Join Kwita Izina 2022 As More Baby Gorillas are Named

Kwita Izina 2022 is set for 2nd September in Volcanoes national park as more baby gorillas will be named. Kwita Izina is a naming ceremony of baby mountain gorillas that started in 2005. It was started to foster mountain gorilla conservation, give back to the community and recognise individuals who are directly involved in the day to day conservation efforts like the rangers, Veterinary doctors and many wildlife conservation enthusiasts.

The Kwita Izina 2022 will be the 18th edition and so far 354 mountain gorillas have been named so far. The mountain gorilla population had greatly declined because of civil war and poaching but thanks to the conservation efforts the numbers have steadily increased.

A number of delegates are expected to grace the Kwita Izina 2022 as Rwanda celebrate yet another great milestone in mountain gorilla conservation. This will be a great opportunity to get to know more about destination Rwanda. The country has diverse wildlife species including endemics to the region.

Baby Mountain Gorilla. Kwita Izina 2022
Baby Mountain Gorilla. Courtesy Photo

About Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are apes with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They are covered with black fur with a silver lining on the back especially for fully grown mountain gorillas. They live in families ranging from 1 to 20 and sometimes more. Each mountain gorilla family is headed by a dominant male gorilla called Silverback.

These gentle giants are vegetarian with their diet mainly comprising of plant vegetation. They prefer to live in the forested mountains and it is where their name mountain gorillas was derived from.

Mountain gorillas are rare and endemic to the Virunga massif that include Volcanoes national park Rwanda and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Being among man’s closest relatives they offer a more personal and relatable experience with a feel of meeting one’s long seen relative.

During this Kwita Izina 2022 ceremony you can be part of the gorilla trekking adventures in volcanoes national park. The park has about 12 habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourist visitation each offering a unique experience.

A trek to the Virunga mountains in Volcanoes national park for mountain gorillas also offers you an opportunity to see other wildlife species in the park. You can see a number of species, different plant vegetation and if lucky you can spot other mammals like forest elephants.

The Gorilla Trekking Experience

This starts early morning with a briefing at the park headquarters at 7:00 am. Here guests going to the forest mountains are briefed about the gorilla trekking rules and regulations. These include ensuring to stay with colleagues in the group, minimising noise on the course of the trek and in the presence of the mountain gorillas, avoiding flash photography as it could irritate the mountain gorillas.

Once you get to the mountain gorillas you are recommended to stay at least 7 meters away from them. They can charge if they feel threatened and given that they way more powerful than an average human being it is always better not to challenge them.

The hike takes a 1 to 6 hours depending on the movement of the mountain gorillas. It is always recommended to take packed lunch because you can not determine where you will encounter the gorillas. Once you get to them, you will be allowed to be in the presence of the gorillas for an hour. Here you get to know more about the mountain gorillas, take photos while keeping the 7 meters.

Other Park Activities for Kwita Izina 2022

Apart from mountain gorillas, Volcanoes national park is home to golden monkeys. During this Kwita Izina 2022 you can also do a golden monkey trek in the park where you will meet golden monkeys other rare primates in the park. Golden monkeys are endemic to the Virunga massif and Volcanoes national park is among the few places where you can see them.

Just like their name, golden monkeys are covered with golden fur. They also live in families of up to 20 individuals. Tracking golden monkeys is a great complementary primate trek to the gorillas and it works well for those with at least 3 days in the park.

Mountain Hiking is another adventure you can engage in while in Volcanoes national park for the Kwita Izina 2022. Mount Karisimbi the highest of the Virunga massif mountains can be hiked in 2 days spending a night in the mountain. Hiking this mountain offers you a chance to see the wildlife starting from the different vegetation types at the different mountain ranges.

Mount Bisoke is also very magnificent to hike and has a crater on its summit. While on the hike you get to have great views of the Virunga massif. You will also see other wildlife especially birds.

The Dian Fossey hike to Karisoke is also recommended. Here you will hike up to where Dian Fossey was buried near her favourite gorilla digit as you get to know more about her conservation works.

Where to Stay

There are a number of accommodation facilities in Volcanoes national park ranging from budget to high end luxury facilities. Since September is also a peak tourist season, a number of lodges are already fully booked and it is better to cross check and book in advance.

