Monday, 05 August 2019 10:09

Naming Baby Gorillas in Rwanda

Kwita Izina has, since the first ceremony in 2005, become an unmissable annual tradition in Rwanda when dignitaries, park rangers, researchers, friends of gorillas, media and tourists gather at Kinigi in the Volcanoes National Park to take part in naming all the baby gorillas born that year. Besides being a very moving, “bucket list” experience, naming them also helps with monitoring each individual gorilla in their family and habitat and highlight the plight of this endangered species and their habitats in the Virunga mountain range. Most of the baby gorillas are named according to the circumstances of their birth, their future expectations or the location where they were born.

Volcanoes National Park currently shelters over 340 mountain gorillas, which have been habituated into 10 families, namely the Titus, Kwitonda, Susa, karisimbi, Amahoro, Umubano, Sabyinyo, Agashya, Hirwa, and Ugenda families.

This year the official ceremony will be held on 6th September 2019, with a week-long schedule of activities planned, including beer brewing, basket weaving, music and food tasting experiences. After the naming ceremony all guests are invited to attend a gala dinner which is included in the US$100 ticket price and can be booked within most of the hotels including the Kigali Serena Hotel and Lake Kivu Serena Hotel.

Lake Kivu Serena is located on the white sandy shores of the sixth largest lake in Africa and offers a range of activities to enjoy after your gorilla trek including its own private beach, boating, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, swimming, volley ball, tennis, fishing, hiking, biking and trekking as well as a spa. It is a more affordable alternative to staying within the National Park. 

For more information on these Rwandan properties or how to book a gorilla package including the Kwita Izina ceremony please email [email protected] or visit
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Monday, 02 July 2018 13:05

Serena News

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It is Thursday afternoon and the clock is ticking. Kinigi is about to host the annual national tourism flagship event, Kwita Izina—the usually colorful gorilla naming ceremony.

On the sideline, another investor, Singita Luxury African Safari Lodges Reserves, see this as the right timing for a groundbreaking event to seal their intention of joining several renowned international hotel and safari lodge brands.

his year’s event had a long list of celebrities, who joined Rwandans at the colourful ceremony that is held on the outskirts of Virunga National Park, a road leading to Kwita Izina venue has just been revamped and several projects are being launched.

On Friday a few minutes after 7am, President Paul Kagame‘s motorcade drove past Musanze town and we later learned that the Head of State had inaugurated yet another luxurious Bisate lodge—before officiating at Kwita Izina.

Bisate Lodge – the word bisate meaning ‘pieces’ in Kinyarwanda—is located right next to Volcanoes National Park. It indisputably provides a high-end base to visit the famous mountain gorillas as well as the lesser-known, but very beautiful, golden monkeys.

Bisate’s classy architectural and interior design is borrowed from Rwandan building tradition of the Royal Palace. Built on about 30-hectare plot that was previously farmland, Bisate adds 12 high-end guest rooms of which, 6 are twin-bedded villas.

Bisate joins another young but equally breathtaking luxurious safari lodge, Amakoro Lodge. Amakoro Lodge, located in Kinigi (facing Sabyinyo volcano) is an extension of Songa Africa – a tourism company—constructed with the latest energy efficient technology with a focus on the conservation of nature.

They come to compliment the already established high-end and luxurious safari lodges such as Virunga lodge, among others.

In this context of high-end accommodation, the cheapest room goes as high (or low—depending on the weight of your pocket) as $1200.

Emmanuel Hategeka, Chief Operations Officer at Rwanda Development Board (RDB)—whose responsibility includes tourism promotion—says that the establishment of luxurious safari lodges falls within the national strategy of turning the country into a luxurious tourism destination that would drive up revenues.

In so doing, Hategeka emphasizes that Rwanda would no longer be a “brief stop” on a tourist’s itinerary, but rather “offering a lifetime hospitality experience” beyond its world-famous mountain gorillas, bird watching and natural history experience.

“The focus of our strategy is to develop Rwanda as a high-end tourism destination and Virunga massif is one of the premium destinations for high-end tourists, especially given the presence of rare mountain gorillas,” Hategeka said.

They are over 800 of these endangered species remaining in the whole world shared between Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo borders.

The fact that about 400 of these Mountain gorillas live within Rwandan territory, explains why Rwanda—a country that has been named by international organizations as one of the safest places in the world—becomes the prime holiday destination for tourists.

Hategeka, who was speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of Singita Luxury African Safari Lodges, said that, the new lodge is an addition to “high-end hospitality ambition” for Rwanda.

Singita Rwanda lodge will be named after a deceased silverback known as Kwitonda which died about 5 years ago, hence the name Singita Kwitonda. The project is worth $16 million.

Situated along Kwitonda trail, Singita will add about 12 hotel rooms (8 of them being high-end villas) and it will employ close to 70 people, according to Graham Ledger, Managing Director of Grumeti Reserves (proprietor of Singita).

Ledger says the project will be ready for inauguration, come August 2019.

“It’s been a dream of us to become involved in the Rwanda tourism,” he said, adding that the move to invest in Rwanda’s high-end market is inspired by the invitation of the Rwandan government.

“Mountain gorillas are very special and we enjoy promoting iconic destination and products which our clients really enjoy. It was an obvious decision for us to come to Rwanda at an invitation of the government and we are thrilled to be part of how Rwanda presents itself globally. We want to enhance that an add value at the same time adding value to our products and conservation,” Ledger said.

He is confident that they bring to Rwanda “decades of experience in excellence” which is high-end hospitality, if the service offered by the chain of their 12 lodges and camps in five wilderness regions across three African countries—stretching through South Africa through Zimbabwe to Tanzania—is anything to go by.

