Photo credit: Wilsen Tish
Rulindo is located on the way to the Volcanoes and Gishwati Mukura national parks, Lake Kivu and the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo. This district is usually overlooked by travelers in pursuit of farther enchantment.
I usually cross Rulindo while dosing off in the van on the way to Musanze or Rubavu. I am not the only one. Sleeping on the Rulindo segment of this highway is something most northern and western-bound visitors can relate to.
Over the past five years, I have had frequent trips to Musanze and Rubavu via Rulindo. Other than stopovers at Rusiga Highland Resort and Nyirangarama Village, I don’t have any recollections of anything done within Rulindo.
During my last group tour to the home of the mountain gorillas, 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 the van 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 long day of strenuous hiking in the Virunga Massif, following a 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, at a site known as Kirenge cya Ruganzu, is an emerging attraction. It is the reason some of us are finally sparing a minute to see 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 and rich deposits of natural resources. In the mining sector, cassiterite and wolfram are extracted in different sectors, including Masoro, Murambi, Shyorongi and Rusiga.
As a gateway to Rwanda’s most popular tourist attractions, Rulindo is positioning itself as a sojourning sanctuary. In partnership with other stakeholders in the tourism industry, the district is developing a cultural and community-based tourism model set to be a game changer.
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 local and international markets.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Rulindo is sponsored by The Click Creations, Ikaze Rwanda Tours and Travel, The Peakspot Lodge, My Hill Ecolodge, Rusiga Highland Resort and Beyond the Gorillas Experience (BGE) .