A Unique Accommodation Offering Cultural Exchange in the Heart of the Community
Eco-lodges and sustainable accommodation are becoming more available whatever your holiday destination or price range. For a long time, East Africa has been one of the regions leading the way on this trend, though often not entirely intentionally. Inconsistent access to electricity, sometimes to water supplies and remote wilderness locations, has led many to pioneer self-sufficient energy practices. However, one hostel in Northern Rwanda is going one step further by creating authentic opportunities for cultural exchange that leave a lasting positive impact on the local community and visitors.
Red Rocks Hostel is a social enterprise backpackers and campsite based in Musanze (confusingly, sometimes called Ruhengeri), Northern Rwanda. Most travellers would find themselves in Musanze as a base for trekking to see mountain gorillas in Virunga and Volcanoes National Park, where half of the world's remaining population live. However, you'd be missing a trick if you passed through the town without at least a night or two in this unique community-based hostel.
What makes Red Rocks worth a stop off, is the way they're using tourism to educate visitors in local practices, culture and tradition, but to also provide economic opportunities to transform the village they're submerged in. They do this by identifying long-term, sustainable local projects, and offering them a connecting platform to tourists. For example, during our stay there, a co-operative of local women taught us the centuries-old practice of making banana beer. We were led through the process of grinding our own sorghurm grain, beforehand crushing the green bananas (a savoury variety halfway between a normal banana and plantain). Then we covered our mashed bananas with the maize flour to ferment in the ground for a few days.
Activities and tours like this one offered by the hostel, are all led by local groups who come to Red Rocks with a business plan before being allowed to operate out of the venue. You can also choose from basket weaving, cow milking, beekeeping, organic farming, traditional dancing, drumming, storytelling, village walks and much more.
It's very obvious from a short time at Red Rocks that community comes first. They believe in "responsible tourism that serves local people, providing them with opportunities and empowerment by sharing their unique culture" - nothing could be more aligned with the mission of Re-creationWORLD. Their activities offer a sustainable income to locals by bringing under-served communities into the tourism supply chain and supporting community development projects.
Red Rocks is a 2 hour drive or 3 hour public bus ride from Kigali. From here, you can easily travel across the border into Uganda or Congo.