For easy accessibility to the park it is better to book the lodges and hotels in close proximity in the park. Incase you have very limited time in Rwanda you can do a day tour from Kigali with a pick up from your Kigali Hotel at 4:30 am. It takes a 3 hours drive from Kigali to the park to be able to reach in time for briefing before going for gorilla trekking.

Incase you are staying in Gisenyi you would need to be picked up at 5:00 am for a transfer to Volcanoes national park.

Gorilla trekking and the different park activities can be done throughout the year. Incase you miss this years Kwita Izina you can still visit Rwanda for these adventures when it is more convenient for you.

You can also visit other leading safari destinations in Rwanda like Nyungwe forest and Akagera national parks. Nyungwe forest is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda and it is home to chimpanzees and many other primates. Here you can do chimpanzee trekking, colobus monkey trekking, guided nature walks and so much more.

Akagera national park on the other hand is home to the big five mammals. It is Rwanda’s only savanna park where one can enjoy games drives, Rhino tracking, boat cruises, birding among others.

Rwanda Birding Safaris To Be Part of this August

Rwanda popularly is an incredible destination for birding safaris thanks to its wildlife diversity. Over the years the country has slowly emerged as a leading birding and wildlife destination in East Africa as adventure lovers Visit Rwanda to fulfil their bucket list desires.

Birding safaris are a niche in overall wildlife adventures giving one an opportunity to explore the various avian species. Rwanda is a diverse ecosystem ranging from open savanna’s, swamps and tropical rain forests that are all homes to various bird species.

Lets us look at the leading Rwanda birding safaris one must not miss while in Rwanda this August.

Great Blue Turaco Nyungwe National Park. Rwanda Birding safaris
Great Blue Turaco Nyungwe NP Rwanda. Photo by Eric Manzi

Nyungwe Forest Birding Safaris

Nyungwe forest is the regions oldest and best preserved rain forests comprising of a tropical rain forest, swamps, bogs and bamboo. At a land area of 1019 square kilometres, the forest is home to over 300 bird species and 13 primate species.

Forested national park has a number of bird species endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley and is recognised by Birdlife International as an Important Birding Area. It is Rwanda’s leading destination for birding safaris that can be complemented by primate treks in the park.

Notable birds in Nyungwe forest include the Rwenzori Turaco, Kivu ground thrush, Regal sunbird, great blue turaco, crowned hornbills, long crested eagles among others. Being a forested park birding safaris can be enjoyed on guided nature walks along the different trails in the forest.

August is among the best months to visit Rwanda as being in the middle of the dry season, hiking through the forest is easy. With this you have more chances of exploring the forests bird life and other wildlife species. The wet season from October to May is also a great time for birding safari species as the migratory birds set in.

While visiting Nyungwe for chimpanzee or other primate treks entree to add a birding safari as it is worth the adventure.

Akagera Birding Safaris

Akagera national park is the only savanna national park in Rwanda. The park is the regions largest protected wetland with over 480 bird species making it an ultimate destination for birding safaris. About 100 of the bird species are endemic to the park and can not be seen in any other place in Rwanda.

The park is located in the eastern part of the country just about a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital city. Akagera national park ranks second after Nyungwe in Rwanda’s leading birding destinations. Birding safaris in Akagera are doable year out with the dry season a good time to see wetland bad as there is minimal rainfall disturbances and the wetlands can be easily accessed.

Notable birds in Akagera include grey crowned cranes, papyrus gonolek, Amur falcon, shoebill storks, African fish eagle, African Jacana, crested barbets among others. Those interested in migratory birds can visit the park from November to May.

As we enter the month of August, visit Rwanda and add birding safaris to Akagera on your bucket list.

Gishwati Mukura Birding Safaris

Giswhati Mukura is among the newest protected national parks in Rwanda. The forested park covers a land area of 34 square kilometres and comprises of two main forests Giswati and Mukura.

The forested park has over 200 bird species including the Albertine Rift Valley endemics. The park is past of an extension of the Virunga massif and had been greatly affected by deforestation. Over the years however there has been a lot of conservation efforts and the park has been fully restored open to nature enthusiast including birders.

