Western Province

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    • Day59

      N-W-Z Rwanda

      November 10, 2019 in Rwanda ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      We zullen eens beginnen in het Kinyarwanda (locale taal) hé.

      De schoolbezoeken zitten er allemaal op, ruim 50 interviews achter te rug. Dit ter zijde heb ik zo ongeveer heel het land gezien samen met mijn persoonlijke chauffeur. Van prachtig gestructureerde theeplantages tot het onherbergzame wondermooie en koudere noorden van het land.
      Het schitteren van de gigantische groene bananenbladeren in de ochtend blijft elke keer opnieuw iets magisch hebben... Over groen geluk gesproken 😉.
      De komende maand zal druk analyseren worden en tussendoor wat ontspannen uiteraard!
      Voor de rest ga ik de foto's hun werk laten doen haha.
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      Schitterende lach!


      Hello Wout, we hébben van je foto's genoten. Het is een prachtige stage ervaring, nooit zzl je Rwanda vergeten. Wij zitten in Spanje in het pittoreske Nerja dat breekt de donkere winterdagen in België. Het analyseren van je stage is wel belangrijk. We kijken er wel naar uit om Kerstmis samen te vieren. Tot spoedig. Muchos besos 🙋🙋👍👍

    • Day54

      Lake Kivu

      November 8, 2019 in Rwanda ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

      To Lake Kivu now, a huge lake which almost completely forms the western border of Rwanda.

      We take a boat ride out on the lake to visit some of the islands. The first we visit is called Monkey Island, so-called because of the solitary Blue-Balled Monkey living on the island. We have no idea how it got there.

      Next up on the island itinerary is named Napoleon Island, after the distinctive hat-shaped hill. They should have called it Bat Island, as it is home to a huge colony of fruit bats. As we walk up the hill, you pass thousands of bats, hanging upside-down in the trees right next to the paths. The views from the top are amazing, and our guide also points out the next island over, which is a prison island for kids who have problems with substance abuse. Exiling them to a prison island- a la Alcatraz- seems a little heavy handed to us.

      On our boat tour is a German girl. We get chatting, and we ask her why she decided to come to Rwanda. She explains that she wanted to come somewhere warm, where she could swim. So, nothing to do with the history, mountains, wildlife or anything like that. Unfortunately for her, all freshwater lakes in Rwanda (and much of East Africa) are said to be infested with Bilharzia, a terrifying parasite that crawls into your skin before colonising most of your body, including the spinal cord and nervous system.

      We decline our guide's offer for us to have a dip.
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    • Day55

      Birthday Chimps for Katie

      November 9, 2019 in Rwanda ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

      We wake up at around 4am for a Birthday treat for Katie- today we're going to try and see the Chimps in Nyungwe forest in the south of Rwanda.

      Bleary-eyed, we climb into the car for the drive through the park to the meeting point. We only managed to find out where we are meeting yesterday, by calling about 4 different people in the National Parks agency. When we bought our permits online, there was no mention of when or where to actually go to see the Chimps. It basically just said "Chimps". It really feels like Rwanda isn't so geared towards independent tourists.

      We head into the outskirts of the National Park, but we soon get lost, as there aren't many signs, and it's pitch black out. We come across a large group of heavily armed soldiers patrolling the border with Burundi and ask for directions.

      When we finally find the meeting point, we're told that we have to drive another 1h30 in the opposite direction to where the chimps actually are. To do so, we must follow a tour group, whose local driver seems to have a death wish. He drives well over the speed limit, aggressively overtaking every other vehicle, and often on blind corners around the steep hairpin turns that are so common in Rwanda. We have no choice but to keep up, and drive hell for leather to keep up.

      Eventually, we arrive at a spot in the middle of the dense jungle, and we proceed on foot. We navigate a small path through the forest, with the rangers cutting back the overgrown foliage. We've been told not to get our hopes up too much, as the chimps often stay high up in the trees, so we can only spot them from a distance, if at all.

      Not long after we start walking, however, we hear the hoots of the chimpanzees. It builds up to a cacophony of howling and screeching, seemingly from all sides. The forest is full of noise and activity. The sun streams through the leaves into our eyes, temporarily blinding us. The screaming gets louder and louder, echoing from all sides, disorientating us. "Look!" say the rangers "Up in the trees!". And we see them. The forest canopy is busy with primates, both chimpanzees and the smaller owl-faced monkeys.

