Rwanda: holidays, climate, national customs
|January February||Chinese New Years Festival|
|January 1||New Year|
|January 28||Day of democracy|
|7th of April||Genocide Memorial Day|
|1st of May||Labor Day|
|July 1||Independence day|
|July 4||Liberation Day|
|15th of August||Assumption Day|
|September 8||Culture day|
|September 25||Referendum day|
|October 26||Armed Forces Day|
|November 1||All Saints Day|
|November||Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)|
Source: Countryaah – Rwanda Holidays
Due to the proximity to the equator and the high altitude, the climate in Rwanda is rather moderate. The average daytime temperatures are 18 °C all year round. At night they drop below 15 °C. From October to May there is a rainy season, which has a stronger impact on the climate. During this time the monthly amount of precipitation increases to 100 – 200 mm. The humidity is less than 70% in the dry season and increases to over 80% in the rainy season.
The social order in Rwanda is very conservative. It starts with clothing, which is particularly modest for women. Shorts or tight skirts are absolutely taboo.
In public, it is not common for couples to exchange tenderness. It is also uncommon to eat or drink on the streets in Rwanda. You tend to go to a restaurant for that. Rwandan women rarely smoke in public and rarely go to bars unaccompanied. The people are quite reserved and do not fight arguments and emotional outbursts in public. You should therefore also make sure to swallow your own emotions. It is also considered rude in Rwanda to look an elderly person in the eye for too long.
In Rwanda, homosexuality is a criminal offense that can be punished with long prison sentences due to the current moral laws of the penal code. One should not be fooled by men walking down the streets hand in hand with other men. That is not classified as homosexuality. Intimidation and reprisals continue to occur against homosexuals.
It is important to keep in mind that the people of Rwanda are still recovering from a long, tough civil war and genocide that killed an estimated 1 million people. Many Rwandans have lost relatives and friends themselves and appreciate it very much if you approach their past with sensitivity. One also wants to forget the tribal distinctions, so that one would rather be viewed as a Rwandan than a Tutsi or Hutu. The question of ethnic origin or political attitudes is therefore considered impolite.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that RW stands for the nation of Rwanda as a two-letter acronym.
Butare, the second largest city in Rwanda, extends in the south of the country and is virtually its cultural city. Butare has existed since the Belgian colonial era and was then the seat of the Belgian colonial administration.
Numerous buildings from that time still remind of the colonial era. Butare is also the seat of the National University and the National Museum of Rwanda.
Gisenyi, a nicely situated small town on Lake Kiwu, is inhabited by more than 83,000 people. The city, founded in the German colonial era, impresses with numerous colonial residential buildings and also includes the state brewery Bralirwa.
Guitarama, located in the center of Rwanda between Butare and Kigali, is the third largest city in the country. It spreads near the important Catholic mission and diocese seat of Kabgayi. It is historically interesting that the so-called Hutu revolution of the PARMEHUTU began in Guitarama.
The importance of the small town of Kibuye, which hugs a rugged coastline on Lake Kiwu, lies in the old mission station, which sits enthroned on a rock and extends over it into the lake. In 2005, a resort that was once supposed to attract tourists to Kibuye was closed.
Kigali is the capital and largest city in the country. In contrast to the other major cities in Rwanda, Kigali is much more urban. The city is located in the center of Rwanda and was founded in 1907 by the German resident Richard Kandt. It was named after Mount Kigali, near which it was founded. The city, now inhabited by about 1,030,000 people, gained notoriety in 1994 as the starting point for the genocide of the Tutsi. This is also a reminder of the Hôtel des Mille Collines, which became the last refuge for more than a thousand Tutsis during the genocide. Above all, the then manager Paul Rusesabagina should be mentioned here with praise.
In the north of Rwanda lies the city of Ruhengeri in the lava plain, in which about 86,685 people live. For tourists, Ruhengeri is the perfect gateway to the country’s volcanoes and mountain gorillas.
Special buildings and structures
Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali
The large Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali became a refuge for over a thousand people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The story about the hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, also filmed as Hotel Rwanda, is a sign of humanity and hope. Today’s four-star hotel is still in operation. Its name refers to the nickname Rwanda as the “land of a thousand hills”.
Top Tower Hotel Kigali
The Top Tower Hotel in Kigali rises in the Kacyiru area and has been there since 2008. The hotel is known for the Crystal View Lounge Bar on the 8th floor, the huge windows with panoramic views over the Rwandan capital grant.
Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Kigali
The Genocide Memorial Center commemorates the victims of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. The memorial has been in existence since 2004 and documents the stages of the genocide in various ways. Around 250,000 murdered people are buried at the point where the memorial rises.
National Museum of Rwanda
The National Museum of Rwanda, built in the 1980s, is located in Butare and shows, among other things, interesting exhibits from pre-colonial times. The most notable exhibits include reconstructed traditional grasshouses.
Ntarama Genocide Memorial
Like the Nyamata Memorial, which is about 20 minutes away, the Ntarama Memorial was once a church before thousands of people were murdered there as part of the genocide. In addition to the clothing of victims, the church also contains a peaceful sacrificial garden and a wall with names. Tours in English and French are available. You shouldn’t leave the memorial without a donation, because it receives almost no government support.
Nyamata Genocide Memorial in Nyamata
The counterpart to the Gisozi Memorial Center in Kigali is located in Nyamata, a town that is about 40 minutes by car from Kigali on a freshly paved road. The memorial is located in a church where more than 5,000 people were murdered during the 1994 genocide. The museum is definitely worth seeing, because it provides an in-depth, if disturbing glimpse into a crime of the century.
