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Rwanda listed among top destinations of 2017

Renowned American travel writer, speaker, and humourist Spud Hilton has listed Rwanda among the places he would recommend for tourist in 2017.

Hilton, who is the Travel Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, listed Rwanda together with South Korea, Oman, Mozambique, Wales, and Japan. The San Francisco Chronicle is one of the biggest newspapers in the USA while Hiton is an award-winning travel writer with over 14 years’ experience. He has been awarded by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation for his great travel storytelling, the kind that entertains, inspires and transports readers.

He says the destinations were picked in part based on a variety of kinds of experiences, from shades of luxury and leisure to cultural and historical exploration.

“We decided to avoid a few destinations that are particularly popular, are celebrating anniversaries or are newly accessible — Cuba, Canada, Myanmar — because so much has been written already,” he says in an online story.

He adds that his list is not intended as gospel but as inspiration for thinking about places a tourist might not have otherwise considered.

Under the title, `Mountain jungle luxury’ Hilton’s entry on Rwanda features a photo of the Golden monkeys found in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

As for his reason for recommending Rwanda, Hilton says the opening of the intimate Bisate Lodge next to Volcanoes National Park in June 2017 (the start of the dry season) marks a new phase in gorilla tourism, an important source of income for the country whose painful history of genocide still resonates. The facility is operated by Wilderness Safaris.

Hilton notes their focus on local culture, conservation and community building.

“It benefits primates and people alike,” he says “while Kigali provides a safe environment to explore urban Rwanda.”

He recommends encountering mountain gorillas on one of the strictly limited permitted treks in the misty forest as an unforgettable signature experience. He, however, recommends travellers to make time for a trek to see the endangered golden monkey, too.

He says the 64-acre Bisate Lodge will also invite its guests to plant trees in an effort to expand the animals’ habitat and ultimately the park’s boundaries.

As for local flavor, Hilton writes that after visiting the powerful Kigali Genocide Memorial, a traveller could take the Nyamirambo Women’s Center walking tour through its lively neighborhood or drop into a milk cafe. Also at Bisate, they could meet vegetable growers, shop the local market with the chef or partake in Rwandan coffee and tea tastings on the deck.

Hilton’s information-rich entry also offers tips on how to get to Rwanda – by flying nonstop to Kigali from Brussels and other European cities or Johannesburg. Volcanoes National Park, he notes, is about a two-hour drive from Kigali. He also recommends some travel agencies and places to stay including the Hotel de Mille Collines, of “Hotel Rwanda” fame, and the Bisate Lodge’s six sumptuous, eco-friendly villas that can accommodate just 12 guests.

The only other African destination is listed under the title `Solace among pristine reefs’ and is in the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique.

It is a national park made up of five small islands — Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Bangue and Santa Carolina — that are protected from mass tourism.

All the islands except Santa Carolina were once part of a sandy peninsula connected to the mainland, and the ecology of the islands is as diverse as it is pristine.

Its signature experience is the coral reefs that are among the best preserved in the world. The archipelago is home to more than 100 species of coral, humpback whales, sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays and dolphins, and it boasts the largest population of the rare dugong on the African east coast. Divers and snorkelers get an eyeful below the water’s surface.

For hundreds of years, Mozambicans have sailed traditional dhows along the coast, fishing and transporting people and goods. Hilton says day trips aboard these silent sailing boats can include picnics on deserted islands where you snorkel and swim, then sail back to your lodge.

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editor@independent.co.ug

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