Blogs from Province du Nord, Rwanda, Africa

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Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord February 26th 2019

I travel quite light, if not very light compared to those who schlepp mega suitcases around every airport. Apart from my riding gear i have a small bag, 40 x 40 x 25 cm that contains all I need. I can’t fit my bag into the top box without dividing things into three pieces of luggage, two plastic bags and my bag. Had I checked it out before I left I’d brought my own luggage, but the again it’s a German bloke who owns the company and he should know that you need some luggage space, but sadly the only one to blame is myself. I left with a slight drizzle that soon stopped, Thank you Dog for that. I navigating using my phone and maps.me and as usual the app or as in other cases ... read more
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Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord December 12th 2018

It was a special moment, I stared at Ubumwe open mouthed with awe. He looked me in the eye, decided I was boring, and turned away to munch his fistful of nettles. I’ve bored a few people over the years, but I’d never had a 500lb mountain gorilla decide I was dull. It’s all David Attenborough’s fault. When she was eleven years old my wife saw him rolling in the grass with these wonderful animals and a dream was born. That inspiration, allied with a judicious tax rebate, got us to Rwanda after an amazing safari in Kenya. We viewed the trip as a once in a lifetime experience (to justify the expense of it) and booked with Steppes Travel who gave us a first class, hassle free, experience. After we landed in Kigali we were ... read more
Silver back
A house near the parc National des Volcans
Odette and Feza

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord August 31st 2018

Up early again. 0530 knock on the door wake up call. Quick shower, dressed and packed for our day out with Jason Dunstall.....The Silverbacks are calling us. Breakfast, pack a snack box and into the car for our exciting day. Still unsure what to expect but the day is clear and not too hot. What do you wear for such a day. Well ours started at the breakfast table where one of the staff fitted our long gaiters we had hired from the lodge. Lucky for us as it was a bit trickier that I thought. Strapped in and out to our waiting car. Back down the rocky road and off to the park headquarters where we have to register and be allocated to a group of 8 people all eager to see these mountain gorillas. ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord August 30th 2018

Today we left our Kigali hotel to head up into the mountains. But first we did a drive around Kigali looking at a few sights and onto the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre for an audio tour. Our driver (Yassin) had given us a few bits of information about the genocide of 1994 but said he would let us find out more from the centre itself. You get a map and audio guide and work through at your own pace. I won’t go into too much detail here, but the displays and commentary were pretty graphic. A little bit of history. Rwanda was made up of 3 tribes/clans, the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The Hutu made up around 84%, Tutsi 15% and the Twa 1%. This split was also used to make up the ruling parties, etc. ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord March 21st 2016

The day had finally arrived; I was going to see ‘my’ gorillas in Volcano’s National Park in Rwanda. I have been coveting this travel experience for over 15 years and it was hard not to bounce around like Tigger from Winnie-The-Pooh, so I focused very much on trying to be calm (yoga breathing helped) but not sure I really pulled off the 'zen'! We got to the entrance to Volcano's National Park, saw some traditional Rwandan performers and dancers welcoming us and then met our guide Ignacio who gave us the briefing. Trackers had left before dawn to find the individual family locations and once our group got to them, we would get to spend an hour with them. We were to be very quiet, and to stay 7 metres away from them and not do ... read more
Wicked action shot of one of the dancers
The second start of the trek; before the machete came out
Our first silverback

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord March 20th 2016

Today was another long drive but we were on our way to Rwanda! I quickly began singing “We’re off to see the gorillas, the wonderful gorillas of Rwanda” to the Wizard of Oz music, while the extra syllables made it a bit difficult I couldn’t stop. To say I was excited and vibrating with enthusiasm is an understatement; 15 years I'd been waiting for this experience and it was still 24 hours away but I was on a travel/wildlife HIGH! The boarder crossing was relatively painless; we had to physically walk across while Paul and Sam took care of vehicle registrations separately. We stood in line for a while and got asked the same questions by the guard, who after the 4th white Canadian girl finally clued in we were all together (despite our best efforts ... read more
Scaffolding (?)
Fruit markets
Moving market

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord February 9th 2016

Well the rest of the week was spent enjoying my surroundings and cooking my face off. Also turns out that the two workers I was training, Faustin and Katie, had started there one day before me. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!!! So we collaborated a lot on what types of food these guys knew how to cook already and what was possible with the limits of our ingredients and kitchen equipment. Best part about the new situation is that these guys have French in their wheelhouse and a ton of cooking terms are French terms. So that was a lot of fun for me to describe a method in French and have them understand without me having to explain the shit out of every little knife movement or process on how to cook something. Fun! Throughout the ... read more
office area
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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




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