National University of Rwanda in Butare
The largest university in Rwanda is located in the city of Butare and was established in 1963. It suffered greatly from the genocide and had to close in 1994. But the university was able to reopen in 1995. The university has put its focus on science, technology and medicine. The languages of instruction are English and French.
The mountain gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes are an almost unique feature. The Virunga volcanoes are an ensemble of eight volcanoes in the border area of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are also located here.
The endangered mountain gorillas are tried to protect and preserve through numerous measures, especially against poachers and illegal traders. The “Gorillas in the Fog” film, which was awarded the “Golden Globe”, brought the animals into the consciousness of people around the world. The film shows the life and work of the American Dian Fossey (1932-1985) with the gorillas in Rwanda. Fossey was discovered in her hut at the Karisoke Research Center on December 27, 1985 with her head bashed in. The murder was never solved. At her request, she was buried in the gorilla cemetery that she herself had laid out near her hut.
The extensive Akagera swamps in eastern Rwanda are fed by the Akagera Nile and consist of 12 smaller and larger lakes. While a large part of the swamp area lies in the area of Rwanda and forms an important part of the Akagera National Park, the smaller eastern part belongs to Tanzania.
Nyungwe Forest (Forêt Naturel de Nyungwe)
The 970 km² evergreen Forêt Naturel de Nyungwe is a mountain rainforest that extends in the south-west of Rwanda and is the largest unified mountain forest in East and Central Africa. Up to 75 species of mammals, 120 butterflies and 175 bird species live in the Nyungwe Forest. The forest, which has been registered as a national park since 2004, can be visited on guided hiking tours, with the chimpanzees being one of the highlights of the tour.
Gishwati Forest (Forêt Naturel de Gishwati)
Once the second largest natural forest in the country, it extends on the eastern shore of Lake Kivu and was once connected to the Nyungwe Forest. Nowadays only a few spots are left of the once very imposing forest. The rest today consists of settlements, fields and tea plantations.
Virunga volcanoes between Ruhengeri and Gisenyi
The ensemble of eight Virunga volcanoes in the border area between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is worth seeing. The volcanoes lie between Lake Eduard and Lake Kiwu and are therefore in the East African Rift Valley. The Nyiragongo (3,462 m) and the Nyamuragira are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (3,063 m).
In 1977, the Nyiragongo erupted over 2,000 people.
In the center of the ensemble – in Rwanda – are the Karisimbi and the Visoke (Bisoke) (3,711 m). The Mikeno (4,437 m) – also in the center of the ensemble – is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the border with Rwanda. In the east of the ensemble, in the triangle of Rwanda, Unganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lie the Sabinyo (3,634 m), in Uganda the Gahinga (3,474 m) and in the border area of Rwanda and Uganda the Muhabura (4,127 m). The volcanoes are covered in tropical rainforest and are home to the mountain gorillas mentioned above. Between the two volcanoes, the Karisimbi and the Visoke, lies the research station for mountain gorillas – the “Karisoke Research Center” – the center founded by Dian Fossey in 1967 – became a research station for mountain gorillas.
Akagera National Park
The park was founded in 1934 with an area of 2,500 km² by the Belgians, the former colonial rulers. Today the park covers an area of approx. 900 km². It is located in the northeast of Rwanda, on the border with Tanzania. It is dominated by swamps and small lakes that drain to the Kagera River. The park got its name after the approximately 900 km long river Kagera, which belongs to the river system of the upper Nile in the area of Lake Victoria. In parts it forms the border between Rwanda and Tanzania and later between Tanzania and Uganda. It drains Lake Rugwero and is one of the headwaters of the Nile, which is furthest from its confluence with the Mediterranean.
The landscape of the park is rather flat and consists of wide plains overgrown with grass, the Euphorbia candelabra bush and partially with forests.
In the park you will find various species of monkeys, antelopes including eland, buffalo, elas, elephants, hippos, hyenas, impalas, cats, leopards, lions, Maasai giraffes, Nile crocodiles, topis, waterbuck as well as zebras and civets.
In addition, around 520 species of birds live here, including the shoebill stork, the red-faced bearded bird and migratory birds. Many of the birds are endemic here, including the rare papyrus gonolex, which is native to the papyrus swamps, as well as the marsh fly catcher next to savannah water birds.
Boat safaris We
recommend boat safaris on the 90 km² Ihema Lake.
On the east bank of the lake the Akagera River flows through it, which irrigates and drains it.
Nyungwe National Park
The park was established as a national park in 2004. It covers an area of around 1,020 km² and stretches at an altitude between 1,600 and 2,950 m.
This national park is a mountain rainforest that is surrounded by extensive tea plantations. There are voices that consider this rain forest to be the best preserved forest in Africa.
It should be noted that over 2,000 mm of precipitation fall here annually, not least because of this, it has the largest water catchment area in Rwanda and is home to around two-thirds of the country’s water. In addition, the Congo and the Nile receive part of their water from here. The seemingly endless Kamiranzovu swamp, which can be entered safely, is worth seeing.
Around 75 different species of mammals live in the park, including chimpanzees and a further 12 species of primate.
There are also over 300 different species of birds and 120 species of butterflies.
Volcano National Park
The Volcano National Park was created in 1969 – after the Congo became independent from Belgium – through the division of the Albert National Park, which had existed since 1925. Then there was the Volcano National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The impressive landscape of this volcanic chain, which forms part of the Virunga Conservation Area, is one of the last habitats of the endangered mountain gorillas.
The volcano national park is located on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
The park became known through the research of Dian Fossey. In 1967 she established the Karisoke Research Station between Karisimbi and Visoke. From here she had observed the life of the mountain gorillas in the national park and campaigned for the protection of the animals. Dian Fossey was murdered by strangers in 1985 and was buried in the gorilla cemetery near her research station.