      The rangers explain that the owl faced monkeys live around the chimps for protection, chimpanzees being the most feared animal in the forest. It's strange to use the term "mutually beneficial relationship" here, as the chimps often turn on the owl-faced monkeys in times of scarcity, and eat them.

      We watch these huge beasts clamber through the trees, when all of a sudden there's a crash behind us. We turn to see a chimp walking through the bush, metres away from us. Then, we hear a rustling behind us, and a small family- mum, dad and baby- descends from the canopy to the forest floor, just in front of us. It's a real treat, and proof that they got the message that it's Katie's birthday, which is nice.

      After saying goodbye to our new primate pals, we head to the other side of the park. We are staying on the top of a tea plantation, with panoramic views over the forest. It's beautiful, and a little odd. The bar area is described as a Karaoke Bar, complete with mini booths for group sing-a-long sessions. However, there is no evidence of microphones, screens, speakers, or anything required for a half-decent Karaoke jam. We settle on a game of Ring-of-Fire, eating pizzas from the giant oven they've built here.
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    • Day8

      To Cyangugu

      May 30, 2018 in Rwanda ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      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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    • Day7

      Shopping and driving, Kigali to Kamembe

      July 6, 2017 in Rwanda ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

      Before leaving Kigali, we went into the city centre to look for some fabric from a "hole in the wall" shop - it was no more than a metre wide, but was stacked floor to ceiling with fabric and plenty of purchases were made (pre cut 3.6m lengths were 5,000 Rwandan Francs = $8)

      We left Kigali just after 10am for the 250km drive to Kamembe, in the south west of the country near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The main roads in Rwanda are very good, but travel isn't fast because of the number of pedestrians and bicycles on the road, the mountainous terrain and a speed limit of 60kph (40kph in the city). The police are very active with traffic patrols and speed cameras.

      Just outside of Gatagara we took a 1.5km detour into the village to visit a pottery outlet, local health centre and grab a cache... or it may have been the other way around ☺

      We visited the King's Palace Museum in Nyanza and did a guided tour of the traditional and modern palaces, before heading on to Butare for a very late lunch - by the time we left it was 5.40pm, so the remaining 3 hour drive to Kamembe was in the dark... which made the pedestrian dodging even more difficult!

      Stayed: Emeraude Kivu Resort
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      sam and bruce

      What, no scarves?

      Darren and Janet

      Scarves seem to be a foreign concept here... perhaps being 28 degrees every day has something to do with it ☺

    • Day8

      Nyungwe Forest, Waterfall Hike

      July 7, 2017 in Rwanda ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

      Cereal and fruit for breakfast this morning and a civilised 8.30am departure for the Waterfall Hike in Nyungwe Forest. The weather is a couple of degrees cooler in this area, but still pleasantly mid 20s and no rain.

      After a briefing at the rangers station we drove with our guide Christophe to the start of the trail. After tucking our pants into our socks to avoid getting ants up our legs, we set off through the tea plantations, but then the going got tougher once we entered the forest. The path was well marked, but had some steep sections, so the walking poles they provided came in handy. The valley was thick with lush rainforest undergrowth, but only a few birds spotted (and some toads).

      The walk to the waterfall took 90 minutes, so we were looking for a rest and snack. The return journey took a little longer.

      Lunch was at the Gisakura Family Hotel - buffet of beef in tomato sauce, cooked plantain, rice, spaghetti, potato chips and steamed pumpkin.

      After lunch we went in search of Black & White Colobus monkeys. The guide was in contact with some trackers who had located a group of about 30 near the edge of the forest, so we only had a few minutes walk. We spent almost an hour watching them jumping from tree to tree along defined "roads", playing, grooming and looking after the 3 youngsters in the group (about 3 weeks old, all white). Also spotted Dent's Monkey and a Blue Monkey, who was acting as lookout from the top of the tallest tree.

      Arrived back at the hotel after dark, had dinner in the hotel restaurant after an African "short wait", ie 90 mins! - whole tilapia for Oliver, chicken and maize for me.

      Bed just after 10pm in preparation for an early morning tomorrow.
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      Wonderful, what a privilege to be going through this area.

      Darren and Janet

      Thanks Thommo - there's way more here than we imagined!

    • Day9

      Chimps at the crack of stupid o'clock

      July 8, 2017 in Rwanda ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

      This was the early morning we knew was coming! As chimpanzees build a nest to sleep in each night, the plan was to arrive in the forest just after they wake up and observe their morning rituals... so the alarm was set for 3.30am for a 4am departure.

