New Year’s Day Resolutions. Unforgettable voyages. Hands-on adventures. Gastronomic journeys. The pleasures of family reunions and exploration of different places and culture beckoned as we ushered in the year 2021.
This is the year we were to capitalise on all the missed opportunities of 2020. The year of disappointment that was 2020 had brought about an avalanche of dashed plans and cancelled trips.
As 2021 unravelled, there was a glimmer of hope that things were going to go back to normal or at least some semblance of it.
This premature excitement would be short-lived. The first month of the new decade brought with it a new lockdown one that was enforced on January 18th.
These government-imposed travel restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 were an inconvenient backdrop to a more sinister reality of rising Covid-19 cases and deaths — 18,553 cases and 258 deaths on Thursday, February 25, according to Rwanda Biomedical Centre.
However, with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines as soon as March and the easing of Covid-19 lockdown in Kigali February 23, there is optimism 2021 will make up for all the missed opportunities of yesteryear and allow us to travel around the country to the local destinations we have been wishing after throughout the lockdown.
ere is a list of places that we want to travel to in 2021 when it is safe to do so. While the exact travel dates to these destinations is unknown, you can rest assured that the Covid-19 scourge is not going to stop the year of travel ahead.
Paramotoring across Rwanda
Aboard this seemingly fragile craft, you get a birds-eye view of the historic Huye district, the lakeside towns of Rubavu and Karongi and the mountain rainforests of Nyungwe National Park.
These destinations demand to be seen from above. As you glide over the variety of shades and shapes of green across the dense rainforests of Nyungwe, you can spot animal forms across the verdant jungle. Hovering over Lake Kivu, admire the tiny islands, the tranquil water that is flat and glassy and the matchless shoreline that is a taste of what awaits you on the ground.
King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza
One of the most impressive living-history museums in Rwanda, the King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza is lined with beehive-shaped replicas of traditional royal huts made of beautifully-crafted thatched roofs.
On arriving, you are transported back to 1800, the fire of rebellion, sites of battle and power struggles as Nyanza was the heart of Rwanda. This once capital of the kingdom had as many as 2,000 inhabitants.
At the back lives a few long-horned Inyambo cattle, descended from the king’s herd, whose keepers tend and sing to in keeping alive an age-old tradition.
Iliza House Boat in Karongi
Travelling by water aboard the Iliza houseboat provides a new dimension. Docked at the lakeside town of Karongi, the vessel allows one to hop across Lake Kivu, flitting back and forth between hidden places where roads can never go.
The Iliza houseboat offers voyagers the luxuries of a fine hotel with bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a large sunroof with lounge chairs and BBQ.
An overnight cruise allows you to sail past vast salt marshes where egrets and herons wade, and myriad waterways trace sinuous curves through stands of golden cord grass along Lake Kivu.
Kayaking in Rubavu
Rounding a rocky peninsula on the shimmering waters of Lake Kivu, you can scarcely believe the wonder of it all as you paddle through on a modern sea kayak soaking up spectacular offshore inlets, rugged shoreline and a series of headlands and deep bays.
With an experienced and qualified kayaker to guide you, each smooth paddle stroke leads you to local fish farms, hot springs and to a thriving community of fishermen. On short excursions you will stay in the local bay, and on longer trips you can visit a nearby fishing village and stop for lunch on a small uninhabited island where a swim in the warm, clean water is so refreshing!
Located in the forest-covered plains of the north-eastern corner of Akagera National Park, this luxury camp, the only exclusive area in Akagera offers panoramic views of Lake Rwanyakazinga and the vast expanse of beautiful wilderness teeming with hippopotamuses, crocodiles, a plethora of birds and other incredibly rare species.
If wildlife is your passion, Magashi is the ultimate destination for a classic tented safari with its spacious and airy tents and a main area comprising a luxurious lounge, dining and bar area, an expansive viewing deck and a convivial fire pit.
Liberation History Tourism Trail
If you are looking to understand the country’s heritage, Liberation History Tourism Trail, traces the route of the Rwanda Patriotic Army’s liberation struggle from October 1990 to July 4, 1994.
This trail takes you through eight unique touristic destinations; Kagitumba, Shonga, Mulindi, Misarrange, Musanze (Nyamagumba), Urugano, CND and Gikoba.
It contains the history and significance of all 44 liberation sites located in six districts across the country.
Rock Climbing in Kivumu
Journey through Rwanda’s crags, past eerie rock formations, breath-taking mountain ridges and mountain meadows.
In southern Rwanda, the roads curves, rises and falls through a multi-coloured spiky world of spiky rock formations, cliffs, creeks and secret green valleys.
Commence your drive from Kigali to Muhanga and take the turn-off on the right for Kivumu after an hour, by a large purple building.
A short 20-minute drive along dirt roads to reach the Kivumu crag.
In Kivumu, whose vast natural amphitheatres are filled with sandstone monoliths, rising up to 5,795 feet above the valley floor, seem like the work of some great architect of nature.
Tropical hiking at Kamiranzovu Waterfalls
Be prepared for highs and lows on this walk along cliffs and rainforest of Nyungwe National Park.
The hike is just an hour and-a-half long, but in that space you zigzag into and out of valleys, your spirit sinking in fatigue and then soaring in exhilaration once you get to the waterfalls.
Off the-beaten track are breath-taking views of the Kamiranzovu waters smashing against the rocks and the land beneath your feet, sending up giant columns of spray.
There are also several stops to allow tourists to learn about the forest especially the medicinal trees, fruits and plants that are loved by primates but also edible to humans.
Cycling with Team Rwanda in Musanze
Africa Rising Cycling Centre in Musanze is the home of Team Rwanda. It may ring a bell for some folks who watched the famous feature length documentary titled Rising from the Ashes about cycling legend Jonathan Boyer moving to Rwanda to help struggling young genocide survivors pursue their dream.
This trail developed and guided by Team Rwanda members is well signed, easy to follow and includes directions to interesting sites.
The terrain and vistas vary immensely, from calm stretches along Musanze town to mountain views near the volcanoes.
Paintballing at Fazeda Sengha
The newest sport in the country is paintballing. A paintball experience is a great way to bond with family and friends. Teaming up as a group of between three and six people, you go head-to-head against opponents.
Paintballing is a breath of fresh air to the outdoor activities scene in Kigali. This adrenaline-rush filled competitive shooting sport in which players eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with spherical dye-filled gelatine capsules called paintball that break upon impact is the ultimate treat.