A troubled past and a bright future in Rwanda
Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
33Trip End Apr 14, 2010
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We have spent only 4 days in Rwanda but they have been very memorable. The main reason we are here is to see the protected Mountain Gorillas and see them we did. We crossed into Rwanda from Uganda on June 26th after a very long day of driving. Our guide and driver got a bit lost and we didn't get into our campsite in the city of Ruhengeri till 10:30pm (we left at 6am from our campsite in Queen Elizabeth Park!). It was quite a long day of driving and our day included another border crossing (and fresh piping hot samosas!!) which added some time on to our day as well. Oh well, our group is getting along quite well on the bus so at least we had a few laughs on that long, long day. Late supper (11:30pm)then to bed and early to rise as we were getting picked up at 7am and taken to a central meeting point before departing for the gorillas
This is part of the bright future for Rwanda as these tourists bring in tens of millions of dollars into the country each year. They also now have a stable government (not corrupt we were told) and there has been lots of foreign aid since the end of the genocidal wars. Crossing in from Uganda, we sure noticed how the buildings and houses seemed much newer and things seemed better off than from their neighboring country.
After driving for about an hour, past many more little kids that waved feverishly at our van and yelled to us, we started our hike at the bottom of a valley with our guide and two well-armed (AK-47’s) Rwandan army guards. That made your head turn but they were there to protect us in case there was an incident with poachers . I guess there is still the odd occurrence of poaching. The area that we hiked in was intensely farmed. The bottom half of the hillsides had terraced fields and there were the occasional stick houses with grass thatched roofs scattered amongst the fields
From this point, began the thick jungle in which the gorillas live. Lots of tall grass, bamboo, shrubs and many big trees covered in moss. Oh yeah, and lots of stinging nettles that burn quite severely and have no problems getting through one layer of pants, socks and a shirt. Ouch!!! The pain lasts for about 15 minutes but you don’t notice the pain as much when the gorillas are right in front of you. The jungle was very dense and we followed a small trail till we met up with 4 men who were the gorilla trackers. They walk up each day, find the gorillas and stay with them till dark before heading home so that the gorillas are easy to find the next day for the tourists.
We had a short walk thankfully, about 30mins, through the stinging nettles till we met up with our first female gorilla
Our last day in Rwanda was travelling into Kigali and visiting the Genocide Museum. It was a very sad thing to see and unbelievable that people could treat each other like that
That was it for Rwanda for us. We got back into Uganda that same day and this will be the end of this blog. It was a short but great stay for us and would recommend this adventure to anyone with a sense of adventure. Take care everyone. We miss everyone back home and look forward to skyping anyone that wants to give us a shout.
Mike and Kim
Meal of the Week: Nothing exciting as most of our meals were cooked on our tour bus. A small highlight for us were the spicy border-crossing mystery meat samosas. Spicy meat, onion, chillies and a bit of potato. They were delicious and were only 33 cents each.