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16 travelers at this place:

  • Day101

    Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

    August 15, 2017 in Rwanda

    A very short drive took us to the area famous for gorilla trekking.
    We’d arranged to camp at a lodge near park headquarters, but arrived to learn they couldn’t accommodate ‘roof-top’ campers apart from in the parking lot. So, unhappily, we camped in the muddy car park while it rained heavily for hours (it was too late to go elsewhere). The good news is our tent stayed dry and the folks at the lodge were very, very nice and even provided us with hot water bottles to take to our tent. Comically, adding insult to injury, the village next door started choir practice over a loudspeaker at 5am the next morning.
    We couldn’t get out fast enough to find a room in town. Plus, our fuel tank had once again sprung a significant leak, so we had to get it repaired.
    We’ve been overwhelmed by how helpful people have been on our travels in Africa. It happened here when the hotel we found in town not only recommended where to go for repairs, but insisted one of the staff accompany us to act as translator and negotiator in case we could not explain what we needed or were being overcharged. Incredibly efficient mechanics finished the job in 2 hours and made us wonder why it had taken the Lusaka mechanics nearly 2 days to do the same repair?
    While in town waiting for our gorilla trek, we spent some time walking through local markets, John got a haircut (Alister was onto something), and we bought some rain boots for our trek. We also had a funny “only in Africa” experience. We asked a waiter at the café where we had eaten lunch where we could buy cheese (generally only processed cheese slices are available). He immediately grabbed a worker at the cafe and asked him to go get us some cheese. We gave him some money (~$5) and a few minutes later he returned, not with processed cheese, but with a whole wheel of local Gouda, made by some priests in a nearby village. I’m sure we looked ridiculously surprised, because we were…and delighted!
    August 18th was a date circled in our calendar for a long time since this was the day we had permits to visit the mountain gorillas, the highlight of our time here. This is something we’d been anticipating and planning for years. It’s the thing we were both most looking forward to experiencing in Africa. Anxiety was high, and we did not get much sleep the night before.
    Each group of 7-8 trekkers is assigned to a ranger and gorilla family before leaving the park headquarters at about 8am. We were lucky to be assigned to Umubano, a gorilla family of 13 members including 3 silverbacks and several young gorillas. We hiked a few hours, first through local farms to the edge of the park, where we were instantly in the densest rain forest/jungle we have ever seen. We were met at the park boundary by an armed tracker, one of many who are there to protect us from other wildlife, the gorillas from poachers, but also guide us to where the gorillas were last seen. A short hike through the dense bamboo, and vegetation (including crazy stinging nettles) brought us to a couple more trackers, and we realized this was a sign we were very close. We were given instructions on how to behave when we approached the gorillas and signs and actions to take if they became uncomfortable with us being there (this included bowing down, making grunting noises, and avoiding direct eye contact). We crawled through some more dense bushes and there was our first gorilla, calmly eating some tree roots! At first, we were afraid it would be very difficult to see the gorillas because of how steep and thickly vegetated the hillside was. However, after a few minutes they moved down the hill a more open area where we enjoyed watching them eat and interact for an hour. Several even came close enough to brush by and playfully hit us (Christy got lightly kicked by a juvenile once, while John was slapped and kicked a few times by a few different gorillas). It was a very humbling and unforgettable experience being so close to these majestic creatures. It was the fastest hour we’ve ever experienced, but everything we hoped it would be. What an amazing day!
    We were also very happy to learn that the Mountain Gorilla population has grown to nearly 1,000 in the wild today, up from ~260 in the 1980’s.

    We had been talking about how John’s brother, Gerard, who visited the gorillas back in 1989 in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) had inspired our strong desire to see them in the wild. Gerard was a pioneer “overlander” as he joined a group of travelers who spent 7 months driving a truck from London through North and West Africa and then across to East Africa down to Victoria Falls. He visited many countries that would not be advisable to travel through today. This was before this sort of thing was done. And done with no infrastructure (disappearing roads, no organized campsites etc), support or modern equipment such as GPS, cell phones, Sat phones, internet. An amazing and inspiring adventure that would have been so much more challenging than anything we’ve come across. When we get back to NZ, we will need to sit down with him and go through all his photos and maps.
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  • Day104


    August 18, 2017 in Rwanda

    A short, very scenic drive took us back to Kigali. However, poor timing meant we hit INSANE traffic and endless road closures as President Kagame’s inauguration ceremony was just wrapping up in the nearby stadium. It was also Friday rush-hour, and raining. It took us nearly 2 hours to find our way to the Airbnb we’d booked.
    We were very suspicious of Rwanda’s president, who has been described by some as a benevolent dictator and who won his 3rd term with ~98% of the vote. However, he is absolutely LOVED and REVERED by every Rwandan we’ve met. He’s credited with ending the genocide, unifying and re-building the country. It’s hard to argue with his results. The reality is that Rwanda has incredible infrastructure in terms of roads, quality of housing in the villages, and free education and good healthcare. This is a place where you feel corruption is not a big issue and that international aid is actually getting to the people.
    We decided to spend a few days in Kigali relaxing, exploring the city and visiting the excellent Genocide Memorial that explained in painful detail how the 100 days of killing unfolded.
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  • Day99

