Napoleon’s hat is one of the most visited islands off the shore of Karongi. Also known as Nyamunini Island, this cone-shaped elevation covers an area of about 21 hectares. As the number of Nyamunini-bound tourists increases, I found it befitting to reveal more information about this magical attraction. Below is a list of five things you probably didn’t know about the island.
It derived its name from resemblance to Napoleon Bonaparte’s hat
Are you wondering why this picturesque island is named Napoleon’s hat? Wonder no more. Its close resemblance to the 19th Century French Emperor’s chapeau is behind the name.
Legend has it that Napoleon was obsessed with his hat. His trademark headgear is widely documented. More than 200 years after his death, his hat is still making headlines. While fighting revolutionary wars, the conqueror wore his hat en bataille — corns parallel to the shoulders.
Rises sharply from 1,470 meters (4,823 feet) to 1,600 meters (5,249 feet) above sea level
Napoleon’s Island is a steep hill. It is more than 700 meters (2,297 feet) taller than the highest mountain in Ghana. However, its hike’s level of difficulty is moderate. It takes about 30 - 40 minutes to reach the summit.
From the summit, hikers soak up the breathtaking vista of the lake and the stunning shoreline. On a good day, one can see the towering volcanoes straddling the northwestern border.
Most of its guava trees were planted by victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi before their tragic deaths
The seeds of the fruits we eat free of charge while visiting Napoleon’s hat Island were planted by those who fled the mainland during the genocide. As the massacres spread like wildfire all over the country, hundreds of people sought refuge on the island.
Unfortunately, even this paradise wasn’t out of their predators’ reach. The atrocities of 1994 created a dark chapter in the history of not only Napoleon’s hat Island, but also the entire destination.
It’s a birding paradise
According to the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), fifty-three species of birds inhabit Napoleon’s hat. The island, known for its huge bat population, is also home to a wide variety of other bird species. Apart from bats, expect to see the yellow-throated greenbuls, the red-chested sunbirds and the cardinal woodpeckers, among others.
It’s a continental island
Continental islands are parts of the continental shelf that are surrounded by water but not submerged. Albeit found in water bodies, they are geologically connected to the mainland. Before the formation of the lake, approximately 15,000 years ago, Napoleon’s hat was part of the surrounding grandeur of hills.
Napoleon’s biodiversity is primarily similar to the mainland’s. However, its limited human interference has created a more conducive environment for the proliferation of flora and fauna.