We were immediately impressed by the smooth and efficient process irrespective of the construction going on all around us.
We immediately crossed the waterfall and proceeded pass blue tented refugee camps to the green country hillside on a lovely tarred road.
All too soon we realised we were traveling on the wrong side of the road (left) with oncoming traffic heading head on for us.
Driving on the right hand side was going to have its challenges as T4A didn't warn or accommodate this or the "wrong" way around the roundabouts.
Except for the odd other vehicle from time to time the road was quiet and we were sightseeing the lovely countryside with its patchwork of fields against the hills and the rice paddies in the low lying areas. The villages and towns were completely different from what we have seen through the countries we have travelled up to now. No plastic bags were seen anywhere, no litter of any nature around, the shops were proper built shops, no pavement trading and a patch of lawn and gardens at most of the residential properties.
Kigali delivered even more pleasant surprises. Ordered traffic, beautiful gardens, wide streets, traffic lights that flash the seconds before changing and residential estates and properties that take your breath away.
We soon realised Garmin and T4A were not to relying around
here as we kept on missing the "One love" accommodation and campsite, we could see it from the road, but were taken around every time and that still on the "wrong" side of the road. On arrival even the campsites were marked off
with hedged shrubs. This posed a new challenge for our camping as we can't carry the Cruiser (Tiny) over the gardening so once again we had to sleep on "the road inn". Determined to look for another campsite the next day, we went
to bed after a cold shower, but at least clean and fresh.
The next morning we set out exploring and headed to the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
Nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to
experience during this day. If we were impressed by what we have seen and experienced the previous day, even more so now.
The facility were well laid out and the exhibition the best we have came across ever. We wandered and reflected through the gardens and listened to the symbolisation of it all. One million people died in this event in one hundred days. Once inside it became more real and intense with the top class exhibitions and all audio vision on display. At the children's hall one can not help to
stand in front of some of the photos and while reading the information about the likes and character of these innocent kids that were killed purely because of
being born to the "wrong" tribe or relationship be dumbstruck at this act of
cruel to humanity. Then moving to the next room and seeing the
hundreds of skulls of unidentified individuals.....
Only to realise the lists of names on the wall of remembrance does not even reflect the unaccounted victims. The original photos hanging neatly on the walls were in most cases the only ones left that the affected families had of their
We headed to the Nyamata and Ntarama Genocide memorials just out
of town. At Nyamata our guide Anita,was one of the survivors of this
Genocide site. She was 12 years old in 1994 and managed to escape and
lived with her 2 little sisters in the nearby swamps for a month. Her
parents were not survivors of this gruesome act. All the clothes and personal belongings are still untouched and the walls, roof and altar bears the signs and marks of this gruesome event, 10 000 victims killed in this church
Gathered in and around this church for most of them to be murdered. The mass graves outside without tombstone or names quietly bare the evidence, and once taken into the underground tombs where rows and rows of skulls each telling their own tale of torturing by the damage, either by machete, bullet wounds or crashed marks, one can only try to relate to this cruel massacre of people.
Anita's way of conveying the message was moving and passionate and demonstrates the power of forgiveness and the strive of a nation to be Rwandans and no more Hutus and Tutsi's and putting the past behind them.
After this emotional experience one could not help to look at all Rwandans through different eyes and wondering what were you doing when all of this happened?
Where you a perpetrator or a victim?
How do you live with what you have done or survived?
Back in Kigali it was once again ourselves vs the GPS information to try and find alternative accommodation, too no avail. Early on Saturday morning we set out to Bourbons Cafe and happened to land up next to ex Zimbabweans who have been here for the past 5 years and although they also did not know where the Rwanda youth hostel was (with camping) they could direct us to the Tourism Information Office who since have moved offices and were no longer as per Garmin and T4A information. At the ORTPN offices the lady was very helpful with info and brochures and directed us by map to the Rwanda Youth Hostel where we could camp and utilise their fast Wi fi to upload all the necessary. Unfortunately the price of visiting the Guerrillas seems to be far more expensive in Rwanda than in the neighbouring Uganda.