    Nyungwe Forest National Park

    August 13, 2017 in Rwanda

    Traveled through stunningly beautiful countryside ranging from tea estates, to rice paddies to rainforest. When we arrived at the park in the early afternoon, we joined a canopy walk that went into the forest and visited a very high and long canopy walk that had been built by the Canadians in 2010. Being afraid of heights, Christy was quite proud to have made it across – albeit very tentatively. Unfortunately we didn’t see any monkeys on the walk as it was packed full of teenage Rwandans who were so excited and busy taking selfies that it would have scared away any critters. Still, nice to see young locals enjoying their amazing parks. Fortunately we camped in the park and were able to see a few different kinds of monkeys in the morning – the forest monkey and blue monkey. Unfortunately we didn’t get any good photos – just a few from the iphone.Read more

  • Day7

    To Kibuye

    May 29 in Rwanda

    At the risk of sounding boring today the scenery was stunning. The country contains diverse landscapes and perhaps today was some of the most beautiful. Only 50 miles and 5000 feet climbing the day was easier- but the 2500 foot climb in the middle was tough, although the view from the top was amazing The normally excellent roads however on this stage were not present, numerous potholes meant careful riding but I still managed to get a pinch puncture after hitting one too hard.

    A fast descent into Kibuye gave even more stunning views as we approached lake Kivu. The guest house we are staying at must be one of the most beautiful locations anywhere, on a peninsula and looking out both ways to the lake. A swim in the Lake followed by chips and then a short trip to a Swedish sauna, with a real stove running on eucalyptus also on the lake. A perfect way to loosen up and look over to the hills of the Congo.

    Psalm 121
    1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
    2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
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  • Day2

    Touchdown in Rwanda

    May 24 in Rwanda

    Arrived! And the bike's here also! Safely at the Scripture Union guest house rooming with Simon.
    Bike built and ready to go - except that my tiredness and diet of airplane food probably isn't condusive to any sort of exercise, let alone riding.
    Rwanda is really full of hills! On way here came down a 1:4 cobbled Street - thankfully don't think we're cycling that one.

  • Day3

    Getting acclimatised

    May 25 in Rwanda

    A day in Kigali, no proper cycling today although we did set the bikes up and have a little ride out - the cobbles certainly have a way of checking all is tightened well - it wasn't, but is now - hopefully!

    After we took a trip into Kigali, starting with the genoide memorial. Difficult to fully describe, over 250,000 people are interned there, no words really suffice. 24 years on and it's still raw. We came to Rwanda for a night in 1996 and looking back I don't think I understood the full magnitude of what had happened.

    After a great lunch at the Ubunwe Grande Hotel with amazing views over Kigali, it was a spot of shopping- African style ! Great fun and great people. Have to say we avoided the ‘clean meat place’ - so no Sunday roast I am afraid!

    Tonight had a talk by an amazing visionary who was behind the project to replace Burundian cows with friesian cows that produce loads more milk, lifting families out of poverty. His latest project is to produce organic stevia- a natural sugar substitute- and giving the producers free chicks to fertilise the land, a brilliant but simple idea. Lots of opposition from sugar producers and GM stevia seed manufacturers, but he is persevering and succeeding! Tomorrow we cycle!

    Psalm 67 1-2
    May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—
    so that your ways may be known on earth
    your salvation among all nations.
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  • Day4

    First day of cycling and what a day! The roads are amazing and it is so clean. Today between 7am and 11am they have 'umaganda' where communities clean up - it's the last Saturday of the month. No traffic is all on the road so we have a clear run through normally busy Kigali.
    It's then the hills start and they are big and long - take a look on Strava!
    But it is beautiful- amazing. Really the photos do no justice. 64 miles 6800 ft climbing. Bike taxis racing us up hills (and often winning), shouts of Muzungo. Kiki - a team Rwanda cyclist is our mechanic and everyone knows him - he is an excellent mechanic - mended my clicky gears!
    Great company- great chats.
    Tonight Bosco - who drives one of the support vehicles told his story, about when he was young in the genocide in Burundi. Take a look at it is well worth the look.

    then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth Isaiah 58:14
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  • Day5

    Waking up to the sound of torrential rain was an ominous start, breakfast was later - an easy day - although that would have rapidly changed had the weather not. It did and by the time we set off it was damp, but clear.
    42 miles total - 21 miles up hill and 21 miles down (that was the quick bit), the bad news is that tomorrow we have to climb up the bit we came down today - not so quick I fear!
    A short day meant we arrived at Lake Kivu about 1230. It's a seaside (ok lakeside) town and being Sunday everyone was out enjoying themselves - with the few weddings thrown in. A quick walk to the DR Congolese border and a stroll along the beach to take in the sights. All very pleasant!

