Dave's Rwanda


December 15-21, 2011

The land of 1000 hills...Rwanda is the cleanest and seemingly safest African country that I have been to. For that matter, the cleanest country period- the whole time there I saw two people litter out a car window and 4 pieces of garbage on the side of roads, and that was IT, no other garbage. Who knew?

I have had a plan made for this trip for about two years now (and at that time picked Rwanda over Uganda for now), and was aiming to go within the next two years. When I got laid off in November I sent a note put to my contact in Africa that same day to see if gorilla permits were still available...they were, so GAME ON.

Rwandan Franc US Dollar
1 RWF = 0.00168634 USD 1 USD = 593.000 RWF

Thursday 15th- fly out

Continental #4868 AUS 10:43am to Houston 11:45am
$183 round trip

Delta KLM #662 IAH 4:05pm to Amsterdam 16th 8:15am
$3050 plus $250 change fee plus IAH flights
While it made sense to expand my existing Tanzania trip and put this trip on the front end, I had booked my orginal Delta flight about 10 months ago, so if I bailed on it for a cheaper flight, I would then have about $2000 in Delta credit and only about 2 months to spend it. So doing the math an expensive $3k plus ticket still made sense.

Watched the movie "Bridesmaids" that Jen had recommended and loved it, laugh out loud funny.

The guy in the center seat next to me was an incredibly wide human, spilling over into my seat. I asked if any business class was available and they said it was completely full, but they came back and said I could sit in the crew jump seat if I liked, which helped a little.

Friday 16th- arrive

Some food at the KLM lounge.

KLM #535 10:05am to Kigali 710pm

Upgraded to first class, one of the more comfortable international flights that I've taken in a while. On the previous flight they saw my status and probably rightfully knew I was going to rip customer service apart when I got back, so thank you KLM personnel for stepping up.
Watched the movie "Contagion"- not the best movie to watch as you are headed abroad for almost a month, but perhaps it helped to keep me healthy.

After about 2 days of travel I'm in Rwanda. I will always wish I was on the ground here about 17yrs ago, in uniform and heavily armed, with a US Army Brigade. I'm confident 5000 of us could have saved a million from a brutal death.

Transfer included to the Step Town Motel, $50
#1 of 26

Turns out no one was there to pick me up. A gentleman there was nice enough to let me use his cell phone to call the hotel and I paid them $20 to pick me up.

Comfortable room.

As reviews stated, could use a way to prevent the whole bathroom from getting wet when you shower.

Wiki for Rwanda

Saturday 17th
Kigali and drive to Park

Wiki for Kigali

"Kigali. City tour. You get briefed about your safari and then after lunch leave for Parc Nationale des Volcanoes."

The hotel.

Views from the hotel.

After several calls someone finally showed up to take me around until my actual driver came in from Uganda.

Like all the countries on this trip, most people walk everywhere.

Kigali Genocide Memorial

There was plenty of warning leading up to the event.


How did these people keep their jobs? U.N. was an utter failure here.

This was something new to me- I didn't know the French had a role in the problem.

Other modern genocides:

Two people that should have never been born.

There are mass graves under each of these slabs- over 250,000 buried here.

Back on the roads around town.

Moped taxis.

American Embassy

And of course my first real meal in Africa is...Chinese food (picked by my driver). There is probably a Chinese restaurant in every city in the world.

The landscape to me is a wierd mix of Tuscany and the highlands in Northern Vietnam.

I visit the Nyamata Genocide Memorial.

10,000 people took refuge at The Catholic Church at Nyamata on 4/10/94 thinking they were safe but instead were massacred.

Cultural difference- when I saw this purple and white decoration, I was thinking what, did someone rent this place out for a party? In Rwanda it is used as an indicator of a genocide site I believe.

Victims' clothing and personal belongings are piled up on the pews.

41,000 people who died in the massacre and elsewhere in Nyamata are buried here.

Bought a Rwandan cell phone before we left town for about $30 so I could try to keep in touch with someone by text.

We hit the road to Virunga.
"The journey to the north goes through the beautiful terraced hillsides that show much of Rwanda’s landscape, gradually climbing to the base of the awesome Virunga volcanoes; sometimes five peaks can be seen."

" "In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat," wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, "are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rainforest - the Virungas". Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range - home of the rare mountain gorilla - and the rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath."

"Overnight and dinner at Kinigi Guest House."
#3 of 4 specialty lodging in Ruhengeri

Room ch05

Mushroom soup and talapia for included dinner at the hotel.

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