Musanze’s Red Rock Backpackers last weekend launched a Summer Camp Festival, which will run every Friday to Sunday until early September, when Kwita Izina, the annual naming of the gorillas, will take place on September 5.
Owner Greg Bakunzi, on tour in Zimbabwe with this correspondent after doing business at the just-ended Sanganai 2015 Tourism Expo in Harare, explained the motivation behind the move, aimed to bring more people into the Rwandan Highlands on the foot of the Virunga Masif.
Ordinary tourists who heard of the weekend party joined backpackers who heard it through their grapevine, today of course spread via WhatsApp, on Twitter, Palmchat and Facebook to come to Red Rock and celebrate Rwandan culture, art and food and drink galore, either after or before tracking the gorillas, perhaps the Golden Monkeys, with more travel lined up after the fun weekend.
The Rwandan staff and guides showcased the weaving of baskets and how banana beer was brewed, while villagers from nearby sensed the opportunity to earn a few Francs for selling fruits and crafts to the visitors.
Local musicians performed, and the tourists were prompt to follow the local tunes and dance, before regular DJs selected music which kept the crowd reportedly on their feet for much of the night.
Said Greg to this correspondent: “Normally in June we are busy ahead and after Kwita Izina. When RDB [Rwanda Development Board] announced a date in September, that level of activity, the number of visitors we normally have in June, was suddenly no longer there. I thought to do a regular weekend party or festival, and by word of mouth and through social media the news spread fast. This will keep us going until at the end of August [when] hundreds of guests will come again for Kwita Izina. The first weekend festival was a big success.”