    Jeremiah 29:11

    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
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  • Day10

    Back to Kigali

    June 1 in Rwanda

    The final countdown. Up for breakfast at 6am 80 miles ahead of us. The first group (who were taking it at a slightly slower pace) left leaving 6 of us (including Kiki, team Rwanda and our mechanic) to enjoy a Rwandan coffee at a coffee shop next to the guest house. We set off in peloton formation - something we hadn't done all week as normally the terrain was steep hills. This was different - gently undulating hills allowed good peloton riding - and we soon picked up the pace. The group came back together after about 30 miles which signified the start of the annual 'race' - the rules simple those that want to race start about 10 minutes after those that don't. The first group cycle and wait at an unknown point to the racing group and that is the finish. Five of us raced. A rolling start, Kiki took off - in fairness there was only ever going to be one winner so it was really a race for second place! The course was short and kind to the heavier rider finishing on an uphill after a down hill, so after clinging on for dear life at the start with the advantage of extra momentum I managed to finish in the middle after Kiki and Wesley thank goodness for those extra pounds!?!

    However my legs after that were shot and as hard as I tried I could not keep up with the faster riders any longer. While the scenery was perhaps not as breathtaking as in previous days - familiarity was perhaps a factor the roads were much kinder with none on the long brutal climbs we had had before. We all regrouped about 15km from Kigali to ride in together. This was potentially the most risky part of the day as we came into a busy city. Riding in was straight forward and fairly flat, although this was Rwanda and hills were always present and coming into Kigali there were some steep climbs as we made our way back to the finish of our guest house.

    We all rolled in, tired but exhilarated. We had made it. A really hard week, with a number of individual days being the hardest days most had ever experienced. Eric's chips and sausage awaited - a perfect end to an 80 mile day and a 500 mile week.

    Chips, brochettes and beer at a nearby hotel was the evening fare, exhaust but happy we lasted until about 9.30. An amazing week, great riding, great friends and a great God.

    'But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.' (Isaiah 40:31)

    Remember you can still give to the work of GLO. The work they do is amazing, it literally changes and saves lives.

    Thank you to Tallis Woomert (instagram @talliswoomert) for the amazing photos - you'll imediately see which ones! Do go to his instagram for more you won't be disappointed!

    Thank you to Simon Guillebaud for organising - an amazing trip.
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  • Day8

    To Cyangugu

    May 30 in Rwanda

    A day along the lake - sounds good - no big climbs? But this is Rwanda - the land of 1000 hills - of course there are climbs! Apart from the last they didn't go on for a long time - but they were steep and it was hard. The joy of the downhill was tempered by the realisation that what goes down must come up. Whether it was slight dehydration from the sauna or just the terrain I found the first half tough. The views of course were again amazing, sometimes making you feel guilty that you do not appreciate them more - this time next week I'll have the view of Dulux colour centre out of my window! But there is literally a view around every bend. Thr landscape too changes dramatically. Up high the coffee bushes grow - most of the cherrys are picked, whereas lower down vast areas of tea is planted - the workers busy picking. Of course there are many more beautiful views of Lake Kivu around every bend.
    We arrived into Cyangugu down a big long hill - we are climbing back up tomorrow - found the Peace guest house, with great rooms and another great location on the lake. Eric (our chef - we have a personal chef to try to prevent food poisoning) laid on the most amazing chips with a chorizo-type sausage.
    Dinner at 730, short power cut, bed at 9 ready for the big day tomorrow.

    Philippians 4:6-7

    6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Rwanda, Ruanda, Rwanda, ሩዋንዳ, رواندا, Rvanda, Руанда, Ruwanda, রুয়ান্ডা, རུ་ཝན་ཌ།, Rwanda nutome, Ρουάντα, Ruando, روواندا, Ruwanndaa, Rouanda, Ruanda - Rwanda, રવાંડા, רואנדה, रवांडा, Ռուանդա, Rúanda, ルワンダ, რუანდა, រវ៉ាន់ដា, ರುವಾಂಡಾ, 르완다, ڕواندا, ລາວັນດາ, Roanda, റുവാണ്ട, ရဝန်ဒါ, रवाण्डा, ରାୱାଣ୍ଡା, روندا, u Rwanda, Ruandäa, ருவான்டா, ర్వాండా, ประเทศรวันดา, Luanitā, رۋاندا, روانڈا, Ru-an-đa, Ruandän, Orílẹ́ède Ruwanda, 卢旺达, i-Rwanda

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