Meanwhile, Clare Akamanzi noted that One&Only Resorts, another Luxury Resorts is also set to join the Rwanda market—cementing Rwanda’s move to a high-end tourism destination while narrowing its market to the wealthiest of visitors.

Hategeka said that One&Only will have about 20 luxurious villas once it opens.

“The projects in place bring a good number of high-end accommodation rooms in this area to about 80; which is really the size of the high-end market here given the number of permits we give per day, which are 96.”

When asked if RDB is satisfied with the available projects, Hategeka said: “We leave that to the appreciation of investors. But for now, the investments are good and they really add a lot of value to the destination whose life of high-end visitors is growing each day”.

Musanze on the move

Musanze town has become a tourist hub, and the mayor of Musanze, Jean-Damascene Habyarimana said that conservation and tourism have transformed his district—with a specific rise of hotels and lodges.

“Musanze has now become Rwanda’s main tourism hub and indeed tourism has strongly facilitated socio-economic transformation of our district and the livelihood of our people. Every year, we see a new big hotel coming up. I am certain that Musanze comes second to Kigali in having the biggest number of hotel rooms in Rwanda,” Habyarimana said in an interview.

Source: New Times

Published in News
Thursday, 31 August 2017 16:11

Rwanda could purchase more land for gorillas

Rwanda is considering extending the natural habitat for the rare mountain gorillas to handle their rapid population growth.

On September 1st, a total of new 19 baby gorillas will be named at Kwita Izina ceremony- they are an addition to the existing 400 rare species in the country.

According to Rwanda Development Board’s tourism chamber, since 2005, a total of 280 mountain gorillas have been born and named.

Eugene Mutangana, the head of conservation at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said that the growing gorilla population is a step forward.

“We are currently thinking of either purchasing or renting land from citizens to expand the gorilla habitant. This process may take four to six years,” Mutangana said.

It is expected that gorilla populations will reach over 540 by the next population census which is expected to be finalized this year.

Mountain gorillas make up to 90% of government revenues from national parks. In 2016 alone, Rwanda earned $404 million from tourism. The target is to raise $444 million in 2017.

Since the aftermath of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, Gorillas have ‘found peace’ in Rwanda. Tourism experts say for tourism to prosper, peace and security should be guaranteed – so the need for animals in the parks too.

At the opening of a 3-day 41st annual tourism conference in the capital Kigali this morning, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi – Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that violence across the African continent has been the main challenge to tourism growth.

But with Rwanda’s current peace and stability, Dr. Mukhisa cemented that “Mountain gorillas have found it easier to live in peaceful Rwanda than immediate neighbours.”

Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species that live in the Virunga massif and in Bwindi impenetrable forest in southwestern Uganda.

The Virunga massif comprises of a series of volcanic mountains that stretch from southwestern Uganda, northwestern Rwanda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo covering Mgahinga gorilla park, volcanoes national park and Virunga national park in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC respectively.

Meanwhile, the management Gishwati-Mukura landscape – another addition to Rwanda’s national parks, has been put under Rwanda Development Board (RDB) rehabilitation of the natural habitat within and outside the park which started in 2016 at a cost of $9.5 million in five years.

With the new additions to the tourist bases, Mountain Gorillas could find more safety in Rwanda.

Source: KT Press
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The Rwanda Development Board recently announced an increase in the price of Gorilla Tracking Permits from US$750 to US$1,500 for all visitors, effective immediately. On hearing the news, leading safari specialist, Acacia Africa was encouraged by comments* from Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, after the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) reported that their current tracking charges will be maintained.

Arno Delport, Sales & Marketing Manager at Acacia Africa, comments “The recent increases in gorilla tracking permits by the Rwandan government will inevitably have a knock on effect on tourism in Uganda where the cost of a permit is now substantially less and priced at only USD 600pp. Clearly, the percentage of revenue obtained by the use of the gorilla permits contributes to the primates’ survival, the recent baby boom in Bwindi impenetrable National Park giving hope to conservationists and exciting travellers looking to book this once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience.”

Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, comments ”Once you have looked into the eyes of a mountain gorilla, you understand how important it is to protect these primates. It is important, that not only a wealthy minority can get the chance to experience these animals in their natural environment, but everyone who wants to contribute to their conservation. Besides, we feel obliged to our tourism partners worldwide to keep prices stable.”

Acacia Africa is discounting 11 of its gorilla focused camping overland trips by 15% in its current Primate Promo, if bookings are made by 30 June. All of the tours feature gorilla viewing in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the prices include transport, camping accommodation, most meals and services of a tour leader/driver. Excludes return flight.

SAVE £210pp (15%) 18 day Mountain Gorillas to the Mara from £1,195pp (no single supplement) + Adventure Pass from £510pp + gorilla & chimp permit from £540pp. Offer valid on the following guaranteed departures: 19 August and 16 September. Starts Nairobi - ends Nairobi. Full tour price £1,405pp.

SAVE £158pp (15%) 14 day Gorilla Encounter from £897pp (no single supplement) + Adventure Pass from £100pp + gorilla & chimp permit from £540pp. Offer valid on the following guaranteed departures: 26 August and 23 September. Starts Nairobi - ends Nairobi. Full tour price £1,055pp.

SAVE £90pp (15%) Six day Troop to the Gorillas from £515pp (no single supplement) + gorilla & chimp permit from £540pp. Offer valid on the following guaranteed departures: 04 July, 22 August, 26 September. Starts Kampala - ends Kampala. Full tour price £605pp.


Acacia Africa (020 7706 4700; [email protected] SATSA membership No. 1931, ATTA membership no. 20151, ATOL No. 6499 and ABTA No. W4093 PROTECTED. 

Notes to Editors

•featured on the ATTA  (the African Travel & Tourism Association) website
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