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Buhanga Eco-park Adventures
Buhanga Eco-Park has been a sacred forest where the Rwandese Kings performed initiation ceremonies; today it is a testimonial to past societies that conducted such rituals. There is an opportunity here to go on a trail walk through the park and see where these rituals took place.
When you reach one of the ritual sites in the park, you are confronted with a small ditch that is surrounded by a flowery thicket and small lava stones. This is where the kings’ assistants, the Abiru, pick some herbs and add to spring water to make a ritual bath for the king’s coronation.
A few meters away, there is a pile of large boulders, at the entrance of a dark cave. This is where the king is wheeled into on a royal carriage, called the Ingobyi. The king comes here straight from his palace in Nyanza for a fortune-bestowing bath of the spring water and herbs. The bath is called the Kwihagira. After bathing, the king is smeared with regal oil and then carried to the conference podium, which is made of hard well-cut lava rocks. There are stairs on the sides of this spot that are covered with a greenish mould. Here the King received his instruments of power, some blessings, and protection from the gods. Immediately afterward, he is officially hailed as Umwami, the King of Rwanda. This ceremony was traditionally presided over by the clan heads, the king’s advisory council, many of the elders of the tribe, and the royal sorcerers.
The ancient beliefs were that this ceremony not only ensured the immunity of his kingdom from external aggression but also made invasions of other territories by the Kingdom a success.
The next spot to see is the three-in-one tree; where 3 different trees had grown intertwined with one another. This tree is known as, Inyabutatu ya Banyarwanda; representing unity and harmony of the 3 different Rwandan ethnic groups who served under one King. At night, one gets a mysterious view of the trees; three of these trees that are particularly special are called, Igihondondo, Umusando, and Ibigabiro. A particularly outstanding tree is the Umuvumu, referred to as the Curse; wherein 1977, 3- people cut it down and carried it off for firewood. The next morning, each of these 30 men was killed in mysterious ways.
Walking downhill from this spot, one arrives at a small spring of dark and cold water. This is where the King’s bathwater was collected. In 1988, it is rumored that a local chief ordered the spring dredged. Before darkness, the dredged spring had replenished and it overflowed with water again. Many huge snakes shifted to the chief’s house and stayed for 7 days. On the 8th day, the chief and his family perished. This spring is particularly interested as it overflows in the dry season and is dry during the rainy season.
Good birding site
With the forest regenerated it has attracted a lot of bird species in the area and those who have time while in volcanoes national park can book a birding tour to the eco-park to see some of the beautiful birds of Rwanda like the sunbirds, Turacos, bulbuls, and many other species.