Photo Friday: Iby’Iwacu, Rwanda

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While preparing for my photo presentation for BlissDom last week, I’ve began the laborious task of culling through tens of thousands of photos I don’t even remember taking over the past two years, when I stumbled upon a set taken in Rwanda when I visited back in 2010.

The beginning of my trip to Rwanda was a bit of a blur, as I flew in about 2am one morning and was immediately deposited into a car for the long, windy drive up to Ruhengeri to start my adventure-filled trip. After we visited with the gorillas, we continued a couple hours down the road to Volcanoes National Park.

We arrived at Iby’Iwacu—meaning “treasures of our home, our heritage”—to find our senses overwhelmed: The performers donned bright, bold (sometimes barely there) costumes, and there was a plethora of dancing, drumming and general merriment taking place all around us.

There are quite a few characters to keep an eye out for at Iby’Iwacu, the main being a 68-year-old pygmy man who could bust a serious move.

What, he doesn’t look particularly spry to you? Look closer.

He even showed us his best Beyonce.

Amid the dancing, we entered the king’s house, were enthroned and got to serve as leaders of the village for a brief while.

There was even a traditional medicine man on hand. Granted, he didn’t speak a word of English and sort of mumbled something that sounded like jibberish, but I enjoyed watching him do his thing—prepare the plants for his antidotes (which included herbal Viagra, I was later told)—nonetheless.

We also learned how to operate a bow and arrow (hard!) and proper drumming techniques (marginally easier if you’ve got a bit of rhythm).

Somewhere just inside the fence that confined the village, children (as well as some parents) collected to observe these crazy foreigners who’d come all this way to see the hootin’ and hollerin’.

What I loved about this attraction is that, while it may have been a bit touristy, the people who worked there summed up what I so loved about Rwanda: They were passionate, kind and sported the biggest grins you ever did see. A must-do if you’re passing through the region.

Visitor’s Info: It costs $35 to visit Iby’Iwacu, which includes all of these activities, or you can stay overnight (something I would strongly encourage) for $70.

COMMENTS
  • March 2, 2012
    JeJe

    Neat. Love that third to last picture! I see what you mean about big smiles.

  • March 2, 2012

    The man in pic rwanda-15 (the spry man) looks so happy. If I had his ankle bracelets I’d probably never take them off, I’d be making music everywhere I went 😀

    • March 3, 2012
      Kristin

      I didn’t even notice his ankle jewels! Next time I go back, I’ll try to score one off of him for both of us =)

  • March 2, 2012

    They’re headdresses look like my hair on a particularly crazy day, perhaps I’d fit right in. 😉

    Excellent photos, as always.

    xox

    • March 3, 2012
      Kristin

      Ha. You and me both, sista!

  • March 2, 2012

    I love the pics of the dancers – beautiful!

  • March 2, 2012

    I love the pygmy dude busting out Beyonce!
    Is it strange that I kinda want one of those black and white canes? Baller.

    • March 3, 2012
      Kristin

      I wanted the headdresses and all the bright, African-patterned costumes they wore (minus the belly-bearing part, as that is something I just do not do!).

  • March 2, 2012

    This is awesome, and so on my list. A friend just visited Rwanda and his gorilla images are awesome. Nice looking dancers.

    • March 3, 2012
      Kristin

      The gorilla trek is one of my top five favorite memories of all time (if not #1).

  • March 2, 2012

    Now THAT is a travel destination. Truly visiting an authentic place and peoples. Wow is all I can say. I don’t know if a place like that will ever be on my travel itinerary, but it would be a fabulous experience. Good for you.

    • March 3, 2012
      Kristin

      It probably wouldn’t have been on mine either were it not for Twitter. (Back story: I won a tour of Rwanda two years ago via a Twitter contest. I paid for my airfare, but they organized and covered everything once I was there. Can’t say that prior to that it had been on my travel list!)

  • March 3, 2012

    Funny–I was just thinking about your Rwanda trip (my husband and I are in the beginning stages of planning a RTW trip–eek!) and I went back to look at your gorilla-trekking adventure. I would love to pick your brain on Rwanda, when I get to the booking stage. This looks like a really fun experience as well!

    • March 3, 2012
      Kristin

      Feel free to email me then! I can’t promise I’ll be of too much help (I won a tour via Twitter, so they organized all logistics for me), but I will sure try!

  • March 4, 2012

    Stunning photos as always. I love the headdresses. I have yet to visit anywhere in Africa, I don’t really know what’s stopping me at the moment, maybe the price of tickets perhaps. But i really cannot wait to go. Thanks for sharing all these photos, it is great to see Rwanda as more than just news stories during the war.

