Advice for adventures
More facts about the trip …
- We flew Rwandair, leaving from OR Tambo at 8:30 am and arriving in Kigali at 12 noon.
- We were met by a Primate Safari representative who gave us a run-down on our four days in Kigali.
- Afrika, our driver, whisked us off in a landcruiser to Ruhengeri, the base for gorilla trekking – a 3-hour trip.
- At Gorilla Mountain View Lodge, we had supper and watched traditional dancers perform – very different from African dancing in sub-Saharan Africa.
- If you intend to do this trip, you need to be fitter than you think you are: the humidity is intense, the altitude 2600 metres above sea level, the rain forest dense with slippery undergrowth and steep inclines. At times, our guides hacked through vegetation to clear a path for us.
- Fire ants are aptly named, and crawl into whatever gap they can to grab the first bit of flesh they can find: up your legs, under your jeans, over your socks. I had a few fall onto the back of my neck from the trees, but fortunately, my porter saw them and took them off before they could do a trek of their own … down my back!
- We did a whistle stop visit to Hotel des Mille Collines – the site of the filming of Hotel Rwanda. If you’ve not seen the movie, do make the effort to see it, bearing in mind that, while not a true reflection of events, it does give an idea of what happened in Rwanda in April 1994.
Facts about Kigali and Rwanda …
- There is great deforestation except in the national parks – the guys with the AK47s were there to protect the gorillas and also to keep the locals from attempting to enter the national park.
- The Genocide Museum is a very interesting visit indeed. I am amazed at how Rwandans have survived the genocide and turned their country around in 20 years – remarkable to say the least.
- Rwanda lost one million lives in the genocide in April 1994, the Congo 3.5 million. The central African area is still not “stable” so Rwanda spends a lot of time and energy on peace keeping.
- Their philosophies are most interesting: if you intend to cut a tree down, it is illegal; if it must come down, you need to get a permit and then replace the cut down tree with two more. However, there is still much slashing and burning to create charcoal
- Plastic bags of any kind are banned in Rwanda, we always plastic wrap our luggage when we travel, and before we could take our cases out of the airport building in Kigali, a customs man had cut the plastic off to keep it in a secure area where it will be recycled.
- Each rural family is given a cow by the government to encourage subsistence farming
- $5 per person per year is charged for education and another $5 per person per year for education
- 62% of parliament consists of women, the only place in the world with such a high percentage
Some notes on trekking …
- The gear is important; take leather gloves, the nettles sting through the cotton ones!
- All the bug spray in the world, sprayed over your jeans, gators (which we hired there), shoes and socks, will not prevent them pesky fire ants from finding a bit of juicy flesh to bite!
- Take anti-histamine cream to rub on them bites!