“Amahoro” is Kinyarwanda for “peace.” Literally translated, Amahoro Tours would translate to “Peace Tours.” The word is also used as a form of greeting – to mean “hello.”
At Amahoro Tours, “Amahoro” denotes not just the company’s name, but its motto as well. The company strives at nurturing interaction between members of local communities and visitors with a view to promote sustainable development locally.
Of primary focus to the company is local tour itineraries. “We do it with a view to not only contribute to the economic development of the region and the prosperity of all those involved, but also to raise awareness and help visitors understand better the Rwandan way of life,” explains Greg Bakunzi, the founder and CEO of Amahoro Tours.
This fidelity to the local community out of which it operates has not gone unnoticed.
On September 1, 2017, on the occasion of the 13th baby gorilla naming ceremony (Kwita Izina) in Rwanda, Amahoro Tours and sister company, Red Rocks Rwanda, received a special and rare joint pat on the back. The pat came in the form of the privilege and honor by the founder Greg Bakunzi to be among the 19 distinguished individuals that bestowed names upon the newly-born members of the gorilla family.
This was basically in honor of Amahoro Tours and Red Rock’s firm commitment to a community-based tourism business model that seeks to position the local communities meaningfully at the heart of the tourism food chain.
The inspiration for setting up a tour operation had struck Bakunzi way back in 1997, following his first trip to see gorillas in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda.
Spotting an opportunity, he started working as a freelance local guide the following year, taking tourists to see the mountain gorillas. This went on until 2001, when he created Amahoro Tours.
It is with the creation of Amahoro Tours that Bakunzi attained the clarity of vision that has since helped cement the company’s hard-earned credentials as a community-focused tourism business.
“When I started my own tour company, it was not only for the purpose of gorilla trekking, but a combination of community, tourism, and conservation around the Volcanoes National Park,” Bakunzi said.
Over the years, Amahoro Tours has established itself as a market leader in eco and community-based tourism in Rwanda. The company’s dynamic and tailor-made tour packages have been designed to offer tourists as much interaction with the locals and likeminded visitors as possible, while at the same time enabling guests to enjoy the trappings of nature.
Since then, Amahoro Tours birthed a sister tourism entity, Red Rocks Rwanda, a backpackers’ campsite and hostel located some seven kilometers outside Musanze town, where Amahoro Tours is based.
The introduction of Red Rocks was a well-orchestrated strategy to incorporate the local communities around Volcanoes National Park into the tourism value chain and, as Bakunzi notes, “we are proud that our dreams are coming true.”.
To achieve this, Amahoro Tours works in partnership with an extensive network of likeminded community-based organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, and volunteers from all the far corners of the world.
The company tasks itself with turning a traveler’s sojourn, however brief, into a splendid journey of exploration, “through prompt, efficient, engaging, and safe service,” Bakunzi guarantees.
He concluded: “Amahoro Tours would like to call upon all well-wishers to join hands in order to bring community, conservation, and tourism together for future sustainability. Without the involvement of the local community, our tourism sector won’t move forward, and conservation might soon be history. We invite other conservationists, universities, and institutions, to join us as we move to address conservation issues through tourism initiatives.”