Total KMS travelled so far: 19,318
The first thing that struck us about Rwanda (other than how mountainous the “country of 1,000 hills” is with greenery all around) was how neat and orderly most things seemed to be compared with other countries in Africa? The government of Paul Kigame has certainly kept a tight reign on things after the 1995 genocide – including law and order, tidiness and not even allowing plastic bags to be sold!
As we rolled into the capital Kigali we felt that it almost looked European. Traffic lights even! The traffic was orderly and even driving Tin Can on the right hand side of the road for the first time was not too difficult.
We stayed at the One Love Guesthouse GPS where we had to camp in the car park, but it is the only camping in Kigali. It was OK but the room they gave us to shower in was pretty basic and cold water only. Rwanda in general, we found, is not exactly geared towards independent camping. Hotels and guesthouses are the norm and campsites are difficult to find.
After getting the rear brake protectors welded up (for $30 at a good place with a French proprietor Tony who helped with ideas of where to go in Rwanda also – AZ Impex Ltd GPS S01*57”762’ E 30*04”712’in the industrial area ), we searched for the Rwanda Tourist Office in order to get some maps of Rwanda and information of which we had little. This proved rather difficult, but eventually we found them in the rear of a new RDB (Rwanda Development Board) building GPS S01*57”282’ E 30*06”185’on the airport road. Maps in hand and Tin Can fixed, we planned our next route to Kibuye and Gisenyi on Lake Kivu while enjoying an (expensive) cup of coffee at Kisali Airport which we drove to as it was close to RDB and knew it was the only spot where coffee might be had.
Kibuye is a beautiful spot on the shores of Lake Kivu. The tar road from Kigali is good and the trip only takes 21/2 hours. Once again we could not find camping sites and ended up staying at a very comfortable lodge/hotel called Moriah Hill Resort which stands on a finger of land jutting out into the lake for the princely sum of USD$100. The room and hot showers were great though! The view west across the lake towards the Democratic Republic of the Congo was stunning.
Next day we took a rough gravel track north from Kibuye towards Gisenyi (100Kms took 4 hours). However it was stunning scenery- passing rolling hils with tea plantations covering the hills and dairy cattle herds reminiscent of Europe!
Gisenyi is a much larger place on Lake Kivu’s shores and it took us a while to find a camping option (in the carpark once again) of a place called Paridis Malahide Resort. Pretty comfortable with hot showers – and we were treated to a Rwandan dance group performance that night put on for the other guests!
After Gisenyi we headed to Musanze and the nearby village up the mountain called Kinigi , which is the National Park HQ for gorilla tracking in the rainforest on the slopes of Sabyinyo volcanoe. We decided not to spend the USD$700 each for the privilege of 1 hour with the gorillas! Instead we opted for tracking Golden Monkeys for the saner price of $100 each! We stayed at a lodge called Kinigi Asoferwa Lodge GPS S 01*25”954’ E29*35”904’ right next to the NP HQ- where we could have camped in the carpark for $5 but opted for one of their rooms at $65 as the weather was cold (12*C) at night at the 2600m altitude we were at. Next morning an enjoyable 4 hours was spent tracking Golden Monkeys with 3 guides and about 6 “Muzungas”. Quiet and pretty things, but damn hard to photograph – as they flit amongst the trees and bamboo. They are very rare and only about 200 left in Rwanda.
After the monkeys, we drove the 35kms to the Rwanda/Uganda border at Cyanika. This is a very quiet, seldom used border post and was basically a delight without the usual trucks and buses and crowds. We passed through in about 1 hour with no real hassle, but did meet a Canadian coming the other way who had not known to get his Rwandan visa approval number before arriving and was having a lot of trouble. (He eventually got in 3 hours and some phone calls later).
The charming thing about the Rwanda border at Cyanika is that only the driver of the vehicle is allowed to drive across. Everyone else has to walk across the border (including the President of Rwanda if he turns up we were told). So Marianne had to walk across! Apparently its to do with a car bomb which went off on the border a few years ago, but how kicking out the passengers reduced the risk of bomb attack remains a mystery?
Rwanda was a brief sojourne of less than a week (it is a very small country), but we enjoyed it more than many other countries. Very well organised, obviously progressing well in the 15 year’s recovery after the genocide and with huge amounts of International aid poured in as a “conscience” gesture. The Rwandan people are friendly and honest, but the kids are very curious and one has 10 around 5 minutes after stopping at the roadside! The scenery is stunning and green after the dry Tanzanian savannah.
Lets hope Uganda has as much to offer? ….
More pictures of Rwanda in the gallery at: https://picasaweb.google.com/110392977689469430264/Rwanda”>