Blogs from Parc National des Volcans, Province du Nord, Rwanda, Africa - page 3


Hi few! It seems the blog is not read much but for those who follow,here goes: Forget about photos... Dial up modems everywhere and so it is impossible to upload anything and often keyboards are unpractical... Rwanda is amazing: pure beauty... Thousands of hills bordered by terraces where coffee, bananas grow in the sun when it is not raining for the daily two hours... As I was not forking 500$ to go see Gorillas for one hour, I went and stayed over in Kigali the capital... Nice times just enjoying the local foods and sights (very few) such as the real "hotel Rwanda"... Rwanda is a absolutely amazing and beautiful country where people like to smile and welcome you... Yet 16 years ago something went real wrong and it is almost impossible to imagine people running ... read more

If your planning a trip to the third world of Rwanda make sure you have the 60 dollars US for your visa, but don't worry if you only have the copy of your application on your iPhone - that's no problem in Rwanda. The acceptance of the iPhone for our visa verification was just the start of many wonderful surprises about this little land locked "jewel in the crown" in the heart of Central Africa. But we were both just a little worried when Ian was still inside immigration and C was escorted to the other side to try and cash a travellers cheque! Eventually a cash ATM prevailed - we got it sorted but it made for an interesting start. The rest of the first day we just slid into afternoon siesta in our sort ... read more

Rwanda is a beautiful country, the roads are fantastic and the people are really friendly, the children wave and call out “how are you?”. The best day we have had on the whole trip was in the rainforest of the Parc National Des Volcans where we went gorilla trekking. With thick rainforest blocking our way, the tracker used a machete to cut down the forest to make a path, while we walked up to our knees in undergrowth and stinging nettle. We were lucky to be visiting the Susa group, the largest and most famous of the seven habituated groups. What made our visit even more special is that this group is usually the hardest to reach, normally you need to trek for 3-4 hours up the slopes of Karisimbi at an altitude of more than ... read more
The other young twin enjoying a snack
At Hotel de Milles Colline, Hotel Rwanda fame
Hanging from the trees

Kudos to Rwanda Air for their inflight food and beverage service. A happy Heather got full meals on both our flights with them. Shame shame Air Canada. En route from Kili to Kigali we flew over the massive Lake Victoria. For the majority of a two hour flight we seemed to be above the lake. As we came in to land in Kigali we noticed a lot of shiny squares. A little more descending and we realized it was all of the aluminium roofs on the houses. We landed and got through customs with no issues and met our guide Hamadi. He gave us a city tour of Kigali, highlighting all of the new building that’s happening - buildings and roads. A huge portion of the city is either new or still being built, a lot ... read more
Rwanda countryside
mother and baby
You want to do what?

Our friend Francoise invited us to her daughter’s traditional Rwandese wedding in Kigali. We attended with another couple from the Embassy that also knows Francoise. The wedding was located in a different area of Kigali, and we arrived 45 minutes late due to being lost. However, the wedding began two hours late, so we were actually early. The first part of the wedding was the dowry negotiation, and the seating was divided into two sections (one for the bride’s guests and one for the groom’s) that faced each other. In between the seating for guests, there were couches covered in cowhide skins and standing grass panels and baskets. All at once, the groom’s party entered the yard and warm sodas and beer were served to all guests. An hour long negotiation ensued between the two male ... read more

I knew I had booked into the cheapest place in town in Musanze as I was the only Muzungu in the place and the rest of the occupants were tour guides! I had a day to kill in Musanze so I updated my blogs and arranged a lift to the Gorillas with Amahoro tours, fortunately I was able to join a group which meant I spent US$15 instead of $80. The next day I was up bright and early 05:30 to be ready for my pick up at 06:00, the LP said we had to get there for 07:00 otherwise you would lose your place and waste US$500 - this turned out to be rubbish as the rangers were still hanging about at 08:00. By 06:30 I had been waiting at the guest house since 06:00 ... read more
My close up meeting
Charles - The Silverback
My David Attenborough pose

I'm not sure there are words enough to describe just how absolutely mind-blowingly amazing an experience it was to see Mountain Gorillas in the wild last week. Even now thinking about it my chest is tightening as I remember how close I got to these magnificent creatures that really do look like humans dressed up in hairy suits. We visited the Hirwa group in Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda. Hirwa is the Silverback and his name means Lucky in the local language. It is a relatively new group, formed just a few years ago when this hotty of a gorilla stole himself a harem of lovely gorilla ladies and made them all pregnant within 2 years. The group has now got 12 members including 5 babies, each of which are incredibly fluffy, playful and adorable. ... read more
Our trekking group
Eating eucalyptus bark

So, my Grand Gorilla Adventure turned out to be pretty much a bust! It was 10 minutes of “Gorillas in the Mist” followed by 30 minutes of “Gorillas in the Torrential Downpour”. I didn’t get many good photos at all and not a single photo of me with a gorilla in the background. The more evolved, philosophical, Buddish side of me says “that’s the way it goes”, “who can predict nature?”, “at least I saw 10 good minutes of Rwandan mountain gorillas which is more than most people ever get”. The other 70% of me (it’s a tight contest for control on most days and today it's fairly lopsided) says “what the &^%*#? I paid $500 @%*!&ing dollars for a gorilla permit, got 10 good minutes, then got soaking wet and muddy!” Let me start from ... read more
Scenery on the way to the park boundary wall
Scenery on the way to the park boundary wall
Sabyino Volcano

I saw gorillas today. As close to me, from my seat at the bar, as the barman is now, with the silverback about as far away as the TV on the other side of the bar. And they were the most unfazed wildlife I’ve ever encountered, ignoring us even when the guides spoke in low voices. The youngster nearest me watched me change the battery in my camera at one point, but that was one of the very few times I saw any indication that they were even aware of our presence. But I get ahead of myself. I knew three things about tourists tracking eastern mountain gorillas before I arrived in East Africa in the wee sma’ hours last Monday morning. You can do it in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC (assuming the latter isn’t ... read more
first sight of the gorillas
some of the Kwitonda group
totally unperturbed by our presence

Today we enter Rwanda, a country filled with excitement because they represent the home of the gorillas for us, but a place also filled with distant recollections of the Rwandan genocide which happened only 15 years ago. Driving into the country, the scenery changes dramatically, the low-lying plains of Uganda replaced with narrow valleys and steep hillsides - all utilised for agriculture. Rarely have I seen cultivated land so high up... the land is filled with tea plantations and other food crops, and the locals toiling in the fields stop their work and watch us as we pass. Our first stop is the capital city, Kigale, which occupies a commanding position on a hill amid a series of dramatic valleys. We go to the genocide museum, established in the aftermath of the violence to fuel reconcilliation ... read more

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