Rwanda!

So, after spending 5 amazing days in Mwanza, we were now 5 days behind schedule and about to drive in the wrong direction to where we were ultimately heading…

Oh well, it was great to be back on the road again, and heading to our next destination – Kigali, Rwanda.

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Our overnight camp en-route to the border. We had torrential rain, and a very capable 12 year old host (because his Dad, a policeman and the camp owner, was away!)

 

Driving North West from Mwanza took us on the main route to the Rwandan border. The road was chaos, with Arctic trucks flying along and potholes a meter deep – I’m not joking. Of course this meant that the driving was great fun, and it was almost disappointing when we crossed the border at Rusumo Falls to find that we were now driving on crisp tarmac, with clear road markings and un-cracked curbs.

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The lovely roads weren’t just to welcome new visitors though, the story was the same with infrastructure throughout the country. How could this be the same country that tore itself apart just 2 decades ago?

Once we arrived in Kigali, we headed to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. This consists of a museum, and a memorial garden. I can’t recommend visiting highly enough. The museum tells the story of the genocide clearly and consciously – leaving nothing out. It certainly is not censored, and it really captures the irrational actions and sheer terror that the lead to the genocide. The exhibition also captures the incredible recovery of a broken nation, through forgiveness and rebuilding – producing the Rwanda of today, which is probably the country where we felt safest and most at home.

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After this somber experience, we headed West to the Volcanoes national park. We stayed at a small hotel on the edge of the park that night. The next day, we spent an amazing hour in the mountains with a tribe of wild mountain gorillas. We hiked around 2 and a half hours each way to get to the gorillas, after which we spent an hour walking among the gorillas, filling our cameras with almost a thousand photos…

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The gorillas were magnificent, and although visiting them was one of the most expensive things we did in the whole trip Ben and I both felt it was worth it. The sheer investment in the park, and surrounding communities, from park revenue was clear to see. Beyond that though, just to be able to wander around with some of the most endangered animals on earth was awesome – when am I next going to be in Rwanda to spend an hour with some mountain gorillas?

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James

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