Needless to say of course that the main reason to go to Kinigi is gorilla tracking. This is where the headquarters of the Rwandan Tourism Authority are and this is where all groups start for gorilla tracking.
Gorilla tracking is quiet expensive nowdays. It is 500 Dollars at the time of writing. For me it is worth it every cent! Especially because the money goes towards gorilla protection, which is taken very seriously in Rwanda and the support of the surrounding communities.
They are amazing creatures. Despite their size they are quite placid not really interested at the visitors. They go about their daily routine paying little attention at the people.
For us it was really special as the silverback decided right that moment to have sex with one of the girls of his group. That was quite a sight!!!
This is the base of the Parc National des Volcans who arrange gorilla tracking in the nearby Virungas.
For more information, see my Virungas page.
I always like to try any local food available in restaurants, and tonight I’m having Katogo, a dish of goat meat, bananas and peas in gravy. I am embarrassed to say I don’t enjoy it too much, especially as it is Robert’s favourite dish! David orders a rare steak which comes extremely well done, but Gordon and Sue enjoy their soups even though their pizzas were mediocre.
The menu has a distinct French flair to it, and next lunchtime we both order Croque Monsieur with Pommes Frites. Very nice.
If you wish to visit the gorillas and you are not booked with a travel agent, like I did, you must find your own means to get to the ORTPN (Rwandan Tourism Office) headquarters in Kinigi, where gorilla tracking starts from. The same if you wish to spend the night at the Kinigi guesthouse instead of hotels in Ruhengeri.
The regional buses will leave you in Ruhengeri and then you either can get a taxi to take you there for about 10000 Rwandan franks (20 USD) or a motorbike taxi for much less. It cost me 3000 R.F. to return from Kinigi but if you are good at negotiating you can get a better deal than that.
It is 12 km from Ruhengeri to Kinigi.
Taxis and motorbikes are readily available where the buses stop so no worries about that.
In order to reach the park hotel, you really do need a four wheel drive as the roads are soooo awful. I have seen smoother dried-up river beds; the path really is just a collection of rocks surrounded by potholes, with some very steep sections that make for “interesting” driving!
From my diary:
French is almost non-existent, but we manage to order dinner and join the others in the bar in front of a portable fire. Evening can get very cold here at this altitude (ca 2500m above sea level). As we are talking about tomorrow’s trek and I am sharing my concern about my lack of fitness holding the others up or maybe even preventing me from reaching the gorillas, a group of Americans arrive back. They look awful! Most of them can barely drag themselves along the room, they are covered in mud and sweat and when asked how they got on, they answer “it was the trek from hell!” They’ve been trekking for ten hours, on near-vertical muddy paths through impenetrable vegetation. One girl became so exhausted and scared of tumbling down the valley that she gave up before reaching the gorillas. Now I am really worried – this could be us tomorrow!
Fondest memory: And it turned out that the trekking was nowhere near as bad as I imagined, so I need not have worried at all!
Favorite thing: These gregarious and largely terrestrial wildfowl were wondering around the hotel courtyard, picking at grubs and leftover food.
Favorite thing: In the gardens of the hotel, a large flock of Crested Crane congregated in the afternoon. This bird is really quite large, growing to a height of 1.1m, with a rather spectacular crown on its head.