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes national park Rwanda is also a good place for birding in Rwanda. The park has over 180 bird species however many of these occur in Nyungwe forest as well. Some bird species can be seen while gorilla trekking or hiking in the park. Just like in Nyungwe forest, some Albertine endemic bird species can be seen in Volcanoes national park. Notable birds here include the Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori apalis, Rwenzori night jar, African long-earled owl among others. Volcanoes national park is most famous for the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. It among the few places on the planet where you can have a great primate experience.

Overall Destination Rwanda is an incredible place for an African safari. In Akagera national park you will be able to enjoy the big five mammals and classic African safaris. The park can be explored on game drives and boat cruises that are still great opportunities to see some of the birds in the park. On foot rhino tracking has been recently introduced in the park enabling one to track one of the big five mammals. Akagera has both Black and White rhinos that were reintroduced in the park as a move to restore the park’s wildlife species.

Nyungwe forest national park is most famous for chimpanzee trekking and other primates. There are also a number of guided nature walks to the waterfalls and other leading trails for birding and other primate treks.

Visa Policy

For Visas, Rwanda has some of the friendliest visa policy where many can get the visa on arrival at the airport. The Rwanda single entry visa costs $30 per person the most affordable one in the region. In case you want to visit Uganda and Kenya then you can opt for the East African tourist visa that is multiple entry and can give you access to the three countries. There is a provision for online visa application but in case you fail to get the link you can still get the Visa upon arrival at the airport.

Accommodation

There are a number of accommodation facilities in the different wildlife and birding destinations in Rwanda. These range from budget to high end luxury options. The best time to visit Rwanda for either birding or general wildlife safari is in the dry season from June to October and from December to March. The dry season doubles as the peak tourist season and it is very important to book your accommodation and tour in advance as parks get fully booked sometimes.

Kigali Hosts CHOGM 2022

Rwanda Commonwealth Day. CHOGM 2022
Commonwealth Day Celebrations. Courtesy Photo

Rwanda is the host of the commonwealth heads of government meeting CHOGM scheduled from 20th to 25th June this year. Commonwealth is an association of 54 countries most of which are former colonies of Britain. The commonwealth was instituted in the mid 1900’s when a number of British empires started gaining independence from British Rule. It was formally established in 1949 by the CommonWealth foundation that established the member states free and Equal.

Since 1971, leaders from commonwealth countries meet every two years for CHOGM. Each meeting is held by a different member country on a rotational basis with the last one held in the United Kingdom in 2018.  The one happening in Rwanda was supposed to happen in 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID pandemic.

Various leaders from all the Commonwealth countries are expected to be in Kigali for CHOGM. They will hold a series of meetings to discuss policy and how to improve the lives of their citizens.

This years theme is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. This years’ CHOGM was kick started by the Commonwealth Youth Forum that started today and will end on 21st June. This will be followed by the Commonwealth Women’s Forum from 20th to 21st at Kigali Serena Hotel. On Wednesday 22nd June and Thursday there will be ministerial meetings. It will be officially opened on 25th June then followed by executive sessions and the closed on Saturday 26th.

What to do in Rwanda During the CHOGM week

Kigali City tour

Kigali Rwanda’s capital city is very vibrant and the cleanest city on the African continent. The city has a number of attractions ranging from the Art centers, local markets, genocide memorials, Restaurants, craft shops and others. The city can be explored on foot giving one an opportunity to interact with the very hospitable Rwandan citizens.

Kigali city is very green and organized and very safe for a guided walking tour. For those who would like to explore more destinations outside the city center can still do so as there is a lot to see in the land of a thousand hills.

This will be showcasing local Rwandan and international commonwealth fashion. It will feature a number of designers showcasing their works. The fashion week will have a series of activities all aimed at uplifting designers worldwide.

The fashion week will be taking place at different venues and will also feature shop tours plus visiting artisans in the city. This will be one stop center to be as you will get an opportunity to learn about diverse African art and craft industry. With the different art works on display, one will be able to buy some souvenirs.

A visit to Rwanda is not complete without a mountain gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park. The park is located in Northwestern Rwanda just a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital city. Volcanoes national park is home to half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga massif. It has 20 habituated gorilla families that are open for tourism.

Each mountain gorilla family is tracked by 8 tourists a day in an awesome primate once in a lifetime experience. Mountain gorillas are special primates with over 95% DNA similar to humans. Just like humans they live in families headed by a dominant male called silverback. They are predominately vegetarian and feed on plant leaves and bamboo shoots and occasionally on small insects.

