Rwanda January 2009 trip report (using R&N Xplorer)

Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 07:39 AM
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Rwanda January 2009 trip report (using R&N Xplorer)

Hello All,

This is my first post on this forum. I have lurked here for a year soaking up information on Africa in order to plan our 2 week trip to Rwanda and Tanzania. A BIG thank you to all! So, I figured I needed to come back and post a report to benefit others who may be planning similar trips.

We were in Rwanda from 19 - 23 January and in Tanzania from 23 January to 1 February.

Our trip report and photos can be found on smugmug at
http://culturesconnected.smugmug.com/Travel/719190

There are 4 albums for each of our 4 days in Rwanda. Hope you enjoy!

As for R&N Xplorer, they worked out very well for us. Nyagah (the owner) was usually very responsive. There was a period after we had confirmed our booking when he was not as responsive, but after I politely let him know that and insisting on better communication, he got back to replying within 1 - 3 business days. I usually plan all our trips independently and am not used to handing over control to someone else. So, I made sure that Nyagah faxed us copies of the gorilla permits. Nyagah also booked our Rwanda AIr JRO to KGL flight tickets and sent us the e-tickets.

Mercator Assistance is R&N Xplorer's partner and ground operator in Rwanda. Once we reached Kigali, everything was smooth and there were no glitches. Abdul, our driver, was fantastic. We would definitely recommend R&N.

We are still working on our Tanzania pictures and commentary. It will take us another 2 weeks at least to get them done.

If there are any questions, I will try my best to respond as soon as possible.

- Seema
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 07:42 AM
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Looks like the trip report got tagged under Botswana even though I am pretty sure I picked Rwanda. I will email the forum administrator to correct this. Sorry about that!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 09:22 AM
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Wow! Your trip report was great. I could almost see myself there with you. We go in Sept. so thank your for sharing. I enjoyed your pics.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 10:05 AM
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Thanks Seema. These pics are magnificent. Can't wait for the Tanzanian portion of your trip report.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 11:26 AM
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Great report, goregous photos. You two are an adorable couple.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 11:35 AM
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Wow, I loved your pictures! Thanks so much for sharing. I need to add Rwanda to my list.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 02:42 PM
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Thanks everyone! Glad you enjoyed the commentary and pics. Thanks cruisinred!

jmartmd - You will really enjoy Rwanda. Have a great trip!

Althom - Please add Rwanda to your list. It's an amazing country and not just because of the gorillas. We hope more people will continue to visit.

My husband and I have been obsessively editing our Tanzania pictures all morning and I needed a break!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 04:20 PM
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Great photos! You had 2 good visits, obviously. Nice idea to take the hand closeup.

How did you like Kinigi Guesthouse? Were there grounds or was it in a village?

How interesting you were there during the election.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 06:24 PM
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Lynn, Thanks!

We really liked the Kinigi Guest House. We knew it was very basic going in, but the rooms are clean and large and the grounds lovely. There was running hot water in the bathroom. The food was pretty good too and the staff very helpful. There might be peeling paint and mold in the bathroom, but for this price and given the wet weather in this region, we didn't think it was a problem.

This guest house is on the main road to the ORTPN headquarters, just a 5 minute walk away.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Thanks, Seema! I loved your report and pictures. It was especially fun for me, since we had a very similar trip just last October -- we trekked to Group 13 on our first day and the Umubano family on our second day, and stayed at the Kinigi Guest House!

I recognized so many individuals in your photos, but both groups were in very different areas than when we saw them. That's one of the things I most enjoyed about the gorilla treks, having such different hikes each day and really getting out into that beautiful terrain (although of course the gorillas themselves are the stars!). When we saw them, the Group 13 babies were swinging around in the treetops and leaping and jumping and rolling downhill -- it was just amazing, and so cute. And the Umubano blackback was a really naughty boy, doing some things we were too embarrassed to capture on film. We had such a terrific time with them, and the experience was so different each day, it was really worth doing 2 treks. (I wonder with the higher permit prices whether most people will still be able to do that.)

