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Published: September 9th 2012
The day after my trek up Mt Sabyinyo, I decided it was time to leave Uganda and head for Rwanda. Rwanda has this curious system of only allowing certain nationalities get visas at the border, Ireland not being one of them. For some reason they insist we complete an online pre-application, before being allowed arrive at the border to get your visa. This is despite the fact that you have to fill in a from at the border, giving the exact same information.
This wouldn’t have been a big deal except for the Rwandan Immigration’s website having been offline for the previous few days. It is supposed to take a few days to process and I rang the Rwandan embassy in Kampala to see what I should do. They helpfully advised me that there should be no problem with the website. Another Irish guy I had met had recently had the same problem but had managed to get through the border. So, with this information, together with the fact that Kisoro is only a 15 minute boda boda ride to the Cyanika border post, I resolved to chance my arm at the border. The only issue was that
the Irish guy I had met had a flight booked out of Bujumbura in Burundi a few days after he arrived at the border and genuinely needed to get through in order to get this flight. Crucially, he had the printed out ticket to prove it.
So having checked out of my hostel, where one of the staff insisted on accompanying me out to the road to negotiate my fare on a boda boda to the border, ensuring I wasn’t ripped off, I arrived at the Uganda – Rwanda border. I got stamped out of Uganda and made my way over to the Rwandan side. Having completed my form, the official asked me for my confirmation print out of having applied online. I advised him of my attempts, which had been thwarted by the gremlins at work in the Rwandan Immigration’s website. He refused to believe that such a glitch could occur, but I pleaded with him that I had a flight in a couple of days from Kigali, which if I didn’t get through the border today, I would miss. This, of course, was a complete spoof and he called my bluff, asking me for my
airline ticket. I was soon after back in the Ugandan Immigration office asking them to cancel my stamp out of the country and within an hour of checking out of Golden Monkey, was checking back in.
There are definitely worse places in the world to be stuck in than Kisoro and I enjoyed the extra time I spent there. There is not a whole lot to the town itself, but it is surrounded by some beautiful scenery and there is a fairly easy going atmosphere about the place. The day after my failure to cross the border, I walked out of the town in the direction of Lake Mutanga. This took me through some very rural villages into some hills, where after a while the lake appears below you.
I thought Lake Mutanga to be even more stunning than Lake Bunyonyi, but then my opinion could be influenced by the gorgeous, sunny day I enjoyed. It took just over an hour to reach the lake and I approached the local school just as their day was over. These schoolchildren seemed to have been taught the Ethiopian way of begging as I was constantly harassed
for pens and money. This didn’t really affect my mood, it just surprised me as, I hadn’t had to endure much of this since leaving Ethiopia. I spent some time in and out of the lake, which was also bilharzia free. I literally had the lake to myself, as well the guy who worked at the Community Campsite, who joined me for a swim.
The next day, I woke up and as I was considering how I was going to occupy myself for the day, I checked my emails, only to discover my online approval to get the Rwandan visa had come through. Once again, I checked out of Golden Monkey, got stamped out of Uganda, filled in the same details I had given online and this time, entered into Rwanda having paid the $30 visa fee.
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