The Mysterious Buhanga Eco-Park
There are many ways of exploring and appreciating what nature has offered to the land of a thousand hills. Looking at overall Rwanda tours, the country has been widely known for the critically endangered mountain gorillas chimpanzees, golden monkeys, birds and Virunga volcanoes a combination of which make a full safari package to Rwanda attracting thousands of travelers from all parts of the world. This time, we are not touring any of the common visited attraction but rather the mysterious Buhanga Eco Park. It’s indeed secretive evidenced by a few travelers who have made it there. However despite the less visits, Buahanga forest is a surely a hidden treasure that is worth visiting. The forest is an isolated ritual place where the kings of Rwanda would be initiated and enthroned for kingship. Getting into the forest is quite tiresome where traveler hikes through dark, congested and stony walkways destructed by creeping and crawling plants that make it hiking through quite difficult. The trails can be slippery especially in the rainy season but its good for adventurous travellers. The forest comprises of different sections, which are visited differently, and each section has a different story. Its unique in its own kind in that a miss out to any point make the safari incomplete. The must stop points in the forest include among others:
This is a first stop for all travelers into the mysterious Buhanga eco-park. Surrounded by lava stones and flowery thicket, this small ditch is where the king’s helpers would pick herbs for the king to shower. These herbs would be added into bathing water purposely to cleanse it before the king takes a shower of them as part of the colonation. The assistants of the kabaka where translated in Kinyarwanda as “Abiru” hired to help the kabaka all the time.
This is a place where a king wheeled in the royal carriage would be carried to straight from the palace without stopping anywhere. It was therefore a first stop for the king right from the palace and no single stops would be made on the way. Here the king would have a bestowed bath with water collected from the spring mixed with herbs collected from the small ditch. This bathing was in Kinyarwanda translated as Kwihagira and the king would be wiped and smeared with regal oil immediately after the shower.
This was the next point where the king would be carried to after bathing. Comprised of hard, well cut lava rocks and chairs on the edge covered in greenish mold, a conference podium is a not miss. This is where the king received kingship instruments, blessings and protection from gods. It’s after here that the king would be officially titled as “Umwami” of Rwanda and the ceremony would be graced by his advisory council, elders, royal sorcerers and clan heads. The initiation ceremony ensured the immunity of his kingdom from external aggression but also the invasions of other territories by the kingdom as a success.
Three in one tree
This is another stop for travelers into the mysterious Buhanga forest. These are three tress in one where different species of trees were intertwined. The local people of Rwanda call this tree “Inyabutatu” which explain the harmony of the three Rwandan ethnic groups who served one king loyally. The tree species are Inigabiro, Igihondondo, and Umusando each of which is different from the other. Additionally, there is a 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.
Interestingly, this memorable experience comes at a relatively low cost. The park entry charges are 40usd for foreigners and 2000 francs for local people and the park everyday from 8am to 6pm.
In conclusion, book a Rwanda safari; visit the mysterious Buhanga Eco Park and enjoy the beauty the land of a thousand hills offers.