A Travellerspoint blog

Rwanda

From Uganda to Rwanda

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The tourist trail, or I guess we could call it the Muzungu trail or gringo trail or banana pancake trail, is the route taken by the vast majority of backpackers in any given region. In Uganda this is much less defined for the people we were meeting were all volunteers, missionaries, NGO workers, or were visiting one. The independent backpacker was a rarity. This was nice, but there was still a pretty defined route of sites and we started to become friends with some of the familiar faces. On the second day at the gorilla camp four such friends arrived, two specifically to meet up with us for a “Walking Safari”

Through the camp we arranged a local guide and a couple porters to walk/canoe the 20km to the nearest town. The first part was mostly along country roads that saw little more than foot traffic. Our rout then descended to the northern tip of lake Mutanda were dug out canoes were waiting to take us across the lake. The wind was blowing in our faces and the first part of the ride was a little scary in the tipsy dug out canoe with whitecaps on the lake and the occasional wave coming over the side of the boat. The wind eventually died down but it took us 4 hours to paddle the lake. The walk on the other side was through villages were we constantly heard the Muzungo call. By the time we got back to the guest house in Kisoro I was exhausted and ready to eat.
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View of Lake Mutanda
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Kids lugging water up hill (This is the most common sight so far, people carrying water. We are so so fortunate to just turn a facet for ours!)
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Our fellow paddlers (That canoe is from only one tree!)
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Peter cheesing it up for the camera
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One of three volcanoes surrounding the lake, unfortunately difficult to see do to haze.

Up early the next day, we made our way across the boarder into Rwanda. For the first time being a US citizen paid off and we didn’t have to pay for the $60 visa at the boarder! (we have found that if a visa is needed , Americans usually have to pay quiet a bit more then other nationalities) Crossing over the quality of road and buses immediately improved and we were in Kigali, the capital, before we new it! Another first, people where actually denied entrance onto the bus when all the seats were filled. No packed sardines here. The rolling hillside of Rwanda, the country of 10,000 hills (or something like that) was beautiful. Out of the red earth green vegetation thrived, covering the landscape. I didn’t know what to expect from Rwanda, unfortunately most I knew about this country was with regard to is ’94 genocide. We certainly didn’t expect to find our selves, after weeks of Nescafe, in an ultra suave and comfy coffee shop! We had been warned that Kigali would be expensive, but we were shocked! Prices were more in line with New Zealand or the Cook Islands… certainly the most expensive place we had been since Sydney. Who would have thought ?

As it was our 4th wedding anniversary we decided to go out and have a nice dinner. We had drinks at Hotel des Mille Collines, or better known as Hotel Rwanda. This hotel provided refuge to many during the genocide. Today, it is a super luxury hotel with great pool side happy hour . A bit surreal given the history of the place. Afterward we sought out an Indian restaurant. Indian is our new favorite food and fortunately there are a number of good Indian restaurants in East Africa due to the number of Indians living here.
The next day it was a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The massacre of the Tutsi people that occurred in Rwanda during 1994 is a horrific scar on the history of mankind. Learning more about the history of Rwanda and the events prior to the genocide was frightening. We learned the distinction of the marginalized people was nothing more than a meaningless label placed upon them by colonists. What was absolutely the most shocking was how calculated the killing was, it was not just meaningless intertribal violence but premeditated genocide. The fact that something like this could happen after the events of Nazi Germany, and continues on to this day in places like Darfur is an atrocity.

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Peters new look, one in the front and one in the back.
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Hotel Rwanda
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One of the mass graves at the memorial center. 250,000 people are buried here, ¼ of the estimated deaths during the genocide.
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Kigali Memorial Center with downtown Kigali in the background.

Posted by pmunson 05:29 Archived in Rwanda Comments (1)

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