Thanks again for sharing your stories and pictures with us!
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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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MyDogKyle - We just saw your Rwanda pictures - they were lovely! It was fun to see some of characters that we saw on our treks. But it looks like you were able to spend much more time with Agashya and Charles than we did. That was our only regret (if you can even call it that) about our treks.

And we felt the same way you did about the treks being so unpredictable and therefore so much more fun, because you never knew what to expect.

Your experience with Charles being so so naughty must have been hilarious!

We actually met several groups doing two treks and one large group that was doing three, so I am not sure how much of a deterrent the high permit prices are.

Do you know where you are headed to next?
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 09:55 AM
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Thanks, Seema. We did have a nice amount of time with both gorilla families, although the 13s did move around a bit and we had to scramble to keep up! At one point Agashya walked right past me, and he was so close I could feel the heat radiating off his body. And the babies touched several people in our group (or in one case, a baby tumbled out of a tree and landed practically in my friend's lap!).

With the Umubano group, Charles was down in a gully making salad the whole time we were there, so we could only see his head and arm. He wasn't the naughty one, it was the blackback boy they called "Star" (I can't remember his real name) -- he was messing around with a baby in a way that could had got him arrested if he was human. Our guides said that if Charles saw him doing that, there would have been hell to pay! But lucky for Star, Charles was busy elsewhere.

Yes, we do have another trip in the works for later this year. We just signed up for an Earthwatch volunteer project in South Africa! So, our "once in a lifetime" trip to Africa has now spawned two further trips... I think we are officially addicted (like many people on this board)!
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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(Ah, too bad I can't edit my post! My grammar isn't that bad in real life, I swear.)
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 04:40 PM
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Seemaskt,
Thanks for the Kinigi info.
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Old Feb 26th, 2009, 06:20 AM
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Seema on Feb 26,2009 at 10:14am

Thank you so much for your daily report and pictures of Rwanda. My son is doing a report of the genocide in Rwanda that took place in 1994. To see the pictures of it today will help him get a perspective on what life is like now.

Thanks again.

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Old Feb 27th, 2009, 11:11 AM
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seema,

i really enjoyed your report, photos and humor. thank you very much!
anita
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Old Feb 27th, 2009, 01:26 PM
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MDK - Your treks sound like there were a lot of fun! Even today, more than a month later, my husband and I continue to relive the memories and I'm sure we will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Vicki - Good luck with your son's project! I hope we were able to effectively convey how far this country and its people have come since 1994.

Anita - Thank you! We are still working on our Tanzania albums (it is taking much more time than we expected), and since this is our first time writing extensive commentary for a trip, every bit of encouragement really helps!
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Old Oct 21st, 2009, 06:31 AM
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Seema, I am about to book with R&N and now re-looking at all the gorilla reports. I am SO excited. Thanks again for this.
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Old Oct 21st, 2009, 10:45 AM
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I am so excited to see another Rwanda trip and of course glad it is with R&N. Your pictures are beautiful.

Hey were any meals included with your trip? That was my only issue at the time. I had just flown to Rwanda after 2 weeks in Kenya and Tanzania staying at Sopas and Serenas, so I was spoiled with lots of great buffets. The food was a little sparser in Rwanda.
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 02:05 PM
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Sorry, we were traveling and only recently got back from Cambodia, so have been off the travel boards for a while.

Leely, Did you book with R&N? When do you leave? Have an incredible trip! I'm so excited for you. It's been almost a year since our trip, but we still talk about it often and remember it fondly.

Wayne, Thank you! RE meals, yes, they were included for the most part except lunch on the first day when we ate at a restaurant in Kigali and dinner on our last night when we ate at the Chez Lando restaurant. Yes, the food was definitely simpler but we were also staying in much smaller hotels in comparison to TZ. We loved it nonetheless, especially with the Piri-Piri sauce. We bought it here in NYC a few months ago, and have been throwing it on everything since!
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