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