Western Province

Here you’ll find travel reports about Western Province. Discover travel destinations in Rwanda of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

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  • Day100

    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

    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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  • Day8

    Nyungwe Forest, Waterfall Hike

    July 7, 2017 in Rwanda

    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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  • Day9

    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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  • Day10

    Uwinka Overlook

    July 9, 2017 in Rwanda

    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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  • Day46

    True Relax day

    February 15, 2016 in Rwanda

    After our not so relaxing relax day from yesterday, we made up for it today!

    Jack and I decided to separate for the first time since we got here (except the couple hours Jack spent alone in Addis when I wasn't eating). She wanted to do a tea factory tour, and I wasn't that interested. We decided a bit of time apart isn't a bad idea. I got to just walk around Gisenyi and walk down the beach, enjoy some quiet solo time. To be honest, for me, it just confirms that I'm not that great with solo traveling. I don't get enjoyment out of doing it alone, I like the company. I'm not outgoing enough to just meet people along the way. So I checked out the town, mapped out where I wanted to prep our picnic lunch date, and headed back home for a peaceful tea and reading.

    Jack unfortunately didn't get to do her tour afterall. She got there successfully with the minibuses but apparently the factory was closed for the day. At least that's what the security guard could gather in English. Little did I know she was back in town after just an hour.

    Meeting at our hotel at our agreed upon time, we went to the local market to gather our lunch - salad, fruit salad, and chapatis! It was too easy, no one in Rwanda has set foreigner prices on us... All fairly priced produce. Drop by the supermarket (which is what they call their do it all corner stores) and off we go! Incredibly peaceful, waterfront, waves and birds being heard, Valentine's day lunch. Again, only thing missing is hand holding and steeling kisses.

    I lied about the birds. It sounds like birds which makes it sound better. It's bats. Tons of them. I don't get it, I thought they liked the dark, but there's hundreds of bats hanging upside down in the trees above us. It's kind of cool. I've got batman imagery in my mind... Lol.

    We took the lunch as an opportunity to "check in" with each other. Open and honest communication y'all! I finally got to articulate why it is I'm so impressed with myself here, and I'll try to do the same for you all.

    Over the last few years, I've seen my anxiety worsen. Situations that would not have affected me in the past have started to make my heart race, to keep my up at night, making my mind go over and over possible outcomes, making me react inappropriately to situations, to make me doubt doing certain things, or stop myself entirely from certain experiences. I've travelled long term in the past, but it's been a few years since I've left the country for longer then a few weeks. I thought my increased anxiety would translate to my needing certain comforts. That I would have a stricter limit on how long I could be put in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations before my body or mind gives out. I thought I could no longer tolerate, as well as I used to, not knowing where I was staying or going. All these preconceived notions about my anxiety is why I'm so impressed with myself today. I have been in uncomfortable situations, I don't have my usual comforts or support system from home. I don't get to go home and hide for a few days when I'm overwhelmed, and yet, I'm doing great! I'm eating all kinds of new foods (as you now know, my anxiety is closely related to my ability to eat), I'm staying in all kinds of accommodation (including homestays), and leaving towns and arriving in towns with no set plans or need to set plans, I'm doing great. And I'm proud. I just thought I'd share this proud moment of mine. :)
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  • Day43

    Memorial and a hike...

    February 12, 2016 in Rwanda

    Odd combination, I know. For most of the trip, Jack and I have found a way to compromise on our styles of traveling. I usually like to take my time, doing fewer towns whereas she likes to bus hop with our backpacks on from town to town, sleeping in the last one we wind up in. Unfortunately, a compromise means I don't get enough time in places and she doesn't get to move around as much as she's like. So for these last couple days, we're doing it her way. It's exhausting! Lol.

    Huye and Nyanza yesterday, today Murambi and Gisakura.

    Murambi had a memorial we wanted to see because, as per others, it was a very moving experience and they displayed preserved bodies exhumed from the mass graves. They were right. It started with much of the same information as the first memorial about the history before the genocide and the events that unfolded. But this specific site was set in a school where an estimate 50,000 people were killed between 3am and 11am April 21st. One day, 50,000 people. The bullet wholes still seen in the walls. Preserved bodies in lime (they become white), some showing expressions of terror, some holding each other, some holding their children. Tiny bodies, on display. After seeing this, you really wonder how anyone could ever have attempted to call this an ethnic war or civil war.

