Blogs from Parc National des Volcans, Province du Nord, Rwanda, Africa

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We bet Sigourney Weaver never fell on her butt when she checked out gorillas Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda is the home of the country's claim of fame, the mountain gorillas. The Volcanoes National Park covers a mountainous area where there are several volcanoes. The rugged slopes of these mountains, slopes covered with dense vegetation, is the environment the gorillas like to call home. They move around in large family groups spending most of the time eating it seemed like to us. The gorillas have no natural enemies so they can devout all their time to eating and relaxing. We suppose they could consider taking up a hobby or do sports as well but we haven't heard that any gorillas have done that yet. From what we understand they eat and then they eat more ... read more
Mountain gorilla
Young gorilla
Close-up


Day 3 When we awoke in the morning, it was cold and still dark. We gathered up all our things and headed for breakfast, not that we could face much at 6am. On our way to the meeting point, we passed a large field that had a stage being built in it. Our guide explained that this was for a visit by the president on Saturday, when they would be naming the newly born gorillas that had been born in the park, and local people dressed in gorilla outfits. At the meeting place and there was tea and coffee if we wanted it, and the guide took our passports to get the permits. We would be joining a group of upto 8 people for the trek. Whilst we were waiting for the permits to be issued, ... read more
Meeting place for the mornings activities
This is the group we are told we are about to trek to including a pair of twins!
First prep talk on the foot of the mountain


Day 1/2 After an 8 hour flight into Nairobi, where they are 2 hours ahead, we caught a flight to Kigali which briefly landed in Burundi for passengers! The time difference in Rwanda is only 1 hour ahead of home. We collected our bags, we were met by Joe our Driver to take us to the Volcanoes National Park, which was a further 2 1/2 hour drive. The country is actual very mountainous, so to get there, we went up some quite steep roads, which aren't easy when you are behind a truck carrying bricks. We passed through lots of villages, and you know you are in Africa because: 1. Women balance their shopping on their heads, or chairs or anything really 2. 50% of people don't wear shoes 3. The children always smile and wave ... read more
What better way to transport your goods to market, than on your head
Local taking his goats for a walk
Taxi Rwanda style


This morning was the long-awaited gorilla trek and it did not disappoint! We made our way through the forest to reach the location of one of the gorilla families (the second largest family in Rwanda.) It was a completely different terrain than yesterday's volcano trek, but just as muddy. Good thing the hotel staff cleans our boots! Anyways, back to gorillas. There were 23 gorillas in the family, including one silverback, some adults, some juveniles and some babies. First thing we saw was two gorillas doing the hanky panky. I guess they wanted to put on a show for us, so I filmed it and Tyson called me a pornographer. Hehehe. We stayed with the gorillas for a full hour. While we were there, our guides kept communicating with them to let them know that we ... read more
Baby and mama
Gorilla trekking in the forest
Silverback having a snack


So we made it to Musanze today for our volcano trek at the Parc national des volcans. I actually felt pretty safe while I was there (and hopefully I will feel the same way tomorrow for the gorilla trek). Might be because we were accompanied by 6 armed members of the RDF. The Bisoke volcano is about 13,000 feet high, but we started at an altitude of 8,000 feet (Rwanda is high in the sky!) It took us 8 hours, but we made it to the top and back down again. It was cold and rainy at the summit, so no great pics came from that. Holy frigg it was a hard trek. Very physically demanding given that we hadn't really slept in 2 days, the high altitude we were at and no real breakfast or ... read more
Summit
Bisoke Trail


Today Anne climbed a volcano and I received an armed escort out of the park. After arriving at the Volcano National Park and conducting a brief meet-and-greet with the guides and 5 other hike-mates we set off to the base of Bisoke. On the way we were treated to an extensive Rwandan massage (getting repeatedly tossed out of our seats) and joked about how small the volcano was in relation to Kilimanjaro. We joined up with our armed escort (for protection from the 'wildlife') and set off at a rocket-like pace. After the first hill, I was breathing heavily and shortly thereafter regreted making fun of Bisoke's height. When we stopped for our first 'break' we had been climbing for about 1.5 - 2.0 hours with myself and another woman from the UK (coincidently another engineer) ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord » Parc National des Volcans September 29th 2012

Saturday September 29 I took no photos in Kigale. There was so much to digest after the obviously heartbreaking Genocide Memorial and reminders were everywhere in the shape of amputees, some begging. Men on crutches with one leg. A woman with only one finger. Boys whose ages I can match to children I know with only one arm. I felt myself unconsciously cringing at the sight, tears welling in my eyes that I had to rapidly blink away. Our driver, William, tells us as we drive over a bridge that the river below us is where bodies were thrown. I pass boys playing football on a dirt field and wonder how old they are. Who they are and what their childhood was like. I would've been in my mid teens when Rwanda descended into chaos. I ... read more
Snack time
Detail
Gorillas, gorillas, everywhere!


Up at 5.00am, breakfast at 5.45am and met up with my driver who will take my up to Park HQ. After what appears to be some sort of auction process where the guides and drivers all yell how many people they have in their group we are eventually assigned a Gorilla group to see. There are 6 of us that will visit with the Titus group. The guide explained that Titus was the son of Digit, Dianne Fossey's favourite. Titus was known as the kking of the Gorillas and had a very large family of around 35 Gorillas including 6 Silverbacks. His first son Rano was a rambunctious sort and got fed u being kept in line by his father so he split from the family and attempted to take some of the females with him ... read more


I had intended going to the Genocide Memorial in Kigali this morning but had not realised the extent to which Umuganda applies. The streets are completely empty of vehicles, including taxis and motos as every person 18 or over, including the President, is expected to clean up their local area from 8.00am - 11.00am. Will have to put the Genocide Memorial off to another day. Wandered down to the bus station to wait for my bus to Musanze and got talking to a 20 year old Rwandan Engineering Student. His story was a pretty harrowing one with him and his sister being orphaned in the 1994 genocide. He was 2 and she just 8 months old at the time. Some how he made it from Musanze, in the north of Rwanda to the UN camps in ... read more




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