Looking for a perfect place to spend your day in Rwanda during your Rwanda safari? There are many destinations in Rwanda where you can spend day including the capital city of Rwanda, the genocide memorial grounds, market places, eco-parks and many more. However, many travellers prefer silent beautiful places on their safari Rwanda. Amongst the beautiful silent places you can visit on your Rwanda tour is the hidden treasure of Rwanda; Buhanga Eco Park. Despite its small size of around 31 hectares, Buhanga Eco Park is just a short drive from Volcanoes National Park Rwanda.
When tourists hear of Rwanda, they associate with only the great apes in Volcanoes National Park those attract travellers for Rwanda gorilla safaris, the volcanic mountains for hiking tours in Rwanda, the genocide memorial grounds and nothing more. It’s very hard for someone to associate Rwanda with culture as of today because it has no King. However, this can only be before you set your foot in the Buanga Eco Park in Rwanda.
Buhanga Eco Park found within the Buhanga Forest, a place that is famous to be the Kings ground in Rwanda. It is an ancient sacred site that was used for coronation rituals of Rwandan kings. It is indeed a hidden treasure packed with a great deal of biological and cultural significance. The history of the Kingdom of Rwanda for all the kings started here.
This Eco Park is one of the best places to go for a nature walk during your safari in Rwanda. It has beautiful forest walking on trails entirely made of lava stones with a perfect covering of tall majestic trees as well as crawling plants. During your tour Rwanda nature walk in this forest Eco Park, you will be ushered in by beautiful colourful butterflies and various bird species singing in the air.
1 Day Rwanda Safari to Buhanga Forest Eco Park
Have your breakfast early in the morning at your hotel and after drive to the park with your Rwanda safari tour guide. Upon arrival in the park, you begin your walk or hiking safari Rwanda visiting the Eco Park. During this safari adventure, you will walk to the major significant places that were used by the king during his stay in his park. This site was home to King Gihanga, believed to be the founder of the kingdom. Many historians claim the first king of Rwanda ruled during the 11th Century but there are conflicting reports on the era of his reign. One thing is clear though. Those who ruled after him were enthroned in his royal court, including the ones whose residences were in Nyanza.
Your first stop will be at a small ditch surrounded by lava stone and flowery thicket. This point is believed to be the point where the king’s helpers locally known as “Abiru” would pick herbs for the king to shower. These herbs were mixed with spring water with the purpose of cleansing it before the king takes a shower. This ceremony was part of the coronation ceremony. This point was always the first king’s stop right from the palace because no single stops would be made on the way.
After this point, continue to the conference podium that comprises of hard, well-cut lava rocks and chairs on the edge. Usually, the king would be to this point after bathing the spring mixture to receive kingship instruments, blessings and protection from gods. This is also the point where the king was officially given his title as the “Umwami” of Rwanda. This ceremony was usually graced by his advisory council, elders, royal sorcerers and clan heads.
From the podium, enjoy your walk downhill with the site guide to a small spring with dark water. People believe this water is dark because it is where the King’s bathwater was collected. The funniest and surprising thing about this spring is that it overflows during the dry season and almost dries up during the rainy season. Things to do with the King were respected and not touched, that’s why in 1988, the local chief was punished by the gods for tampering with this spring. One morning, this local chief ordered his men to dig up the spring which his men did. But before dark fell, the spring was full again and overflowing. The following day, a huge snake pitched camp at the chief’s residence for over seven days and on the eighth day, the chief and the rest of his men disappeared as a result.
There are many other mysteries of Buhanga forest that you will be told including the three-in-one tree, referred to as “Inyabutatu” by the local people. It developed as a result of three different tree species; the Ikigabiro, Igihondondo, and Umusando that intertwined forming a three-in-one-tree. This tree explains the harmony of Rwandan ethnic groups who served one king loyally; the Tutsi, the Hutu and the Twa.
There is also the Umuvumu tree which is translated as a curse. History tells that one day some local men collected firewood from this tree and the next morning all their families had perished hence the tree was known to be cursed. A few trees in this forest have been featured prominently in Rwandan traditional stories. Their legends are wide-spread. Next time you visit Rwanda, go to the villages, spare some time to share banana wine with elders and listen to their stories. Their stories have been transmitted from generation to generation. The chain will never break because they will last a lifetime.
Visiting historical sites enable to convert imagination into tangible things. This journey will be fulfilling to finally see and touch the Umuvumu. There is a story about this Umuvumu tree that is not people don’t believe. As the story goes, thirty men cut it down in 1977 and divided its trunk and branches into small pieces. Before the pieces were shared by the culprits who intended to use them as firewood, something miraculous happened. The pieces reintegrated and the original tree was reassembled. Umuvumu came back to life. At the end of this story, the thirty men dropped dead.
If you are planning to safari Rwanda or else tour Rwanda you can engage in a gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda or also for Rwanda wildlife safaris just choose the best time for all of the activities since the parks are almost adjacent to each other and therefore the climate is almost the same in the country. You can also undertake a Uganda safari, safari in Uganda or Uganda tour, all you need is make a Uganda gorilla trekking safari part of your experience. You can also look at a Congo gorilla safari or gorilla trekking safaris in Congo.