The gorilla trekking experience starts with a briefing at the park headquarters where you are briefed about the do’s and don’ts of gorilla trekking. You are then guided in the light bamboo forest amidst sighting of a number of wildlife including birds. You are allowed to stay in the presence of the mountain gorillas for an hour taking photos and getting to know more about them. From here you are led back to the park headquarters for your certificates of participation.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time in Kigali a gorilla trekking tour is doable. You can do a 1 day tour with an early morning (4:30 am) pick up from Kigali. You will then take a 3 hours drive to the park arriving in time for the gorilla trek and later be transferred back to Kigali. For those with more time you can do a 2 or 3 days tour that can include golden monkey trekking.

A safari to Akagera national park is another activity you should not miss while attending GHOGM 2022 in Kigali. Akagera national park is located in eastern Rwanda and its the only savanna national park in Rwanda. It is home to the big five mammals that include Elephants, lions, buffaloes, Rhinos and Leopards. Most of these had been extinct but were recently restored in the park all thanks to the great conservation works.

Akagera National park stands out because of its diverse ecosystem and wildlife species. The big five safari experience here is complemented by sighting of other savanna favorites like the giraffes, Topi’s while on game drives. Rhino tracking is among the newly established activities in Akagera National Park giving one an opportunity of a close encounter of one of the big Five.

A tour to Akagera is doable in 1 day with enough time to explore the park. For more chances of wildlife viewing though it is good to visit for 2 or 3 days. A boat cruise a long Lake Ihema is a must do as you will get to see Nile Crocodiles, hippos and a number of bird species. 

As you attend the CHOGM 2022 let’s celebrate our culture, wildlife and heritage and you can a part of the above mentioned experiences. There are many more experiences that Rwanda has to offer. You can also check out Nyungwe forest National park located in the southwestern part. It is home to chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and many other primates. 

Remember June is the start of the peak tourist season. You will therefore have to book your accommodation and activities in advance to avoid missing out. For any other information about your other favorite destination in East Africa, you can check on our blog page. 

Tour Du Rwanda 2022

Tour du Rwanda
Tour du Rwanda. Courtesy Photo

Tour du Rwanda is a cycling race based in Rwanda and of the most famous sporting activity worldwide. The cycling competition in Rwanda was started around 1988 and has over the years evolved into an internationally recognised competition. Tour du Rwanda is organised by the Rwanda cycling federation and its success saw its inclusion by the Union Cycliste Internationale in their continental circuits.

Since 2009, tour du Rwanda has been part of the Union Cycliste Internationale Africa tour rated as category 2.1. The Union Cycliste Internationale organises a series of road bicycle racing competitions worldwide to expand cycling.

The competition is ongoing in Rwanda having starting on 20th February. It will end on 27th February with the champions being crowned. 19 teams were selected and are participating in this years tournament. Majority of the cycling teams are from the African continent however teams from other continents are part of it. Some of these are from Europe’s famous cycling competitions like Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana, the Giro d’Italia among others.

The routing is a bit challenging given the hilly terrain of the land of a thousand hills. Nevertheless, Rwanda is still a very beautiful country with perfect weather and the participants will still have a great time.

Rwanda has over the years not only become a leading tourist destination but also an international hub for different sporting activities. The country has a number of tourist attractions and one can engage in a number of activities as below.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Rwanda is a leading mountain gorilla trekking destination and 1 of the 3 countries with Mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are endangered apes that live in the forested mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and the Virunga massif.

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda live in Volcanoes National park located just a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital. The park is home to about 20 habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourism visitation.

Gorilla trekking offers a once in a lifetime experiences as people get to meet their wild relatives. The tour du Rwanda routing features Musanze near Volcanoes National park and if in Rwanda for the cycling expedition you can add gorilla trekking on your bucket list adventures.

Rwanda is a primates haven with not only mountain gorillas but chimpanzees as well. The chimpanzees however live in the Nyungwe forest National park located in the southwestern part of the country.

Nyungwe forest is one of Africa’s oldest forests having survived the Ice age and its a home to many other wildlife species. Chimpanzee trekking is the most famous activity here and very rewarding as you meet man’s closest primates.

