Kigali City in process of acquiring land for Nyandungu Eco-Tourism Park expansion

On 12 February 2024 at 12:34

Kigali City has said it is in the process of acquiring an additional 43 hectares for the expansion of the 121-hectare Nyandungu Eco-Tourism Park, a recreational space and wildlife habitat in the City of Kigali.

Currently spanning 121 hectares, encompassing 70 hectares of wetland and 50 hectares of forest with more than 62 indigenous plant species, the eco-tourism park has also seen nearly 200 bird species that had migrated due to wetland degradation returned to the park after its rehabilitation. The park receives close to 6,000 visitors every month.

Speaking to the media recently; Faustin Munyazikwiye, the Deputy Director General of REMA, said that the expansion will usher in a host of new facilities to enhance the park’s offerings noting that “additions will include kiosks, boardwalks, playgrounds, artificial lakes, and more, catering to the evolving desires of visitors.”

"The demands of our visitors for enhanced amenities have been duly noted and will be incorporated as part of the park’s expansion," Munyazikwiye explained.

Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park has more than 62 indigenous plant species.

Marie-Solange Muhirwa, the City of Kigali’s chief urban planner has told The New Times that the expansion would affect close to 74 plots and due to budget constraints “we are expropriating in phases with the first phase consisting of 14 plots.”

The government is poised to replicate this success by rehabilitating five additional wetlands across Kigali, with a budget of more than Rwf100 billion for the endeavour.

The identified wetlands earmarked for restoration include Rwampara (65ha), Gikondo (162ha), Rugenge-Rwuntare (65ha), Kibumba (68ha), and Nyabugogo (131ha). These wetlands derive their names from the streams and rivers flowing through Kigali city across Gasabo, Nyarugenge, and Kicukiro districts.

Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park has more than 62 indigenous plant species.

According to REMA, the initial phase of wetlands rehabilitation is estimated to span 18 months, with one of the key interventions being the reintroduction of native tree species.

The decision to rehabilitate these five wetlands follows the successful completion of the Nyandungu Eco-Tourism Park. The repurposed wetlands are envisioned to serve as recreational hubs akin to the Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park which looks to attract more visitors.

Ronald Kayitare, the Manager of Active Vacations, a tour operator, says more eco-tourism parks means increased business for all stakeholders, propelling tourist activities, especially domestic tourism.

"The investment that the government has put in including rehabilitation of swamps among others, we will see many tourists come into the country along with increased appetite for domestic tourism, the sector’s future is bright,” Ronald Kayitare, the Manager at Active Vacations said.

The establishment of Nyandungu Ecotourism Park has already generated over 4,000 green jobs and attracts approximately 6,000 visitors monthly.

To have the tourism sector fully recover from the effects of Covid-19, several initiatives have been rolled out by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). These include the reduction of the cost of gorilla trekking permits. The permit fees for gorilla trekking are now reduced from $1500 to $500 for foreign residents.

Gorilla Trekking permits in Volcanoes National Park for Africans outside the East African Community will now cost $500 while gorilla trekking permits for East Africans will cost $200 per person. This is expected to boost Rwanda’s tourism sector and make gorilla trekking more accessible to a wider range of tourists.

According to data by RDB the tourism sector generated US$247 million or Rwf290 billion in revenue during the first half of 2023, reflecting a notable 56% surge compared to the US$158 million reported during the same period in 2022.

The services sector, mainly tourism and hospitality, played a significant role, contributing 46% to the GDP, followed by the agriculture sector at 25%, the industry sector at 21%, and net direct taxes accounting for 7%.

Nyandungu Eco-Tourism Park is a recreational space and wildlife habitat in the City of Kigali.