Overall we enjoy the experience of a first world city, the beautiful gardens and modern architecture stretched over the rolling hills that Kigali, the capital and even more so now that we have decent accommodation.
After relaxing in the City environment we took the road to the South to visit the Nyungwe National Park, the distance being only 108km, but driving, 198 kms and a driving time of 3h50. We left the advanced city behind and as we drove around the bendy up and downhill's the rural countryside landscape was a patchwork of agricultural activity. Rice paddies in the low riverbeds, potatoes, beans and other vegetables for household consumption, pineapples and banana plantations and as we climbed to higher altitudes coffee and tea plantations.
All neatly laid out and being worked by the farmers. Bicycle loads of produce being carried in baskets on their heads or heavily loaded bicycles pushed up the steep uphill's.
The rainforest exceeded our expectations as the luscious greenery
can not be described and photography does not do justice to this
environment. We stopped ever so often along the pass to take a look at the
breath taking views which by now were starting to be covered by
clouds drifting in, making it even more beautiful. We passed the
walkway to the origin of the Nile and the spot being the water separation
for river flows in Africa. We reached the campsite of the park and
although the facilities were not justifying the fees remotely, the views were
out of this world and our hosts went all the way to assure our comfort. We had a comprehensive demonstration of how to use and work a pedal dustbin as there could be no uncertainty due to language barriers.
After sitting around the campfire they made especially for us we got into bed to wake up during the night to a downpour of note and the next morning was the first time in a long time we had to get our biffs and warm jackets out as it was so cold so close to the equator.
Due to the still rainy conditions we abandoned the idea of the canopy walk and drove to the town of Rusizi bordering Burundi on the one side and Congo on the other.
On our way we came along a troop of the scarce Colobus Monkeys and they were quite comfortable with a private photo shoot before moving on.
The stunning views of Lake Kivu was deceiving once you start reading about the potential danger of "exploding" and the dangerous CO2 gasses under pressure just under the surface.
We had a lovely lunch at a little French hotel on the lakeside before moving to the border. Here you could sense the restlessness through the hustle and bustle of pedestrians crossing and on our way back to Kigali we passed the refugee camps.
Back at the campsite in Kigali we attempted the Moto moto taxis to city centre and explored the other parts of the city, some other famous buffet lunches, and paid a visit to the SA embassy to start the process of Sudan visa's. We were also happy to upgrade to IOS 7 as the internet speeds here still leaves us astonished.
So, all washing done and packed we are ready to leave early tomorrow morning to do the northern part of the Congo Nile track up north on the lakeside of lake Kivu to Uganda and the Gorillas.
After spending time with the locals and other guests around the bonfire watching the full moon rise we set off to our last night on Rwandan
The next morning we ordered Caffe Latte at the upmarket hotel on
the main street, only to be served with two flasks, one with coffee and the
other with milk.
After the 24km drive to the border, all documents stamped and
ready to leave, Rui first had to provide a valid drivers license once again
before they would open the boomgate to leave this country that pleasantly
got onto the ferry and we watched a mother of all storms building up, could not
help to wonder why, whenever we set foot on a ferry there was always a storm
building up. We crossed the Equator
completely unaware of it after we looked so forward to doing it and after about
3 hours we set foot on land in Entebe.
Much to our surprise, in the town of Entebbe you can at any given time spot at least one UN vehicle and always a volunteer of some or other organization.
I would suppose it is due to the above that we found this part of Uganda
to be more expensive than the western part. We drove to Entebe airport to see the famous plane of the movie Operation Entebbe and were surprised by the fleet of UN vehicles, all the latest, biggest and newest models, not even to speak about the planes and helicopters occupying one part of the airport.
After a drive to Kampala we decided to stay at Entebbe and move from here to
Jinja. The city traffic seems worse than the famous Dar Es Salaam traffic.
FOR RWANDA FOTOS: