Virtual Journeys: The Wonders of Rwanda
This week we are taking you to ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’ on an adventure to discover Rwanda’s verdant nature, wealth of wildlife and enchanting people. You’ll spend time in the capital Kigali learning about the country’s harrowing but significant history, before taking to the skies by helicopter over Rwanda’s rolling hills to reach your next two destinations. In Volcanoes National Park, home to Rwanda’s resident mountain gorillas, you'll spend two nights at stylish Bisate Lodge, from where you will kit yourself up and spend a day trekking to find these enchanting primates. Fly on to the mist-shrouded mountains of Nyungwe Forest National Park, a nature lovers’ paradise, home to chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, colourful birdlife and abundant flora and fauna. Your base for the next three nights is rainforest hideaway One&Only Nyungwe House, a peaceful retreat in the heart of a working tea plantation.
Eat & Drink
Your accommodation in Volcanoes National Park is Wilderness Safari’s quirky yet elegant Bisate Lodge. Stay in one of six cottages set into the hillside with views over the Virunga volcanoes (cottage 6 has the best vistas if you’re willing to take the uphill hike up there). The exteriors of these unique rooms are made of thatched grass blending them seamlessly into the natural setting, whilst inside they are beautifully styled with contemporary African design using only natural materials. With a keen focus on conservation and community, every guest is encouraged to plant a tree during their stay. After returning from you day’s activities, don't miss joining the chef on his daily trip to the on-site vegetable garden to pick the ingredients for the evening’s ever-changing menu, and for dessert make sure you try one of their signature Cappuccino and White Chocolate Muffins.
Cappuccino and White Chocolate Muffins
- 1 tbs ground filter coffee
- 308 g self-raising flour
- (112 g caster sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 375 ml buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 140 g melted butter
- 30 ml butter
- 100 g white chocolate, roughly chopped
- 3 tbs soft brown sugar
- 12-capacity muffin tray
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC and grease muffin tray.
- Sieve the flour into a bowl and add caster sugar.
- Mix the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, melted butter, white chocolate and coffee, then combine with the flour/sugar mixing roughly, ensuring you don’t over mix.
- Spoon the mixture equally into each of the 12 cylinders in the tray
- Heat the extra butter and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves
- Spoon the mixture onto each muffin, gently swirling it with a skewer
- Bake for 25–30 minutes or until risen.
Your final destination is Nyungwe Forest National Park, where you will stay at tranquil rainforest lodge, One&Only Nyungwe House, in one of twenty-two luxurious wooden bungalows nestled within the working tea plantation surrounded by misty forest-covered mountains. Enjoy the variety of nature-based activities on offer, immerse yourself in Rwanda’s rich culture or simply revel in your peaceful surroundings with some al fresco yoga or a bespoke spa treatment. However you chose to spend your days, make sure you start them with a perfectly brewed cup of Rwandan coffee.
How to Brew Coffee
Tips on Perfect Timing and Ratios
The ‘golden ratio’ for coffee brewing is 1 gram of coffee to 15-18 grams of water.
- Choose a ground coffee and add to your drinking implement of choice. One of the most important elements is choosing a good coffee – the fresher the better!
- Use high quality or filtered water, boiled to 92-96 ºC
- Pour the water over the coffee with care
- Brew for 4 minutes
- Filter or pour the coffee and enjoy
Black Earth Rising – Netflix
A drama series about protagonist Kate Ashby, a British-raised Rwandan, adopted as a young girl after surviving the genocide. Following the career path of her adoptive mother, Eve, an esteemed human rights lawyer, Kate works as a legal investigator. When Eve starts working on a case involving the prosecution of an African militia leader, Kate is drawn in and forced to confront her past, proving it is impossible to escape.
Hotel Rwanda – Film
Based on events that took place at Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali during the Rwandan genocide, Hotel Rwanda tells the story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina’s efforts to save lives of his loved ones and many, many more when he took in over a thousand Tutsi refugees who were fleeing from the Hutu militia, providing them with shelter. A story of incredible courage in an environment of political corruption and violence.
Gorillas in the Mist – Film
Based on her memoir, Gorilla’s in the Mist is the true story of American naturalist Dian Fossey, played by Sigourney Weaver, who moves from Kentucky to Africa and devotes her life to studying the behaviours of the endangered Rwandan and Ugandan mountain gorillas. As a bond develops between Fossey and the primates, she becomes a fanatic animal rights activist. In her fight to protect them from the threat of poachers fearing that the animals will become extinct if their hunting continues, she puts herself in a perilous position.
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
Jean Patrick Nkuba is an aspiring Olympian who dreams of becoming Rwanda’s first Olympic medal competitor in track, but his hopes of success are jeopardised when political tensions lead to civil war and his country unravelling around him. Jean Patrick, a Tutsi, finds himself in the middle of the Hutu massacre and he must run for his life to escape the mob of killers that chase him, leaving behind his homeland, devoted family and the woman he loves. A gripping tale of survival, bravery and the trauma involved when forced to choose between family or freedom.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch
Philip Gourevitch tells his harrowing first-hand account of the Rwandan genocide, when in April 1994 the government demanded that everyone in the Hutu majority slaughter all those in the Tutsi minority. What occurred over the next 100 days was a brutal massacre, with 800,00 Tutsis and Tutsi sympathisers were murdered. This non-fiction book chronicles Rwanda’s devastating recent history and what the subsequent response to the killings tells us about humanity.
A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope and a Restaurant in Rwanda by Josh Rixin
A moving memoir about Josh Rixin and his wife Alissa, who as newlyweds relocated to Rwanda in an effort to provide relief to a country devastated by the atrocities of civil war. They commit themselves to helping genocide survivors, working to provide food and healthcare to rural villages. With Alissa’s foodie background they also built their successful restaurant ‘Heaven’ in Kigali which employs and trains local youths, creating much-needed jobs and renewed sense of purpose for those affected by the Rwanda’s horrific past. Alongside their restaurant, Alissa and Josh have also opened two hotels in Kigali, including Quintessentially Travel favourite, The Retreat. This is the story of how just two people really can make a difference.
RWANDA, you should be loved by The Good Ones
A trio of farmers from rural Rwanda, formed The Good Ones in 1994 as a healing method after the atrocities of the genocide, and to unite the ethnic groups in their community as each of the three members comes from a different Rwandan tribe. The band performs traditional songs about love and loss using farming tools and acoustic guitars as their only instruments with the message that people who have done bad can change to good.
The Healing Sounds of Rwanda from One&Only Gorilla’s Nest
Take a moment to reflect and listen to the sounds of the Rwandan rainforest and experience the healing power and calming influence of nature. Listen here
Umwana W’umuhanda (The Child from the Streets) By Abatwa (The Pygmy)
Abatwa is named after Rwanda’s smallest and most marginalized tribe, also known as pygmies, who come from Rwanda’s borderlands. The band creates a raw, sparse and emotional sound, and through their music they discuss war, pain, healing and the environment using chants and folk instruments.
Mountain Gorillas' Survival: Dian Fossey’s Legacy Lives On – Short Film by National Geographic
Experience Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and its illustrious but endangered celebrities, the mountain gorillas with National Geographic. This short docufilm is narrated by Sir David Attenborough who takes your through Dian Fossey’s conservation efforts to protect the gorillas and how these have been continued to the present day. Watch here