If any of you have the opportunity to go to Rwanda I HIGHLY recommend it. This tiny landlocked country known for its 1994 horrific genocide, as it turns out, is a spectacular place to visit. It is known as the land of a thousand hills and from the moment we touched down in Kigali, I could see why. Everywhere you look there is hill after hill of bright green scenery.
In a stark contrast to the littered and chaotic streets of Nairobi and other East African cities I’ve visited, Kigali is (gasp) orderly and incredibly clean! There are streetlamps that drivers actually obey. And plastic bags are banned throughout the country meaning that there is hardly any trash on the street. And not every single person on the street asks for money or a bribe. Wow!
We arrived in the shockingly clean city of Kigali and then travelled to Ruhengeri where we would stay the night before embarking on our gorilla trekking tour a la Dian Fossey. Ruhengeri was cold cold cold, not anywhere near the equatorially heat of my village. Anywho we spent the night here before waking up bright and early to go to Parc les Volcans to start our gorilla adventure. Enjoy the pictures!
At the park gate and with no real idea of what was in store.
Hiking through dense jungle foliage with no paths, only a gorilla tracker clearing the trail with a machete.
After 3 hours of hiking in the rain and cold we finally reached this gorilla family. It has 26 members including a few newborns and three silverbacks making it the largest group in the park.
Doesn't he look so human?!?! Gorillas and humans share so many mannerisms, it's incredible.
Clearly he is not as fascinated with us as we are with him.
Stretching for an afternoon nap. Looks comfortable.
Swinging on a vine. A true tarzan.
We were charged three times by a silverback. The guides advised us not to run, but as you might imagine, it’s quite terrifying to be charged by a massive gorilla!
And, drenched, exhausted, and very much exhilarated, we received our gorilla trekking certificates!
The day after the gorilla trekking we went to see the yellow monkeys. While they are not nearly as thrilling as the gorillas nor as photogenic, they were pretty awesome! Here are some of the best pictures:
We headed back to the capital for some celebratory beers and American food. We also visited the genocide museum in Kigali which is a very moving memorial. It is astonishing to know that just 17 years ago a horrific massacre of 100,000 people in just 100 days ravaged the small country. How could such a thing happen? The stories of the genocide are disturbing and heartbreaking and appalling. May something like this never happen again here or anywhere.
All in all, our trip to Rwanda was a memorable and amazing experience that I hope I’ll get to relive sometime in the future. Anyone interested in joining me on gorilla trek numero dos? It’s definitely worth it!