The small country of Rwanda is called the Land of a Thousand Hills for its regions of mountains, plateaus and highlands. Many people associate the country with the genocide which happened over three months in 1994 between the Hutu and Tutsi people. The Hutu have primarily been agricultural subsistence farmers and the Tutsi have been cattle owning farmers. The two tribes generally lived together peacefully, but differences were exploited by the colonial government.
Fighting has broken out intermittently throughout history between the two tribes, but the worst violence took place over four months in 1994, when nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred. Rwanda is a good example of how we all need to look at our relationship with the environment. The underlying causes of the genocide revolved around a rising population and less land for both cattle and agriculture. Resultant poverty put stress on the relations between the Hutu and Tutsi.
Today, Rwanda is diversifying their economy and a part of this is based on conserving wildlife regions to bring revenue in through tourism. Since these dark events of the genocide, the people of Rwanda have been committed to forging a new identity around being Rwandan, founded on unity.
The country has emerged from the ashes and is one of the cleanest countries in Africa. The people are conscious of their past and work hard to build unity with each other. Guests travelling with Footprints Safaris will stop off at the genocide memorials to learn about the history around these events and remember that this cannot happen again.
One of the main attractions for guests is trekking to see endangered Mountain Gorillas in the Parc National Des Volcans. Rwanda has a centuries-old tradition of the Kwita Izina, a naming ceremony for newborns which has been extended to the mountain gorillas. In June each year people gather to celebrate the gorillas born that year and they are each named. The ceremony highlights the plight of the mountain gorilla and garners tourist interest and funding to conserve their Virunga Mountain habitat and support local communities in the region. It is this focus on sustainable tourism which has had a direct impact on the survival of the mountain gorilla, with the population steadily increasing after nearly being decimated half a century ago.
Rwanda has much to offer guests beyond the mountain gorillas. Visitors can enjoy walks in the high altitude montane forest at Nyungwe Forest National Park in search of many species of primates. Delight in exploring the shores of beautiful Lake Kivu. The capital Kigali offers a diverse array of attractions and vibrant culture.