A translation of the Rwandan national anthem proudly proclaims ‘Land of the hills, lakes and volcanoes. Be blessed our motherland.’ Indeed, not only is Rwanda often described as the Land of a Thousand Hills but also as the self-styled Switzerland of Africa, the higher elevations dominated by the Virunga Volcanoes, whose peaks are forever shrouded in mist and mystery, with the tangled jumble of tropical rain forest on its lower slopes home to the world famous Silverback Mountain Gorillas.
Any allusion to Rwanda in the context of geopolitical history and we are instantly reminded of the Genocide that devastated this tiny country in 1994. These dark days have however lead to a miraculous transformation, one that is today defined by tribal unity, political stability, economic development and a promising future.
By any inference applied to its magic landscapes and rare wildlife, Rwanda is the high altitude rendering of Jules Verne’s lost paradise as described in Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Here, the discerning traveller has the opportunity to venture on an exhilarating climb to the mountain gorilla’s natural habitat of shady bamboo thickets and relish surrealistic views of prehistoric rainforests, alive with the cacophonous calls of varicoloured birds and the chattering of rare golden monkeys. Nothing however can prepare one for the impact of encountering a silverback gorilla close up, twice the size of an average man, yet remarkably gentle and generally tolerant of human visitors.