While on a visit to Nyungwe you can engage in other primate trekking adventures featuring colobus monkey trekking. A canopy walk, guided nature walks, birding adventures are among other wildlife activities to consider while on a visit to Nyungwe.

For Savanna wildlife experiences Akagera national park would be an ideal destination. Here you can engage in a number of activities including game drives, ballon safari, boat cruise among others.

The cycling competition is not only an opportunity to show case potential of the cyclist the beauty of Rwanda.

A Trek With Rwanda Mountain Gorillas; A trip of a lifetime

Every year adventure lovers do a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas to be part of some of world’s safari adventures. Rwanda is among the only three destinations on the planet where one can trek mountain gorillas.

Mountain gorillas are apes that live in the forested mountains of east and central Africa. They are covered in black fur, vegetarian as their diet comprises of plant vegetation and live in families headed by a dominant male. These primates are pretty outstanding with over 95% DNA similar to humans.

For a mountain gorilla family to be opened for tourists it undergoes a habituation process that makes it accustomed to human beings presence. There are over 10 habituated mountain gorilla families in Rwanda making it one of the best places for gorilla safaris. Below are some of the reasons why a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas is life changing and a must for nature and adventure tourists.

 Rwanda Mountain gorilla. Gorilla Tours
Mountain Gorilla baby in Volcanoes National Park. Photo by Moses Nezehose
Mountain gorilla family set up

These incredible primates not only have over 95% DNA similar to humans but also have a family set up similar to humans. Each gorilla family is headed by a dominant male called silverback that overseas the routine its family members.

A typical gorilla family has females, young or infant gorillas and juvenile gorillas that eventually grow to silverbacks, black backs or adult females. Being in the presence of these gorillas makes one feel like they seeing a distant family members. It’s a very amazing experience and highly recommended.

Ensure to have a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas to get to a chance to experience how great apes live and bond in the wild.

Vegetation

Much as mountain gorillas live in forested mountains, in Rwanda much of volcanoes national park is covered with a light bamboo forest. This makes it easy for tourists to easily spot the mountains gorillas while on gorilla treks.

The parks vegetation can easily be navigated through also making photography very easy. Wildlife photography is very essential while on safari as you capture memories of a lifetime. For best mountain gorilla photography, a trek in Rwanda’s volcanoes national park is highly recommended.

Diverse wildlife species

A trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas gives you a chance to see a variety of other wildlife species in park. These range from birds, plant vegetation, reptiles among others. The gorilla park is home to the endangered forest elephants and Buffaloes though rarely seen.

There are also golden monkeys in Volcanoes that can supplement the gorilla tours. Golden monkey treks are very much exciting as well giving you a chance to meet another rare primate species. For an awesome wildlife and primate experience ensure to have a trek with mountain gorillas.

Major park activities start in the morning and here you can track mountain gorillas more than once to have an experience of different families.

Gorilla population

Volcanoes national park has half of the mountain gorilla population in the VIrunga massif. The VIrunga massif if a range of dormant and extinct volcanic mountains along the Rwandan, Ugandan and DRC border. It’s in these forested mountains where mountain gorillas live.

With a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas, you are guaranteed of seeing them all thanks to the steadily increasing gorilla population. There are twelve habituated mountain gorilla families in this beautiful park that are open to tourists. Some families have adorable baby gorillas that make the whole gorilla trek experiences remarkable as they play around or stay at the safety of their mothers hands for comfort.

Every year in the famous Kwiti Izina Ceremony newly born babies are named and officially welcomed by wildlife and primate enthusiast. We hope the gorilla population will keep increasing all thanks to the great conservation efforts that has been put In over the years.

Parks accessibility

Rwanda’s mountain gorilla park is the most and easily accessed of all the gorillas parks. It’s situated just a 3 hours drive from Rwanda’s capital city Kigali. There are also flights operated by Akagera aviation giving a provisos of flying directly to the park.

With this you get enough time not only for treks with Rwanda mountain gorillas but also explore other attractions in the area. There are great and easily accessed facilities like hotels and safari lodges for those who prefer to spend a night or more in the park.

