Visiting the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village in Rwanda: The Gorilla Guardian Village, Fees/costs, where to stay and Best Time to Visit
When you visit Volcanoes National Park, you will possibly hear about or even visit the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, a community project set up to better the lives of reformed poachers in addition to raising awareness of Rwandan culture before the influence of modernity and Colonialism. The name “Iby’Iwacu” is literally translated as “treasures of our home” in the local Kinyarwanda dialect and the project was established in 2005. After over 16 years of existence, the positive effects of this project is evident among community members and their stories can be shared/learned during your visit to the area.
This cultural Village is situated near Volcanoes National Park as well as Musanze Town, Northern Province of Rwanda and provides riveting cultural experiences centered on the ashes of Rwanda’s detrimental poaching culture. This community project is made up of local who once made a living from poaching Rwanda’s most sought-after Giant Apes (Mountain gorillas) but now reformed to support their families from productive ventures such as cultural tourism where the interesting way of life, culture, traditions and dance performances of pre-colonial Rwanda are introduced to the visitors.
Guided visits to Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village comes hand in hand with a wide array of tourist activities that include preparation of traditional medicines and foods, participating in traditional music and dance, spending a day in the traditional life of Rwandan Kings and Queens, taking part in local football match, brewing of banana beer, tours of local schools, practicing traditional hunting skills and many others.
Touring the replica of King’s Palace
A visit to Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village involves touring the nearby replica of King’s Palace to learn about the interesting history of Rwanda before colonial era. Visitors can get the chance to be enthroned, then handle the mantle of the King to exercise power over pseudo subjects.
Take part in traditional music and dance
Expect wonderful traditional songs and dances with emotional meanings to the locally-performed entertainment. The Intore dance as well as popular gorilla songs will be among the performances with several musical instruments especially different drum types.
Visits to the traditional healer/medicine man
Never miss the visit to the traditional healer during guided tours of Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village to learn about different plant parts-roots, leaves, stems and barks used in the preparation of traditional medicine for various sicknesses/ailments. You will also reach the local clinics and pharmacies to interact with the patients about how they are getting better after being administered the traditional medicines.
Preparation of local foods
Get a chance to prepare some of the local foods-millet bread (karo), plantain, beans, vegetables and sweet potatoes and even dine with the locals. You will participate in locally grinding the millet into flour before even mingling into fine millet bread.
Local banana beer brewing
Learn about the process of brewing local beer from bananas and even taste the fine brew.
Also learn about Batwa special poetry techniques, learn and even teach some interesting skills at the local school and many other activities that will take your breath away. Proceeds from these activities are shared among the locals, as a way of directly benefiting from tourism. This also provides sustainable livelihood for the locals to improve their standard of living and in turn conserve the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural environment.
Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village fees
A day tour of Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village costs only $35 per person per tour and is inclusive of the guided tour to take part in the activities. For visitors interested in spending overnight at the home-stay will be required to pay $70 per person per day and is inclusive of activities and meals.
Interesting places to stay near Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village
There are many accommodation facilities in Volcanoes National Park but the ones near Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village include Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge and Bisate Lodge among others.