Destination Kivu Belt

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Ibere rya Bigogwe – Half day cow experience

08/2/2022 15:33

Ibere rya Bigogwe – Half day cow experience

Ibere rya Bigogwe – Half day cow experience

Activity Description

The experience starts at the main Rubavu – Musanze Road  where your guide will meet you at the Ibere rya Bigogwe office on the main road. The office is easily located by the arch which marks the border between Rubavu and Nyabihu Districts.

Travel by moto to the farms (by car
if you have your own)

After meeting your guide you will travel to the green pastures of Ibere rya Bigogwe where the cows graze. The same way as locals in the area, you will
travel on the back of a motorbike to the farms. The views of the landscape are breathtaking as you leave the main road behind and travel up the hills. A photo stop is usually made at one of the best view points. The trip takes around 30 minutes. Helmet is provided.

Meet the cows and watch them grazing
Once you reach the farms, your guide will introduce you to the cows and cowboys. You will dress in a colorful shuka or rumbiya, the traditional attire of cattle keepers and get a Inkoni, a stick carried by all cattle keepers. Learn about the history of the green hills of Bigogwe, stories about cows and the traditional Rwandan life connected to cows. The hills at the farms are some of most lush and green hills in Africa. Spend some time with the cows and cowboys in this peaceful setting

Take the cows to drink water
The cows need lots of water. Twice daily they make their way to the river for a drink. Join the cowboys and use your inkoni (stick) and gentle whistles to move the cows down to the river for a drink. Watch the cowboys as the sing and whistle for the cows as they drink.

Milking the cows and tasting of fresh milk
Milking in Bigogwe is done by hands in traditional cans or ibyansi like inkongoro in wood, and Ingare made in bamboo. Get a lesson in milking by hand by the cowboys and try milking on your own. After milking you will taste the special “Bigogwe Cappuccino” as fresh as it gets straight from the cows.

Cowboy games
The cowboys spend their life watching the cows. While the cows graze the cowboys have lots of free time. Many games and traditions have been invented by the cowboys. The most common games are URUKIRAMENDE or high jump, Kunyobanwa or stick fighting and Igisoro, a traditional game played with dried seeds on a wooden board. Watch the cowboys master these games and try on your own.

Traditional songs for the cows
When the cows rest after eating and milking, the cowboys sing to them. These traditional songs are called Kwivugira inka and have been passed on for generations. The songs repeat the names of the cows and include stories from legendary cows.

Making of traditional ghee
Leave the farms by motobike (or car if you have your own). Watch the traditional way women make Ikimuri or ghee by hand. Ikimuri is traditionally made by moving a large calabash or Igisabo back and forth. Learn how it is done and try making your own Ikimuri.

Return to main road and departure
It is time to say goodbye for now. Before you depart you may visit the shop and café where traditional crafts souvenirs and snacks are available. 

About the Organizer

This experience is organized by Alex Ngabo and Ibere rya Bigogwe. Ngabo grew up with cows on the green hills in the area and is passionate to share this wonderful place with as many as possible.

Good to know

Extra info / What to bring

  • Hiking Shoes
  • Sweater & wind/rainproof jacket
  • The sun can be strong bring a hat & sunscreen

This Experience requires that you can walk for 1 km over uneven ground

Add-ons: Pick up and drop of at any hotel in Rubavu or Musanze can be organized at extra fee of 30,000 Rwf

 

From 30,000 RWF

Highlights

  • Spend time on the greenest hills in Rwanda
  • Experience traditional Rwandan life with cows
  • Taste some fresh milk products 
  • Try traditional Rwandan cowboy games

Includes

Excludes

More information

Contact the organizer

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Categories:Community Tours, Tours and Activities

Ibere Rya Bigogwe

06/7/2022 15:58

Ibere Rya Bigogwe

Ibere rya Bigogwe is one of the greenest most spectacular places in Rwanda. The gentle rolling hills have a lush cover of fresh green grass making them a bright green with an almost dreamlike appearance as if from a fairy tale. Apart from a few walking tracks, the hillsides of Ibere rya Bigogwe are dotted with dairy cows busy munching away on the lush green grass. At the base of each green hill is a gentle stream separating it from the next. Ibere rya Bigogwe is a very gentle and dreamy place which will take the breath away from any visitor on a clear day.

Ibere Rya Bigogwe

Ibere rya Bigogwe is a cattle farming region established in the 80s for dairy farming. Today it is one of the largest milk-producing regions of Rwanda. Cows have a very special place in Rwanda both as an economic asset and as a symbol of wealth and social status. Traditionally the reddish Ankole breed of cows was widespread in Rwanda but has been replaced by other breeds which produce more milk. Today, black and white Jersey cows are the most common sight on the green hills of Ibere rya Bigogwe.

Ibere rya Bigogwe Milking
Drinking fresh milk on the green hillsides after a hike. (Photo, Dan Nsengiyumva)

There are many interesting activities for visitors to do in Ibere Rya Bigogwe. You can visit the green hills on your own, but a pre-booking is recommended to get a better experience. Most activities at Ibere Rya Bigogwe are obviously related to cows, but there are also nice trails for hiking and even a rock face used for rock climbing. Milking cows and tasting various dairy products such fresh cheese or Inshyushyu a pasteurized milk served hot are must-do experiences. Visitors also have the opportunity to take part in the specific Rwandan traditions and culture associated with cows and cattle keeping..

Ibere rya Bigogwe Stick Fighting
Traditional Stick Fighting (Photo, Dan Nsengiyumva)

Tending cows in Rwanda has always been the job of special cowboys. Rwandan cowboys have lived their lives next to the cows for centuries, watching over them, milking them and making sure that they are safe and healthy. Since cows do little else than eat and sleep, Rwandan cowboys have a lot of free time on their hands.  During the centuries, certain games, songs and stories developed amongst the cowboys to pass the time. At Ibere Rya Bigogwe, visitors are welcome to join traditional cowboy games such as high jumping and stick fighting. The cowboys will also recite traditional stories and sing songs as part of the old Rwanda traditions and culture linked with cows

Ibere Rya Bigogwe Hiking
Easy hiking at Ibere Rya Bigogwe (Photo, Dan Nsengiyumva)

There is the possibility to stay over night or over an entire weekend at Ibere rya Bigogwe. Tents are available for hire and you will be served fresh hot food. Nights are spent under the stars in front of the fire with the cowboys telling tales of ancient stories, singing songs and reciting poems while drinking warm milk from traditional wooden gourds. Visitors who stay over several days will can use one of the many hiking trails to explore the green hills. The views are incredible and on a clear day one will see Mt. Sabinyo in the north and Mt. Nyiragongo in the South. The lush short grass makes it easy to move around and in the few hills which are covered in forest have excellent trails for hiking.  

Ibere rya bigogwe camping
Camping at Ibere rya Bigogwe (Photo, Dan Nsengiyumva)

Contact Information and Booking

Ibere rya Bigogwe is an area of green lush hills off the RN4 main road halfway between Rubavu and Musanze with roughly 1 hour travel distance from each town. Visit Bigogwe is a company who organize various tours and activities for visitors. 

Good to know:

  • It is advised to bring raincoats or windproof jackets and hiking boots. The sun can be very strong. Walking sticks are available to borrow.

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Categories:Attractions, Community Tours, Destinations, Hiking, Tours and Activities

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