Buhanga Sacred Forest
The Buhanga sacred forest is located 8 km west of Musanze, covering about 31 hectares of land. Buhanga forest is truly a hidden treasure given the fact that it is of remarkable ecological importance and amazing sceneries. Making Buhanga forest a must visit spot whilst on your Rwanda safari.
Buhanga means creation and people believe that the formation of Rwanda as a country began from this part of the country. This is because Rwanda’s very first King called Gihanga had his home in the region. Most notably, all kings that came after before the fall of Rwanda’s monarchy conducted a number of rituals in Buhange Forest. Hence, the reason why it is called a sacred ground and very respected among the locals.
The beauty of the forest is simply un measureable, there are different tree species like the drago trees, ficus trees, among others. These trees create a really spectacular canopy making the forest walk underneath really interesting and fun given the relaxing environment you are walking under. Forest walks are often guided walks as you need these guides to lead you along the different paths.
What to expect during the nature walk
Other than the beauty of the forest, there are lots of other attractions that you can check out during this walk. There attractions like;
The coronation caves.
The Buhanga forest walk takes you to the coronation caves where the kings’ ceremonies were held back then. This is an important site to the customs of Rwanda that is why king could travel from place as like Nyanza and Butare to this cave for coronation. However, these are not the only caves where cleansing of kings took place.
During the visit you will learn more about the different reasons behind whole process of coronation. They will give you an insight about why the kings had to have a bath , followed by smearing of regal oil and then heading to the Lava rock for a meeting before the instruments of power where handed over to the new king. This ceremony was always presided over by members from the Kingodom’s advisory council. The advisory council, always included the clan elders, other elders and number of royal sorcerers. It is that believed is that king got lots of blessings and protection from this place so his kingship would be under gods’ protection.
Visit the springs
Whilst in Buhang forest you can visit the stunning Gihanda spring. The spring used to be a source of water for the ritual bath. To-date, it is believed that the spring has some supernatural power. This follows a legendary story, that onetime a local chief had the spring drained but by evening the water was following again. Coincidentally, the next day the chief’s him was attacked by snakes the next day and the whole family died.
Bird watching in Buhanga forest
There is also a number of different bird species that you may encounter as you walk through Buhanga forest. You can expect to see about 150 different birdlife, and also for butterfly lover, expect to spot some beautiful ones. This the bird watching nature walk starts as early as 8 am when the forest is cool and the birds are very active, and then return at 6 pm. The nature walk costs USD 50 and a specialists bird guide might costs you extra.
Buhanga Forest offers the best experience of a forest walk because of the unique cultural and forest experience one gets. It is a great addition for those visiting volcanoes national park for mountain gorilla tracking in musanze. Or if you are visit Lake Kivu especially Gisenyi area.