#1 8-13-2017 1:29 PM

Holeydel
Manchester, England
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Rwanda

I'll be heading there for 9 days at the end of October, was wondering if anyone had anything to add? I've got as far as watching Hotel Rwanda and learning stray dogs cost nothing to photograph, whereas stray gorillas will set me back $750.

 

#2 8-14-2017 12:12 AM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Tourist
Posts: 167

Re: Rwanda

Lucky you!

Hotel Rwanda gives you a perspective on Rwanda's past, but the present is a very different thing.  The thing that will strike you first is that Rwanda is a staggeringly clean and orderly place - it's often called the 'Switzerland of Africa', and that doesn't just refer to the relentlessly hilly landscape.  Paul Kagame's authoritarian style may have a dark underside when it comes to issues such as press freedom, but for the tourist, it means that it's a safe place to travel and somewhere where it's easy to get by in English (which was adopted as the lingua franca after the genocide, when Rwanda turned away from its colonial French roots towards the Anglophone world).

I presume you're flying RwandAir, which is a surprisingly good airline.  Once on the ground, getting around is easy, as one of the first priorities in reconstructing the country was to focus on the road network.  Everything radiates out of Kigali, so often it's quicker to travel a much longer distance via Kigali than to cut across country.  If you have 9 days, then that's long enough to get a good taste of the country, as it's really a very small place by African standards.

We combined Rwanda and south western Uganda, with one of the deciding factors being that gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (just across the border in Uganda) is considerably cheaper, and we also wanted the opportunity to see savannah wildlife, rather than 'just' primates.  As it turns out, we unexpectedly had an extra day at the end of our trip, so we ended up visiting Akagera National Park on Rwanda's eastern border, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much there was to see in what is a relatively recently established park.

The place that I wished we'd spent more time is Nyungwe, in the south west.  The main drawcard was chimpanzee spotting (another activity that will haemorrhage cash from your wallet), and we knew that there was an aerial forest walkway (another of Rwanda's expensive-but-worth-it attractions), but we didn't realise that it would be so beautiful.  Given half the chance, I'd be back there for a few days hiking - the Kamiranzovu Marsh (which you can just see from the main road) is a rare high altitude marshland and looks like a set from the Land That Time Forgot, where a wheeling pterodactyl wouldn't look out of place.  The birdlife is brilliant, and there are many other primate species that seldom get a mention because there's such an intense focus on the great apes. You can also straddle the watershed between the Nile and Congo basins and one of the (many) sources of the Nile is located in this area.

Lake Kivu on the western border with DRC is spectacularly beautiful, but be a bit cautious about travel times in this region - when we visited, the road was still under construction, and it was very slow going.

A couple of other places that are well worth a visit are the royal palaces at Rukali (one traditional - complete with impossibly pampered sacred Ankole cattle - and one dinky little Art Deco one) and Butare, which hosts the interesting National Museum and an interesting cathedral.

Not much to say about Kigali, as there's heaps of coverage on the gutwrenching Genocide Memorial.  Give yourself half a day here, as the displays are extraordinary and shouldn't be rushed.  It's particularly strong on setting the context for the genocide (sadly only the last in a series of these in the region) and although there are some awful photos on display, this is not gratuitous horror.

On a practical note, Kigali is a good place to stock up on items you might need in country - the Kenyan Nakumatt chain of supermarkets is well represented and will offer pretty well everything you need - at a price. 

As I'm sure you have already realised, Rwanda isn't cheap (especially once you add in the primate-related stuff), but it is a really rewarding destination, and I'm sure you'll have a brilliant time.

Last edited by harbinger (8-14-2017 5:09 AM)

 

#3 8-16-2017 10:29 PM

Holeydel
Manchester, England
Award: Photographer IAward: Writer IIAward: Vox Populi III
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Posts: 877

Re: Rwanda

I think this thread can be closed now mods, Harbinger has just about covered everything! I'll certainly look more into the hiking you mentioned too. I'm surprised at how expensive you're suggesting the country is. I understand the wildlife / National Park stuff can cost a bomb but I was under the impression if I skipped these aside I could get by relatively cheaply - good job it's only a week or so!

Thanks so much for the info Harbinger, it's given me a great starting point. Oh, and my airline might be one you're familiar with - Brussels Air.

 

#4 8-16-2017 10:47 PM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
Award: Vox Populi I
Tourist
Posts: 167

Re: Rwanda

Brussels Air might be the least enjoyable part of your trip!

Thanks for your kind words, and it's a pleasure to share my enthusiasm for a very special place.

Rwanda's tourist infrastructure is aimed at the Primate Tourist, so everything is top dollar (gorillas, chimps, aerial walkway).  However, if you get away from that, things get much more affordable.  We travelled as a family, so we also erred on the side of caution in terms of transport and accommodation, which pushed the price up.

 

#5 8-19-2017 1:38 AM

mutasa
Mutasa
Kampala, Uganda
Couch Potato
Posts: 2

Re: Rwanda

Rwanda a perfect destination with truly lovely people.

 

#6 8-19-2017 4:45 AM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
Award: Vox Populi I
Tourist
Posts: 167

Re: Rwanda

mutasa wrote:

Rwanda a perfect destination with truly lovely people.

Agree.  But then Ugandans are delightful people as well smile

If you do decide to venture across the border from Rwanda to Uganda and are a fan of completely obscure travel experiences, then you're in for a treat.

Not only does the time zone change, but you also swap to driving on the other side of the road.

Probably not worth the visa fee just to experience this, but if you're planning to visit anyway, it's cause for an added frisson of travel delight.

 

#7 9-1-2017 11:08 AM

Capermel
Melissa
Manitoba, Canada
Sightseer
Posts: 63

Re: Rwanda

Holeydel wrote:

I'll be heading there for 9 days at the end of October, was wondering if anyone had anything to add? I've got as far as watching Hotel Rwanda and learning stray dogs cost nothing to photograph, whereas stray gorillas will set me back $750.

Rwanda is lovely! The Gorillas were the highlight of my trip smile If I were to make a suggestion it would be to travel to the southern part of the country and trek to see the chimpanzees as well.  That was my biggest regret, missing out on them sad I did see the golden monkeys though while up in Volcanoes National Park, they are also cute little buggers big_smile

 

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