Cultural tours in Akagera national park
Rwanda is a country with few ethnic tribes, but still rich in culture. It is not common for travelers to visit the country and not get a taste of Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage. Travelers visiting Akagera National park have an opportunity to embark on a cultural encounter to the neighboring communities living near the national park.
Akagera National Park is the biggest and oldest national parks in Rwanda. It was first established in 1934 and covers 1,122 square kilometers. The national park is located in the north-eastern part of Rwanda and is mainly characterized by marshland and swamps, savannah woodlands, lakes and the popular River Kagera.
The national park is home to over 500 species of birds, with about 8,000 large wildlife animals. The park is the only refugee in the country for savanna wildlife animals such as elephants, lions, rhinos, buffaloes, the leopard, antelopes, impala, topi, zebras, giraffes, hippos and so many more. Akagera national park is the ideal park to be for any visitor who wishes to see wild animals.
Cultural tours in Akagera national park are very exciting and entertaining as well. Visitors on a cultural encounter in Akagera can choose from any of the four cultural programs to take part in. there are four choices of cultural adventures that visitors can take part in on a visit to the park, and these include;
The heritage cultural tour is basically the culture of cattle. It involves visiting local cattle farms in the communities and taking part in activities like milking the cows, as well as learning about the cultural rituals involved around milk. Rwandans hold cattle very dear to them and cows play a very important role in the cultural rites and rituals in the Rwandan culture.
According Rwanda’s cultural history, cows are a symbol of wealth and prosperity and still today, a person who has a lot cows is considered a wealthy person. Cows also play an important role in traditional marriage ceremonies called ‘Gusaba.’ During these ceremonies, the groom’s family hands over an agreed number of cows to the bride’s father.
Visitors attending a heritage cultural tour get a chance to learn a lot about Rwanda’s rich culture and also interact with the local people. You will also get to see how the milk is fermented and made into traditional ghee.
Travelers visiting Akagera national park can take part in local production tours in the nearby communities. The local production tours involve visitors sampling honey on combs and making local banana brew. Visitors get to visit a honey cooperative where you will get to learn about the traditional and modern methods of bee keeping and harvesting honey. Visitors will also get to local beer brewing house where you will get to learn how ‘urwagwa’, traditional banana brew is made. Visitors can also get to taste the beer and honey that is made by the locals.
Arts and Crafts:
Visitors who opt for the Arts and Crafts tour get to visit local Arts and Craft shops in the community. On this cultural visit, visitors get to learn how to make crafts like necklaces from traditional beads, traditional imigongo paintings, straw hats, traditional mats and so many more. Visitors can also visit the local craft shops and buy some souvenirs for yourself and loved ones, while in turn showing support to the local community.
Get to visit the Imigongo Art and Craft Centre which was designed by Prince Kakira. This house of Arts was designed using cow dung that was made by women. The dung is mixed with other plant products and clay soil to create wonderful white and red colors.
Foods and Festivities:
This is the best part of any cultural tours. Here, visitors get to visit a local homestead in a community like the Humure refugee village, which is a 40 minute drive from Akagera national park. On such a community visit, visitors get a chance to learn how traditional Rwandan delicacies are made. At the end of the lessons, visitors get to share the meal with your host. Also visitors get to watch stunning dance performances from the locals and also take part in the dance.
Cultural tours in Akagera national take between 1-3 hours and will cost you USD 20 dollars per person. These cultural tours are such a wonderful way for visitors to get an insight into the interesting Rwandan culture, and also get to mingle with the ordinary Rwandan citizen.
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