They told me at the hotel that I didn't need to book a taxi for the early morning ride to the station. That was a little peculiar because I had to start at 6.30... Amazingly they were right. As soon as I stepped out of the hotel a passer-by asked me if I needed one. Ten minutes later I was at the bus station which was quite different from what we have in mind. It was spotlessly clean despite the all-night rain...I saw several shopkeepers putting on plastic gloves and collecting every little piece of litter that could be seen on the ground. They cleaned up everything.
Finally after an hour , the bus for Kibuye arrived. Not even close to the good transporting means Rwanda is proud of, which can take you fast and safe...This was a small , desperately old van where every space had its purpose.... However we were not asphyxiatingly packed as in Uganda.
We started in a very good mood as people were polite and smiling and the day was beautiful.
They had warned me against taking this route to Kibuye..... They had even advised me to go back to Kigali and get on a “real” bus to Kibuye.
I didn't listen to them and went on with my plan to follow the road by the lake...
After a while I knew what they meant... The surface of the road was so rough , with big rocky stones planted on its surface, and full of small or dangerously big puddles full of mud and rainy water. The bus including our bodies and our luggage were bouncing furiously, squeaking and groaning as if its end was coming...
However, the scenery was beautiful. The tea fields spreading like huge green carpets on the hilly ground were amazing. Although this practice of cutting down trees to cultivate tea or pineapples is in fact catastrophic for the country. Anyway...
The little villages were very active. Local people dressed in their bright colors and with smiling faces , were going on with their daily lives. The views over the lake were fantastic and I took several beautiful pictures. I thought all this was quite compensating.
Suddenly the bouncing became stronger and made me wonder what keeps this old, almost dilapidated van in one piece. My question was answered five minutes later.. Nothing! The bus had at this point lost something important and we had to find a place to fix it. We stopped at a village with pretty views of lake Kivu. After half an hour or more we went on.
I now felt a little worried and that was quite logical and justifiable...
I tried to stop thinking about this any more ...I had brought back luck. But unfortunately some moments later the bus stopped, the people got out very quietly and stood patiently at the side of the road with their luggage in the hands. At first I couldn't believe what was really our future...I denied to believe that I had to finish this journey on a moto taxi. I don't have to describe my feelings..I'll just describe the picture. The young moto-taxist rolling down the rocky road, bolting up and down, and talking to me in their dialect. Me, riding at a tiny space in the back, carrying my heavy bag between him and me, my small bag on my back, the huge helmet bumping on my head and having nowhere to hold on, I tried to keep my balance on this tiny rolling vehicle. I was really in agony every time I saw a steep turn coming to us. I remembered the only thought that I allowed to my mind was “This will end soon, it cannot last forever..”
Finally, one hour later , with all my muscles hurting and my patience coming to an end, we arrived to the nearest village where I got on the public bus to Kibuye.
If you ask me if I would do it again, I will tell you ...Definitely yes!!!
The village of Gahini is an uphill walk from the signposts on the mainroad. The ville is dominated by the Anglican Boarding School which encorporates 1500 mixed secondary school pupils, the dioceses compounds, hospital and church of course. The place was established inthe 1920's and many foreign teachers, doctors and clergy voluntarily reside and work here.
Easy to visit once you identify your intentions at the school checkpoint. My guides son was at this school so it made it even easier to meet foreign staffers and tour the facilities....but its easy to visit independently as well as it gives you a view into the denominational boarding school custom of well-to-do Rwandaise
Established by Mrs Rosamond Carr in 1994, the home was relocated from her longtime residence at Mugongo to Gisenyi during the troubles of 1994. The complex houses just over 100 boys and girls who will be relocated to Mugongo in November 2005 Rosamund's original flower farm founded in 1955.
The children are delightful and place is positive. Mrs Carr a former New Yorker is always there and she knows her kids all by name. At 92 she is completely with it and does not miss a beat...she is hard to catch but is at the orphanage 24/7. The place is well connected internally and externally but all visitors of any ilk are welcome....all gifts are received and needed.....art supplies are always short if you want to make a token donation.Please visit if you are close... it will make the children's year and your life............Madame at Regina Hotel is a good introduction point and place to stay
While the war raged in Rwanda, the countrys popular Gorilla tourism industry, made popular by the famous conservationists Dian Fossey/ Jane Goodall , came to a halt.
Some Gorillas even fell prey to human diseases from the post war situation. These very rare `silverback' mountain gorillas were being pushed further to the brink of extinction.
However, some serious conservation efforts have resulted in the numbers rising and the future for this primate looks brighter now.
The Gorilla sighting tours are becoming popular again in Rwanda's `Volcanoes National Park'. Tours can be arranged thru the Rwanda tourism board. (firstname.lastname@example.org )
On our trip to Rwanda, we often heard of this very tempting option, but a short trip with much work to do, meant that it was something we left to do another day...
One occupation available to Rwandans is charcoal production. Families will harvest wood make charcoal to sell for cooking fuel. When several bags of charcoal are prepared, they are hauled to the nearest highway. One of the family members will guard it and act as the salesperson.
An unforgettable and very impressive trip is a visit to Goma in DR Congo (formerly Zaire), the town just over the border at Gisenyi.
This town is partly covered by lava since nearby Mount Nyiragongo erupted on 17/01/2002;
***for all the details browse my DR-Congo- Goma page ***
Behind the big marketplace along the mainstreet in Ruhengeri is a small but steep hill from where you have amazing views.
In the afternoon I decided to climb it to obtain a unique view as you not only overlook the town but also have the whole chain of 5 volcanoes in one sight. Just Fantastic!
Again don't expect to be alone, all your moves off the beaten track will attract a lot of attention. But I didn't regard it as a hassle. I felt the people were just as enthusiastic as I was!
Lake Burera is a beautiful lake at the base at Mt. Muhabura, close to the border with Uganda.
Although my daytrip by far didn't work out in the way the Bradt Guide suggested, it was still a great day. From Ruhengeri I took a minibus to the border and got out in the settlement of Kidaho, where a sign directs you to the Lake.
Immediately I attracted a lot of attention and during the 6 km walk to the lake some 20 children, soldiers, teenagers followed me while people working in the fields stopped and came to greet me. Of course some of them asked for money what I ignored (I always prefer to spend my money on local products or services), instead joking with them so that we were all having a good time.
I asked (with handsigns) some children to show me around a bit once we got to the lake and gave them some coins.
The scenery is absolutely beautiful with the mist on the Lake that is dotted with little islands and surrounded by rolling hills and steep cliffs.
In the village I felt ashamed to buy a soda while dozens of people were gathering to watch.
On the way back double the numbers of people walked with me (mainly children carrying 10 or 15 litre jerrycans with water on their heads from the lake to their shelters).
My visit this day was for these people the event of the day and for me a memory for life!
(The picture on the intro page is taken there)
Gorilla watching, one of the few places to do it in Birunga National Park, depending which country not being at war at the time, if it does not work here try border beteween Congo (Zaïre) and Uganda up in the Ruwenzori mountains. See also my Zaïre travelogue.
Go to the Colobus monkey conservation area in the mountains. The walks in this park are spectacular and the monkeys themselves are very energetic.
Bring plenty of food as there is not much available there.
You can catch a public bus from near Kigali market or hitchhike as we did on the way back.
Boulevard de la Revolution, Central Kigali, P.O. Box 7469, Kigali, Rwanda
Good for: Solo
The hotel has beautiful views of the park, and is close to the start point for the mountain gorilla...more
Avenue Kamuzinzi, no. 8, Kigali, Rwanda
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
More Regions in Rwanda