The Southern Province and where to explore

Southern Province is one of Rwanda's five provinces. It was created in early January 2006 as part of a government decentralization program that re-organized the country's local government structures.

Southern Province comprises the former provinces of Gikongoro, Gitarama, and Butare, and is divided into the districts of Huye, Ruhango, Nyamagabe, Gisagara, Muhanga, Kamonyi, Nyanza, and Nyaruguru.

It holds some of the most important historical structures and locations of Rwanda.

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Nyungwe National Park

Nyungwe National Park is situated in the southwestern region of Rwanda, bordering Burundi. Encompassing expansive mountain rainforest, it serves as habitat to various chimpanzee species, as well as owl-faced and colobus monkeys. Among its notable features is the Canopy Walkway, an elevated suspension bridge along the Igishigishigi Trail, offering panoramic vistas of the valley and adjacent forests. Additionally, visitors can explore the trail leading to Kamiranzovu Marsh, renowned for its diverse bird species, orchids, and cascading waterfall.

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King's Palace Museum

Located in Nyanza district, the King's Palace, a meticulous reconstruction of the traditional royal abode, embodies the architectural elegance of a thatched dwelling resembling a beehive.

Historically, Nyanza held a pivotal position in Rwanda, serving as its core. Legends narrate tales of battles and conflicts that unfolded in this region.

For generations, the monarchy remained nomadic, relocating the court across different sites. Eventually, when a permanent settlement was established, Nyanza emerged as the natural selection. This capital of the kingdom boasted a population of up to 2,000 inhabitants, with dwellings constructed using similar techniques evident in the palace's design.

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Ethnographic Museum

In the late 1980s, Belgium's King Badouin gifted Rwanda with the Ethnographic Museum, which now boasts one of Africa's premier collections. Across seven galleries, visitors can explore historical, ethnographic, artistic, and archaeological treasures, aided by visual displays. Exhibits cover a wide spectrum, from geographical and geological showcases to artifacts related to hunting, agriculture, and crafts. Traditional clothing, architectural techniques, and the cultural significance of cattle are highlighted, with ties to the royal herd showcased at the King's Palace in Nyanza. The museum also delves into traditional customs, beliefs, poetry, and cosmology. Additionally, visitors can explore a well-regarded craft center on the premises.

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The Shrine of our lady of Kibeho

Since November 28th, 1981, Kibeho has been recognized as a site of apparitions and pilgrimage. As articulated by Mons. Augustin Misago, Bishop of Gikongoro, in his Declaration regarding the "Apparitions of Kibeho" (No. 14), Kibeho is designated to evolve into a sanctuary for spiritual seekers. Pilgrims journey here to seek divine grace for conversion, to present intentions for the atonement of global sins, and to foster reconciliation among individuals, communities, or nations.

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Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre

The Murambi Genocide Memorial, established on April 21st, 1995, commemorates the genocide's horrors. Tutsis sought refuge at the site, then a technical school under construction, during the genocide. Today, Murambi is one of six National Genocide Memorial Sites, holding the remains of about 50,000 victims, including those from the school and surrounding areas. Only 34 survivors are known. Every April 21st, the anniversary is dedicated to honoring the victims of Murambi.

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