Photo credit: Wilsen Tish
Volcanoes National Park, Gishwati Mukura National Park, Lake Kivu, Lake Ruhondo, Lake Burera ... you name them.
Kigali dwellers and inbound foreign tourists who travel to the aforementioned attractions by road, pass through Rulindo district. Quite often, they overlook Rulindo in pursuit of farther enchantment.
Until recently, I used to cross Rulindo while dosing off in a van en route to Musanze, Rubavu or Nyabihu. I was not the only one. Sleeping on the Rulindo segment of this highway is something most northern and western-bound visitors can relate to.
When I decided to tour Rulindo last year, I didn’t have any recollection of anything partaken there during my previous tours — with stopovers at Rusiga Highland Resort and Nyirangarama Village being the only exceptions.
I remember one 2019 trip to the home of the mountain gorillas vividly. We were driven past Rulindo at 5 a.m. Earlier in that chilly morning, my alarm woke me up after sleeping for only three hours. As our vehicle meandered around Rulindo hills, I could barely keep my eyes open. My travel companions were snoring under their Masai coverlets. The same happened on our way back to Kigali in the evening. After a whole day of strenuous hiking in the Virunga Massif, following an eventful, pre-Covid Friday night in Kigali, the entire group was once again in slumberland. This scenario pretty much sums up how tourists miss what Rulindo has in store.
The good news is, things are gradually changing. Ikirenga Cultural Center, built in a village known as Kirenge, is an oasis of information attracting history and culture enthusiasts. It is the reason a good number of travelers are finally paying attention to what Rulindo has to offer. There is so much more in the pipeline. This Northern Province district is set to emerge out of the coronavirus pandemic a more attractive destination.
The implementation of the district’s 2018 - 2024 strategic development plan is fueled by its location, fertile soil and rich deposits of natural resources. In the mining sector, cassiterite and wolfram are extracted in Masoro, Murambi, Shyorongi and Rusiga areas.
As a gateway to Rwanda’s tourism hotspots, Rulindo is positioning itself as a sojourners’ magnet. In partnership with other stakeholders in the tourism industry, the district is developing a unique cultural and community-based tourism development model.
Like many other parts of the land of 1,000 hills, Rulindo is blessed with enormous potential for the development of nature-based tourism. The rolling green hills, forests, rivers, gorges and falls are resources that will ultimately be utilized. Investors take note.
Rulindo has its fair share of coffee and tea fields. Apart from the two iconic cash crops, the district produces stevia, flowers and a wide range of spices. Its close proximity to Kigali makes it easier for farmers to reach the coveted domestic and international markets.
The author is an adventurer currently visiting all 30 districts and 416 sectors of Rwanda. Follow his awe-inspiring journey on Twitter @GeoExposure.