      We had about an hour to drive to the start of the trek, then up to an hours' walk to where the chimps were likely to be - a number of trackers go out early to locate the group, then a guide with radio communication leads us to them.

      There was a mix up with the meeting time with another group we were joining up with, so we waited on the side of the road for about an hour before we headed to the Cyamudongo Forest. This forest is only 5 square kms and is separated from the main forest by farm land, so this chimp population is isolated. The long term plan is to reposess land in between to build corridors of native vegetation so the animals can commute freely between both areas, and avoid problems with inbreeding.

      We had quite a steep walk down the valley, at one point taking a shortcut through the vegetation to get to the next path, before the chimps moved on. We heard them in the distance before we saw them, so our first sighting of 2 chimps sitting on the path ahead, grooming each other, was rather surreal. They were much bigger than we expected and not quite as docile as we believed - about 3% of their diet is meat, so they occasionally kill smaller monkeys, or other chimps for food. They have also been know to kill humans, if they are threatened.

      There was plenty of movement in the bushes around us, with calls from both sides, then all hell broke loose as a younger male challenged the alpha male, in the bushes just above us. Teeth were bared, branches ripped as a show of agression, and screeching galore as the 2 males fought. It was a reminder that these are wild animals, and we were in their territory. Everyone remained calm and did as we were told (stay still and don't run, even if you think you should!), and the heart quickening moment was over in about 30 seconds. Carla has been observing chimps in the wild for 20 years and had never seen males fighting like this, so it was more special than we first realised.

      We moved around the corner and observed the rest of the group for a while, then moved away and ate our packed breakfast (boiled egg, jam sandwich, cheese and fresh fruit).

      We left the forest via a local village, had an impromptu demonstration of how to tie a baby sling, African style, and headed to the Gisakura Guest House for lunch (buffet of rice, potato chips, beef in tomato gravy, peas, and fresh pineapple)

      As it was the first time we have arrived in Kamembe in daylight, we drove the scenic route to the hotel, and witnessed wedding photos being taken up the road from our hotel. The bride struck a pose for us and we obliged as tourists do!

      As we came into the hotel, the reception staff suggested we order tea now to avoid waiting later - we were happy to oblige! (matoke (plantain) with peanut sauce for me, vegetarian lasagne for Oliver). We did some much needed washing, then tea and drinks on the deck.
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      #SoProud LOL

      Graeme Duncan

      Sorry its taken me until now to catch up on the earlier posts. Brings back memories of my visit to Africa, although nothing as interesting as the chimps on my trip.

    • Day10

      Uwinka Overlook

      July 9, 2017 in Rwanda ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

      A luxurious lie in until 7.30am, breakfast of cereal, fruit and toast and departed for the canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest at 8.45am. The canopy walk, officially known as the Uwinka Overlook on the Igishigishigi Trail, is a 200 metre walkway suspended 90 metres above the forest floor, which affords spectacular views across the valley and is supposedly a good spot for bird watching.

      We were joined on the tour by 5 local Rwandans and 5 Chinese nationals who live in Rwanda (Chinese companies manage a lot of the road building in Rwanda), so we were a group of 15. The Rwandan government is trying to encourage locals to visit tourist spots in their own country by offering discounts to locals - the tourist price for this walk is $60 USD, but locals only pay 5000 Rwandan Francs ($6 USD).

      It was a pleasant 45 minute walk down to the start of the canopy walk, then single file across the suspension bridge. We took our time making the crossing and loitered on the platforms for quite a while, but disappointingly only saw one Blue Monkey in the distance, and no birds for the entire journey.

      On the way back to the hotel for lunch we spotted a couple of L'Hoest monkeys (formerly known as Mountain Monkeys) near the road who hung around long enough for a few photos (lunch was Caeser Salad and a beef burger).

      We had a free afternoon so took up Aloys' offer of a lift to the centre of Kamembe for some shopping. Being Sunday afternoon not much was open, but we had some interesting chats and made a few small purchases.

      We had a briefing in the lounge in preparation for our trip to the DR Congo tomorrow, then dinner was in the hotel restaurant (fillet pepper steak and potato croquettes x2).
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      We need these in Oz!

    • Day99

      Nyungwe Forest National Park

      August 13, 2017 in Rwanda ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

      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

    • Day5

      Easy day to Lake Kivu - Gisenyi

      May 27, 2018 in Rwanda ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

      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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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Western Province, Ouest, Iburengerazuba

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