Renowned for being the route to the home of approximately half of the worlds remaining mountain gorillas, Kinigi town, located right at the foot of Virunga Mountains, comprises beautiful sceneries that make it an outstanding touristic area.
The place is so conducive that one can stay for several days doing various treks and walks observing Rwanda’s world unique attractions such as gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park.
As you drive through the mountainous corners of the tarmac road leading to Kinigi, the first immediate impressive change is felt in the temperature drop and it becomes colder as you proceed into the interior.
As one approaches the town, there is a distinctive and clear view of the Volcanoes National Park but the taller Virunga Mountains made up of three active volcanoes situated in Rwanda, Uganda and The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stand out.
“This place is extremely beautiful; you find many touristic attractions, the mountainous area also provides an opportunity to extend the view to neighbouring Uganda and Congo,” Tadesse Nagash, an Ethiopian tourist observes.
He is amazed that as one tours the Kinigi area, it’s possible to see remarkable animals including various primates and birds.
Nagash says that the thrill and excitement cannot be explained – it simply has to be experienced.
“It is one of the absolute highlights of a tour anywhere on the continent because encountering these gentle giants is an awesome moment in any African journey,” he says.
Kinigi is also strewn with classic hotels and stopovers that make the whole journey interesting.
Paul Muvunyi, a shareholder in Akagera Game Lodge and proprietor of Mountain Gorilla View Lodge says that tourists are satisfied when they find opportunities to get a variety of edibles.
“I have observed several times that the visitors stay for even longer once they get what they desire to eat,” he said.
The hospitality mogul explains that the cordial and generous reception accorded towards guests is another motivating factor in the area.
Kinigi is probably the only place where visitors come and are easily able to access the ruins of the Karisoke Research station the burial place of Dian Fossey, an American zoologist who was killed an she undertook an extensive study of gorilla conservation in the area.
But beyond that, there is the Volcanoes National Park, one of the most famous areas in Rwanda where tracking of mountain gorillas is done at an international level.
The park is approximately 13,000 hectares and is also home to the recently habituated Golden Monkey, a little known species which is listed as endangered.
The Golden Monkey has a bright golden body but with black limbs, tail end and crown. It was previously found also in Nyungwe forest in southern Rwanda but the only viable population is now found in Volcanoes National Park.
Some tourists agree that to view the Golden Monkey is an entirely different experience compared to visiting the gorillas where the visitor can come up close and view them at close range.
It is only during the recent few years that researchers are starting to put together a detailed picture of their lifestyle and routines.
The Golden Monkeys live mainly in the bamboo thickets and are smaller and harder to spot and Prosper Uwingeri, the chief warden at the park says that it is a perfect environment for the survival these animals.
He asserts that Rwanda is lucky because Kinigi is one of the few places where these primates were saved from extinction while there still were enough to be saved.
Uwingeri also says that the over 200 bird species thought to be harbour in the forest is another feature that makes Kinigi stand out as an exemplary touristic town.
In the early 1990s the gorilla tourism was probably Rwanda’s main foreign exchange earner. This came to an abrupt end in 1994 during the Genocide. Gorilla trekking was finally resumed on a permanent basis in 1999.
There are roughly only 600 mountain gorillas left in the world, approximately half of these live a few metres away from Kinigi town.
One will spend most of the day out on the field and you will not need much effort to see these world attractions, you just have to be in Kinigi.