    • March 8, 2012
      Kristin

      Ticket prices are ridiculous. Even to get from South Africa, where I was visiting with my mom, to Rwanda (a three-and-a-half-hour flight) cost me $1200! That’s about what it costs to fly from the US to Africa (which I’d already paid for additionally, too). I’d love to see more of the country, but you’re right: the price is a huge burden.

  • March 4, 2012

    Awesome photographs! I love the color and the movement in the headdresses. Stunning as usual. Glad I can keep up with you here since I can’t get my in-person fix 🙂 Oh, and your photos during your presentation were pretty much stunning as well … drool-worthy actually!

    • March 8, 2012
      Kristin

      You’re so sweet–thanks for being so supportive and all-around awesome!

  • March 5, 2012

    The dancers are beautiful! And the medicine man is fascinating. Those guys are so intriguing to me.

    • March 8, 2012
      Kristin

      Admit it: You’re intrigued by the “natural Viagra.”

  • March 5, 2012

    I love the excitement on their faces! 🙂
    Ps. What camera were these taken with? It looks small in your hand and these photos are incredible (I’m looking to buy a new one)
    Thanks!

    • March 8, 2012
      Kristin

      I use a Canon 500D (or T1i)–it’s not nearly as big as the 7D or 5D (my dream cameras), though I have some pretty heavy lenses!

  • March 6, 2012

    Lovely photos! And I enjoy the Beyonce-busting moves of Spry Man.

    • March 8, 2012
      Kristin

      Just looking at that pictures makes me sing “Crazy in Love”…in my head, of course 😉

  • March 6, 2012

    These photos are gorgeous! I especially love the medicine mans combination of animal fur and a suit!

    • March 8, 2012
      Kristin

      He must have been sweating bullets underneath, as it was not cold in Rwanda!

  • March 9, 2012
    Abi

    Wow.

  • March 9, 2012

    Great pics, so sharp despite the action or lack of ligt! Any tricks up your sleeve?

    • March 9, 2012
      Kristin

      Haha, none other than a steady hand and the proper exposure! =)

  • March 9, 2012

    Great photos of the dancing. Love their facial expressions.

  • March 9, 2012

    I love how they are all smiling — looks like an amazing experience… 🙂

  • March 9, 2012

    So cool!

  • March 9, 2012

    This looks amazing! We got to see dancers, but didn’t get to do any of the other stuff you mentioned on our trip. Thanks for letting me live vicariously!

  • March 12, 2012

    What great pics! I love the ones of him with his hair/wig flying in the air. He looks so happy. As a musician, seeing local song and dance gets me really excited when I travel. Africa is way high on my bucket list, and I can’t wait to see this type of thing there!

  • March 15, 2012

    Aww! Looks like a rad little place!

  • March 16, 2012

    I love Africa and AFricans! The’re always so kind and freindy! I’ve been to Ethipia and Tanzania and had a greta time there! I’ve tried to dance as they do but I’m completely unable! Well your pictures are wonderful! thanks to remind me my African journey!

  • March 16, 2012

    What amazing pics! I always find pics that I’ve forgotten about, it’s almost like discovering hidden treasures!!! I need to get back to Africa.

  • March 19, 2012

    Stunning!

  • March 20, 2012

    The last three pictures are amazing.

  • March 22, 2012

    They all look so happy!! Awesome pictures!

  • March 22, 2012

    I want to visit Africa in a bad way! This just confirms I was right to want that!

  • March 24, 2012

    It looks like one of the dancers is wearing sneakers:) Love the costumes and the landscape. You don’t always think of any place in Africa as being so lush and green, but there’s actually quite a bit of rainforest and jungle across the continent.

    Daisy

  • April 16, 2012

    The beautiful and wonderful people of Rwanda, love the Pigmy mans photo

  • May 17, 2012
    Phiola

    Hello , I am from Rwanda and found your pictures to be really great . I’m making a french blog on my heritage and was wondering if i could use your photos . Is that alright ?

  • June 12, 2013
    Karina Alvarado Rios

    Karina Alvarado Rios Loves Rwanda

  • August 11, 2013

    wow, amazing shots! Such beautiful colors & details…very nice!

  • May 1, 2015

    It would appear that one of the dance experts is wearing shoes.Love the outfits and the scene. You don’t generally think about wherever in Africa.amazing shots! Such excellent hues & points of interest… exceptionally pleasan.

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