Guess who visited the land of 1000 hills?
Through AIESEC. I was there for 5 weeks and I had an amazing experience I would like to share with you all in a series of blog posts. I was doing a project called Explore Rwanda which included traveling around the country and documenting the beauty of Rwanda through articles, videos and pictures. So because of that, the format of the posts will be more like a guide for people interested in traveling to the country who’d like to tour. I try give prices and locations of the places I talk about in the hopes it will be beneficial to you all.
We start off with a trip to the South!
8 things to do in Huye (South)
Huye is a town located in the southern part of Rwanda and is a traveler’s paradise. It has lots of tourist attractions, both conventional and unconventional. Most of them can be seen within 3-4 days and most of them are located within the town itself. The weather is moderately hot, but perfect for traveling around.
- Ethnographic Museum
The museum, located near the Huye bus park, contains the culture of Rwanda from the pre-colonial era to the current age. For a fee of 1000RWF for East African Students or 3000RWF for East African residents, you are provided with a guide to take you through the museum, however, pictures are not allowed.
You get to see Rwandese musical instruments, weaponry, alcohol brewery, basketry and much more. There are several replicas of ancient tools used such as umbrellas, boats and smoking pipes. There is also a room with a replica of a traditional Rwandese hut that you are allowed to enter. The entire tour takes about one hour and is well worth your time, especially for any history buffs.
- Huye Stadium
The stadium is located very near the museum. If you are lucky to get inside, you can take pictures on the track and of the stands. It’s especially fun to do with friends. The best time would be to get them when a game is ongoing.
- University of Rwanda Arboretum
The university is located in the centre of town and requires an ID to enter. From the main entrance, the arboretum is a stone’s throw away. You can take a leisurely walk through the forest.
The cathedral is the oldest one in Rwanda and still hosts church services. It is an awesome site for photographers as the numerous towers majestically jut into the sky. It’s best visited at dusk or dawn for the added dramatic effect of the sun’s rays.
- Huye Mountain Coffee
Among all these touristic locations, this is the most fun – but it involves hiking. The tour consists of a walk up Tale hill where there are large plantations of Arabica coffee. You get the full history of coffee, first in the world, and then in Rwanda. Actually, at the end of it all, you may consider yourself a sort of rookie coffee expert. The steep hill might prove tiresome but is worth it in the end. Once on top, you can roast your own coffee beans that will be ground and packed for you to take home. The friendly guide, nicknamed ‘Mr.Coffee’ makes the whole experience ten times better with his friendly personality. When you get back down the hill, you are served with the freshest blend of coffee that you can drink to your fill. The whole tour costs 8000RWF for East African students.
- King’s Palace Museum
This is one of the collection of museums found in Rwanda, located in Nyanza, a 45-minute bus ride from Huye. It focuses on the history of Rwandese royalty, from their dress to their dwellings and to the traditions surrounding their existence. The tour consists of first seeing the traditional abode of a King – the museum has a replica of this traditional hut. You get to see the interior whilst being given an explanation of the King’s courtly duties and how he was treated by the community. The next part of the tour is another walk round a replica of the modern house that the last King of Rwanda lived in before Belgium occupation of the country. The whole tour costs 1000RWF for East African students and 2000RWF to take pictures.
- Murambi Memorial
This is one of the more graphic genocide memorials in the country. It is located in Nyamagabe, which is about 30 minutes from Huye. It is located in a compound that was meant to become a technical college, and was still under construction. However, what happened instead was a dark and haunting tale. 50,000 unsuspecting Rwandese were rounded up there under pretense of protection but were instead brutally slaughtered en masse and buried in the compound in mass graves where volley ball fields were built on to try and cover up the atrocities that took place there. Bodies preserved in lime are put on display in some of the would-be class rooms as physical evidence of the lives lost on that fateful night. Visitors are allowed to leave messages on a board in the museum in condolence with the victims and their families. The whole experience is jarring and brings the genocide into stark relief, especially for outsiders, but is not for the faint-hearted.
- Inzozi Nziza
The name means ‘Sweet Dreams’ in Kinyarwanda. This is an ice cream parlour located within Huye town, a stone’s throw away from the university. At affordable rates one can be served a variety of ice creams with different toppings. They also have other beverages and munchies, all served with extremely friendly service. It proved a nice way to wind down after a full day of touring.
That’s it for this post. Please look forward to the next installment next week where we’ll be going up North!