once-in-a-lifetime and a not-to-miss experience.