As we left Tanzania behind us and entered into Rwanda at Rusumo, the brand new border post being built at Resumo.
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 was 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 loved ones.
We headed to the Nyamata and Ntarama Genocide memorials just out of town. At Nyamata our guide was
Anita, 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 compound .
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 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 occupy 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 apatchwork of agriculture activity. Rice paddies in the low riverbeds, potatoes, beans and other vegetables for household consumption, pineapples and bananaplantations 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 do 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 cam 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
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.