    Following this, a lovely walk back to town brought us to a bus, which brought us to a town, which had a car conveniently going to where we wanted to go, which drove us to Gisakura National Park head offices, which had the hike we wanted to do leaving NOW as per the office... I was starved! And we all know I don't do well hungry, and the hike is 4 hours long, and it's now 1pm and I haven't had lunch. Arg! So I bought 4 bananas and a waterbottle and rushed to change my shoes, and shot something angry at Jack to express my hatred for rushing, and off we went! I calmed down once I had my banana and cookies. :)

    The hike was through one of Africa's oldest rain forests, and the vegetation was absolutely gorgeous! You know you're amazed by everything when you listen to information like "that is the oldest plant on earth" - a fern - and you're amazed! The waterfall at the end was strong and perfect.

    Of course we thought 63$CAD was absurd for a room at the guest house across the street, so starved and grumpy we made our way to town, 8 long minutes of walking, to find a place for 37$CAD. Still not anywhere near our usual price, but Rwanda's expensive y'all! 50$US each for this 4 hour walk...

    Leaving on this trip, I had a set idea for a budget. Im the type to convert prices every now and then to make sure I'm still on my mark. I wanted to average a maximum of 100$US per day, since according to everything we read, Africa was expensive! This was to include safaris (if we do them), our hikes, diving when we get to the coast, everything. To my surprise, Ethiopia, the country in which we were spending the longest, was super easy on the budget! 35$US was our (very rough) calculations, right on par with the books budget suggestion of 30$US per day, seeing as it was written 3 years ago. Jack's more the type to just keep it as cheap as she can without holding back on things she wants, and it all works out in the end.

    Basically this little budget insert is maybe for those looking to do their own travels! No matter where you go in the world, there's expensive countries and there's cheaper ones. Rwanda - expensive. Food is double if not triple that of Ethiopia. Accommodation is double the price at its cheapest. Transportation is slightly more, but not crazy. Activities are all more expensive. The little we saw of Uganda, seems more affordable then here. Food at least was cheaper. I guess we'll find out when we tally everything in the end.
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  • Day45

    What's with the name changes?

    February 14, 2016 in Rwanda

    Alright Rwanda, pick a name already! Honestly, except for Kigali, the capital, every town we've visited has changed their names either in recent years (so it shows as both options in lonely planet) or in the last year. For the most part, we've been attempting to explain where we want to go, plan buses, ask questions about towns, all of which we are referring to in the wrong name! The worst part is when taking the bus, because there's so little English, communication starts with us expressing where we want to go, and them telling us how much, and they hand over the ticket. The destination is written on the ticket. The following towns, all of which we travelled to, were written on the ticket as a name we didn't recognize :

    Huye was now Butare
    Gikongoro was now Nyamagabe
    Kibuye was now Karongi
    Gitarama was now Muhanga
    Gisenyi was now Rubavu
    Ruhengeri will be Musanze after tomorrow. That one we looked up!

    So for example, we were headed to Kibuye yesterday. We asked for Kibuye, they give us a ticket written Karongi. We confirm with the ticket lady that we are going to Kibuye, not Karongi, and she says "yes yes Kibuye". So off we went. We also confirm with the guy checking tickets on the bus "Kibuye not Karongi" to which he responds "Kibuye Kibuye". We arrive at the town of Karongi, as indicated by many signs, and a lady next to us tells us to get off. We were so confused, especially since our book said it would be a 5 hour bus ride and it had only been 2.5 hours (but as you've read, our Lonely Planet has been terrible for Rwanda, it's like they never came to do the research). At this point there's about 5 people telling us to get off, none of which have enough English or French to explain why, and the bus driver who is supposed to signal to us when we're there, drives off. Jack and I are still so confused. The people around us yell at the driver to stop, and finally a lady turns to me and says "change name, Kibuye now Karongi". Ah ha! English! So we get off. Turns out, they all changed names! Now we know to ask all possible names so we can avoid this in the future.