For those with limited time in Rwanda but would still want to be part of the gorilla treks, you can do a 1 day gorilla tour with a 4:30 am pick up from Kigali. All these factors make a trek with Rwanda mountain gorillas an experience anyone must never miss while in a visit Rwanda expedition.

A local Guide to Rwanda The Land of A thousand Hills

Rwanda popularly known as the land of a thousand hills is located in East Africa. Its one of the East African countries that were affected by civil war in the 1980’s. Many innocent local Rwandan people lost their lives in the famous Rwandan genocide and many were resettled.

A few decades after the deadly civil war, the country has greatly recovered and economically developed. This great transformation is attributed to hard work, forgiveness and reconciliation. Because of that Rwanda, has over the years become among East Africa’s best tourist destination.

Below is a local guide to this beautiful land of a thousand hills featuring what you Must not miss.

Kigali City-Land of A thousand Hills
Kigali City. Courtesy Photo

Kigali is Rwanda’s largest and capital city strategically located in the rolling thousand hills. Kigali is a center for economic and vibrant city life one place you Must explore while in Rwanda.

The City’s main attractions include the Kigali genocide memorial where you get to know about the Rwandan genocide. About 250,000 victims of the genocide were buried here and there is a wall of names of genocide victims. A tour to this memorial makes one appreciate the journey Rwanda has been through.

You can visit the Kandt House Museum the best place to learn about Rwandan history before and after colonial era. Kandt House was a home for Rwanda’s first colonial governor Richard Kandt who founded Kigali city in 1908.

While in Kigali you can also visit the local markets and get to interact with local Rwandan People. You can easily connect to places and can even have a Kigali walking tour as the city is very safe.

Volcanoes National Park Rwanda; Virunga Volcanoes
Virunga Mountains in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Photo by Eric Manzi

Volcanoes National park is a true definition of the land of a thousand hills. The park is located in the northwestern part of the country just a 3 hours drive from Kigali. Volcanoes national park has 5 of the Virunga massif mountains that are Mount Karisimbi, Muhabura, Bisoke, Sabyinyo & Gahinga.

These Volcanic mountains are covered with montane vegetation a combination of which is a haven for the rare mountain gorillas. Volcanoes national park is home to half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga massif. It is their an ultimate gorilla trekking destination for interested in meeting these primates.

With Mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, birds and other wildlife, volcanoes national park is Rwanda’s prime wildlife destination. The park can be accessed by road and can be visited anytime of the year.

3. Gisenyi

Gisenyi Beach. Visit East Africa
Gisenyi Beach along Lake Kivu. Photo by Jule Lumma

This beautiful town is situated in western Rwanda along the shores of Lake Kivu. Gisenyi neighbors Goma, DRC’s eastern town and its a gateway for those interested in wildlife adventures in Eastern Congo.

Given that Gisenyi is along Lake Kivu, its has beautiful beaches where one can relax sunbathing and enjoying Rwanda’s weather. While here you can engage in water sport activities like snorkeling, boat cruise with singing fishermen and Kayaking.

There are various tea & plantations here and one can visit one to learn about tea and coffee growing. From the plantations you can also visit the hot springs as you interact with the Rwandan people.

Nyungwe National Park Rwanda. Land of A thousand Hills
Tropical Rain-forest in Nyungwe. Courtesy Photo

A visit to the land of a thousand hills is usually incomplete without Nyungwe forest. The vast forest is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda covering a land area of 970 square kilometres.

Nyungwe forest is among East Africa’s oldest forests with rain-forests, grassland, swamp, bog and bamboo vegetation. These are homes to wildlife species including 13 primate species, 85 mammals, 275 birds, 38 reptile and 32 amphibian species.

The forest was gazetted into a national park and has Rwanda’s highest chimpanzee population. Chimpanzee tracking is therefore the leading wildlife activity in the park plus other primate treks, nature walks and canopy walk.

Adjacent to Nyungwe forest are vast tea plantations that you can visit as you enjoy the breeze from the forest. Here you interact with the local people as you to know more about their ways of life.
Rwanda is among the regions tourist destinations and when you Visit East Africa don’t miss out on the above.

Kwita Izina Baby Gorilla Naming Ceremony to Be Held Virtually This Year

Kwita Izina. Discounted Mountain Gorilla Permits
Infant Gorilla in Volcanoes NP Rwanda. Photo by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Kwita Izina is a baby mountain gorilla naming ceremony that’s held every year in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. During this ceremony, infant gorillas born in the past year are named just like the Rwandan human naming traditional ceremony.

