Interested in Rwanda’s history? During your Africa safari, considering visiting a true hidden gem in Rwanda on your Rwanda safari. Visit Rwanda’s Buhanga Sacred Forest and find out the beautiful nature it holds! Despite its small size of about 31 hectares, the forest is a site of wonderful ecological significance and astounding beauty. In Kinyarwanda, Buhanga means “creation” and the belief has it that the creation of Rwanda began from this point.
Buhanga sacred forest is a true hidden secret of Rwanda, situated in Nyakinama about 8 kilometres west of Musanze town. If you are that traveller interested in magical safaris in Rwanda, then you must consider visiting the Buhanga forest while on your Rwanda safari during your Africa safari adventures. This beautiful forest features not only has spectacular flora but is also credited for its Rwanda cultural safari traditions that are linked to it.
Buhanga as a sacred forest
Gihanga Ngoma Ijana , Rwanda’s first King, is said to have lived in this forest to form the Kingdom of Rwanda hence all the kings of Rwanda that ruled before the fall of the monarchy used to conduct their rituals in the forest. It’s located in Bikara cell, Nkotsi sector, Musanze district. In these two areas, we find undeniable facts that prove the existence of this great king. This is what made it a sacred ground and feared among the locals. Gihanga Ngoma Ijana has one culture shared by all its habitants known as Rwandans.
Due to respect, it sacred touch has left it intact even when Rwanda is encountering lots of land fragmentation and scarcity. The forest is covered by drago and ficus trees which feature spectacular canopy that makes a tranquil environment. This makes it fit for nature walks for travellers on Rwanda tour. Guided forest walks are also carried out along the paths that are made of Lava stones.
The history of the Buhanga Forest
Buhanga forest has a cave where the coronation ceremonies of Kings of Rwanda used to occur. Culturally, it is a remarkable site and central to the traditional Rwanda customs as the kings of Rwanda could move from the southern parts of Nyanza and Butare to come to Buhanga for the coronation. Besides the coronation cave, there are also other wonderful caves where the kings normally had a bath for cleansing before being declared kings-Umwami. Given the compulsory ritual bath, the kings were smeared with regal oil after which they are would be transferred to the Lava rock that acted as conference podium to be given instruments of power presided over by the advisory council of the Kingdom, clan leaders, elders and royal sorcerers. Just like some cultures in Uganda, the king of Rwanda to secured considerable blessings from this area and the protection of the kingdom by the gods.
Buhanga forest has blessed spring natural water known as Gihanda. This name was derived from the first king of Rwandan monarchy. The water was used for a ritual bath. Tales have it that the local chief at a time-ordered people to drain the spring but to his surprise, by evening it was already flowing again. The following day the chief’s home was full of big snakes and these lasted for about a week. They left after the death of the chief and his entire family.
Why must you visit this forest?
During your Rwanda safari tour, the Buhanga forest walk allows you to explore one of the spectacular trees like the Inyabutatu Ya Rwanda which signifies unity tree that appears like there are 3 trees in one. This tree represents the 3 tribal groups of Rwanda-the Tutsi, Hutu and Twa. The forest also consists of other trees and they are believed to have stayed for over 300 years including the Umusando, Igihondohondo and Ibigabiro.
A walk through the forest takes you through over 150 birdlife species and a good number of butterflies that call Buhanga forest their home. For this experience, visitors pay $40 and it is usually done between 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. It is better to visit the forest early in the morning when the birds are still active and bird songs fill the air.
In conclusion, a visit to Buhanga Forest rewards visitors with amazing experiences of a lifetime. If you are planning to go for mountain gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda, do not forget to include Buhanga Forest walk in your bucket list. For cultural enthusiasts, this is the best spot that you shouldn’t miss to visit while on safari in Rwanda. After your adventurous gorilla tour Rwanda, you can engage in a wildlife safari in Uganda in any of the National Parks including Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo National Park or go for a Uganda bird watching safari tour. If you are time-limited, you can enjoy a Kampala city tour, Kampala day excursion, Jinja city tour or just a Jinja day trip.
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