    Yesterday and today were a mix of transportation and relaxing. We stood at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere waiting for a bus for about an hour yesterday, getting us to Kibuye, a town of lounging and enjoying the scenery. There's apparently a beach somewhere, but about 2 feet wide of thick grainy sand, so we just went for a walk and enjoyed the green everywhere. Even the ride over was gorgeous! Field after field of green farming perfectly squared off. We stayed at a church of course, Home Saint Jean, where the room was clean and cheap! It was at the very tip of a little peninsula on the lake, perfect location and amazing views for 6000RFr for the night (10.90$C). Coming home on Saturday afternoon, we heard 3 different choirs practising for tomorrow. It was a beautiful and serene atmosphere.

    We walked around town, stumbling upon a market yesterday. Jack had a craving for guacamole the other day, so we challenged ourselves to make some! Got what we needed at the market, borrowed the tools from the restaurant at our hotel, and voilà! Some pretty decent guacamole, not that I eat it, ew avocado, but Jack liked it! :)

    We debatted if we should stay a second night to just laze around, but decided to make our way to Gisenyi (Rubavu now), a very similar low key water front town. We were told the transit time was 3 hours, which is easy, plenty of time to relax at both towns. Turns out, we left at 1pm and arrived here at 830pm. Yep, not so relaxing of a day after all. Our second bus was supposed to take 3 hours and it took over 4.5. He kept stopping at all the towns but then waiting there... Who knows for what. And of course no one had the English or French to try and explain the ridiculous delays. So we wait. Jack likes to remind me that the lack of communication only confirms that we really are somewhere where we are the minority, we have the true opportunity to see Rwanda as Rwandans do. There are so few tourists here, it's impressive. Untainted land to discover.

    We still managed to finish on a high note, walking over to our chosen accommodation, settling into our room (Presbyterian Church this time!), going out for some local food and having a drink. We're planning a picnic on the beach for lunch tomorrow as our on little valentine's day date. We'll see how that goes!


    Travellers we met along the way have said Rwanda is very safe. I didn't understand what they were comparing it to, or why, but that's what people said. Turns out, at night, even if it's dark out, you do have a sense of safety - people are still walking around, no one appears to hesitate around each other no matter the time of day... We met an Indian man who lives in Kigali who said he tried living in Kampala before settling in Kigali but choose to leave because he couldn't walk around at night. Here, he can. And I get it.

    I also have this odd, undescribable impression of Rwanda that I will now attempt to form into words... The people still all seem to be mourning... Or if it's not mourning, there's a certain lack of liveliness... It's all quite somber, or maybe more reserved. Yes people will say hi to you, they will giggle and stare, but as a general feeling, it seems somber. I absolutely loved my few days in Uganda because their people were all so smiley and welcoming and open to attempt communication, even if it's without words, there's happiness and liveliness all around. I don't have that same feeling in Rwanda. Like I said, hard to explain. I wonder if what used to be mourning is now almost a cultural trait, a way of life learned through sadness...
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  • Day54


    November 3, 2016 in Rwanda

    Gisenyi lê teenaan die grens met die Demokratiese Republiek van die Kongo. Alice bly agter in Gisenyi by ons hotel, Discover Rwanda Gisenyi Beach, vir die naweek terwyl ek in die Kongo gaan vulkaanklim en gorillas kyk in die Virunga- nasionale park. Aandete: avokado en vetkoek...

  • Day58

    Die pad na Kibuye

    November 7, 2016 in Rwanda

    'n Kaart en GPS kan jou net soveel vertel. Na 'n lui oggend in Gisenyi ry ons suidwaarts teen die Kivumeer na Kibuye. Ons stop om mooi teeplantasies af te neem. Dan kry ons padwerke, en reën, modder, vragmotors wat vassit... en dinge raak sports. Die Fortuner hanteer die situasie egter goed en ons kom teen sonsondergang veilig in Kibuye aan. Ons slaap vanaand by die Hotel Bethany - dit sous te hard vir tentslaap.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Western Province, Ouest, Iburengerazuba

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