Kwita Izina is a conservation avenue that helps in keeping track and monitoring all the newly born mountain gorillas. It officially started in 2005 and this they will be marking 15 years of gorilla naming.

Before Kwita Izina was officially started, baby mountain gorillas would be named by the park ranger guides and researchers. Once it was officially opened, other conservation activities and sensitisation process were introduced. The ceremony therefore usually last a couple of days where conservation presentations are made as well as exhibitions.

During the Kwita Izina ceremony, baby mountain gorillas are given Kinyarwanda names that usually have meaning in the local Kinyarwanda language. The meaning of the name is often attributed to gorilla behavior or circumstances under which they were born.

In this years naming ceremony, 24 baby gorillas are expected to be named but virtually. This is to avoid spreading of COVID-19 disease that has affected economies worldwide bringing in the need for social distancing. For the past 14 years, the Kwita Izina ceremony would attract a number of participants numbering to a thousands. These included conservation and mountain gorilla enthusiasts and world’s famous celebrities.

Baby Gorillas to be Named

There are 24 baby gorillas that were born in the past year and will be named in this years ceremony. Some of them include the following;

Isaro infant gorilla who was born on 8th August 2019 in the Musilikale’s gorilla group. The baby’s mother Isaro joined the Musilikale group in 2017 and the whole gorilla family has 22 gorilla individuals. 10 of these are juvenile and infant gorillas and therefore this is a good group for those who are interested in baby gorillas.

Faida infant gorilla was born in the Kuryama gorilla family around August 2019. The baby’s mother is called Faida and she joined this gorilla family in 2018.

Ubufatanye infant who was born in May 2020 also in the Musilikale gorilla family. The mother is just 16 years and has two other young gorillas at the ages of 5 and 3 years.

Kanama infant gorilla was born around October 2019 also to the Kuryama gorilla family and his mother also moved to this gorilla family.

Pasika infant who was born in July 2019 in the Mafunzo family. He is a male infant gorillas and his mother Pasika joined this gorilla family in 2018.

Mahirwe infant gorilla was born to Mahirwe a female gorilla around September 2019.

Other baby gorillas to be named include Akaramata infant gorilla born around April 2019 in the Pablo gorilla group.

Mudakama infant gorilla born around September 2019 to Mudakama female gorilla who is 33 years old.

There have been many other births and the names will be revealed in the Kwita Izina Ceremony on 24th September 2020.

Mountain Gorilla Census Reveals an Increase in Population

Mountain Gorilla in Democratic Republic of Congo
Mountain Gorilla in Virunga National Park. Photo by Blue Skye Photos

A mountain gorilla census was conducted in 2018 in Bwindi Impenetrable forest in Uganda and Sarambwe reserve in the DRC.  This was aimed at establishing the mountain gorilla population in the two primates wildlife ecosystems. The mountain gorilla census results were released in December 2019 showing a steady increase of the mountain gorilla population. This is from an estimated 400 in the 2011 census to 459 as per the released results in December 2019.

With this, total mountain gorilla population is now estimated at 1063 gorillas when combined with those in the Virunga massif. The Virunga massif covers Volcanoes national park Rwanda, Mgahinga gorilla park Uganda and Virunga national park in DRC.

The Conservation Journey

The mountain gorilla conservation journey has not been an easy one but has over time yielded positive results. The population increase portrays conservation efforts as in 1980’s the population in the Virunga massif was as low as 240.

Many gorillas were killed in civil wars, poached and disease since they have a DNA similar to humans. The mountain gorilla habitats had been also encroached on which affected them further making their numbers shrink this low.

At the time, mountain gorillas had been listed as critically endangered primates species by the IUCN. There was therefore urgent need for mountain gorilla conservation to restore numbers and habitats for them.

A 2016 mountain gorilla census of the Virunga massif indicated gorilla population increase from 240 in the 1980’s to 604. With this, the mountain gorillas status in the IUCN Red list records was changed from critically endangered to endangered.

Mountain gorilla conservation has been supported by collaborative efforts from wildlife authorities in the 3 countries with the Mountain gorillas. With teams from these countries, surveys are easily done and with information sharing it makes the whole work very easy.

