Cultural tourism that connects you to rural Rwanda
Azizi Life Experiences is a social enterprise that offers visitors to Rwanda the unique opportunity to really connect and gain insight into the life of rural Rwandans and their families. Through a range of different cultural experience days, you get to not only see something of the beauty and rigor of daily life, but also experience it. It’s a truly interactive way to learn about Rwandan culture! Azizi Life Experiences currently offers six distinctive Experience Days.
Azizi Life’s office is located in Muhanga town, about one hour by car or bus from Kigali on the main Kigali-Huye road. Azizi Life celebrates the beauty of connections that bring a fair wage to hard-working Rwandan artisans and give you a glimpse into someone else’s world.
The Azizi Life Experience morning begins with a drive to a nearby village, where you and your Azizi Life interpreter are welcomed by the ladies of the weaving cooperative. After introductions , a morning of family chores begins. You might help out in the kitchen, collect water from the valley spring, cut grass for the farm animals and get out in the fields for a seasonal agricultural activity.
At noontime, you share a simple local meal with your host family, with plenty of time to chat and learn about each other’s lives. After lunch, you join with the artisan cooperative for an afternoon of weaving. You get to learn how to harvest and prepare the natural fibers, and then the artisans teach you how to create your own piece of sisal jewelry. It is great sitting with the ladies as you weave and laugh together.
The day finishes back at the Azizi Life office, with a cold Fanta and a chance to think back over the highlights of the day. There you can browse through some of the beautiful crafts made by the Azizi Life artisans and do a little fair trade shopping.
You may have seen the high rise buildings in Kigali, but this Azizi Life Experience is your chance to learn something about the traditional building techniques, some of them used since the times of the King. In the morning you start with collecting water and soil then you are taught how to make mud bricks. After making your own bricks, you dig the foundations and learn how to lay the bricks in a certain way that ensures the building’s strength.
At this point, you will have built up a bit of an appetite and so everyone stops work and shares a simple home cooked lunch with the host family. In the afternoon, you go and collect banana leaves, then you are taught how to make them into a strong rope that can then be used to lash wood together to make a roof. You finish the day back at the Azizi Life office with a cold Fanta and all the knowledge you need to build your very own mud brick house.
Banana Juice making:
Traditionally shared during weddings and other celebrations, banana juice (and beer!) has long been a central part of Rwandan parties. Although nowadays banana juice can be easily bought from the local store, the traditional technique for making your own brew is a much greater labor of love.
In the morning, of your Azizi Life Experience, you work with your rural host to collect the green bananas and the leaves needed to begin the process. Next you dig a hole and bury the bananas to ripen over time.
After enjoying a simple meal with your host family, you head into the valley to collect water. The ripening process takes four days, but don’t worry, you won’t need to wait. Your hosts will have some already buried bananas for you to dig up. You then peel, mash, and strain the bananas using traditional techniques, and voila- you’ve made authentic banana juice. The day finishes back at the Azizi Life office where the juice is boiled so it is ready for you to taste and take away.
Select from a simple variety of seasonal dishes for your custom traditional cooking experience with a rural mama! Your day begins not in the kitchen but in the fields as you learn seasonal planting or harvesting of fresh ingredients for your traditional meal. Once the ingredients and water have been collected, food preparation begins with washing, peeling, pounding, and grinding the ingredients using traditional methods and tools and this is done in the outdoor kitchen.
Throughout the process, your hostess and the ladies of the local cooperative teach and guide you, always allowing you to experience the day at your own pace. When your meal is ready, it is time to enjoy fruits of your labour with either a fork or with your finger. Sitting in the home of host family, there is plenty of time to chat and learn about each other’s lives.
Whether you have natural rhythm or not, with our expert instructors everyone can enjoy learning traditional drumming and dancing. Your Azizi Life Musical Experience begins with a mini performance from a small troupe of traditional performers. Next, it’s your turn to put on a traditional costume and give it a try. You’ll have fun as the dancersmteach you some basic dance steps and share a bit of the history of Rwandan dance. After some practice time, the expert dance instructors help you put everything together in a performance of your very own. Don’t worry; an Azizi Life team member will be on hand to catch the whole thing on film!
After a break to catch your breath, the drummers will teach you some traditional beats, or you can even do a bit of free styling of your own on the traditional drums. No experience or expertise is necessary; it is simply fun for anyone brave enough to give it a go.
Azizi life Pathways:
Thanks to Rwanda’s lush green hills, beautiful valleys and welcoming people, it may be one of the easiest and most exciting places in East Africa to explore by foot. All around the rural communities, there is already a vast network of paths ready and waiting for you to explore. Local
Guides Enjoy local knowledge and good company as you explore! The guides, who speak English or French, enrich your walk with information on the communities you pass and points of interest.
You can enjoy scenic rural excursion or choose an intown exploration, visiting the local markets and experiencing other aspects of urban life. You can choose the mapped routes or create your own adventure.