Your visit to Rwanda should not be just about the mountain gorillas and Chimpanzees but also the captivating Rusumo waterfalls found along the Kagera River, on the Rwanda-Tanzania border. The falls are said to be part of the far headwaters of River Nile and are interestingly popular for the majestic views of the Valley it offers from the Rusumo Bridge as well as the historical significance it holds much as it is not as beautiful and of significant height as the other waterfalls in the country.
Rusumo waterfalls are about 15 meters (49 feet) high and over 40 meters (130 feet) wide and were formed on the Precambrian schists and quartzophyllites, and form the only bridging point on the River within the area. Historically, the site was the scene of the first arrival of Europeans in Rwanda in 1894 when the German Governor and Explorer- Count Gustav Adolf von Götzen (12 May 1866 – 2 December 1910) entered Rwanda from the neighboring Tanzania while proceeding to the Palace of Mwami (King) at Nyanza, onwards to the shores of Lake Kivu.
Therefore, the Belgians also accessed the country through the Rusumo waterfalls when overtaking the country during the First World War in 1916 and it is said that during that time, the Bridge at Rusumo was the sole available way of crossing the river. After taking over the positions within the surrounding Hills, the Belgians were able to displace the guards with mounted artillery while opening the path used in invading the remaining parts of the country.
The waterfalls are said to have hidden all the armor (beneath the site) when the Belgians took over the country in the late 1930s but are thought to be a Memorial Park that gained International recognition because it is where bodies of victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide floated through the area and is also where thousands of refugees lost their lives while attempting to cross the border to Tanzania. It is therefore obvious that the falls and Bridge were one of the first places for mass outflows of the Great Lakes refugee crisis. River Kagera drains water from all parts of Rwanda except the far west and eventually carried the corpses are discarded into the rivers across the country hence leading to the declaration of a state of emergency in places around the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda.
Rusumo waterfalls lies within Akagera National Park, one of the four Protected Areas in Rwanda and is usually explored by tourists interested in encountering big five animals (lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos), crocodiles, giraffes, antelopes (Topis, elands, waterbucks, bushbucks and oribis), warthogs and hippos among others. It is also from River Kagera that this magnificent National Park derived its name and visiting the waterfalls means you can also get the chance to explore the beauty of this Conservation Area.