There has been more continued support from government and mountain gorilla conservation organizations like the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Mountain Gorilla Tourism

The forested mountains of Bwindi and Virunga massif have habituated mountain gorilla families that are open to tourist visitation.

Because of need for conservation, only 8 tourists are allowed to track one mountain gorilla family per day. These tourists buy gorilla permits and part of the money from gorilla permits is used in mountain gorilla conservation.

Another percentage of the money from gorilla permits is given back to the community around the mountain gorilla national parks. This is because these people around where initially forest dwellers who entirely depended on the forests for livelihood. They were now resettled at the edge of the national parks to reduce on gorilla habitat encroachment and poaching.

 A gorilla tour to the misty mountains offers remarkable encounters that most tourists term as once in a life time experience.  Mountain gorilla tours  always leave lasting African safari  and primate tracking memories. 

A gorilla trek can be done any time of the year guided by trained ranger guides in gorilla national parks.

Mountain gorilla tours and safaris are on high demand therefore gorilla permits easily get fully booked. The peak travel seasons from July to September and from December to March is the most busy one.

You can have a Rwanda gorilla tour in Volcanoes national park that is a 3 hours drive from Kigali.  A Uganda gorilla tour can be enjoyed in Bwindi or Mgahinga gorilla park all located in the southwestern part of the country. Lastly, you can visit Virunga for a Virunga gorilla tour in DRC’s Virunga national park. 

We advocate for more conservation efforts towards all wildlife species including the endangered mountain gorillas.  We hope that in the next mountain gorilla census we will notice a further increase in the population. A number of baby gorilla births have been recorded in the three major mountain gorilla national parks.

Kigali International Airport Rwanda Opens Up for Commercial Flights

RwandAir Cabin Crew. Kigali International Airport
RwandAir cabin crew wearing Personal Protective Equipment

Rwanda has finally opened Kigali international Airport for commercial flights after over 4 months of lock-down. Rwanda closed all its borders on 20th March 2019 due to on going Corona virus disease pandemic. The Virus was spreading worldwide prompting all governments to shut down all the economies.

Individuals allowed to fly into the country have been Rwandan citizens and residents repatriated from countries they had been stranded. Cargo has also been allowed into the country as this involves transportation of essential goods and supplies needed in the country.

As Corona Virus cases kept on increasing, government became more strict to prevent spread of the deadly disease.  The Ministry of Health in Rwanda came up with safety guidelines to ensure protection of everyone in Rwanda. After these guidelines were proved to guarantee safety, Rwanda started opening up tourism slowly starting with a few tourist activities.

Safety Guidelines to be followed

Tourism activities were opened in June and at that time international travelers were allowed if they came by charter flights. Since few people travel by charter, the Ministry of Health developed more guidelines to allow commercial international flights to resume.  It was then decided that Kigali International Airport would take in commercial flights from 1st August 2020.

Guidelines to follow by travelers include showing negative COVID-19 test results taken within 72 hours of arrival in Rwanda.  Ensure to fill a  passenger Location form prior arrival to Kigali International Airport. On arrival one is required to take another test and stay 24 hours in designated hotels waiting for the results.

Accommodation at designated hotels is at own cost and you will be allowed on tour if you test Negative. 

Note that there are measures to be followed including curfew between 21:00 to 05:00 hours Rwanda Local time. These measures change depending on the situation at hand therefore travelers to Rwanda should bear that in mind.  These measures could be adjusted at a short notice especially for those travelers coming from countries highly affected by COVID19.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

You will still observe the Standard Operation Procedures of social distancing, use of masks, hand sanitisers and avoiding crowds. This is to ensure safety of tourists and local Rwandan people in the country who have been enduring lock-down.

Always remember to wash your hands with soap and clean water or use of a hand sanitiser to keep clean. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing the tissue right away. Report or call emergency services in-case you experience symptoms like difficulty in breathing, high fevers, coughs, or any respiratory diseases.

Rwanda is a home to wildlife species including mountain gorillas and one of the best places to meet these primates. There are Savanna wildlife species in Akagera national park where you can enjoy game drives and scenic views. Stay safe if you want to enjoy your visit to this beautiful country during these corona virus disease times.