Musanze is a district in the northern province of Rwanda. It a major tourism hub in Rwanda because it hosts the Volcanoes National park and this makes it one of the most visited districts in Rwanda since it is a gateway to mountain gorillas that are a major drawcard to the country. From the district name, it is where also the caves get their name-Musanze caves.
The Musanze caves were opened to tourists in 2013 and they have not gained so much popularity because they are in the shadows of the giant apes. They are located at the foothills of Volcanoes national park and have a lot of history on the geology of the area and the 1994 genocide. The intensive volcanic activity that formed the Albertine Rift Valley about 65 million years ago creates this 2km long cave. The cave displays the rocks of the earth. Walkways and stairs have been built inside the cave to support tourism. Before being developed for tourism, the inside was always dark as night, but now lights have been put up to make it safe for visitors.
Outside the cave, are beautiful trees and vegetation that almost covers the whole entrance to the cave. Before visitors enter the cave they are well equipped with many instructions, a hand torch, helmet, headlight, gloves, and you also need a heavy jacket because it is so cool and natural inside the cave.
Archeological research confirms facts that the cave used to be a refuge during traditional warfare and about 2 decades ago during the 1994 genocide. During the facelift of the caves by the Rwanda Development Board so as it can be in a better position to sell as a tourism product, some skulls and skeletons were found. It is believed many lived here for months to hide from the violent times. Some survived and others would die because of less supply of food.
The cave is home to a population of bats that are seen hanging upside down while on a tour inside the cave. The roof collapse that allows entry of an array of natural light, different plants growing on the walls, and on top of the cave make it a beautiful place for photography.
For visitors intending to do gorilla tracking, you can spare some time after or before the activity to visit Musanze caves for the caving experience. They are just 2km away from Volcanoes National Park.