KIGALI, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- It is Rwanda's tourism hub and some say, the source of adventure.
With the long line of adventure activities on offer, there is enough evidence to support Musanze's claim to adventure fame.
When you speak about adventure in Musanze, many will immediately think of gorillas and they would be right.
Gorilla tracking is probably Musanze's oldest and widely advertised tourism product. It dates back since time immemorial.
Even though some tourism products have been designed in the area, the gorilla experience is very much alive, thanks to the conservation efforts that have helped to protect the endangered primates.
Owing to the need to diversify tourism products, tourism operators are thinking harder on how best to utilize the new other unique things left behind by nature.
It is this effort to offer tourists a variety that has given rise to the Musanze caves, an experience where tourists tour decades -old 2 km cave. It has two parts with nine and six rooms respectively.
For those more inclined to tradition, cave touring might appeal to you.
Since mid September this year when the official visits started 44 tourists from various countries have visited the area with many more expected in the coming months.
On the one occasion I moved along, the tourists included young and old people alike, mostly foreigners screaming their lungs out as they toured the inside of the cave.
Kron, one of the tourists who have visited the cave said it was an enjoyable experience.
"The caves are unique for me and I wish to encourage my friends to visit them when I go back to Canada. If you like unique things, then the caves are the things for you," Kron said.
The cost of visiting caves is 50 U. S. dollars for foreign tourists, 40 dollars for those resident in Rwanda while Rwandan nationals pay 4,000 Rwandan francs for adult and 2,000 francs for students.
Anaclet Budahera, a tourist warden in volcanic region told Xinhua that the official opening of the caves followed free site visits to orient people from across the world about the caves.
"The excitement is remarkable and we expect to get more tourists as the caves are unique for Rwanda," said Budahera.
Musanze residents are expected to benefit from the caves through jobs as guards, cleaners, and tour guides.
The cave is said to be the newest tourism product in Rwanda with plans to turn several other caves into tourism sites in the future.
According to Rica Rwigamba, the head of Rwanda Tourism and Conservation at Rwanda Development Board, the target is to increase tourism products; and caves are part of products on offer.
HISTORY OF THE CAVES
Legend shows that Musanze caves were created by King Ruganzu who reigned from Burundi.
Ruganzu is said to have been called to replace his father King Ndahiro Cyamatare but Burundians were not happy with his reign and wanted to attack the king.
But apparently Ruganzu was given a stick by his aunt and asked to lay it down or hit ground with it so as to get an underground escape.
It is therefore believed according to folk stories that Ruganzu created the caves in that way.
However, geographically Musanze cave is said to have been a result of volcanic eruption thousands of years ago.
An old man who gave his name only as Kanyamihigo 83, told Xinhua that from his childhood people used the caves in various activities such as for prayers and meeting place.
The old man also acknowledges that nobody really knows the source of the caves despite a common myth that they were created by King Ruganzu, when he was fleeing enemies.
"You young man, people enjoyed visiting the caves, they used to come with logs that they used to light fire inside the caves. I am unhappy I have lived to see them transformed into tourism site. The caves are really worth visiting," he said.
The caves are home to large bat colonies and host some incredible variety of plants, shrubs and trees at the entrance.
Even after the caves, there is still plenty of adventure to be experienced in this northern part of Rwanda; including the Buhanga Eco-park which was a place for coronation of Rwandan former kings, the twin lakes namely Burera and Ruhondo in Burera district and Virunga lodge also in Burera district which was built in a traditional way.