Things to Do in Musanze in a Day
Musanze or former Ruhengeri is by far mostly known hub for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National park. Those who want to go beyond gorilla trekking will find out that Musanze town is a little gem under the surface, if you know where to go and what to do!
Once being in Musanze, just from anywhere you will be mesmerised by volcanoes in the distance Karisimbi, Sabinyo, Gahinga, Muhabura, Bisoke! While for some activities you will have to get out a few miles out of Musanze and start exploring like a local. Its all about going local in Musanze!
Hopefully, despite being limited by time in Musanze and looking for interesting things to do in Musanze, this post is for you.
Trips and Activities Around Musanze
Trip to Twin Lakes – Lake Ruhondo and Lake Burera
Twin lakes Ruhondo and Burera are a little copy of Bunyonyi lake. From Musanze with local transport an hour out of town, and then a good hour of walking through villages. Lazy ones can just hire a car with driver and drive straight to Virunga Lodge which has the most stunning views of Twin Lakes.
Full Day Hike to Mount Bisoke
Hike to Mount BIsoke is a full day hiking project and the hike ends on more than 3000 meters. 5 hours up and 3 hours down for hikers that are truly fit and don’t stop too much on the way.
The most popular hike in the Volcanoes National Park leads to the beautiful crater lake at the summit of Bisoke (3711 m). It is a pretty straightforward climb, mostly through forest and moorland. The path is rather steep and can be very muddy after rain.
If you leave the parking at the Bisate trailhead at around 8.30 am, you might have lunch at the summit around noon. The descent can take up to 2,5 hours. The cost of a permit (which always includes the guide, but never the car, which is about 80 USD per day) is about 75 USD.
Attend Kwita Izina – Gorilla Naming Ceremony
Baby gorilla in Volcanoes national park. If you are in Musanze in September you can join Kwita Izina – gorilla naming ceremony. #safarijunkie #safari #rwanda #musanze #africa #visiterlafrique #wanderlust #passionpassport #backpacking #trekking #gorillas #travelblogger #natgeotravelpic #wildlifephotography #wildlife_perfection #wildlife_seekers #welltravelled #travelawesome
A photo posted by Nina Zara (@safarijunkie) on
Whenever there are new gorilla babies born in Rwanda, that year Kwita Izina takes place in Volcanes National Park headquarters in Kinigi. Since gorillas are endangered species mainly due to poaching, there is true reason to celebrate new members in gorilla families and to put conversation on the map, Rwandan tourism board organises naming ceremony.
In 2016 the ceremony date is 2nd September. The event is one of top visited events in Rwanda, so if you decide to go and see it, you have to book your accommodation in Musanze as early as possible.
Go and See Musanze Caves
Stunning and mystical, the Musanze Caves are one of the country’s newest tourist destination. Musanze caves are just a couple of kilometers out of Musanze Town. Caves have rich history – were once used by Rwandan kings as an Ikigega (store) for food and other supplies during times of war.
What makes them so special is the size, the spectacular greenery spilling into the caves and large colonies of bats. The caves have to be booked in advance as they are guided by professional guides, you can not explore Musanze caves on your own. At the moment entrance price is 55 USD per person and caves can be visited any time of the year.
However, dont forget to add a cost of transport that is billed separately along with tips for guides. Its a relatively short tour, that will take two and a half hours of your time.
Make a Typical Rwandan Basket With Local Ladies
Make yourself a Rwandan basket! Well, to be honest, in one day, unless you are skillful like local ladies you will not able to finish it, but making them is real fun. Agaseke or baskets are traditional Rwandan handcraft and are usually one of must buy souvenirs in Rwanda.
Local crafts along with basket weaving can be arranged in Red Rocks Rwanda, 8 kilometers out of Musanze. Although you can buy these baskets all over the country, from airport to fancy shops in Kigali, here is the opportunity to buy directly from the ladies who made them!
Visit Iby’iwacu Cultural Village
Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village is a Non-Profit Organization that aims at increasing livelihood opportunities for communities around Volcanoes National Park. In comparison with Red Rocks centre this site is more organized and created specially to demonstrate cultural heritage of Rwanda. Perfect for families!
Those who skipped gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National park that also presents a fracture of Rwandan culture before the trek,will be able to see the Intore dance here. If you like it you can overnight here too!
Village Hikes Around Musanze
The best way to get a feel of the area is to go for village hikes around Musanze with a local. When I was there, I met many locals in my hostel, so I just arranged a hike with one of them and off we went, walked through banana and corn fields. Despite Rwanda being one of more developed countries, in rural areas looks like time has stopped.
No electricity, no running water. The poorest people still live in mud houses, those who can afford a house made of bricks consider themselves very lucky. The beauty of village hikes is despite the poverty people are very friendly and you will probably invited to enter a house and have a soda drink.
Of course make sure when taking photos to ask for permission, not everyone wants to be photographed.
Sustainable Community Based Conservation, Tourism and Volunteering Opportunities in Musanze
Red Rocks Initiatives for Sustainable Development is a non-profit organization based in the tourism rich Musanze district, Rwanda. It operates in and around the Virunga range of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Its vision is to integrate tourism, conservation and community empowerment for sustainable development. To achieve this, the local people and encouraged and facilitated to take part in activities which bring them positive impact, particularly uplifting their living standards.
This encourages them to have motivation to help in environmental conservation. The Initiative provides volunteering programs to travellers who would wish to make positive impacts to local communities in different areas like foreign language and new skills acquisition, women and youth empowerment programs, and conservation and community development among others.
The Initiative also promotes healthy programs like sanitation, personal hygiene and sports. Its list of programs also include arts for conservation and modern farming techniques and promotion of cultural activities like dancing, music, handicrafts-all activities leading to promoting tourism, conservation and helping local community development.
When visiting Musanze, you are welcome to come and visit for a day to check out the initiative’s programs and find a suitable solution for you, and even your group-be it volunteering, donating or helping support their activities in different ways.